First Trumpet Festival held Saturday & Q & A with Dr. Kelly Rossum

2019 Trumpet Festival draws students, community members and long-time players for a full day of masterclasses, performances and more in the Ferguson Center  

This Saturday, the CNU Music Department hosted the first Trumpet Festival, a free, all-day event open to all ‘trumpet enthusiasts.’ With a variety of guest speaker presentations, panels, classes and performances, the event drew an audience ranging from younger students to experienced community members.

Guest speakers included artists Ashley Hall, Victor Haskins, FifthBridge and David Vonderheide. 

Titled “Careers in Trumpet,” one panel event featured the guests artists, assisted by CNU Faculty professors Dr. Kelly Rossum and Dr. Adam Gandolfo. While each panelist shared their unique story to success with the trumpet, many centered on perseverance through practicing and performing in their school years and above all, refusing to quit.

According to Vonderheide, trying to quit the trumpet in elementary school was only thwarted by not having a signed letter, forcing him to continue and eventually reach new heights in his performance ability. 

Having studied with trumpet player and professor Vincent Cichowicz, Vonderheide held a one-hour class to discuss his experience and tips from studying with a professional. Famous in the trumpet world for his flow studies, Cichowicz’s teachings focused on proper breath release and overcoming hesitation.  

Emphasizing that the ‘original sin’ of trumpet is “blocking,” or hesitating with one’s breath, Vonderheide said, “it has to be uninhibited, you have to be brave and you have to release.”

Vonderheide shared a more conceptual side of his journey learning the trumpet from Cichowicz, who had some different ideas of how to practice and learn. Even though Vonderheide never heard him play, he learned from listening to Cichowicz’s verbal instruction. 

“His philosophy was to get at the ‘why’ instead of ‘what’ to improve playing,” Vonderheide said. “It’s not a ‘paint by numbers’ thing.” 

Even with a vast repertoire of performances and current position at the Virginia Symphony, Vonderheide shared that he was not a natural. However, Cichowicz found a way to help him unlock his talent. 

“I was doing an unnatural thing [trumpet] and putting it into my natural life,” Vonderheide said. 

Making the talk interactive, Vonderheide asked his audience to practice breathing with him, as he led a minute of breathing exercises everyone did together.

Q & A with Dr. Kelly Rossum

How did you prepare for the festival?

“It is something that I put together in the course of the whole Fall. I had a student committee help me which was fantastic because they had ‘let’s try this, let’s try this’ and other ideas. I also had faculty and staff support to get it all to happen. Lastly, of course, was the Ferguson Center. I couldn’t have done it without them! We need the hall, and all their support and the tech, so it was a lot of people behind the scenes to figure it out.”

What was the outcome of the festival?

“The first one was an experiment and it was amazing. At the end of the concert there were I’m guessing thirty trumpet players on stage playing the final piece. It was super, super cool. We had CNU students there, professionals, community members, High School students, junior high students. I mean, everybody was up on stage. It was really cool.”

What is festival’s ‘mission statement?’

“Bring Hampton Roads area trumpet players together. A lot of Virginia people traveled down from Richmond, down from DC and up from North Carolina, even students from JMU and VT were here.” 

How did you choose guest speakers?

“I’ve known all of the guest artists for the course of my career. They are brilliant musicians and excellent teachers and masterclass. Not only are they great musicians, but you can ask them how they do what they’re doing and they will tell you. Some musicians can’t respond in the way that we would love to know and these are all great speakers and performers.” 

Why do you enjoy teaching trumpet?

“I personally have a very love-hate relationship with the trumpet because it’s so hard. It’s a really difficult instrument, so I try to give my students space to love and hate it at the same time. It’s a challenge – it’s a daily challenge as a musician. You have to do it every day, and you can’t take a day off.” 

What was your favorite part of the day? 

“There was a father and a daughter that came to it together, and they are both trumpet players. That’s my favorite part, because I love teaching little kids because they’re so excited and wide-eyed. And to see a father who loves playing trumpet and who was so into it bring his daughter was my favorite part.”

~Kristen Ziccarelli, A&E Editor~

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