Student Profile: Wayne Pearcy

A classical and jazz aficionado practically since birth, Wayne Pearcy is jamming full-speed ahead, laying the foundation for a life in the music industry.
January 13, 2009

Wayne Pearcy was born with a good ear. As a baby, he would play with noise-making toys for only so long before he would get angry and throw them down. It wasn't until he was old enough to communicate well that he told his parents the problem: the toys' batteries were running low, making their pitch drop. When Pearcy was 4, his father introduced him to the guitar and declared: "You have perfect pitch."

Wayne Pearcy's "Reflections of You"

Indeed, Pearcy knew early on that music would play a major role in his life. After starting on recorder and then trying his hand at violin and coronet, he's been playing the trumpet since sixth grade. Here at Berklee, accompanied by his seeing-eye dog Wyatt, Pearcy's thrilled to be making connections and pursuing everything from classical music to modern and New Orleans-style jazz.

Tell me about your Berklee experience:

You meet so many people here on a day-to-day basis. It's really cool to talk about music, have jam sessions at night, and be able to play with different people. I've met some really good friends through the school, people who I'll probably be friends with for the rest of my life.

I'm in the New Orleans Street Band Ensemble. I've wanted to play New Orleans jazz for so long. I was really nervous about it because I'm better at more modern jazz. But I fit right in the pocket. I've always admired the cats who could do it: Wynton Marsalis, Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt.

My trumpet teacher, Charlie Lewis, has just been extraordinary. He's helped me with some really good warm-ups and helped me save my chops on several occasions. He's also helped me get two recital dates. I'm grateful to have my harmony teacher Rick Cress, who's been really helpful and willing to work with me.

Who is your major musical influence?

Wynton Marsalis is the quintessential trumpet player in both classical and jazz; through his playing, he showed me that I could do both. I thought, I'm going to embark on this journey, too. I want to be able to play at the Blue Note one night and then play with the New York Phil right afterwards at Lincoln Center, or play with the English Chamber Orchestra on a recording session.

Wynton was coming to Austin for a concert. My parents were coming on some hard times. They bought me a ticket in the back behind a pillar. I said to my high school band teacher, "Wouldn't it be really cool to actually meet Wynton Marsalis? What if I could get a lesson with Wynton?"

Little did I know, right under my nose, she calls the manager of the theater, and tells him the situation—that she has a blind student who is an aspiring trumpet player—and tells him I want a lesson with Wynton. He talked to Wynton's agents and they approved it. They comped me, my parents, and my band director tickets in the fourth and fifth rows.

After the concert, Wynton gave me a lesson. He said to me, "You have a very soulful sound, a very intelligent sound." I thought, "Oh man, Wynton says I have a good sound." I was so thrilled. The greatest trumpet player in the whole world was telling me I sounded good. And I got to play his horn. I can handle a Monet trumpet now, but back in those days that was a really big horn to me. I felt like I was in an Olympic-sized swimming pool in the dead center with no one around for miles. It was crazy. It felt like there was so much space and I sounded like a little mouse coming out of this bell.

What does the future hold?

I want to be a recording artist and a composer. I want to have small groups touring, go all over the world, and play music. I want to learn how to play the clarino, a natural trumpet used in the baroque era. I'd also like to do some solo stuff with some big bands. I would like to write for a symphony orchestra, concert bands, and jazz bands, and maybe even do some arranging. I want to be signed with Blue Note Records and by Sony Classical.

Tell me about your experience as a blind student at Berklee:

I want to help make Berklee a better place for blind students. The nice thing about Berklee is that they let you do a lot of things by ear here. My ensemble teacher will say, "Sure, I'll play the head with you until you get it in class. Can one of you guys send a recording of this to Wayne?" The teachers try to be as accommodating as they can with what they know.

Wayne's Top 5 Trumpet Players

  1. Wynton Marsalis
  2. Maurice André
  3. Sergei Nakariakov
  4. Miles Davis
  5. Freddie Hubbard