Trumpet, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Drums & Piano
I first picked up the trumpet in the 4th grade. By the time I was in high school, I was playing in my school’s nationally competitive jazz band, performing internationally with our orchestra, and recording rap music with my friends for fun. I picked up a few other instruments along the way, too.
I came to Philadelphia to attend the University of the Arts, where I studied with Bill Pusey, George Rabbai, Matt Cappy, and Matt Gallagher; Their credits include work with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Michael Jackson, Jill Scott, Jay-Z, and NFL Films. I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in trumpet performance, then dove headfirst into the Philadelphia music scene.
Today, I’m fortunate to make music with some of the best artists in the Philadelphia area as a trumpeter, bassist, and sound engineer. I’ve learned that whether I’m making rock and roll, classical music, reggae, hip hop, or anything in between, my most important instruments are my ears. As a teacher, my goal is to help students develop their musical ears, along with proper technique and theoretical understanding, so they can find their own personal sound.
When did you begin playing trumpet, and why?
I started playing the trumpet when I entered the 4th grade, because my school offered music lessons and my parents insisted I try an instrument. I chose the trumpet because it only had three buttons, so I assumed it would be the easiest one. That proved to not be the case, but I’m glad I stuck with it.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
Not long after I started to enjoy the trumpet, I started experimenting with other instruments at every opportunity. Keyboards came first, followed by guitar and bass, then drums. With each new instrument, I tried to apply what I knew from playing the others while also taking the time to learn to play each one the “right” way. Through practice, lessons, and jamming with friends, I became a capable multi-instrumentalist, which helped my overall musical understanding to flourish.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
On any instrument I practice, my goals are the same: To develop control, consistency, and stamina so that I can produce the sound I hear in my head with minimal effort. This way, I can play and be creative without thinking about technique.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember waiting to take the stage before my first concert as a freshman in high school. I had performed before but this was the big leagues, so I was nervous. As I waited, I fidgeted and fiddled with my trumpet’s valves. Once the band was on stage, we started our song, and when I went to play my first note I realized my valves were all backwards! They’d gotten turned around when I was playing with them in the hallway, and I couldn’t play a note! I spent the first minute of the song frantically opening each valve and correcting it. Once I could play again, I joined in with the band and the rest of the concert went smoothly.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
Bill Pusey, my first trumpet instructor in college, would always say that a trumpet player’s lips were like “clouds in the sky”. Trumpet playing requires a lot of lip muscle. Like the weather, sometimes those muscles just don’t want to cooperate. It’s important to remember that even experienced players can have cloudy days. With patience, the sun will come out again.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
As a young trumpeter, I developed a habit of playing everything with heavy vibrato so that every long note wobbled and wavered. Vibrato is an important technique to possess, but I couldn’t control it. Soon after I arrived at college, my teachers challenged me to play with no vibrato at all so my sound would be even and smooth. Through lots of practice and concentration, I broke my bad habit. I relearned to add vibrato deliberately, and now I use it confidently to add expression to certain notes.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
Performing my senior recital in college was a major milestone. Among other firsts, it was my first time leading a band and being the center of an audience’s attention. It was the culmination of years of work and the product of all my musical knowledge. My only regret is that it didn’t get recorded!
Favorite thing about teaching?
Being present when a musician makes the connection between a sound and a feeling.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Be patient, experiment, and try to make it sound good.
Personal music projects
I’m always working with different artists for one off performances and recording sessions, but my main projects are playing bass for a rock and roll band called Cold Roses and trumpet for a reggae band called Kings and Comrades. I’m also excited to be composing and recording my own original music.