I began studying with Rick when I was 19 years old and spent three years as his student before moving to Chicago in 2001. In those very important three years I received an education that would help lay the groundwork for all of my improvisational endeavors to come.
I remember that what he was asking me to practice was fairly difficult, as the topic of improvisational technique and Rick's specific methodology is massive. There is so much to it that I still find myself practicing with those very same concepts in different ways of my own today more than fifteen years later. Rick was always smart about how much work he would give an individual.
It must also be said that Rick Holland is more than just a music teacher or great trumpet player. He was a mentor and helped me grow personally and musically. As I look back upon those lessons, I understand now that the real objective of that methodology isn't just to play chord changes with good voice leading or add interesting control of chromaticism in the lines: The point of all of it was to get me to think musically and think for myself. In a culture where music education (especially in jazz improvisation) has turned into painting by numbers, his approach is refreshing, creative and crucial for developing intelligence and musicality.
I played the trumpet from fourth grade through college but I didn't have much in the way of formal individual lessons during that time. After college I didn't touch the trumpet for over 20 years, when I decided to pick it up again as a ‘comeback’ player. While playing in a couple of local concert bands I decided I really wanted to be a better trumpet player, and take lessons from an experienced teacher as a way to reach my goal. Rick assessed my abilities and came up with a personalized lesson program to help me improve all aspects of my playing. We went ‘back to the basics’ in some areas and built on my existing abilities in others. I’m very pleased with the results and I enjoyed my instruction time with Rick. I would highly recommend Rick to any trumpet player at any level of experience.
Rick H. is a phenomenal musician, educator, and person. I studied with Rick for four years, and have remained in contact with him for nearly two decades. I learned a great deal from Rick, particularly in the areas of harmony, voice leading, jazz history, trumpet pedagogy and intonation. So many of my current musical concepts go back to my time as Rick's student. Rick has a very systematic, step by step approach to learning that is tailored to the individual student. I work throughout the Midwest as a professional trumpet player, and am extremely glad that I received my foundational training with Rick. I highly recommend Rick Holland to anybody wishing to study the art of trumpet playing or improvisation. The knowledge that you will receive from this man will last you a lifetime!
First and foremost, Rick is a nice guy with a patient demeanor. I can't imagine finding a more welcoming, easy going teacher who also knows how to push his students to excel when they need it. He takes care to explain concepts to his students in a detailed, timely fashion that is never confusing, rushed or complicated. There are no uncertainties in learning with Rick. He lays out concrete harmonic concepts and rhythmic ideas that help to demystify what are often enigmatic, and hard to grasp ideas such as improvisation and musical style. If you take these concepts to heart and practice them in a conscientious manner, you will certainly achieve your musical goals. I studied with Rick all through college and for several years after graduating. Initially, I was not a great trumpet technician, nor did I have any jazz theory under my belt when I first started studying with him. Nonetheless, Rick helped facilitate my growth both as a trumpet player and as a jazz musician. I firmly believe that it is because of Rick's guidance (a template for how to learn and practice music) that I am still playing today and continue to grow as a musician.
It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend Dr. Richard H. to be your music teacher. I have known Dr. H. for ten years, and I have studied with him for two years during my undergraduate time at SUNY Oswego.
As a master jazz educator, Dr. H. strives for excellence in all his endeavors. In his studio, Rick uses a logical, step-by-step approach to teach chords, scales and jazz vocabulary concepts. Here, Dr. H. inspired me to arpeggiate chords, play scales, improvise over ii-V progressions and play jazz tunes in all keys. By providing me many etudes, and motivating me to voice lead, write lines and transcribe solos, Rick helped me improve my jazz phrasing. In doing so, Rick’s teachings expanded my horizons and allowed me to see my fret board in new and exciting ways.
I have had the pleasure of playing for Dr. Richard H. in the Oswego State Jazz Orchestra and the Richard H.-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band. Rick’s natural sense of beauty and vast knowledge of jazz language makes him an excellent bandleader. Under Rick’s direction, I got to play remarkable charts arranged by Jim Martin, Kerry Strayer, Brent Wallarab and Bill Dobbins. These charts were like gems in that they exposed me to cutting edge arrangements of standard repertoire. Rick also organized master classes for our college ensemble. Here, outstanding jazz artists such as Dominique Eade, Kerry Strayer, Phil Phlanigan and Carl Cafagna offered me their inspirational advice about improvisation and ensemble play.
