I first met Mr. James George Stamp in 1960. I had no idea what to expect when I showed up at his house in Hollywood that day.
My very first official trumpet teacher was Walter R. Laursen. I went to him to redeem the $100. Scholarship I had won in high school. I was 14 years old. He taught me the standard etudes and cornet solos. As a young student he had taken the bus from Pasadena down to Long Beach to take lessons with Herbert Lincoln Clarke. Clarke was the conductor of the famous Long Beach Band until his death in 1945. Walt taught me all of the solos by Clarke as well as Frank Simon and Rafael Mendez.
When I was 17 and after 3 years studying with him, Mr. Laursen advised me that I would have to move along. He cannot teach me anymore. I cried. He was the biggest role model for me in every way. His polite manner, his appearance and the way he dressed. All of his students felt the same. He was responsible for me playing in the Pasadena Symphony which was a training orchestra with a mixture of amateurs and professionals.
He felt that I needed to go to the next step and he had already taught me what I needed at the time. He gave me 3 names of possible teachers. I called the first one on the list.
I had heard Bob Divall at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I studied orchestral excerpts but had no real idea of the approach to the different styles. He was even playing the solos for the 2nd and 3rd trumpet. He was too busy with the LA Phil and teaching trumpet classes at U.C.L.A.
Number 2 lived in Pacific Palisades and had been principal trumpet for a few years with the Philharmonic but quit when he was contracted to play lead trumpet at 20th Century Fox studios. John Clyman taught me some things. Few had to do with the trumpet. In that one lesson I discovered that I had no idea how many players were able to play softer and louder than me. I suspected that this was a man who did not really want to teach. He already knew of me. I had taken the first chair away from some of his students in local community orchestras and I believe that he was ‘laying for me’. “Can you play that louder? If you break your trumpet I will give you one. I have 5 of those. Can you play that softer? By the way, there are practically no openings in major Symphony Orchestras.”As I drove from the Palisades I had a flat tire. I left the Palisades with a heavy heart and a flat tire!A very memorable lesson indeed!
The next time I saw Clyman we were at the Fox scoring stage in 1973 with John Williams. The score was for the film “The Paper Chase” and one cue was a version of the Telemann Concerto for 3 trumpets adapted by John Williams. The 2nd trumpet was a student of Clyman, Chase Craig. The 3rd trumpet was the wonderful teacher himself-John Clyman. In the lead trumpet chair was a new guy, about 30 years old. It was yours truly.
Now, I was left with only number 3 on the list. The 3rd choice? How could he be any good? He is the third choice. Stamp? I had never heard of anyone with the name Stamp. It was a very special blessing as it turns out.
It is 60 years later and I have had a great career in music. James Stamp taught me how to maintain myself as a player. How to warm up. How to get efficient. I agree with Ronald Romm who reminds us that most of the benefits from studying with Jimmy will be realized when we are much older and still playing efficiently.
At 77 years old I am still surprised that I can play just about anything I have ever played. If I play 2 or 3 days in a row, I definitely can still play.
I feel great about sharing the concept and approach with others. Especially the young talented players coming up. The earlier they understand it and internalize it, the better they will play and be able to diagnose themselves and take the steps to improve their own playing.
I am extremely dedicated to being able to pass all of it on to the next generation of brass players in the most undiluted form.