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People Making A Difference: Grammy Winning Trumpeter Helps Aspiring Musicians Reach New Heights With Free Lessons

LEIMERT PARK (CBSLA) -- It's a new season at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center. After six months in COVID-induced seclusion, a handful of gifted young musicians have starting making music together once again.

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But long before their first rehearsal back — before the hand sanitizer and temperature checks — their director, Fernando Pullum, pulled out every stop to keep them engaged while learning from home.

When the coronavirus shutdowns began in March, Pullum brought his free music lessons online.

Serious students with the grit to practice received the code to his Thursday night Zoom calls, where they've gleaned nuggets of wisdom from music luminaries like John Meyer and Wynton Marsalis.

"There are a lot of people stuck at home and nothing to do," Pullum said.

When he noticed his students starting to drift during online lessons, the Grammy-winning trumpet player began calling in some favors from his famous friends.

"It was startling, the answer is yes immediately," he said. "Most people want to help."

Such was the case with legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

"He's my brother from another mother," Marsalis said of Pullum, adding that "there's nothing deeper or higher or lower than the blues."

Young musicians who attended his lesson received plenty of music theory and one-on-one tips to improve technique.

"Fernando, he's got some little killers up in there," Marsalis said. "I didn't know what I'd be dealing with."

Now that they're finally together in person again, Pullum's young players are taking what they learned from these legendary artists and working to perfect Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty."

In November, the singer will record the vocals and the collaboration will be released. The sales from the release will fund free education for next year's crop of aspiring musicians.

"You have to create a family type environment," Marsalis said. "We're working as one entity to get better, and in this we're only as strong as the weakest person in the role."

For more on Fernando Pullum and the Pullum Community Arts Center, go to their website.
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