The Artist: Glenn Smith |

The Artist: Glenn Smith

What is your career and your current job title? Self-employed trumpet player, brass instrument teacher, orthopedic massage therapist, life coach and problem-solving group facilitator. Music-related work: I play second trumpet in the Santa Cruz County Symphony and sub in other orchestras, including Music in the Mountains. Locally, I am a member of Real George and recently have played in Saul Rayo’s Paul Simon Tribute and Objects In the Mirror’s Steely Dan Tribute concerts (to be reprised on Jan. 8 at the Center for the Arts.) I currently have eight brass students and coach the NU wind ensemble brass section.

Describe in a sentence or two your art. Professional trumpet playing has been primarily classical (orchestras, operas, musicals, brass ensembles, brass quintets and solo trumpet in church services, weddings and funerals). My career began in 1971 and currently includes membership in funk and jazz-influenced rock bands. I began teaching trumpet about 30 years ago and the other brasses over 10 years ago.

Why do you do it? I like challenges, and I find trumpet playing a very challenging endeavor. Contributing my part in an ensemble performance can be very rewarding. Music and the arts are essential parts of human behavior, and playing and teaching music are valuable, as well as enjoyable, contributions to society.

What do you hope to accomplish? I see the trumpet and brasses as adding a shine of excitement and intensity to ensemble performance in either of their two common roles of melody or rhythmic punctuation. I do my best to produce a believable interpretation of composer and arranger’s stylistic and emotional messages. In teaching I hope to lead students through the technical challenges to the same artistic goals.

Where do you want to be with your art, in terms of part-time versus full-time status, art positions and where your works are seen? As teaching and my other careers are supporting my “trumpet habit” more, I am moving away from out-of-town orchestra work to more (hopefully local) small group work. In teaching, I have room for a couple more students and could imagine myself doing more coaching of small ensembles or school band brass sections.

What kind of special training did you take? I was lucky to play in good school ensembles as well as playing in a working rock band in high school. Also, a B.A. in music, UCSC, 1977; one year of grad school, CalArts, 1979; and numerous camps, seminars, workshops and master classes with some great teachers. Learning the craft of playing a musical instrument has always been a combination of “just doing it” and mentorship. I took private lessons for over 20 years and feel very lucky to have received some of the best teaching available and to be passing it along as best I can.

What’s your favorite part of your endeavors? Performing as well as learning new music and the creative process of individually and collectively arriving at the artistic decisions about direction and details to get a piece to performance. In teaching, it is very rewarding to inspire students and help them to progress and to see their progress.

What’s your least favorite part of your endeavors? The drudgery of practicing to be “in shape.”

Do you consider it hard work and could anyone do it? Many trumpet players give up or switch to other instruments because of its difficulty, and many find it easier than me. Some physical and musical aptitude helps, but persistence is probably the major ingredient necessary. For teaching, knowledge, sensitivity, humor and especially patience are great attributes.


Know of a creative talent who should be profiled in this feature? Contact Janet Lee at or 477-4203.

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