James R. West

From time to time someone will ask me if my material/lessons would be of any benefit to a “serious” or “legit” player. Some even think that strenuous lessons might ruin them intrue terms of tone, flexibility… So I asked a man who is a College teacher, symphonic player and ITG presenter if he had experienced anything like this from the lesson I gave him.
Here is his reply.

OK, let me respond as a college trumpet teacher who has 35 years of teaching under his belt:


In order to play higher notes on the trumpet, you need to make the air go faster. This is just physics! The rule applies to “serious” trumpet players, “legit” trumpet players, “commercial” trumpet players, “lead” trumpet players, “jazz” trumpet players, “Dixieland” trumpet players, and even “country and western” trumpet players! You make the air go faster by blowing harder, by making your embouchure compress the air more, or by changing the size of the oral cavity inside your mouth. If you receive information that will help you do that, you will play higher and/or with greater endurance on the trumpet. The person who gives you that information doesn’t even have to be a wind instrument player. Carmine Caruso didn’t play the trumpet.

This attitude of someone “ruining” you may have several sources. One might be that people want to learn from someone who has the right pedigree. The only people who can possibly know anything are the people who teach at reputable universities, and have a Dr. in front of their name.

Let’s see. That means that guys like Don Jacoby, Arnold Jacobs, and Phil Farkas didn’t know what they were doing, right? None of those guys had an earned DMA.

Also, in order to be “ruined” by someone else, you have to give them complete control of yourself. You must be a willing participant, and have no mind of your own. This reduces learning to a process whereby one person simply pours knowledge into someone else’s brain, and that “someone else” simply regurgitates the information forever after!

I prefer getting as much information as I can about something, and then sitting down and assimilating that information until I understand how it works, and how it applies to me. This process can take years, and it means that a lot of it is up to me! I believe, however, that learning this way leads to a deeper understanding, and it also happens to be a lot more fun! You get to have “ah ha!” experiences that way. (Oh! THAT’S what he meant!)

I have already gotten a boost in range and endurance from the one session that I had with you, and several of my students have gotten a similar boost. Pops keep putting that information out there.

James West (Associate Professor of Trumpet). Mr. West has been at Louisiana State University since 1978, and began his career teaching trumpet at Arkansas Polytechnic College in the fall of 1969. Mr. West is currently the state chairperson of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors in Louisiana. He was Principal Trumpet with the Baton Rouge Symphony, and was the conference chairperson for the 1991 meeting of the International Trumpet Guild, and has presented clinics at several ITG conferences.

Posted in Testimonials.