An interview with the Canadian trumpeter Chase Sanborn

Chase, before we start talking about your book, could you tell us a bit about your background as a trumpeter?
I started the instrument at the age of nine, and was encouraged by a great public school music system in the US, where I grew up. When I became serious about music in high school, I started commuting once a month to Philadelphia to study with Dr. Donald S. Reinhardt. I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, and then moved to San Francisco, where I started working as a free-lance player. During my time in California, I traveled with Ray Charles for a year. In 1981, I moved to Toronto, Canada. Since that time I have been busy playing in the theatre pits, recording studios, and jazz clubs. I have many private students, and also teach at the University of Toronto, in the Jazz Performance Degree Program.

You have called the book "Brass Tactics" why that name?
Norwegian readers may not be familiar with the English phrase: 'Let's get down to brass tacks', which means, 'let's get down to business', or 'let's get back to basics'. Thus the name is a pun on that phrase. It also aptly describes the content, as the book instructs the reader in the techniques, or 'tactics' that are used to achieve mastery over a brass instrument.

How did this book project start?
I found that I was handing out large amounts of photocopies to students, and I wanted to combine them into a pamphlet that I could give to them. Also, I had written over 20 articles on brass playing for Canadian Musician magazine, and wanted to include them as well. One thing led to another, and soon I found myself writing a full-fledged book, which grew to almost 200 pages. It contains most of what I know about brass playing, and answers every question I have ever been asked. In the process of writing the book I spent two years researching every trumpet method I could find, in order to sort through all the information that is out there, and present my own take on how to approach practicing.

You have divided the book into 4 sections, could you briefly describe how the book is constructed?
I have found that most students want help in designing a practice routine that will be comprehensive but efficient. The goal of the exercises is to enable you to play any note, in any register, at any volume, with any articulation, with good tone and pitch. A monumental goal, to be sure, but one that will allow you to use the instrument to express whatever music you wishes. My motto is: 'Make music with minimum interference from the trumpet.'

Section One covers in detail such topics as pedal tones, flexibilities, note bending, mouthpiece buzzing, and many other techniques designed to help you achieve the above goals. It also discusses some of the physics of the instrument; why it does what it does.

Section Two presents the exercises themselves, with instructions specific to those exercises. I have designed a series of exercises to incorporate all of the techniques in Section One in as efficient a manner as possible. The exercises are presented in phases, to be worked on in a graduated manner. There are also suggestions for designing a practice routine that accomplishes what you want it to, and takes into account differing musical interests and practice schedules.

Section Three discusses equipment choices and maintenance, i.e. trumpets, mouthpieces, flugelhorns, cleaning etc..

Section Four discusses some real world playing considerations and situations, i.e. the theatre pit and the recording studio. Advice from a pro, so to speak.

How has the book been received so far?
The book has met with tremendous enthusiasm. I have many letters from professional players and students who feel it is the most useful trumpet book they have ever purchased. I believe the reason for this is that I describe not only what to practice, but how and why to practice it as well.

Have you any resellers for the book here in Norway?
Not at present. If there are any dealers who would like to carry the book, I am very interested in hearing from them. Brass Tactics may be ordered directly from me. Below you will find some ordering information.

Let me close by saying that my greatest joy in writing this book has been the connections I have made to brass players around the world who have enjoyed it, and benefited from it. Many thanks to Ole for helping to introduce Brass Tactics to Norwegian trumpet players.

To order Brass Tactics:
Price: $25 US funds
Shipping outside North America: $10

Make checks/money orders payable to:
Chase Sanborn
115 Ferrier Ave.
Toronto, Ont. M4K 3H6

FAX 416-463-5448
Brass Tactics Website: