Classical trumpeter, James Ackley, is an internationally acclaimed trumpet solo artist, recording artist, pedagogue and author, with numerous appearances that have included orchestras, wind ensembles and chamber groups spanning the entire globe. Ackley has frequently performed as a recitalist throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. On a tour through Venezuela, critics described him as “one of the best trumpet players in the world.” The Hartford Courante described James as, “a true artist”, the Free Times called him “one of the nation’s top trumpeters” and the American Record Guide proclaimed James as “absolutely amazing.” James Ackley is currently under Andes International Management as a concert soloist, chamber artist and clinician.
THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS
- James is making a comeback to playing after a long layoff due to surgery. (Follow his progress at https://www.jamesackley.net/blog)
- Listen to your body to know your limits as a player.
- Extended time off due to surgery was very dispiriting.
JAMES’ WORST MOMENT AS A PERFORMER
Master’s student at Cleveland Institute. Had a terrible recital. Endurance level was at maybe 10%. Lesson learned: You have to rest as much as you play, take some time off the horn. Gigging around town, teaching at a local college.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THIS MOMENT
- Realized I needed to practice more intelligently, that I did have limits.
- Needed to prioritize my life and practice.
- Started thinking a lot more about my approach to practicing and performing.
- “Rest as much as you play.”
- “I was definitely vincible.”
- “I wish I had the courage to ask to do the recital again.”
THE HOT SEAT
Q: It’s 5 minutes before you go on stage for an important performance… What are you doing?
A: It depends on the type of performance. I’ll be hearing what I want to sound like, portraying what I want to sound like. I’m going over the Four T’s: Tone, Time, Tuning, Touch.
Q: What’s the best performance-related advice you’ve ever received?
A: Charlie Schleuter once told me, “The trumpet is just not that difficult.”
Q: Can you share one tip for our listeners to help deal with stage fright? (Physical, mental, etc.)
A: Visualize yourself performing as many times as possible. Preparation is of the utmost importance. You’ll feel something, it’s just a matter of what you do with it.
Q: What’s a non-musical activity that contributes to your success as a musician?
A: Martial Arts. It gives me confidence where I didn’t have any when I was younger. It gives me confidence in myself, and makes me feel comfortable in my own skin. It allowed me to find meditation, how to control my mind, how to breathe better.
Q: Imagine you’re on stage. It’s the end of the performance and the audience is on its feet, applauding. They don’t want any more and they don’t want any less. Everything is perfect. What have you just done?
A: I played Mahler 3 with the Bogota Philharmonic. I played the post horn solo. I was the first solo bow. Then the conductor gave me a second bow and gave me the bouquet of flowers he had received. Biggest dream moment of my career, almost surreal.