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Tooting His Own Horn: Famed Trumpeter Offers MasterClass to BISD Student-Musicians

It was a discussion that included rehearsal techniques, performance techniques, and “all that jazz” at the West Brook High School Performing Arts Center. Leading the discussion was a member of what is considered to be the “First Family of Jazz”, world-renowned trumpeter Rodney Marsalis. Rodney is cousin to Grammy-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the first in the family to achieve national fame. “When I was in New Orleans,” Rodney explained, “my cousin [Wynton] and all of his friends, they were all great trumpet players and part of what they did, they weren’t paid to do it, but us younger players, they would show us things. So it just comes naturally for me to try to do the same for younger players.”

West Brook Sound Power members appreciated the opportunity to learn from a musical great. Aidan Collins, Sound Power Band Captain shared, “It means a lot. It’s one thing to see them on YouTube and just be like ‘man, they did that’, and it’s another thing to just see them right in front of you and just them explaining everything to you and how things work and what they did to get there.” Marsalis said the one thing he wishes he had known a lot earlier is the business side of music. “You don’t learn that as much. You learn how to play your instrument, but then in order to make a living, you need someone to show you this is how you make a living doing this and I wish I would’ve learned that earlier. It would’ve been great to have known more about it when I was younger,” Marsalis offered.

Symphony of Southeast Texas conductor Chelsea Tipton II has known Marsalis personally and professionally for 30 years. “We met in Greensboro, North Carolina, my hometown, at a music festival there,” Tipton reminisced. “We stayed in touch and his career has just gone off the charts.”  

In addition to Marsalis teaching the 45 minute masterclass to West Brook trumpet players Thursday, November 9, 2023, the New Orleans-born musician will perform as a guest with the Symphony of Southeast Texas in their second Classic Series concert, “Triumph Over Tyranny”, Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. at the Julie Rogers Theatre. Tickets for the performance are available at