I began teaching trumpet lessons in 2003 while a freshman trumpet performance major at Ithaca College. In no time at all, I realized that I loved to teach. That hasn’t changed over the years, except perhaps in that my love for teaching has deepened. Since that start, I have been fortunate enough to work with students ages 6 to 96, ranging from beginners to graduate trumpet majors to retired come-back players and hobbyists. I am excited to be joining the faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College beginning in the fall of 2019. In addition to teaching the graduate jazz trumpet studio at Longy, I will have the privilege of serving as visiting trumpet faculty for the 2019 to 2020 school year at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania during the sabbatical leave of Dr. Kevin Kjos. I have taught independently, and for Ithaca College, Opus Ithaca School of Music, and the Eastman Community Music School, including serving as a trumpet mentor and brass ensemble conductor for the Rochester New Horizons Band program. I have presented trumpet and jazz clinics at SUNY Fredonia, Ithaca College, and The Fieldston School. Since 2013, I have served on the faculty of the Ithaca College Summer Music Academy.
It is common for trumpet teachers to talk about tailoring their pedagogical approaches to each student individually, and I do not disagree with this premise. Moreover, when we introduce the particular skill areas required of a jazz trumpet player to the equation, we find the need to attack new challenges: improvisation, repertoire, expressive techniques, and a wide range of concepts central to authentic performance practice within jazz styles. However, there is a certain amount of fundamental material that simply must be addressed if a student wishes to excel on the trumpet in any idiom, and this holds true across the board. Without a strong technical, conceptual, and artistic foundation, one can only go so far. Depth of musicianship, clarity of goals, and quality as a human being are all elements that lead to success in trumpet playing. My approach as a teacher is to integrate these elements into each student's development, as part of an overall plan. Additionally, it is my duty to model these traits and behaviors for my students at the highest level I can possibly muster. The plan evolves constantly, and varies considerably depending on the student, but the core tends to remain the same, with the following goals unfailingly in place:
Make a beautiful sound and cultivate exceptional rhythmic feel
Play expressively AND accurately
Understand the music you are playing from a theoretical and historical standpoint
Be a team player
Find your own intrinsic motivation
Become your own best teacher
Audition preparation (NYSSMA, College, School Ensembles, Professional Opportunities)
Streamlining practice for efficiency
Jazz styles and improvisation
Conquering/managing performance anxiety
Recovery from embouchure overuse or injury
Braces, wisdom teeth, and other dental challenges
Proof, pudding, etc.
I enjoy working with students for whom music is a hobby, and with those for whom it is a career path. Student whom I have taught have gone on to further musical studies at institutions including the Eastman School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University, McGill University, SUNY Purchase, SUNY Fredonia, Ithaca College, Mansfield University, and Northwestern University, and have enjoyed performance opportunities including New York All-State Ensembles and the Essentially Ellington Competition finals, among many. My primary goal, however, is not to help students earn accolades and prestige, or just to help them prepare to get into one school or another. Those are really side effects. My primary goal is to help students have an easier time playing the trumpet, so that they can enjoy themselves more while doing it. The trumpet can be an instrument of music or of torture, both for players and listeners. I prefer to stick with music.
Nikola not only helps your trumpet playing, but works with you to improve your musical, contextual, and theoretical understanding of all different types of music. In addition to helping you in the traditional role of a teacher, Nikola also helps you learn to critically analyze your own playing, giving you the tools to be your own teacher. I think the best part of studying with Nikola is that he touches on all aspects of the musical experience. - P.G.
Nikola provided me with an experience unlike any other I've had with a private teacher before. He doesn't make all of the decisions for the student. He guides the student along a journey of self-discovery. Nikola provides students with experiences that allow them to become better musicians, better learners, and better people. - M.S.
I really need to thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I’ve never considered myself much of a trumpet player. However, your advice, guidance, and teaching have helped me tame an instrument I’ve struggled with since day one. I’ve never felt as secure about my playing technique as I do now. - S.R.
Nikola gave my high schooler trumpet lessons for a year at Opus Ithaca. GREAT teacher--set high standards but was also very supportive. Taught not only musicianship but also life lessons. Wish we still lived in the same town! - R.K.
Nikola is an outstanding teacher. He demystifies technique, beautifully demonstrates, explains and helps the student explore dynamics, tempo and musical expression. He established an excellent rapport with our son, encouraging and inspiring both discipline and creativity. I would recommend him highly to any student or family without hesitation. - A.L.
Study with me!
I currently offer in-home lessons in Manhattan and the Bronx, and throughout Westchester, Rockland, and Dutchess Counties. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a lesson.
If you are interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in jazz trumpet at Longy, please feel free to write me at email@example.com.