"Methodical in Your Practice & Creative in Your Performance"
About RUSS Gaffney
Those were the words spoken by my father in 1976 and I've had a love affair with the instrument ever since.
I was a late beginner in music since my middle school did not have a band. My first teacher was Carl McMath and even though I started late, I excelled quickly and was co-principal trumpet of my high school band by my senior year.
Teaching music has been a passion of mine for a long time. My teaching style is reflective of my quote- methodical, yet creative. I don't believe that there is one true correct method of playing the trumpet. I teach the generally-accepted basics, but beyond that I encourage my students to develop a style unique to themselves. I teach how to achieve a full, rich, expressive sound in any register. Furthermore, how to take that rich sound and apply it to a variety of genres and styles from solo music to ensembles, to playing lead in a big band.
I received my Bachelors in Music Education from Winthrop College, now University and held the position of Principal Trumpet in the Wind Ensemble and Lead Trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble all 4 years and studied under Fred Mende. While at Winthrop I was asked to be one of the founding teachers at Tillman Music in Rock Hill and have taught privately ever since. In my senior year I auditioned for and was awarded the Lead Trumpet position with the South Carolina All Star College Jazz Ensemble fronted by Dizzy Gillespie along with his protege Jon Faddis. We performed at the SC Spoleto Festival in Charleston.
I attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for my Masters in Trumpet Performance and studied under Dr. Fred Beck. While at UNCG I continued the tradition of Principal and Lead in all ensembles. I have been in Greensboro ever since.
I played my first theater show "Oliver" while still in high school and have played countless shows since. Some of my favorites are West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar and A Chorus Line.
In the Spring of 1984 after having just played West Side Story at The Spartanburg Little Theater I got a call from Ron Miller, the sax guy in the show that a new Beach Music Band he was joining needed a trumpet player and he recommended me. Even though I was born and raised in SC I really knew nothing about "Beach Music". That changed quickly and I Still Love Beach Music today. I was a founding member of The Dynamic Breakers then several years later was a founding member of The Connection Band and in 2002 joined Big John Thompson & The Rhythm Brothers. In 2010 I played on a CD with Larry Moore and The Shag Doctorz that was recorded in the Marshall Tucker Band studios.
I have been very fortunate to have played with a variety of groups over the years, including groups led by Dizzy Gillespie and backing up artists such as Percy Sledge, Roy Roberts, Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) and others. I have also played countless Weddings, Religious Services and regional Broadway Pit-Orchestra shows.
For many years music was my avocation, my hobby, but I'm excited and proud to say that what started in 1976 is now finally my vocation.