A Tribute To

November 2, 1904 - May 26, 1987
New York City

When playing an instrument, the musician is dealing with numerous body motions. It's the synchronization
of these motions that produces the desired results. Synchronization requires perfect timing of all muscular
movements. Therefore, timing is of the utmost importance. ------Carmine Caruso (1979)





Student Tributes

Charles Raymond
Carmine's powerful calisthenic approach and his rules of implementation were the tools that he used to bring out the musical soul of a student.   But the manner in which those tools were manipulated is what truly defined who Carmine Caruso was. Negativity didn't exist in his office.   Good notes came from bad notes.   High notes came from low notes.   Reducing mouthpiece pressure came from using all the pressure you wanted.   Everything was a world of achievement.   Carmine told me that if you follow the instructions of a teacher and you still fail to achieve your goals, "It's the teacher's fault, not the student's!"   I had never heard anything like that before or since. Nothing was ever "wrong" with the student.

He took the full burden of failureof all his students on his own shoulders and left the student free to develop without guilt or self doubt.    If you studied with Carmine, you could not fail.   It was that simple. Carmine saved my life.

Richard Raymond July 1973 first lesson
Pat Harbison
Carmine was a powerful influence on me at a crucial point in my life and career.   I came to him in the mid-1970s with music in my head and my heart and a frustrating inability to make it audible to others.   No matter how bad I thought it was going Carmine made me feel like he had seen this any number of times and convinced me that he knew just the cure.

Carmine and the power of his approach to practicing convinced me that I could make a career playing the trumpet at a point when I was considering other options.

Marvin Stamm
Carmine Caruso was one of the most important people in my musical life and one of the most nurturing of teachers.   He showed me that all things are possible, limited only by my own aspirations.   Carmine's approach to teaching was never defined by his own ego, but by the needs of each individual student, and studying with Carmine, one never worked from a premise of what the student could not do, but rather on what was possible for each student to accomplish.   He made a profound difference in the musical and personal lives of so many of his students.

Sam Burtis
Carmine Caruso was a teaching genius.   Not just a brass teaching genius, a flat out brilliant teacher.   His idea that the application of good time to the learning of any action was the most efficient way to do so has ramifications way past learning how to play a brass instrument, and that was only part of his achievement.

He also had the patience and humanity to forgive students their shortcomings while never giving up on them, and was without a doubt the least elitist teacher I have ever met.   Waiting for a lesson in his studio, at any one time, there were quite likely to be a couple of teenaged second year players, a young pro w/chop problems, one of the busiest, most successful brass players in NYC, and a bag lady who liked to play French horn in Central Park.

His tolerance for differences and love of people might have been his greatest teaching legacy for those of us who were lucky enough to have met him.

Al Stewart
I studied with him in the early 1950's at his home on 112th St. at 1st. Ave., well before he moved his teaching to Jimmy's studio on W. 46th St.   What with the backup of students and discussions, which we were all part of, often a lesson would last for several hours.   I stayed for dinner many times.   His wife Bobby was an incredibley good cook.

There was a mention of Carmine's starting to teach in 1942.   I remember Carmine telling me that his experimental student was Lou Oles, an excellent trumpeter who subsequentally became a close friend of mine. In fact it was through Lou that I got to know, study and love Carmine.

There were times when I went for a lesson that I didn't take my horn out of the case yet walked out a better player.   He was special as an observer, teacher, problem solver, psychologist and above all, a good friend.

Al Harrison
When I started with Carmine his response was "don't change a thing, if the mouthpiece moves on your face as a result of my exercises, let it."  But that's just the technical part, the more important results were the effects our lessons had. I was still a teenager, still learning to sight read, full of ambition but unsure of my place in the world of music.  In some ways, studying with Carmine was like going to a guru or studying yoga.

His aura was one of calm and reason and his studies were like mantra.    I never left a lesson not feeling better and more confidant than when I came in and whenever I gave a clinic or teach I preach the six notes and start every practice session with them.

Paul Ayick
Well about Carmine I think he was as much of a psychologist as he was a teacher, I always left there feeling like "everything was OK".

One of the regular visitors in those days was Lew Soloff.  He would many times show up while I was in a lesson and would wait very shyly at the door and not say a word.   Carmine would get out of his chair and walk to him and say, "yes Lew?" and Lew would whisper in his ear essentially whatever was bugging him and Carmine would say.....go back to what we talked about, you will be OK.   One time after Lew had split Carmine says to me, "Lew would sell his grandmother for a gig..... all that boy cares about is the trumpet".   Guess it paid off.

