Interview with Vince DiMartino

International soloist. Educator. Visiting Professor at University of Kentucky (United States).

«I try to teach students the understanding of how to practice»

2018-11-20

Today we are interviewing a living legend on the trumpet, the grand Vince DiMartino. With more than 40 years of experience as a soloist and educator, he has been converted into one of the most admired trumpet figures in the world. The Trumpetland School has his video lessons available, but in this interview, you may also enjoy a piece of his wisdom (a PDF exercise is included).

Up close and personal
  • Age: 70.
  • City of birth: Amityville, New York (United States).
  • A hobby: Collecting cornets and trumpets.
  • A food: Pasta.
  • A drink: Water.
  • A book: Arban.
  • A film: Animal House (John Landis).
  • A place: Home.

Professional career

What first drew you to the trumpet and when did you realize that trumpet playing was what you wanted to do professionally?

Since they did not offer drums during the year we picked instruments, I took up the trumpet. I decided to become a teacher-performer after my junior year in high school, upon returning from a  summer visit to Colombia.

Where have you studied and who were your teachers?

I attended the Eastman School of Music, where I studied with Sidney Mear.

What was your first full time professional job as a trumpet player and how did you get it?

My first jobs were at the age of 14. I played with this same weekend band until I graduated high school. I got the job when there was a last minute illness. Someone had heard that there was a young trumpet player across the street so they called me. I played with them regularly after that!

Which musicians, teachers, conductors or trumpet players have influenced and taught you the most?

My high school band director, Ed De Iulio.
Clark Terry (playing in his band).
Doc Severinsen (playing with him).
Performing with The Cincinnati Pops and Erich Kunzel.

Daily work

What is your daily practice routine?

I warm up and practice every morning, as early as possible. I mostly do fundamentals. In the afternoon I practice pieces that are upcoming.

You spend a lot of time on the road performing and teaching. What do you do to stay in shape?

A good, slow warm-up helps me the most.

How important do you consider a rest or break when you are practicing?

I start with practicing small parts of pieces or etudes, and then begin to play something as a whole at the end of the session. I think that breaks should be as long as needed to stay as fresh as possible.

How do you approach a new piece?

First, I always try to read through it, if possible. Then I can define the requirements for practice. You will find issues for endurance, difficult lines, challenging phrases for breath, etc.

Education

What is your approach to teaching your students?

I try to teach students the understanding of how to practice. I help them become the most comprehensive musician they can be.

Do you consider it important to combine more than one genre in your studies such as jazz and natural trumpet?

I think music is music. I take in as much as I can. Also, there is so much crossover between repertoire; groups might play jazz, classical, pop and some baroque on the very same concert. People will hire the players that can handle all of it first!

What criteria do you follow when you are choosing a mouthpiece and trumpet?

What is the best sound for the job. Although we can know the styles perfectly, there are usually certain parameters in the sound area that can require a horn and/or mouthpiece change.

What advice do you have for young students and for teachers?

Listen and then practice, be an asset to your community, be humble, be disciplined, enjoy your colleagues, support your musical friends and family. And to a professor? Help a student become the person they desire to be through musical and technical instruction. Be a good role model.

Performance anxiety

Have you ever had a bad experience on stage?

Yes! We all have bad experiences. I think that, when we know we can do something, stage fright is minimized in most cases.

How should one take criticism?

As help to reaching our musical goals and those of others.

They say that everybody has a little bit of performance anxiety and the important thing is controlling it. What do you do to control it?

Trying to make sure my practicing has made me more confident, not less. Also, hearing the music and not me personally.

Any advice on preparing for auditions?

Be as detailed in your presentation as possible. People notice that difference quickly.

Musical preferences

What kind of music do you listen to?

I listen to trumpet related jazz and classical music, as a teacher. I put on different music in the car on Sirius radio to see what is happening!

With what musician or style of music do you identify with the most?

I identify with music from 1950-present.

Who is your favorite trumpet player?

My favorite trumpet player is my son, Gabriel.

What is your favorite piece for trumpet?

My favorite piece for trumpet is Episodes by Jeff Tyzik and Allen Vizzutti.



Sharing exercises with Trumpetland

Do you have any exercise you would like to share with the Premium members of Trumpetland?

Sure! This exercise — Chromatic Flexibility Exercise — is meant to help strengthen the idea that we play trumpet in the same complete breath each time we inhale and exhale.

Free download:

Exercise by Vince DiMartino (PDF 114,61 KB) [Only Premium members]