Dear fellow members of the TPIN,
I am a professional trumpet player who was a student of Claude Gordon's from 1979 until 1987, and then from 1990 until 1995. I currently play 1st Trumpet for the musical "Cats" in Hamburg, Germany, freelance for various Operas and Orchestras in Northern Germany, and also play lead trumpet for a touring Showband that backs up Germany's major singing stars. From 1987 till 1989, I was Solo Trumpet and Musical Director of the American Continental and the Zerbini Shrine Circuses, touring throughout the United States and Canada.
Until now, I've maintained a pretty low profile in regard to sharing my knowledge and teaching abilities of the trumpet, except of course in a professional playing capacity. But I cannot maintain my silence any longer.
Some of the commentary about Claude and his "method" that I have read about on TPIN (and other places) concerns me. People who have never met the man, and clearly did not go into much detail in their studying of his books, his teaching or method, are constantly passing on mis-information about him. Many people read the first few pages of "Systematic Approach" and decide for themselves that Claude was a "High-Note" teacher. And then they post answers to other people's questions about Claude, as if they are some kind of Authority on the subject! I also read commentary about how he didn't teach people to play musically. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you studied with him, it's true that he worked on the Physical side of playing first. This is only sensible, and is one of the main reasons he was such a genius. But once he got your "Physical" side of it in order, he worked RELENTLESSLY on the musical side. After the first 3 or 4 years of study, Claude began adding more and more Etudes and Solos to my routines, and in the lessons themselves, he constantly worked with my "Musical Approach".
If you noticed, I am currently playing every type of music professionally.
It is not unusual for me to play an Opera on one day, do an 8 hour Festival
with Valendras (the Showband) the next day (the music is written up to
A above high C), and then play "Cat's" the next day (only up to G above
C). I sometimes go for two weeks at a time with no days off, and anywhere from 3 to 9 hours of heavy-duty playing each day. Going from the softest passages of an Opera to a screaming lead trumpet line is not a problem for me. Anyone familiar with the 1st Trumpet book of "Cats" knows of the extreme changes in style within the playing of the show. And I certainly do not have a "natural talent" for this kind of "Extreme Trumpet". I am nearly 6 feet tall, and only weigh 135 lbs! I owe it all to Claude! And to myself for practicing fairly diligently what and how he told me to.
If you studied with Claude, or if you accurately follow his instructions in his "Systematic Approach" book, you will be taken through almost all of the Saint-Jacombe book, the Arban book, Clark's Technical Studies, Clark's Characteristic Studies, the Colin Lip Flexibilities, Smith Lip Flexibilities, as well as other books. I would call this a pretty thorough and well-rounded approach.
The most humorous "authoritative answers" I have read to questions about Claude are the ones that talk about how using the Claude Gordon method will "build up your diaphragm". Claude would roll over in his grave if he knew! Or laugh that great laugh of his. Claude always maintained, and it's been proven in medical research by Dr. Larry Miller, a Research Cardiologist, that the diaphragm is simply a thin membrane that seperates the respiratory system from the digestive system. It moves up and down only in RESPONSE to air pressure changes in the lungs. If one has the opportunity to see a diaphragm (as in post-mortem dissection or surgery) it is so thin, it is opaque - you can see light through it! The diaphragm does nothing measurable to create the pressure required to play trumpet! The tremendous air pressure required is created by the muscles of the Chest, Abdomen, and Back.
Well, that's all for now. I hope that this has shed a little more accurate light on the subject of Claude Gordon.
Hello to Pete Brecciani, Tom Holden, Rich Hofmann, Bob O'Donnel, Reece Hansen, Matt Graves, Wayne Bergeron, John Pappenbrook, and all the many other good friends of mine who might be reading this. Hit it hard and wish it well!