Ethan Wolfe – Trumpet Teacher

Trumpet, Piano, Trombone, Saxophone
Bachelor of Music, Temple University
Classical, Jazz

HeadshotI am a trumpet player and educator in Philadelphia. I studied at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, where I earned the degree of Bachelor of Music in Music Education in 2019. During my career at Temple, I studied classical trumpet primarily under Robert Earley of the Philadelphia Orchestra, but have worked with a number of different trumpet teachers across the East and West coasts. I have also played in the Temple Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band, Temple jazz bands, and the Temple University Concert Choir. In my spare time, I enjoy singing and arranging barbershop music with my quartet “Prime Time”, who will be competing at the international quartet contest in July of 2019 in Salt Lake City. My biggest goal as a music teacher is to help students uncover the parts of their musicianship that excite them, so they find motivation within themselves to be life-long music learners.


When did you begin playing Trumpet, and why?
My music career began when I was 7, as a singer in my church’s youth choir. While I didn’t love it then, I have kept singing ever since and am so grateful for where I got my start as a musician. Like many, I first gained interest in playing a band instrument in the 5th grade, when our school’s band director came and put on an “instrument petting zoo” assembly. He played all the band instruments, and I was enamored with the trumpet. That first year, I was mostly on my own. There were only about 3 other students interested in playing band instruments in the 5th grade, and all of them were clarinetists!

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I have been a vocalist from a very young age, and have also come to play the piano, bass, and a range of wind instruments. All of these instruments (besides piano) I got my first exposure to while in college, but have absolutely loved picking them up and especially teaching them to new musicians.

What are your personal goals as a musician?
I strive to be able to connect with as many people as I can through our shared music.  I find this goal resonates with me especially as an educator, because it is exciting to see the variety of different ways that students can be excited by music.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
When I was a junior in high school, I started taking private theory lessons from my trumpet teacher at the time. There were so many eureka moments during those lessons, and I have loved music theory ever since.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
The last trumpet teacher I ever had when I lived back in California spent one of our last lessons talking about expectations for when I moved. He reminded me that even though I was very successful in my hometown, sine I was moving out east I was probably going to feel like a little fish in a big pond. This has felt true at different points in my career as my musician, and his comments have stuck with me ever since. When I picture myself as the little fish, I feel an innate drive to push myself to become better, which is so crucial as a musician. This philosophy keeps me humble too–I reflect on this perspective a lot. There’s always another hot-shot out there, but they won’t always be gracious, kind, or humble!

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
When I was finishing up high school, I had to go through a transformative embouchure change, essentially moving where I place my mouthpiece on my lips when I go to play. Luckily, I had a teacher who was able to coach me through this change. It took almost two years to regain the strength I had before the change, and it was really to stay motivated. I’m better now, but have become very sympathetic to anyone working through a bad habit on their instrument!

What is your biggest musical achievement?
Near the end of my undergraduate career, I took a counterpoint composition class with Professor Jan Krzywicki. This was a very challenging class about the opportunities and rules present in writing co-dependent melodies as perfected by J.S. Bach, and I loved it. It was here that I got to complete some of the work for which I’m most proud, including a fugue, several canons, and more than a few barbershop arrangements.

Favorite thing about teaching?
I love the look in a student’s eyes when they have been struggling with a concept, and suddenly put all the pieces together. One of the challenges of teaching is that no matter how you choose to approach a learning objective with a student, at the end of the day they need to make the leap to understanding on their own. It is so satisfying to seem them figure out something for themselves.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
While this may seem like a tiny thing, my big piece of advice is to record yourself. Besides being good practice, it serves to remind you of how far you’ve come. Getting better at an instrument is a grueling process, and pulling up an old recording of yourself can be a helpful reminder on the hard days of exactly how far you’ve come.

Personal music projects:
My barbershop quartet has been working diligently to qualify for the international quartet contest in Salt Lake City this summer. I have been twice before with a different quartet, and they were two of the best weeks of my life. I am excited at the opportunity go with this new group.