Trumpet Player Mark Van Cleve of Bloomington, Indiana
Mark Van Cleave Trumpet Player
Mark Van Cleave Trumpet Tips - "How to Find a Trumpet Teacher"
Mark Van Cleave Trumpet Tips - "The Two Things"
Trumpet Player Mark Van Cleave of Bloomington, Indiana grew up in Indiana. Mark's father was a band director and he never had a choice IF he would play an instrument ... it was just a matter of WHICH ONE he would choose. Mark's sister started playing clarinet and Mark liked that except for the cost of buying reeds. So Mark's decision to play the trumpet came about in an attempt to play an instrument that did not take reeds or incurred any continuous expenses and that was easy to carry (small) and NOT a flute ... too much stigma for a 5th grader.
Mark's grandfather had also taught band and was a trumpet player so Mark had a bit of a head start with help in the family. Mark's father became friends with Rafael Mendez after hosting him to play as guest artist with his band. This too was a positive influence in Mark's pursuit of the trumpet. In 7th grade, Mark started taking private trumpet lessons. After a few weeks, Mark's teacher FIRED Mark for not practicing. Mark did not take trumpet lessons again until late in his junior year of High School. Marks main trumpet teacher and mentor was Jerry Franks. He made the difficult simple and the mysteries of the trumpet make sense for Mark.
After high school, Mark went to Indiana University Music School in Bloomington, Indiana. Mark broke his leg Tuesday of the second week of school and ran out of money. Mark returned to Fort Wayne, Indiana after the first semester and enrolled at the local Indiana University campus. It was SO terrible that Mark decided to quit music after one semester. If that is music, I'm OUTTA HERE was Mark's thought! Mark then pumped gas for a year ($.50 per gallon days) and ended up taking a road gig for about a year and a half. After leaving the road, Mark put together a 9 piece horn band and gigged around Indiana and the mid-west for about a year and a half then he ran away and joined the circus. After about 3 months, Mark ended up conducting the band and ended up traveling worldwide with several shows for about 12 years. Mark left the road and went back to Indiana University in Bloomington to do some school. While there, Mark worked with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Jazz Orchestra for 4 years in Washington, D.C. following Jon Faddis as lead and solo trumpet. With the birth of Mark's first child, Mark needed more work, so he took a gig conducting and playing lead trumpet with Ringling Brothers in 1996 for two years.
Mark then came home and ended up going on the road as lead trumpet and featured soloist with the Guy Lombardo Orchestra for almost 2 years. WHEW! Mark moved to New York City for a couple of years playing with the Temptations, The Four Tops, and many more acts. After 9/11, Mark moved back to Fort Wayne, Indiana from New York City for obvious reasons. Mark taught at the local Indiana University campus for a few years prior to beginning to build trumpets and mouthpieces etc.
Along with the trumpet business, Mark is currently in charge of instrumental music at his church and has recently started his own big band
Mark Van Cleave first studied trumpet with Max Greer. How to play lead trumpet: "Go to a Greek restaurant. Order a large anchovy pizza and a bottle of Svatz Gatz wine (a cheap German table wine that has a little plastic black cat tied to the neck of the bottle). Eat the entire pizza. Drink the entire bottle of wine. Take the plastic cat off of the wine bottle and tie it to your lead pipe. Go to the gig !" - Max Greer
Max Greer was from the small town of Hicksville, Ohio. Max taught in the basement of the old music store downtown. Mark would go in for his lessons never knowing what was about to happen. Mark might have something prepared. Mark might have a list of questions. But no matter what Mark would bring with him, Max would lay his own unique brand of philosophy on Mark. Some of the time it even had something to do with playing the trumpet. Sometimes bizarre but always interesting. As left handed as the trumpet lessons seemed, they were always fun and Mark always left there motivated to practice and glad to see Max. Max was just plain cool! While studying with Max, Mark's trumpet playing seemed to improve despite the lack of any obvious trumpet teaching. Not until years later did Mark really start to understand some of the beauty of those lessons with Max. What really developed while studying with Max was Mark's love for playing the trumpet. Mark relates, "Those lessons were very valuable. They were low on trumpet basics and high on trumpet attitude. What I learned was as valuable as any bit of trumpet information I have learned before or since. It was the information I needed to hear when I needed to hear it."
