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 household where music was everywhere. My mother sang show tunes and my father played clarinet and piano on the weekends. We listened to violin and piano soloists, orchestras, operas, and watched ballets and musicals. I played piano for several years before starting trumpet in the public schools.
I studied in the public schools, playing in all the usual ensembles. For the last three years of high school, I attend the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School on weekends, which was a truly pivotal set of experiences for me. I received my Bachelor of Music from Rice University and my Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music. I won a position in “The President’s Own” Marine Band in 2004 and performed there for four years. Afterwards, I won a job as Assistant Principal Trumpet with the Naples Philharmonic, where I performed from 2008-2017. In 2008 I also won a job with the Santa Fe Opera, and I perform there 10 weeks every summer. I am now the trumpet professor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. My wife, Mary Elizabeth Bowden, is a Resident Artist here as well. We also love performing together as the Dash Duo.
Every trumpeter has his methodological preferences. What type of exercises or methods do you emphasize when practicing and teaching, and why?
So much of trumpet playing relies on healthy, balanced playing. We need to build strength and efficiency, simultaneously. I think this is best achieved with 1) strong focus on your musical goals, 2) deep breaths and supported air stream, and 3) a strong embouchure. To achieve these goals, I practice a lot of soft attacks (Shuebruk Lip Trainers) and flexibility (Colin, Irons, etc). Slow, soft Clarke exercises can be good to work on for response. A moderate amount of free buzzing seems to help strengthen the embouchure and engage the corners (careful — too much will make you tight!). The real “secret” is that everyone is different and needs a balance of different approaches. Trust your teacher and understand that these things can take time. Be patient and determined.
Day to day with the trumpet
Could you tell us what your daily trumpet routine consists of?
I am always focused on a great sound and great efficiency. I use a drone and a metronome a lot, and am obsessed with accuracy of pitch and time.
- Breathing exercises or air patterns.
- Mouthpiece buzzing with drone, simple scales or patterns. Focus on relaxation, accuracy.
- Easy long tones, not too high.
- Soft attacks, for example Clarke #1, every key. If I start to force that’s where I stop for that moment. I’ll take a break and come back.
- Flexibility — a Colin or Irons exercise, with drone.
- Multiple tonguing — Arban, Vizzutti, or Clarke.
- Piccolo — a simple exercise but in every key. Playing on the piccolo mouthpiece helps draw response as well.
I might do 1-4 in a 20 or 30-minute session, then take a break and do more later, before I work on music. I like to split up the technical work in this way, since I usually warm-up for a few minutes before practicing music.
What brands of trumpets and mouthpieces do you use? Do you use them for any particular reason?
Parke mouthpieces for C, Bb and rotary, Bach 5C for Eb, Warburton 6MC for piccolo. Yamaha Xeno Chicago C trumpet, Bach Bb 37 bell, Schilke piccolo and Eb, Lechner rotary.
All the instruments and mouthpieces were chosen through comparison, the priority being sound, response, and intonation.
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.)
The teaching center
Where can a student, that would like to study with you, find you? Where do you teach?
University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
What can a student expect from you? And what do you expect from the student?
A student can expect me to care about their progress, to give them my undivided attention in lessons, and to create a plan that is tailored to their strengths. I expect them to work hard, remember what I advise them to do, and be organized with scheduling and communication.
In your experience, what is the one common problem young players have today?
I think it depends on the level of passion a student has. For students who are only moderately interested in trumpet, they lack the drive to find solutions to their playing deficiencies — in fact, they probably don’t even know those deficiencies exist. For more intense students, they can be TOO aware of their problems and have trouble connecting with a passionate, intuitive approach to making music.
Sharing exercises with Trumpetland
Do you have any exercise you would like to share with the Premium members of Trumpetland?
Here are some exercises that I developed for the 1st movement of Respighi’s Pines of Rome. They help develop a very solid, consistent concept of air and phrasing, as well as greater accuracy in the leaps. If the student is not ready to play in this register, they can start down a couple of steps. Always play with a drone and a metronome, and don’t go on until your current level is solid.
Exercise by David Dash (PDF 55,53 KB) [Only Premium members]