Teachers around the world:

Brandon Craswell

Professor at University of Georgia in Athens (United States).

«Results will only happen when students honestly assess their weaknesses and take them to task»

2018-06-19

In this new chapter of “Teachers around the world”, we have Brandon Craswell, Associate Professor of Trumpet at University of Georgia, in Athens (USA). Brandon is also a professor of our Trumpetland School, where we have several interesting videos of his, but we also wanted to share his experience with our members through an interview. Brandon gives us a few tips that he uses when working on Clarke studies with his students.

Up close and personal
  • Age: 40.
  • City of birth: Portland, Oregon (USA).
  • A hobby: Crossword puzzles.
  • A food: Pizza.
  • A drink: Root beer.
  • A book: Word Freak (Stefan Fatsis).
  • A film: Star Wars.
  • A place: 1 Hawaii (USA).

Musical roots

Where do you come from? That is, we would like to know 1) where you grew up as a trumpeter, 2) who were your most important teachers, and 3) what your professional and pedagogical trajectory has been until today.

I grew up in a musical family. I began violin at the age of 3 with my aunt, and continued studying with my grandmother. In the 5th grade, I began studying trumpet with my grandfather. My mother is an excellent pianist, and we still collaborate today. My primary professors were Stephen Burns, John Rommel, and Mark Clodfelter. I also studied with many others, all of whom had profound influences on my career in different ways. Additionally, I learned as much from my peers as I did my professors. I was surrounded by great trumpet players and we would practice together constantly.

Every trumpeter has his methodological preferences. What type of exercises or methods do you emphasize when practicing and teaching, and why?

Ultimately I try to get my students to move a lot of loose/free air while singing a song, on top of that air flow. All the while, picturing the most beautiful sound imaginable — strong focus on basic, fundamentals with a musical approach. Arban, Clarke, Schlossberg, etc.

Day to day with the trumpet

Could you tell us what your daily trumpet routine consists of?

I try to cover all the basics every day — sound, technique, flexibility, articulation, upper register.

What brands of trumpets and mouthpieces do you use? Do you use them for any particular reason?

I’ve used Bach Bb and C trumpets my entire career. I’m not much of an equipment guy. I’ve found instruments that fit my needs and have stuck with them. Mouthpieces are another story (lol). I’m currently playing on a Parke mouthpiece, but have played a little bit of everything over the years.

Do you use any equipment that is beyond what we would consider normal? (E.G. a Delrin top, bent mouthpiece, bent trumpet receiver, different bell configuration, etc.)

Nope.

The teaching center

Where can a student, that would like to study with you, find you? Where do you teach?

I teach at the University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson School of Music.

What can a student expect from you? And what do you expect from the student?

I’m a strong believer that the more students put into their lessons, the more they will get out of them. I find I teach better when students show up prepared and treat the lesson as a performance. When they take things seriously, it brings out the best in my teaching.

In your experience, what is the one common problem young players have today?

I think the biggest problem students have today is wanting instant results, or not being honest with themselves and their weaknesses. It’s easy to point the finger elsewhere, but results will only happen when students honestly assess their weaknesses and take them to task. Recording yourself is probably the most important vehicle for honest assessment of what we sound like.

Sharing exercises with Trumpetland

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

How about an exercise from Clarke 2nd study? I have my students do it pianissimo, almost as a whisper, searching for clarity and connection between notes. Not only is this a great warm-up, but also a great warm-down. I find that many of my students are beaten up from marching band, and often times 20 minutes a day of pianissimo Clarke studies helps put things back together. Mixing between Clarke studies 1-4 are all very good at a pianissimo level: mixing major, minor, slurred, articulated, upside down and other creative ways to challenge yourself technically along the way.

Free download:

Exercise by Brandon Craswell (PDF 100,12 KB) [Only Premium members]