Rafael Castillo-Halvorssen
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Rafael Castillo-Halvorssen

Rafael C.

Profile-background-check Background Check
This teacher successfully passed a thorough criminal background check with SterlingBackcheck. This badge verifies trusted teacher status.
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Levels taught:
Beginner, Intermediate
I have loved this instrument from the beginning, and you will, too. I've performed a diverse array of music in many different contexts, from playing jazz in cafes and Debussy & Bach in recitals, to leading Beatles singalongs from the piano bench. In music school, I tutored many of my peers in the piano curriculum. People start playing piano for different reasons and with different goals, and my job as your teacher is to help you meet those goals, while also giving you a firm understanding of music and how the instrument works. I look forward to helping you discover the musical magic of the piano!

About Rafael C.

Born and raised in Boulder CO, NYC-based trumpeter Rafael Castillo-Halvorssen always brings joy and enthusiasm to the bandstand. He was inspired to pursue playing trumpet professionally in his early teens when he first heard Louis Armstrong’s 1956 record Ambassador Satch (go listen to it right now!) and started studying with Brad Goode. Upon graduating from the New School University in 2016, he began working in New York’s traditional jazz scene and quickly expanded into other styles, from Afro-Cuban big bands to funk groups. His playing is informed by a passion for the history of musical styles: by learning the stories of where the music comes from, he can share them with the audience and create a richer experience for everyone. In 2017, he joined the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, where he honed his skills in big band arranging (he loves writing a good savory ballad). Since 2018, he has worked as a teaching artist, docent, and hospitality associate at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens. He leads his own small groups in which his goal is to play “good-time music” that instigates empathy and makes you feel some nice feelings.

During my time at New School University, Rafael 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 him become a better trumpeter and musician, but shaped the way he teaches his students.

His job as your teacher is to enable your exploration and discovery. He'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 you will discover the right way to apply those tools to your playing.


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2 Reviews
Profile-location-home Student's 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!

Posted Jun 15, 2018
Profile-location-home Student's 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!

Posted May 24, 2018

Photos & Videos

6 Photos & Videos


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.

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.


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

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