Rafael Castillo-Halvorssen

Rafael C.

New York, NY

Lesson Details

Music Theory

Levels Taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Understanding music theory makes you a better musician. The term "music theory" covers many different topics: reading, harmony, arranging, composition, rhythm, ear training, orchestration, improvisation, just to name a few. Understanding any of these on a deeper level enriches your experience as a musician and can create more opportunities in your musical life. Maybe you play by ear but want to make music that requires reading skills. Perhaps you wish to write music but don't know where to begin. Maybe you want to solo in your jazz band but don't know harmony. Whatever your goals are, we can work together to help you achieve them. All you need are open ears, open eyes, and an open mind!

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Rafael teaches



Rafael delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 7+

Teaching since:

I have been playing trumpet professionally in New York City since 2013 when I moved to the city from Boulder, Colorado to study jazz at the New School University, where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with academic honors. I have had the honor to play with some truly world-class musicians, from Afro-Cuban big band gigs with Bobby Sanabria to small group hot jazz with Jon-Erik Kellso. I have experience playing in many different kinds of musical styles - classical chamber music, pit orchestras, bebop, New Orleans second line brass band, big band jazz, R&B, Brazilian Forro, Cuban conjunto, classical orchestra, rock, small group swing, pop, Dominican merengue, Puerto Rican bomba - and I have enjoyed each and every one of them. I am also a composer and arranger, specializing in big band jazz, and I am a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop.

During my time at New School University, I had the opportunity to study with some truly world-class trumpet players during my time there - Jimmy Owens, Lew Soloff, Brad Goode, and John McNeil. Their guidance not only helped me become a better trumpeter and musician, but shaped the way I teach my students.

My job as your teacher is to enable your exploration and discovery. I'll provide you with the tools - understanding of how the trumpet works, understanding of the mechanics the body must utilize in order to play, how to practice - and then together we will discover the right way to apply those tools to your playing.

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Sep 2018 - Present
Stephen Santoro Jazz Orchestra

Docent/Musical Guest Artist
Mar 2018 - Present
Louis Armstrong House Museum

Mar 2018 - Present
Patriot Brass Ensemble

Patriot Brass Ensemble is a musical organization that provides musical performances to veterans at different events (concerts at veterans' nursing homes, parades, etc.). We play many different styles of music, from classical marches to small group jazz.

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Tutor for Ear Training, Piano, Theory, Rhythmic Analysis, Arranging, and Sight-Reading for Brass
Feb 2014 - Dec 2016
New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music

Worked one on one with students, helping them improve in their respective weak subjects by explaining things that were unclear in the classroom, showing them alternate ways of approaching the material, and demonstrating practice techniques to continue improving.

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Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors
Sep 2013 - Dec 2016
The New School University
International Baccalaureate
Aug 2009 - May 2013
Fairview High School


Fluent / Native Proficiency
Limited Proficiency
Limited Proficiency

Photos & Videos

Photo by Rafael C.

Photo by Rafael C.

Photo by Rafael C.

Photo by Rafael C.
Photo by Rafael C.
Photo by Rafael C.

2 Reviews

Write a Review
Dmitri Jun 15, 2018
Trumpet · In home

Rafael is a very dedicated teacher, who is an excellent musician with outstanding ears and a passion for the subject. I particularly appreciate how he skirts the worlds of jazz and classical music, and relates to both. He has ideas of what he wants to get across in each lesson, yet also listens and responds to students feedback. I certainly recommend Rafael as a teacher!

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Nolan May 24, 2018
Trumpet · In home

When I began trumpet lessons with Rafael I had zero experience on a brass instrument. He started out teaching me the basic fingerings on the horn, but before I knew it he had me learning traditional New Orleans second line music as well as some more contemporary brass band tunes. After just a few lessons with Rafael I succeeded in securing myself a spot in an audition-only, collegiate-level ensemble dedicated to playing this style of music. Rafael is fantastic teacher and pleasure to learn from. If you are looking to improve you playing and have loads of fun at the same time, Rafael is definitely the teacher for you!

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