Can someone just “have a good sound” on the trumpet? Or voice? Is that really the way anything works? Can we just “have talent?”

One of the first things a student learns from Phil is that playing the trumpet has nothing to do with inheriting the right mouth structure, making sure you used a protractor when finding the right place for the mouthpiece, or if your pinky is in the ring.

Trumpet’s about having a good sound, right?

“No – sound good,” Phil told me nearly every week.

Trumpet is really that simple, and like anything takes an intense amount of listening, focusing on the goal of learning, and not necessarily obsessing with irrelevant details.

When I look at places in my life recently where I haven’t succeeded, it’s because I didn’t approach them in the way Phil approaches the trumpet, with a realization that just “having a good” anything is practically impossible. Without really devoting the time, listening, and a smart routine to “sound good”, it’s a rough longshot at achieving anything. I wouldn’t be who I am today without this knowledge.

What he teaches – that no one is born with a good sound, that everything can be improved, that we can always aim higher, that the only thing limiting us from our goals is our own mind, our own limitations we place on ourselves – is that valuable. When I think there’s something I can’t do, I go back to all the times I thought I couldn’t hit a high C and did, or I thought I couldn’t play longer than 30 minutes, or I couldn’t play the Carnival of Venice upside down, and somehow I figured it out.

Phil doesn’t just teach trumpet – he teaches life.

Thank you, Phil for showing me that anything is possible.

-Charlie Blake