Dean Brockdorff America’s Next Top Trumpeter

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In the Meet Our Musicians series, Jellynote introduces you to the Creators behind the sheet music on our platform. Discover their musical style and get to know them!

Dean Brockdorff’s ambition to “Make Trumpet Great Again”, may raise an eyebrow (or two), but stick with me because I’m sure, after hearing him play, you’ll probably support his quest.

Dean started playing the trumpet in 2001. Not intentionally. He wanted to play the drums, but unfortunately too many kids picked it at school so he was left with his next option. Safe to say, a lot has changed since then. Two recessions, Lena Dunham, a global pandemic, the rise of podcasts, the emergence of Fake News and, of course, a Spice Girls reunion. And yet, despite all the chaos that has ensued, Dean’s love affair with the trumpet has stayed constant.

His background is very musical. His grandfather was a piano tuner all his life. In fact, it was this same grandfather who gifted him his first “adult” trumpet for his 10th birthday.

“This was the moment it became serious”, he tells me, “it makes such a difference from playing the student model, which is made out of plastic. It’s proper brass.”

The memory itself is hazy, as it was so long ago, but he definitely remembers feeling very happy.

Though, of course, a real instrument required real practise. Dean used to play every day after school and had lessons with the same tutor throughout primary school and then in high school. He completed all his music grades through sheer force of will and hard work. 

This dedication to music was nurtured by his mother, who is a pianist, guitarist and also a singer. They used to play songs together, including some of the Studio Ghibli soundtracks, a way of appreciating their shared Japanese heritage.

Check out our studio Ghibli sheet music

“My mother definitely pushed me,” he admits.

His father’s side, alas, is not as musically inclined. While Dean’s father enjoys listening to music, he never had the same ability as Dean and his mother. In an unusual turn of events, his father is actually present for the interview and tells me how proud he is of his son.

“I wish I could get my father to say that about my life choices,” I say.

“I’m sure he’s proud of you too,” Dean insists.

He laughs. And a tense moment briefly hangs in the air before I ask Dean about his current life situation.

“I graduated in 2018 from Charles Stuart University,” he tells me, “I’m studying a masters in Ultrasound now at the University of South Australia”.

He even does the occasional gig, playing at a few weddings and pubs. While he still plays classical music, he defines himself as a jazz musician through and through.

Looking to start gigging professionally? Check out our article on how to start booking gigs

Ready for action!

A lot of his time is now spent writing sheet music – a real passion of his. Check out his sheet music for He’s a Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean and The Little Drummer Boy for the trumpet.

In need of a mood boost? Check out Dean’s trumpet sheet music for Pharrell William’s Happy.

“I love sharing music because it’s so hard to get, especially trumpet music. You do a Google search, and all you find is piano music or guitar tabs. There’s not enough trumpet sheet music for those who need it. It’s an underrepresented instrument. There’s much more stuff out there for piano, violin, guitar, flute…even the clarinet.”

I gasp. Surely not the clarinet!

“So your aim is to Make Trumpet Great Again”, I ask tentatively?

He laughs. “Yeah. I suppose.”

Check out Dean’s arrangement of Bink’s Sake by Kohei Tanaka 

While Dean has reached an incredible level, he still struggles with certain aspects of the instrument to this day. For example, playing long notes and high notes. The key to mastering this? Playing every day to develop your embouchure a.k.a your lip muscles.

“It’s like going to the gym”, he tells me. An analogy which is immediately lost on me.

He also recognises that his improvisation skills need work – something which is vital to jazz.

This mainly requires learning the jazz chords, but it’s something Dean hasn’t got round to yet…

“I’m a bit lazy,” he admits. He laughs, before adding a determined “I will, though!”

The key to good improvisation, according to Dean, is mastering these chords and using them as building blocks for improvisation.  Dean also recommends finding piano accompaniments online to play along with. He also suggests writing out solos before you play them in order to help you get started! Improvisation can be difficult, but don’t give up!

Though, of course, his life has been put on hold due to the outbreak of corona virus, which cost him his job. Musically, however, he is still going strong, as he continues to record music for his YouTube channel and releases videos every Sunday.

“It keeps me busy”, he says, as if doing an impression of an octogenarian.

That said, he is excited about his future and has lots of exciting plans. He wants to start teaching again, imparting his years of knowledge to students, such as which trumpet brand to buy (Yamaha – obviously). He also wants to move out of his father’s home as he’s not sure about the prospect of teaching students in the unit he currently lives in…with neighbours… on all sides.

Considering becoming a music teacher? Check out our article on how to find students in your local area

“I don’t think the neighbours would appreciate student trumpeter,” he tells me, “the trumpet is very loud and when you’re still learning, it’s not good to the ear…”

You’ve got to start somewhere! Even Dean admits that, when he first started playing, he sounded “like a goose.”

Speed round!

If you could have a dinner party with three musicians, dead or alive, who would they be?

Maybe Louis Armstrong?

And…who was the guy in Queen? The singer?

Freddie Mercury?

Freddie yeah!

And Michael Jackson.

I’ve always played their songs.

All dead? Interesting.

Yeah I’d go for guys who have passed away. It would be more interesting. I feel they’d have better stories.

What song do you listen to when you’re happy?

Probably something by Daft Punk.

Who?

The French band? They wear robot helmet things…I’m sure you’ve seen photos.

Interesting look…wouldn’t you say?

And when you’re sad?

Jeez I don’t know. Maybe some smoky jazz by Miles Davis.

What is your favourite ‘music memory’?

I really liked performing Hallelujah live. It was at my university. One of my friends does TV production there. He needed music performers as part of an assignment he was working on so I offered to play.

I’ll remember that for a long time.

Lucky for you, you can watch Dean’s performance of Hallelujah!

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