About a week after graduating from high school, some of the local college trumpet players asked Mark if he wanted to take a forty mile road trip over to Warsaw, Indiana. They were going over to a small rather insignificant school named Grace College. They had scheduled a few lessons for that Saturday afternoon with the trumpet teacher; Jerry Franks. Mark relates, " When we arrived, we found the door to the music school unlocked and open. We were guided inside by the sound of a trumpet as soon as we got out of the car. We followed the sound straight to Jerry's studio. His studio had two doors. One in the front and one in the back corner. It was somewhat of a thoroughfare. People were constantly cutting through the studio, lesson or not. Once inside, we found two or three trumpet players sitting around watching as another trumpet student was having his lesson. When we arrived, we were also welcomed to take a seat and watch the lesson. In the corner behind the music stand sat a short, pudgy man. That was Jerry. Oh yeah, he was also blind. About a month to the day before our lessons, he went blind on an airplane while returning from some concerts. In spite of this blindness, I would come in, unannounced, from months out on the road and just say "hey", he would immediately know it was me. Jerry always taught at small Christian Colleges. This is where he wanted to be. These schools were primarily undergrad schools which meant that Jerry only had a student for four years. He told me: "I don't have the luxury of having a student for a bachelors and a masters .... just four years! If all of my students leave here playing like Doc Severinsen at the end of four years, I still would have nothing to work with while the students are here in school. I have to get these guys playing in two years. This way the school always has some decent players. I don't have time to wait for these guys to luck into playing well. I have to get them playing immediately". This is what influenced Jerry's teaching methods. He was determined to cut through all of the red tape and get right to the core of the students problems. Find out exactly what is causing the students problems and focus in on that. This method was based on critical analysis of the player's problems and a knowledge of how the trumpet machine worked. The ultimate goal for one of Jerry's students was to develop all of the skills needed to play the trumpet well into reflexes. Working on each skill individually until you don't have to think about it anymore; until it's automatic. Once all of the skills have been developed into reflexes, the only thing left to think about is the music. After all of this analysis, the end result was purely visual. Thinking only about the end result or goal. Visualizing how the music is to sound and letting your visualization guide your reflexes. Jerry passed away in 1989 from complications due to diabetes. He was a great teacher, great man, and dear friend. "
Growing up in Indiana, there was only one real choice for music schools if you wanted to be a performer. Indiana University School of Music. Not only is it a State University with low priced in state tuition, it is also the largest music school in the world. If I was to study music in college, this would be the place for me to do it. This is where Mark met Bill Adam. Mark relates, "When I showed up at Indiana University in 1978, Bill Adam was already somewhat of a trumpet legend. He was the first studio teacher hired at the school. He had also been there longer than any of the other studio teachers. He also taught more students each semester than any of the other studio teachers. This guy was motivated. This motivation had a way of rubbing off on his students. This motivation could be seen by the number of his trumpet students that could be heard practicing from early in the morning until late into the evening. Because of this, the third floor of the practice building became known as the trumpet floor. If an unsuspecting freshman woodwind player or vocalist would be assigned a practice room on the third floor, it wouldn't take long before the roar of trumpets would convince them to practice elsewhere. There was such a demand on these rooms by trumpet players that you would have to get there before seven a.m. in order to guarantee an available practice room. This was motivation. This was also motivating. It wasn't difficult to become caught up in this practice fervor. This kind of motivation is hard to make happen. You can't force it to happen. This kind of motivation has to be inspired. This is what Bill Adam did. His studio was on the third floor of the building. On sunny days in the spring, you could look out and see third street buzzing with activity. A combination of automobile and pedestrian traffic was in constant motion. I'll never forget my first lesson with Bill Adam. When I walked into Bill Adam's studio for the first time, I saw old horns in his metal cabinet, a picture of Bud Herseth, the stack of old coffee cups that stretched from floor to ceiling, and I also saw Bill looking out his window. It was a sunny day and third street was predictably busy. Bill said: "Come over here. Look out at all those pretty girls. He went on to point out some of the sights as well as the busy automobile traffic. After about a half an hour of sight seeing, he said: "You know, you have to keep your mind on what your doing around here! You could be out there on third street trying to cross the street and see a nice looking young lady .... you could be hit by a car .... you could be killed! You have to keep your mind on what you're doing, young man"! My horn didn't come out of the case. At first I was a little put off by the lack of apparent trumpet related content in this lesson. However, after getting to know Bill and his method a bit better, it became very clear that, in fact, this was a very important lesson: You have to keep your mind on what you're doing! This was the way Bill taught; direct but rarely obvious. One of Bill's favorite phrases was: "Analysis is Paralysis." This was, in a way, the corner stone of his teaching method. Always think about your sound. Everything emanates from your sound. Do not get bogged down with analysis. This is extra and unnecessary baggage. If you could put the Adam method into one sentence, it would go something like this: It's all in the sound. This method is based almost entirely on visualization with very little analysis. Thinking only about the end result or goal. Visualizing how the music is to sound and letting your visualization guide your reflexes.
If you notice, the last sentence of the following paragraph is the same as the last sentence of the Jerry Franks section (Visualizing how the music is to sound and letting your visualization guide your reflexes.) While these two great teaching methods are almost polar to one another, their end result is exactly the same: Hear it, play it. For me, having studied with both teachers, I believe that these two methods are very complimentary to one another without duplication. There are certain aspects involved with playing the trumpet that will require a mechanical or analytical approach. Other developmental aspects will not. In these cases a visualization approach is required. It is also important to remember that there are certain aspects of skill development (any skill) that are a given. Before trying to become a great artist on your horn, it is a given that you should have already developed the mechanical skill to produce music like a great artist. Keep in mind; Great skill does not, by itself, make a great artist. However, almost every great artist has great skill. Aside from developing a love or ambition for playing the trumpet, your proficiency inevitably relies upon your ability to focus on the end result. This assumes that the machine is intact and operational. If your mechanics are not developed enough to realize your goal, you will need to take a step backwards and practice those mechanics. - Mark Van Cleave
Over the years Mark has also taken lessons from Don (Jake) Jacoby; Claude Gordon and one session with Charles Colin.
