O.J.'s Trumpet Page Interview

Trumpet Pedagogy

A Compendium of Modern Teaching Techniques.


An interview with David Hickman

David Hickman

Raymond Mase says the following in the Preface of Trumpet Pedagogy:
For those of us wrapped up in the world of trumpet performance, study, and teaching, Trumpet Pedagogy is destined to become the most frequently used book in our libraries. It is the most complete, modern, “user’s manual” on trumpet playing, offering an incredible wealth of information presented clearly, objectively, and concisely.

While most books on trumpet technique and study make it a point to illustrate only the author’s point of view, Professor Hickman has carefully represented his own, plus many different but widely accepted, approaches to the instrument. With hundreds of photographs and illustrations, Trumpet Pedagogy is an encyclopedia of various, sometimes diametrically opposed, ways of playing and teaching the instrument.

I cannot think of another individual more qualified to undertake the daunting task of compiling such a book than David Hickman. He is not only a superb trumpeter and gifted artist, but is recognized as one of the finest trumpet teachers of our time. His vast trumpet knowledge, incredible organizational skills, and inexhaustible energy are simply unparalleled in the field. My congratulations to him for the great service he has done for the entire trumpet community with the publication of Trumpet Pedagogy: A Compendium of Modern Teaching Techniques.

Raymond Mase
Trumpeter, American Brass Quintet
Chair of Brass, The Juilliard School

Before we start talking about the book, could you tell us a bit about your background as a trumpeter and teacher?
I began teaching beginners when I was in high school back in the 1960s. I enjoyed it and continued teaching kids of all ages when I was in college.  I taught as many as 55 students per week while an undergraduate at the University of Colorado. This made my schooling possible, as my parents could only afford part of my costs.

In graduate school at Wichita State University, I was made a Graduate Trumpet Teaching Assistant.  I taught an 18 hour load where I gave 15 private lessons per week (all music majors), taught the music education trumpet methods class, conducted the brass choir, and played in the faculty brass quintet.  Even though I was paid as an assistant, it was really a full-time faculty position.

Because of my experience as a GTA, I was able to land a job as trumpet professor at the University of Illinois in 1974.  I was the youngest faculty member on campus, a university of 35,000 students and 800 music majors.  I taught there for 8 years (1974-1982).  I then moved to Arizona State University in  Tempe (suburb of Phoenix) in the Fall of 1982 and have now been there for 25 years.

My main focus as a performer was in solo playing.  I was under the auspices of the Joanne Rile Artists  Management in Philadelphia for 25 years.  I performed over 2,000 concerts during this time, mostly as  a guest soloist with orchestras.  I also played in the Saint Louis Brass Quintet (11 years) and continue to play with the Summit Brass (20 years).  I released 15 solo albums plus a dozen more with SLBQ or SB.

How did this book project start?
During the last 33  years, I have been required to teach a Trumpet Pedagogy course to all performance trumpet majors.  During this time, I accumulated many notebooks full  of clinic notes, quotes, and other materials.  I also own nearly all method and etude books available.  It just seemed like it was time that someone compiled these various teaching techniques into a textbook.  I did a great deal of research to update my materials and gather sources of information.  I made the decision to include all of the many ways of playing and teaching that seem popular, even though many of the systems have opposing concepts.

You have had some valuable assistance in this project. Could you say something about that?
I commissioned a wonderful illustrator, Holly Nielsen, for 89 original illustrations.  Jean-Christophe Dobrzelewski did the many music examples, and I took nearly all of the 369 photos.  Some really interesting photos of early trumpets were provided by Franz Streitweiser through the Musikinstrumentenmuseum Schloss Kremsegg.

I utilized the expertise of several world authorities for certain chapters.  The "Psychology" chapter was edited by Dr. Richard Cox, one of the world's leading sport psychologists and medical doctors.  The chapter "Trumpet Intonation and Acoustics" was edited by R. Dale Olson, retired Director of Research for the F. E. Olds & Sons company.  Dr. Grady Hallman, a famous heart surgeon and M. D. for over 45 years (Houston) is the editor of the chapter on "Medical Conditions That May Adversely Affect Trumpet Playing."

The general Editor of the book is Amanda Pepping.  Amanda is a brilliant trumpet soloist and Fulbright Scholar.  She studied with me for six years and was one of my Graduate Teaching Assistants before studying in Germany with Dr. Edward Tarr and Reinhold Friedrich.

How is the book organised?
The 502 pages of text include 15 chapters and 10 appendices.  The Table of Contents is 6 pages long. 

I take the reader through many subjects, from pedal tones to spit valves, providing explanations of the problems, possible solutions, quotes from other authors, and a bibliography of related sources.  It is designed to be a self-help book, or a basis for class discussion on each topic.

Trumpet Pedagogy is a compendium of many of the leading thoughts and methods of trumpet playing.  Some of these
thoughts and methods are opposing. For example, method A says "use lip buzz", method B says "never use lip buzz".  How do you deal with these problems?
My realization that there are "many roads to Rome" came during my studies at the University of Colorado with Dr. Frank Baird.  His dissertation is titled "A History and Annotated Bibliography of Tutors for Trumpet and Cornet."  He summarized the main ideas of hundreds of methods, often sharing some of the more interesting or controversial ones with me.  I was amazed and fascinated with all of the different, sometimes opposing, ways of playing and teaching the trumpet.  I decided then that I would never laugh at or "put down" any method of playing just because I didn't use it.  By memorizing or referring to various methods other than my own, I have had a much greater success in my teaching than I would have had otherwise.  Most teachers are very lucky to have 20-50% success in making their students into fine professionals.  I have been fortunate to have perhaps a 98% success rate.

Who would benefit from this book, and how should they use it?
All serious trumpet players and teachers will benefit from this book.  I was amazed at how much I, myself, learned while putting it together and researching more about its hundreds of subjects.  It is meant to be a reference, and I use it every day in my teaching.  I show illustrations or photos, quote various authors, etc. and am able to convey ideas to students much more effectively than I could without it.

Finally, where can people get the book?
The quickest and easiest way to purchase the book is through my website:


Several large music dealers carry it, but I have little representation in stores in Europe.  The shipping costs to Europe are usually only 50-60% of what my computer ordering system charges.  So, I refund the difference to the buyer's credit card.  This means that the book (which weighs about 5 pounds, or 2.2 kilos) typically costs about $30 to ship by Air Mail to any European country.

The book is available at a special introductory price of US$69 + shipping.  (The regular price is $95.)

o.j. 2006