Listen and Learn

One of the first questions I ask a new trumpet student is: “Who do you listen to?” I’m amazed by how short the list is in some cases.

A Mental Library

I could probably quickly identify 100 different trumpet players just by hearing them play.

When considering a piece of music, I can easily imagine how it might be played by Phil Smith or Clifford Brown or Maynard Ferguson or Raphael Mendez or Sergei Nakariakov or Wynton Marsalis or Lee Morgan or Wayne Bergeron or Marvin Stamm or Doc Severinsen. This is a powerful mental library of sounds and styles to draw upon in performance.

In the past, my students might have had a better excuse for not being familiar with great trumpet players. Without a parent or teacher to share a library of recordings, they might not have had the opportunity to hear them. Certainly they aren’t hearing many trumpet players in pop music.

A Player a Day

I try to play a recording during each lesson to expose my students to some of the players that have been instrumental (so to speak) in my musical development. Today, there is no excuse for not being familiar with the great players of your instrument. Recordings are easily available, and we have all been given a great gift when it comes to expanding our musical horizons: YouTube.

One of the greatest time-wasters ever created, YouTube is also an incredible musical library. Thousands of clips are available with the click of a mouse. With time and interest, one could spend 24 hours a day surfing. That can be a problem.

If you hope to play music, rather than just listen to it, at some point you’ll have to shut down the computer and pick up your instrument. You are not going to learn by osmosis although some of my students wish it were so.

But listening is an important part of the process of becoming a musician, and in this day and age, it is so easy to check out a new player each day.

Watch a clip or two before you start to practice. Listen and learn, then try to put into practice what you have heard.

About the Author

Chase Sanborn is a trumpet player and a member of the jazz faculty at the University of Toronto. He is the author of “Brass Tactics,” “Jazz Tactics,” “Tuning Tactics” and “Music Business Tactics.” Chase plays Yamaha trumpets and CS Signature Model mouthpieces from GR Technologies. For more information about Chase, visit

About author

Chase Sanborn

Jazz trumpeter Chase Sanborn is a Yamaha Artist and an assistant professor of jazz at the University of Toronto. Chase is the author of a series of educational books and videos on playing music. His most recent is “The Brass Tactics 6/60 Routine”. Visit Chase on the web at Also visit

Disney STEP Classic

Step groups can step right up for the annual Disney STEP Classic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney World Resort, coming Feb. 18 ...