While at Indiana University School of Music, Mark also studied with Bernie Adelstein. Mark relates, "What a great player! His main thing for me was articulation. The START of the note. We would routinely spend the whole lesson just in the first four bars of a piece trying to get all of the notes to speak the same way every time. My piccolo playing always managed to get him to leave the room within the first few notes ... nice !"
Mark Van Cleave has written a few books in his attempt to not only archive what he got from Jerry Franks and Bill Adam but also to put it into a bit more usable format. Mark states, "
Everyone should have an Arban Complete Method, Charles Colin Lip Flexibilities, Max Schlossberg Daily Drills, Clarke Technical Studies, etc. After these, I would recommend Claude Gordon's Systematic Approach to Daily Practice and of course my books Maximizing Practice Volumes 1 and 2.
Mark adds, "I do teach privately, but do not do one lesson knock offs. If a student is really serious and wants to become a student, we can certainly discuss that. But a one lesson knock off where the student wants the "magic bean" in one hour is not something that I want to get involved with.
Mark's first professional trumpet in High School was a Bach 37 lightweight in silver. Mark relates, "Good horn, but a bit on the laser beam side. Not a very warm or lyrical instrument. My teacher Jerry Franks was at this time a clinician for Bach and had put together a nice horn with a big sound that was a 72 lightweight ... I got one of those and had the 43 lead pipe put on it for a bit more open blow. I played that for about six years. While playing the 72 lightweight, I worked at the Bach factory. I thought that I would have first access to some of the best trumpets in the world and would be able to find the "perfect" trumpet. I ended up having my horn tweaked and put to exact Bach specs while there ... it played like no other Bach. After leaving Bach, I realized that if anything ever happened to that horn, I would never be able to get another one just like it. I ended up working with Jerome Callet and helped develop his first line of horns. These horns were made by DEG. They had a fiery sound and tons of projection, but were a bit more of a weapon than a musical instrument. I played these horns for approximately 2 years. I then started playing Yamaha trumpets in the mid-late 80's. After a few years, I became a Yamaha performing artist. Yamaha makes great horns. I played the 6320 model for years. One of their best models. It was also one of the first models they decided to discontinue when they started making Bach copies with their heavy wall models. This is when I started looking for a new horn. I bought a heavy wall model and played it for several years despite that it lacked efficiency and was a bit slow in response. Saying that, it did play well ... in tune and mechanically one of the best made trumpets I have owned. I just had to work too hard. It was during that time that I started designing horns for several foreign manufacturers. I finally put together a design that I wanted. Finally got some built the way I wanted them built ... funny thing, they actually PLAYED like I wanted as well. That was the start of my trumpet company "VanCleaveTrumpets.com" I currently play the MV3 brushed lacquer finish for most things and a MV2L when I have to slice and dice and compete with guitar amps.
Mark started on a Bach 7C trumpet mouthpiece ... moved to a 3C ... moved over to a Schilke 20 for a couple of years (BIG) ... switched to a Schilke 14 (Bach 3C equivalent.) for a couple of years couldn't get the lead sound that he was looking for then switched to a Jet-Tone T1C (their biggest and deepest "orchestral" cup) and that did not work AT ALL for Mark!!! Mark went back to the Schilke 14 for a month or so ... then, for some strange reason, Mark tried the JT T1C again on a gig . Mark had made a bit of a change in his chop position since the first try. This time it was a good fit. Mark played the JT T1C for a few years, then while at Bach, ended up working with Bill Ratzenberger (owner of Jet Tone) on some custom designs. Mark had three of these made and played those for several years until they were all worn out. Mark tried to get his prototypes copied, but found that to be quite expensive. During this time, Mark met Terry Warburton in Florida. GREAT manufacturer of high quality mouthpieces. Mark tried to have Terry copy one of his mouthpieces, but that did not work. A couple of years later, Mark started putting together Warburton pieces trying to find a commercially available mouthpiece that he liked. Mark played a variety of Warburton Trumpet Mouthpieces for about 5 years. Mark liked the mouthpieces, but never felt comfortable. Mark finally went back to his original prototype mouthpieces and put them digitally into the computer via AutoCAD and is now manufacturing these via CNC lathe DynaFlowBrass.com. Mark plays the Dyna-Flow C1 and M1 tops with the T1 throat and #3 backbore. You can visit Mark's websites for more information on his trumpets, mouthpieces and mutes.
Mark's final advice ... "Stay positive! LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Play equipment that fits YOU and makes you sound good not what fits the current fad! "You are what you eat" ... so put in quality practice and you will get quality results. It's not easy or EVERYONE would play well. Saying that, it is NOT DIFFICULT to play the trumpet correctly! ... but it can be TRICKY. ANYONE can play the trumpet well. - Mark Van Cleave