Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2001 09:04:04 -0700
From: "Len Bergantino" <>
Subject: A Lesson with Pops

High register has always been a problem for me, and has never been particularly easy. Through much diligent work and study with some very excellent trumpet players, among them Frank Szabo, Charlie Davis and Bobby Shew; I was able to develop to a point of a good high E on the stand and an F# every day when practicing. (While fresh.)

In a rehearsal band I had the unusual experience of sitting next to a very likeable and benevolent lead trumpet player; who played second while I played lead; so as to develop his capacity to solo. I said to him, "Look, I like the high notes and I have no problems with you playing as high as you want to keep your own chops in shape even though I am playing the lead book." Invariably, whatever I played he could take up an octave whenever he wanted to. I used to delight in his ability to do this. His name is Rex Merriweather.

Rex said to me "I went to study with Clint 'Pops' McLaughlin in DeSoto Texas and he increased my range an octave in about two 10 hour days." I told him I didn't think I had the endurance to have such long lessons. Rex said "You ought to do it. Pops increased my range by an octave and I have no mental limitations as to how high I can play. High register is a state of mind." Then he said the key motivating words, "Hey 'Pops' is very sick. If you are going to do it, it better be soon."

I had previously called 'Pops' and sent for 3 books he had written. My experience as a clinical psychologist for 30 years told me that he was obsessive and had devoted his life to figuring out how to increase the high register. He knew more details about the high register than anyone had exposed me to.

Yet, there were questions by others who had heard of him. Well he isn't a great trumpet player like the others you have studied with. What makes him think he can teach?

I called 'Pops' and set things up for Wednesday through Sunday. As a psychologist trained in the sixties and seventies I had attended marathons; which were intended to break down the resistance by having group  psychotherapy for long hours, and sometimes even all day and all night for three days. This trumpet experience was like those marathons in that it was dealing with my mental and physical resistance to not only playing high register, but also the same resistance that has been the point at which I was up against with myself in the most difficult of life circumstances.

I had heard of people who were great teachers who were not particularly great trumpet players, such as Carmine Caruso a sax player from New York. Clint 'Pops' McLaughlin is one of these and maybe one of a kind in this day and age.

The Physics part of his college education was of major import in his ability to pay attention to very fine tuned problems and resistance as they arose through my 26 hours of lessons in 5 days. And to find "immediate relief" in terms of a "solution to the problem".

This was very different for me. Pops knew what to do to "fix" it right on the spot and then I played different. I was lead through practice by "Baby steps" and constantly played to the current limit and I though beyond them.

During these 5 days I hit double C's and D. And even one screaming double Bb. (At the end of 6-7 hours of playing.)

Further, he gave me the tools to carry on the work and develop the range and power from that point, and to do it in the context of actually playing music and songs, something I hadn't done in about 5 years.

I am writing this short article about Clint 'Pops' McLaughlin and it was unsolicited because I think he offers a valuable service regarding the high register that one would either be unlikely to come upon of one's own accord, and if you did, you wouldn't believe it was possible.

A side note despite his health he went to triple c several times while I was there.

Len Bergantino, ED.D.,  PH.D.,  A.B.P.P.

Another unusual thing was that Clint took lessons from Don 'Jake' Jacoby on teaching trumpet and not playing it.