Jonny Gittings ’18 prepares for professional music prospects

Jonny Gittings ’18 is an accomplished trumpet player in Studio Band, the highest level band at PHS. Gittings performed at Lincoln Center this summer, and has also toured around the world multiple times with PHS Studio Band and other jazz band programs. Ultimately, his goal is to become a professional musician.

Who or what is your biggest influence, and how have they shaped you as a trumpet player?

A single biggest influence is really hard because there are so many great musicians [that I listen to]. [From] listening, and transcribing …  and studying them, I would say [] Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan [have greatly influenced me]…  Mentors that I have been with and played with that have helped me especially [are] trumpet players Dave Blue, Jon Faddis, and Brandon Lee.

What was your favorite performance you’ve given and why?

My favorite performance was playing with this jazz band called the DWJO. It’s a … college group run by Sam Wolsk and Louis Danowsky, and they asked me to play with them at the Lincoln Center at Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club. I played with that group, and it was all original music of theirs. And it was so much fun; everyone in the group was a phenomenal musician. The music that we played was amazing, and the audience was great. [The performance] is also going to be made into a live CD, which is pretty cool.

Did you do anything else memorable this summer in regards to performing?

This summer I didn’t have much time to perform since I was supposed to be at jazz camps … I went to the Skidmore Jazz institute and … [the] Litchfield Jazz camp. The Skidmore Jazz institute was a two-week camp …  It has an amazing faculty line up, with amazing players such as Jon Faddis, Brandon Lee, Dick Oatts, John Riley, [and] Rufus Reid. It was a great experience and it taught me a lot, such as how to listen to people … [and] how to better memorize chord changes…The other camp was the Litchfield Jazz Camp. It was a one-week camp, and I went there with my friend Liam Sutcliffe ’18, who goes to Princeton High School. I learned a lot of theory, [as well as] how to incorporate that theory into my improv playing I [also] learned a lot of techniques on my trumpet with different types of articulation, how to work on dorian tones, [etc.]

How do you balance practicing and playing trumpet with the rest of your school life?

The system that works best for me is [when] I do two things: I manage my time and I prioritize. Of course, because I want to become a professional musician, music is my top priority. I make sure that I practice every single day no matter what. I’ll practice typically two to three hours a day on school days and then every other day, I’ll practice anywhere between three to six hours. Each week, I will set myself goals for trumpet and make sure I work on them …  and reach them by the end of the week. For school work, it’s mostly just managing my time: trying to find any bit of time [when] I can to [do it], whether it’s during [the] breaks when I’m practicing, or on the bus … It’s hard, and it took me a while to figure out how to do this, but eventually you’re able to fit it all in.

How do you see music playing a role in your life beyond your graduation from PHS?

Well, my music is going to be my career choice, so I see myself performing in various clubs. I’m not sure, [but] maybe I’ll end up in New York, or Chicago, or somewhere like that …, meeting musicians and playing with them, maybe recording some CD’s. [Another] interest of mine [is] to teach [music] …  I want to come back to maybe a college or a high school and teach [much] like how Mr. Bongiovi does at PHS.

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name and email. Your email address will not be published.

Any comments containing the following material will be removed:
  • Hostility or insulting language directed towards other users, authors, Tower staff, or a specific group of people
  • Any type of harassment
  • Profanity, crude language, or slurs
  • Personal information about yourself or anyone else
  • Discussion unrelated to the article