Leigh Ann Hunsaker
The Art of Trumpet Teaching: The Legacy of Keith Johnson

Denton, TX, United States
Publisher: University of North Texas Press
Date of Publication: 2022

Book. 226 pages

Primary Genre: Study Material - book

Keith Johnson’s former student, Leigh Anne Hunsaker, has compiled a tribute to the legacy of her teacher. The book is divided into four sections: 1 – Musician, Mentor, Master Teacher. This combines a descriptive biographical story with quotes from friends, colleagues, and former students. Numerous pictures give the reading a personal feel. 2 – Pedagogy. Hunsaker uses her experiences with Johnson, as well as his personal notes from the various classes taught at the University of North Texas and around the world, to present easy-to-read synopses of “Basic Concepts”, including learning, sound, listening, breathing, etc. This is not intended to replace Johnson’s influential Art of Trumpet Playing (1981). 3 – Reflections. Short testimonials are offered by former students and fellow trumpet teachers and performers from across the world. These affirm Johnson’s legacy as a pedagogue. 4 – ITG Journal Articles. The title is self-explanatory. Following these sections are appendices; perhaps the most relevant to scholarly research is the list of written works and discography of Keith Johnson. 

The spirit of Johnson’s teaching is clearly captured in these pages. From the first sentence, “Take a big breath and make a beautiful sound,” one can perceive his mantra, “We are not teaching the instrument; we are teaching the person.” Hunsaker’s writing style is accessible and presents Johnson in such a way that the reader can feel a personal connection. In each contributing author’s own words, this impression is affirmed. The stories are motivating and can provide the reader with teaching goals to inspire students. Of course, Johnson’s in-depth study with legends Vincent Cichowicz, John Hainey, and Arnold Jacobs, to name a few, informs his pedagogy, however it is his concern for each student as a human being that comes across as paramount. While it is easy to dismiss this as a “trumpet book,” there are lessons to be learned for any teacher.

Reviewer: David Stern
Review Published June 26, 2023