A Tribute to Carmine Caruso

Volume 117, No. 5May, 2017

Dominic Derasse

Carmine Caruso (1904-1987)

May 26 will mark the 30th anniversary of the passing of my great teacher, Carmine Caruso. (1904-1987) To commemorate that event and celebrate his life and legacy, I will host a tribute to the master on Tuesday, May 23, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Local 802. Former students and friends of Mr. Caruso will share their stories and experiences about the man and teacher that he was.

As a special honor to Mr. Caruso, a rendition of his famous “Six Notes” will take place, where all participants will be welcome to take out their instrument and play, in unison, his trademark exercise.

It was no secret that Carmine Caruso was a very generous and caring man. He always looked out for his fellow musicians, and he was always kind and compassionate to anyone he met. It is with that spirit in mind that this tribute will be presented free of charge, but we will encourage participants to make a voluntary contribution to Local 802’s Emergency Relief Fund at the door.

We hope to see many of you there. Thirty years have gone by too fast and we need to keep this man’s memory alive among new generations and, just as importantly, keep the legacy of his wonderful teachings alive for decades and centuries to come. After all, the principles on which his teachings are based go back centuries and we must ensure that they keep moving forward as well. If you have any questions about this special event, e-mail me at

‘I’m forever grateful, Carmine’

I’ve had a few mentors in my musical life, but the one I can credit the most is Carmine Caruso. When I had the privilege of studying with him in 1979 and 1980, I had no idea how my life would change. His teachings and philosophy not only enabled me to pursue the career I wanted as a musician playing the trumpet, but also transformed my life as a person.

The biggest lesson I learned from Carmine was that he taught me how to teach myself. The “Five Steps” involved in his teachings, based in Zen, enabled me to understand how the body and mind function in a way I had never witnessed or even imagined before meeting him. I discovered that these steps could be applied to anything one wants to accomplish in life – musical or other!

It therefore made sense that even though Carmine played clarinet, saxophone, violin and piano (he was successful in teaching any instrumentalist) he became mostly known for helping brass players and more specifically trumpet players.

By the time I met Carmine, I had already graduated from the Paris Conservatory and was considered an accomplished musician, but still felt that I was far from having the physical attributes necessary to bring my trumpet playing to the high level I was seeking. Caruso’s techniques, focusing on the physical aspects of playing an instrument, showed me the way to develop those physical requirements necessary to playing my instrument and subsequently the technical requirements as well. All to better serve the music I wanted to play.

There is not a day that goes by, almost 40 years later, without him being directly involved in my life since I still use his routine daily. There also is no greater sense of purpose than to try to continue and perpetuate his legacy by sharing his teachings with new generations.

I’m forever grateful, Carmine!

– Dominic Derasse