I also have had the privilege of being Dr. Richard H.’s teaching assistant during the SUNY Oswego Jazz Institute. Organized by Dr. Richard H., this two-week summer program allowed high school students from across the nation to learn from world-class educators and performers. This institute presented intense jazz classes, ensemble rehearsals, private lessons, nightly concerts and jam sessions. The institute culminated in student ensemble performances for their family, friends and the community. Students who completed the program even received college credit.
I am confident that Dr. Richard H. will be a fine music teacher for you. Rick’s enthusiasm for jazz is encompassed in all that he does and he naturally wants to share his brilliant insight with his students and community. Rick’s organized, logical and exciting lessons instills in his students a sense of beauty and passion. Rick opens doors for students by allowing them to work with world-class musicians in getting new charts, organizing clinics and playing concerts. In doing so, Rick’s students receive a high quality jazz education that they can use pursue their own musical projects and dreams.
My son Drew started learning to play the trumpet at the age of 4. He was taught by his grandfather, who was a trumpet player and music teacher. His grandfather passed away when Drew was 8. They had been very close, and it was a big loss for Drew. Playing the trumpet gave Drew a lasting connection to his grandpa, so we needed to find a new teacher. We needed to find the right teacher.
We were really lucky to find Rick H. Rick is a highly educated musician who has made his living playing professionally. He plays the trumpet and flugelhorn beautifully. But, he's also a really good teacher and a very nice guy. He has a down-to-earth and laid back personality, and he is patient and optimistic. He has the expertise to instinctually hone in on the foundational skills that my son needs to develop or strengthen, but he also has the insight to recognize that Drew is a fourth-grade boy, and he keeps it fun and interesting. Rick prioritizes making sure that Drew's experience with playing the trumpet is enjoyable and something that he looks forward to doing. That's the way Drew's grandfather always approached lessons as well. We are very happy with Rick H., and we highly recommend him.
I have received many compliments from school principals, teachers and students and the like on the balance of your program and how the students enjoyed the musical performance. As you could tell by the applause and the respectful attitude of your audience of 1400 members, the quality of your performance was professional and highly entertaining. It proves when you put superior performers in front of an audience, fine behavior and educational goals are met and rewarded! Thanks again on a fine concert performance.
Richard Hintz, Fine Arts Consultant, Kalamazoo Public Schools
My twelve year old son has taken weekly lessons with Richard H. for over a year. Richard is very consist in communicating not only with my son's progress or needs but also in regards to scheduling changes. My son enjoys his lessons and is motivated to practice. Unlike other lesson teachers, Richard does not just move through piles of songs, but instead he focuses on fundamentals and building a strong foundation. For example, my son has learned to listen as he plays in order to improve his tone. Richard's lessons are the perfect support to the school music program. I have been very pleased with the progress my son has made and the confidence he has gained.
I have known Rick Holland for almost 40 years. I have had him in a few times to work with my students and play in my professional bands. He really cares about what he does and you can see it when he teaches and plays. He has a wealth of experience and any student who gets a chance to spend time with him is very lucky!
Mark Buselli, Director of Jazz Studies, Ball State University
Rick Holland has been such an asset to our program! Teaching beginners to high school trumpet players to advanced improvisation on any instrument, each of his students has demonstrated a marked improvement in their skills and passion for their music! He's consistent and prepared and endlessly giving!
Greg Wells, Director of Bands, Northview High School
Rick is not only a great performer and educator, but he goes out of his way to help busy music educators by working with potential students. He takes care of all the busy work; making phone calls, setting up dates to come in to clinic students in school, filing the appropriate paperwork, all these things that teachers don't have time for, Mr. Holland does it all. When you have win-win situations like this, it is only logical to take advantage of everything he has to offer. Don't miss out, and book him - or he'll book you - today!
Mark Wells, Director of Bands, East Grand Rapids Middle School
Rick brought his quintet to our "An Evening of Jazz" and put on a great show! What incredible musicianship and professionalism. Thank you so much Rick to and your guys for providing great entertainment for the people of Kendall.
Rick, it was amazing stuff. You have a great thing going.....keep up the good work. The community is better for it. I look forward to working with you again.
Joe Pompilli, Band Director, Kendall HS
The broad repertoire his groups encompass and the care with which he deals with musical details are a welcome exception in this age of super specialization and an obsession with quick results at the expense of real quality.