Pedagogical methods of Vincent Cichowicz as witnessed by Larry Black, 1964-1966: a case study

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University of Alabama Libraries

Trumpeter Larry Black, now retired from a thirty-three-year career with the Atlanta Symphony, studied with legendary trumpet pedagogue Vincent Cichowicz from 1964 to 1966. During this short time, Cichowicz transformed Black from a non-collegiate student receiving lessons on a trial basis to a young professional with master's degree from Northwestern University, where Cichowicz taught from 1959 to 1998. Because Black has preserved his entire collection of lesson assignments from this period, spanning sixty-three leaves in two separate notepads, it is possible to form an impression of Cichowicz's pedagogical style. Black's data indicates that Cichowicz prioritized sound quality over musical complexity, believed that music of minimum difficulty would yield maximum progress, and stood by these convictions even in the face of time-sensitive issues such as performances or auditions. Black's curriculum represents but one example of Cichowicz's methodology. Because Cichowicz himself wrote only generally (and briefly) about his pedagogical philosophies and chose not to outline a curriculum of musical examples in the form of a method book, it would be presumptuous to suppose that a single student's assignments could adequately compensate for this void. Consequently, this research will likely prove particularly useful to other former Cichowicz students who can measure Black's assignments against their own. The trumpet community at large should hope that one day such students might choose to publicize their own curricula, and so enlarge the existing body of data. Only then might a comprehensive view of Cichowicz's teaching, not only in theory but also in detailed practice, begin to emerge.

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