Claude Gordon was a trumpet player, band director, educator, lecturer, and author. He was born on April 15, 1916 in Helena, Montana. His father was a clarinet player and orchestra director. Claude's mother was a pianist. His siblings were also musically inclined and they formed a family orchestra led by their father. They performed as the staff orchestra for a local radio station. Claude was given his first cornet at the age of five and three years later while in fifth grade he was featured as a soloist playing with the Helena High School Band. While in his early teens, Claude played professionally and taught both cornet and accordion.
Claude studied with Herbert L. Clarke from 1936 until Clarke died in 1945. During the era of live radio and television, Claude worked as a studio trumpet player. He performed with the studio orchestras on shows including Amos and Andy and I Love Lucy. In 1939, Claude was cast as the gypsy accordion player in the Universal Studio's motion picture musical an Old Spanish Custom, later renamed In Rhumba Land. Claude formed his own big band in 1959 - albums include "Jazz For Jean-Agers" and "Sounds Of The Big Band Era".
Claude worked with the Benge and Selmer companies designing trumpets and both companies produced a Claude Gordon model. Claude designed trumpet and cornet mouthpieces originally made by Benge.
As a teacher Claude emphasized the need for brass players to do physical exercise to stay in shape and prescribed daily breathing exercises to develop wind-power. He considered brass players to be athletes that needed to practice to stay in shape. His method "Systematic Approach To Daily Practice" is published by Carl Fischer Music.
The Claude Gordon Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection consists of music, correspondence with Herbert L. Clarke and other notable trumpet artists, educational material, performance contracts, publicity material and memorabilia and is housed at the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Claude died from cancer on May 16, 1996.
- "Big breath, chest up!"
- "Hit it hard, and wish it well."
- "Brass playing is no harder than deep breathing."
- "Watch the tongue."
- "The air does the work. The tongue channels the pitch."
- "Let the air save your lip."
- "Let the air do the work."
- "Rest as much as you play."
- "Lift fingers high, strike valves hard."
- "Don't stop where I have, but go further."
- "You could have a lip strong enough to lift that piano and still not be able to play a low C!"
- Hit it Hard & Wish it Well ebook by Jeff Purtle, published 2016 in the iBooks Store
- Claude Gordon: Master Teacher by Jeff Purtle, published October 2008 in The Brass Herald
- Claude Gordon Practice Routines by Jeff Purtle, published December 2008 in The Brass Herald
- Claude Gordon and Herbert L. Clarke and Their Teaching by Jeff Purtle, published February 2009 in The Brass Herald
- Trumpet Playing and Brass Playing Articles by Claude Gordon student Jeff Purtle
- Claude Gordon Memorial Brass Conference and Trumpet Symposium by Jeff Purtle
- O.J.'s Trumpet Page
- The Development of the Benge Claude Gordon Model Trumpet
- The Trumpet Gearhead: Have we adequately mourned the fate of Benge?
- Claude Gordon Lecture and Brass Camp Recordings
- Church Brass website Check out "John's Blog" to read on the travails of a trumpeters studying Gordon's "Systematic Approach"
- Finding Aid for Claude Gordon Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection, 1888-1992 | The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music
- How I Became a Student of Claude Gordon by Claude Gordon student John Mohan
- Claude Gordon's Method A message to TPIN written by Claude Gordon student John Mohan describing Mr. Gordon's approach to teaching trumpet
- "Brass Playing Is No Harder Than Deep Breathing" by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "Systematic Approach to Daily Practice for Trumpet" by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer
- "Systematic Approach to Daily Practice" in Bass Clef by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer
- "Daily Trumpet Routines" by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "Herbert L. Clarke's Technical Studies" in Bass Clef by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "Physical Approach to Elementary Brass Playing" by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in 1977
- "Physical Approach to Elementary Brass Playing" in Bass Clef by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "Tongue Level Exercises" by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "Tongue Level Exercises" in Bass Clef by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "Thirty Velocity Studies" by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "Thirty Velocity Studies" in Bass Clef by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "St. Jacome Method" with restored original text and annotation by Claude Gordon, published by Carl Fischer in
- "A Master Class with Claude Gordon: The Seven Natural Elements of Brass Playing" original 110 minute VHS tape converted and offered as a DVD from 2006
- "CG Benge" trumpet made from 1972-1983 and was the best selling Benge trumpet (note that a few were made after Benge moved to Eastlake, Ohio in 1983, but the build quality and consistency of the Eastlake Benges is suspect)
- "CG Selmer" trumpet made by hand at the Bach trumpet factory from 1982-1997 made in both Bb and limited numbers of C trumpets