I remember when I made the Texas All-State band the first time, I was fascinated with the exhibition part of the TMEA where one could purchase just about anything music related that anyone has ever thought of. One of the posters I saw for the first time on that trip (this was in 1981) had a drawing of an eagle sitting on the ground in a flock of turkeys. The caption on the poster read something like “It’s hard to soar like and eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys.”
In our politically correct world today, that poster is probably not as popular as it used to be. However, it describes perfectly what happens to our musical potential when the only other trumpet players we hear perform are other students.
Trumpet teachers often talk about developing a sound model in your head, something for you as a student to strive for when you practice. Having a sound model makes it easier for you to progress on the trumpet because you know before you begin practicing precisely what you want to sound like.
The way you build a sound model is to listen to as many trumpet players as possible. Live performances are best. One live performance is worth countless hours of listening to recordings. However, many students do not have access to live recordings of professional, world class musicians. That’s where the recordings come in.
How To Use The Links
There are two types of links on this page affiliated with each classical trumpet artist. The first link is in the icon and the bold name. That link will take you to a Youtube search for that artist’s recordings. The smaller link, below that first link, will take you to a page with the trumpeter’s information.
We encourage you to do as much listening as you can. Try to listen to at least five songs per day.
Some people say that the era of the CD is over. It has gone the way of the LP and cassette. But for music students, there is still no better medium for listening outside of live concert attendance.
As a student of Mr. Lewis’, we encourage you to start you CD collection now. Look for CDs by the same people on the listening list on this page.
We also recommend that you purchase as many of Mr. Lewis’ CDs as you can afford. This recommendation is not so we will make more money. Not at all. We believe that it is very important for the students to be able to connect what he teaches to what he sounds like. Different trumpet players have different sounds. The differences in their sounds dictates that there be differences in their teaching.
Regardless of who’s CDs you buy, we strongly suggest that you get started as soon as possible. The more time you spend listening, the more your potential as a trumpet player will grow.
What Goes Around
There is another reason to do more listening, beyond the benefits you receive as a student musician. By listening to more trumpet music, you create an economic environment where trumpet art music will continue to thrive. Trumpet players are not rock stars! Making a living this way is tough.
In this new age of digital music, every bit of listening you do “counts”…and I mean that literally. When you choose to listen to one of the trumpet players on this list, instead of listening to whoever the big pop stars are at the time, you play a small part in shifting the tide towards art music instead of pop.
That benefits you two different ways. First it benefits you because it encourages growth in our art. For as long as you keep listening to it, there will be a reason for people to keep perform it. The second benefit when you choose to listen to art music in stead of pop is that you are helping to create a musical world where youcan have a voice.
Think about that for a minute. If you fail to support the trumpet players who have come before you, who will be there to listen to your music when you are ready to perform?
I don’t think most students can possibly imagine the impact their listening choices have on what happens musically in the world we live in. Without enough evidence of support, music institutions (like symphonies and concert venues) struggle and sometimes close down. Without evidence of support, schools can loose their music programs. Without evidence of support, churches and other social institutions shift farther towards pop music and farther away from art.
What you listen to matters, not just to you, but to everyone else as well.
Other Instruments and Vocalists
Most great trumpet players spend a lot of time listening to non-trumpet players. It is not uncommon to hear classical trumpet players say that they listen to opera singers or or violinists.
While we do encourage you to listen to a lot of trumpet players right now, please keep in mind that it is also important to listen to other instrumentalists. Mr. Lewis has learned from musicians of almost every instrument. When you have a hunger for learning, you can get that from just about anyone who is better than you (and some who are not).
The reason we focus mostly on listening to trumpet players with the less experienced students is because we want you to be able to recognize a good trumpet sound from a bad one. There are a lot of reasons why you should do this, but one of the most important reasons is so you can correct yourself when you are practicing alone at home.
It is impossible to create an exhaustive list of all the great classical soloists. If you have a suggestion of someone you think should be on this list, please feel free to share. You can either add a comment below or use our contact page.
Wynton Marsallis is the most famous of all the crossover trumpet players. He had a stunning career as a classical soloist and jazz player until he decided to dedicate all of his creative efforts to jazz music.
Melissa Venema is an up-and-coming Dutch trumpet soloist. While she is not at the same level as the other trumpeters on this list, she does have some wonderful Youtube videos to watch. We include her here because she is a good example of how good you can sound on the trumpet, no matter how famous or successful you are. Success comes after the good sound. It doesn’t work the other way around. So Melissa Venema is on the right path and serves as a perfect example to all of my students.