He'd get calls and visits from the top guys from all around the country and it was fun just being at the studio.    I remember Carmine's brother, Jimmy, I think his name was, too.    Sometimes it seemed Carmine would nod out during your lesson.   You might be doing, say, for instance, the 6 notes 8 8 16 and you would think Carmine had dozed off but you might move your set a little or forget to nose breath and he'd pop right up "keep the setting" or "listen to your foot" ......he always knew.

He had me read "Zen In The Art Of Archery" which was a huge eye opener for me.    He would always say "the body will find a way."

Oft times he would call down to the China Song and we would dine after the lesson, he would usually have a huge plate of chicken wings on a bed of rice.   The proprietor, an older asian gentleman would always come to say hello and called Carmine "Professor".  I know of no other teacher in NY so beloved by so many people.   I think it was the objectivity, emotional evenness, and how he always made you feel "everything is OK".   He had a way of instilling faith.

Burt Collins
Thank you for making it possible for me to have a great career.

Joe Shepley
I remember Carmine, his love, friendship and guidance transformed Joe Shepley from an insecure, negative consciousness to a positive, efficient, succesful musician.    He eliminated the fear doubt and anxiety I had coped with for twenty-one years.    I have had and am still enjoying a very successful and lucrative career playing music.    Carmine is directly responsible for my good fortune.    Mine is a Carmine chop.   I am proud to be a representative of Carmine.    My success is the result of his genius.

I am eternally indebted to him for what he gave me.    I think of him every day.    Every time I put a mouthpiece to my face I hear him talk to me.    He taught me to reduce everything to its simplest form. Complexity was the cause of my problems.    He taught me simplicity. "It's a wind instrument, you have to blow it."    "Your love to play music will pull you through anything." Detachment, abandon, focus.

My pride and gratitude are surpassed only by my love for Carmine.

Randy Brecker
Soon after I came back to New York Marvin Stamn, Burt Collins, and Joe Shepley all recommended very highly that I study with Carmine, and for the next two years I did just that.  I thought that the fact that he was a saxophone player and that he had worked out a series of clinical exercises for brass players was a bit strange, but I went ahead and studied with him anyway.   He was a very special person in that when you got together with Carmine it was much more than a lesson.   He really took a personal interest in your development, not only as a trumpet player, but as a person as well.

His method strangely enough, works.   I don't know quite what the explanation is.    You feel the results really very soon after you start doing them.   It's not always fun to practice the exercises, but Carmine was always the first to say, "They don't have anything to do with music, they're purely clinical exercises."

For me, I can tell you his exercises work.   I studied with other teachers to study "music," but as far as approaching the physical aspects of playing the trumpet he was the greatest.   He was really an original.   There was nobody else like him.

Dave Rogers
Carmine was like a spiritual beacon to me.   If it wasn't for his patience, kindness and encouragement I wouldn't be working today.

Carmine's teaching was not just his method or problem solving; but, also, psychological guidance and support.  He was always there when you needed him, never too busy.   I miss him more than I can put into words.  His picture is still a constant source of comfort.

Carmine's routine is one of the most effective for complete freedom for any type of playing.   Timing and steady blow, my mantra.   Every now and then great teachers and great friends come our way.   For me, I was blessed to have both in Carmine Caruso.

Jordan Hirsch
I had the pleasure of studying with Carmine for about four years.  When I started with him, I could not play more than a few notes at a time, and I lost all ability to play over the staff.   He made me believe in myself, and gave me the tools to start climbing through the entire register of the trumpet, without fear or self consciousness.   In retrospect, the Pedal tone exercises we worked on were probably the biggest aid he gave me.

It was the weirdest thing.   Carmine did nothing dramatic, just took me through his exercises and made me believe in myself, because he believed in me.   He got me playing for real again.   He was also the nicest man I ever met. I loved him, and miss him to this day.

Ray Anderson
I studied with Carmine briefly in 1983 after a devastating bout of Bell's Palsy.   I still do several of his exercises every single day.   They are ingenious, and they work!

Links To
Carmine Caruso

Carmine Caruso Forum On The Trumpet Herald

Some forum topics of interest.

LESSON NOTES 3 (teaching and learning) - TOM GREENWOOD

An Interview With Charly Raymond

The Carmine Caruso "Method" ----Sam Burtis

Carmine Caruso And The Six Notes ----Sam Burtis

The Intrigue Of Carmine Caruso----Wayne Trager

An Overview ---- Jeff Smiley

Paul Fontaine Practice Suggestions

Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition

"The Basic Caruso"----Reinhold Friedrich

Dave Douglas Interview

Buy From music.net

e-mail corrections/comments to: charlyraymond@aol.com

August 28, 2002