Teachers around the world:

Joseph Van Fleet

2nd Trumpet at Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. 2nd Trumpet at Richmond Symphony Orchestra (Indiana). Professor of Trumpet at Eastern Kentucky University (United States).

«I try to rotate exercises as soon as I start to feeling a little bored or progress starts to stall»


Today in “Teachers Around the World”, we have Joseph Van Fleet, a former student of famous teachers such as William Adam, Vince DiMartino, and John Rommel, who is now the trumpet professor at Eastern Kentucky University and 2nd trumpet of the Lexington Philharmonic. Don’t miss this interview!

Up close and personal
  • Age: 43.
  • City of birth: Somerset, Kentucky (USA).
  • A hobby: Running.
  • A food: Sushi.
  • A drink: Cape Cod.
  • A book: Economics in One Lesson (Henry Hazlitt).
  • A film: American Movie: The Making of Northwestern (Chris Smith).
  • A place: 1 Top of a mountain.

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.

My dad was my band director growing up and he was my first and most influential trumpet teacher. I was lucky to have lots of great teachers through my college years. I’ve also learned a tremendous amount from my students. I’ve been fortunate to have the best students. I learn from them every day.

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

I like all the basic stuff. Basic flow studies, slurs, and articulations. I try to rotate as soon as I start to feeling a little bored or progress starts to stall. Adam, Stamp, Jacobs. All the masters. I love trying new ideas. Lately I’ve been looking for ideas that I might not have tried in the past. I think I’ve been too rigid and prejudice in the past and likely overlooked lots of great concepts because they aren’t widely accepted or mainstream.

Day to day with the trumpet

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

Ideally, I do about an hour of fundamentals and warm-up type stuff to start the day off then take a little break. The rest of my individual playing is learning what I’ll be playing in orchestra next. This routine changes a lot depending how much teaching I have to do. There are not a lot of ideal practice days unfortunately.

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

I’m playing on older equipment right now. Bach Mt. Vernon Trumpets and a Bach New York 5B Mouthpiece. Not sure how I ended up playing older stuff but I enjoy it. I have a Yamaha piccolo and Eb but I don’t need to use them very often.

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.)

I don’t think so. I’m mostly an orchestral musician so that demands I have an approach to sound that will allow me to fit in well with others. This obviously limits my use of less common equipment.

The teaching center

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

I teach at Eastern Kentucky University. If anyone has a question or request, feel free to send an email to josephvanfleet@yahoo.com or shot me a note on Facebook. I’d love to hear from new friends!

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

I will be honest with them and I expect them to work hard to achieve their goals. I try to make sure I understand every student’s personal goals and come up with an individual plan for each of them.

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

They don’t want to take responsibility for their success. Some are willing to work hard but many only want to be praised and are not willing to enjoy the learning process in the practice room. They are often more interested in the social aspects of music rather than finding joy alone learning about trumpet and themselves. They don’t have the discipline or drive to be great.

Sharing exercises with Trumpetland

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

I started meditating over the past few months and found it to be very helpful in dealing with challenging events in my life. As I’ve learned more about this practice I’ve considered spending 5 minutes a day meditation focusing on my ideal sound. I think I’ll start this in the next couple days. When I first considered the idea, it dawned on me that I didn’t have a very clear idea of what my ideal sound was. Of course, I have a general idea but this should be, along with stylistic concepts, the clearest goal a trumpet player should have. My hope is that developing this concept more clearly in my mind will help my playing to follow. We’ll see how it works! If you are interested in trying meditation, check out the Headspace app. They have HUGE discounts for students and teachers. Very cheap. Totally worth it in my opinion.

If you ask me for some trumpet exercises, I've been doing these ones by William Thiecke & Ernest Williams every day lately. Pretty good 30-40 minute routine.

Free download:

Exercise by Joseph Van Fleet (PDF 251,36 KB) [Only Premium members]