Melodic Diaries: Eric S. and the smooth sounds of the trumpet
Hello, everyone. I’m Eric Swartz; I’m a trumpeter from Florida. Welcome to my Melodic Diaries!Back when I was only six years old, the first instrument I learned to play was the piano. Fun fact: I’m the first musician in my family. My parents encouraged me to practice because they were aware of how good it is for children to be taught music. In any case, they were always supportive and motivated me to keep on learning.
I grew up listening to almost all genres of music, including classical, jazz, and contemporary. I admire talented musicians such as Wynton Marsalis and Miles Davis that can transport us with their smooth sounds, and so it was that, when I was in middle school, I fell in love with the trumpet. It became my main instrument since then, although I still play the piano and, sometimes, also the guitar.
I played the trumpet throughout high school: I earned my place in the symphonic band, in the jazz band –in which I also played the piano-, and also in the marching band. Being a musician got me a lot of friends and basically, made me feel I was right where I wanted to be.
The loving support of my parents was vital, but teachers can also leave a huge mark when it comes to a young musician’s trajectory. All along the way, many music teachers helped me develop as a musician, but I particularly recall Mr. Josh Figueroa, the high school band director, who recommended the pieces I should play for my college audition: they were the Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major, by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and Concert Etude Op 49, by Alexander Goedicke. I’m so grateful I took his advice because thankfully I passed the audition and got into the Bower School of Music at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
So here I was, playing the trumpet in college at FGCU, where I took applied lessons and participated in the University’s ensembles. I learned a lot about music theory, which helped me develop as a composer as well as a trumpeter. I must say I’m pretty good at music theory, probably because I have a perfect pitch, which is a true blessing when you are a professional musician!
During those years in college, I played in the wind orchestra and I had what, so far, I can name as one of the most important experiences of my life as a musician. I was given the unique opportunity to perform with that group at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. This performance was an exciting experience for me since we performed on a big stage in front of such a huge audience!
I must admit I felt a little nervous. Luckily, my family was there for me, among all those people. And my best friends were performing on stage right beside me! In my experience, nothing strengthens a friendship so much as playing music together. When you are part of a band or an ensemble, they become more than your band: they become your family as well.
Another experience worth telling is my junior trumpet recital, a requirement for graduation, which took place last October 2019. I played solo for most of it, and along with other trumpeters in the end, since playing a chamber piece is part of the requirement. The repertoire included works by J.N. Hummel, Bozza, Handel, and other composers.
Nowadays, I dedicate between 1 and 2 daily hours for practicing the trumpet. I really enjoy playing almost every day. Ok, so I may take a break every once in a while, as we trumpeters may experience chapped lips now and then. But music is my life! Besides playing instruments, I also compose music. It was very satisfactory to write a piece for one of the university's chamber ensembles to play. I don’t compose only to brass or woodwinds but for any instrument. The piano is a great composing tool, of course, but I also use this great software program called MuseScore, which is versatile and surprisingly user-friendly.
So far, my last professional experience was an internship at a synagogue within Fort Myers where I played the trumpet and/or the piano in the Friday night Shabbat services. I really enjoyed it, it lasted for about two and a half months, but sadly, the pandemic put an abrupt end to it. Hopefully, things will eventually go back to normal and music will keep on playing everywhere! I look forward to gaining more musical experience in the future.
As for my current plans, I do hope to improve even further as a musician. If I were not a music teacher, I would love to be a sound engineer, composer, or theorist within the music. I rejoice in composing music and music theory. When it comes to technology, I think it works extremely well with the music. I am looking for online teaching jobs while looking forward to graduate school where I want to study sound engineering.
It was great meeting you, Eric! If you want to sign up for trumpet or piano lessons with him, just check out his profile and schedule your trial lesson today!