Wednesday, April 25, 2012


For my Brass Literature course I was asked to write a blog about something related to brass.  I chose to write about Benevolent Brass, about helping others through our music, about returning the relationship between the performer and the audience...  Thank you so much for reading this blog and I hope you may take away as much as I have gained from expressing my opinions and finding out information about benevolent music.  Life is an adventure and a privelage.  I encourage you to live your life to the fullest and to touch as many lives as you can through who you are and what you do.  Think about when you reach the end of your road and look back, what kind of person and actions would you want to see from yourself.  The greatest joy, I believe, in music is helping others through a medium in which they can carry with them always.  Music is something that can help people through them discovering something about themselves, perhaps that was something they thought they had lost or something they never knew about themselves.  Thank you for reading.  They only thing I ask is that you pass it on:)

The Unacknowledged Founder of the Brass Quintet

It was Viktor Ewald that first came up with the voicing of the modern day brass quintet.  His accomplished this by adopting the voicing of two sopranos, one alto, one tenor, and one bass. I find it intriguing that he conceptualized the concept of a brass group through the human voice.  The human voice is considered the most natural and purest of the instruments.  Before reading this article I knew very little about Ewald and the background of the quintets.  I have played tho of them and performed one on many occasions but had not delved any deeper then musical study.  This article is very interesting.  It is truly fascinating how much of research and scholarly activity, let alone performance execution, is done so on the original premise of opinion.  Forsyth wrote, "There is in general no true legato on the trombone."  I would have to say.. ask the trombone players what they think.  I am a hornist and would never presume to tell them what is true and false or can and cannot be executed on their instrument.  I learned extensively from this article on not just Ewald but also on the art of music research in general.  Researching something is just like life itself, a journey.  This journey will take you many places unexpected, it will try your will and your very soul, you will meet with many obstacles, there will be pleasant surprises, there will be many moments of frustration and disappointment...   Smith dedicated his life to this journey of uncovering and properly acknowledging Ewald's brass quintets.  His determination, force of will, and dedication are what brought him along his path to where he is today. As with everything, I encourage the reader to apply this to every aspect of their life.

Music and Your Body: How Music Affects Us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health

I wanted to make sure I posted at least one article explaining how music promotes good health.

Crazy horn video

I thought this video was very entertaining! Check out this video on YouTube:


For my Brass Literature course, I have to give a presentation on a successful professional brass group. Part of the assignment was to interview one of the members. For my presentation I chose the Washington Symphonic Brass. To me they are one of the best brass groups ever. I had the pleasure and privilege to interview trumpet player! Co-founder, manager, and arranger Phil Snedecor. I wanted to share the questions and answers from our interview. What I learned from Phil is exactly my vision of where I hope more musicians will want to aspire to be.   1.  What overall "sound" is the goal of the group? We want to have a world class symphonic brass sound but we are so much more then that. The sound we want to get, orchestral color, is not what the audience perceives as brass. Orchestral colors. 2.  When you think of "making music" what is the first thing that comes to mind? Bud Herseth said, how it goes. There is a technical aspect and then there is how it goes. I try to take the technical aspects away and just think about the music. In the end you want to transcend the instrument. Think what it is supposed to sound like before you play it. 3.  What kind of give and take do you think the ensemble employs on a daily basis? That's easy. We are going to have a rehearsal today and about 25% will be discussing what/ how we want to play it, how it sounds. The arrangement is very much alive as we discuss it. Marty will say how do you want these notes played, short or long, muted or not 4.  What pre-existing groups or players have inspired group members? What players or groups have inspired you? First part, milt and I started this in 93 because we both missed that kind of playing Millar brass ensembles and summit. Both inspired group at first. Later on, minogle brass smaller group then we are European, very creative and German brass really amazing also. We just try to keep... Most inspiration comes from the audience; I do not write an program for colleges or reviews, I write for the audience. We are not a performing group, we are a show. Programmatic things every time. Those four groups. Individuals Marty Hackleman, Chuck Casey, all the time, inspire me... Listen to Shosty because I wouldn't write it for anyone else on the planet. For Marty, pushed him to a new height and both grew from each other. Jenz Linderman, a lot of great trumpet players, inspired by Empire Brass a lot... Very inspirational. Not so much what you play as how you play it.. Never forget that you are in very good shape.. Need to make it come alive from the page. 5.  How has the group sound developed since you first began? When we first started played all music originally written for brass. First concert in 93 tomasi, etc. limited by our own rep. If we were a brass band we would have a fazillion things written for us, bu we are orchestral. What can we do tht has already been done to what has never been done. Sound has changed because we have expanded our color palette. 6.  What musical element does the group as a whole believe is the most important? Second important? Third? This is gonna sound strange but te group as a whole has come to me many times and said most important element is Phil's arrangements. Phil thinks most important are the individuals capabilities and characteristics. It all cones back to what tey can do to make it something more. Going to have a lot of complaints from group members cuz doing a Denver arrangement, this isn't WSB. Crank out arrangements based upon personalities. Stuff at Towson became. Different animal, music is alive because it was completely different experience,bathe exciting and want to do that. I think that is important especially in a college is to get excited about the repertoire. 7.  What ideas and projects are the group working on? Marty wants to record classic rock for brass, and also American brass. This week we are doing Broadway stuff, that's taken over my life for the past two weeks. Bass trombone says through horn puttin on the ritz. Come out of this recession alive an get more money for concerts and cont. to record. 8.  How do you hope to inspire future generations? By showing them that what has con before them isn't all there is. Take any instrumentation an ake something out of it that no one has ever thought of. All instrumentation and all sizes, play new, please audiences, be original.

Sound or Silence

What happened to the performer having a relationship with their audience? Throughout history there has been proven a strong bond and give and take between performer and audience. In the classical period as well, as other classical music periods, there was often even a strong relationship between the composer and the audience. This is something that was lost in the twentieth century. There needs to be some kind of give and take between audience and performer. Without that, what is the point? If a tree falls in the woods, crashing to the ground with a loud bang and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound? If musicians do not appease their audience, the audience will cease to attend and it will be just as this age old philosophical debate. Is it then that the musician performs only silence even though they are playing music?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Kids Music"

As I have had the opportunity to get to know Gabbie, my fiance's four year old, I have learned that the average child is extremely lacking in music exposure. I asked her what type of music she wanted to listen to to which she replied "kid's music". Her idea of kid music when we first started hanging out was songs such as "I've Been Working on the Railroad" or "The Ants Go Marching On". These songs are kinda cute an catchy the first time you listen to them, but as a musician listening to this kind of kid's music is torture, especially listening to a whole album! Almost all of it is four quarter notes per measure on 1, 4, and 5.... Agh! I think I will have nightmares of Barney chasing me with a polka band for months! It is horrifying how limited this music is. How is a child supposed to grow mentally if they are this musically limited? This is molding a child that is extremely close minded, dull, repetitive, and has an extremely small attention span. So, how do we crack open the box and massage the brain per say? Well begin with the question of what good concepts is this kind of music built upon? There is a simple melody, a chorus, recognizable lyrics, a topic a child can relate to... What other genres have these traits? I have been playing all different types of music for her such as early jazz, new age, pop, classical, indie, Disney tunes, etc. early jazz is especially good to listen to gecause it has a simple structure, the instruments make cool sounds, the singers often sing about simple things or something a child would find funny. New age she listens to when we are learning or relaxing to go o sleep or calm down from a temper tantrum. It has been very effective. Disney tunes, a child can relate to their favorite heroes and their princesses while giving parents a nostalgic journey that contains a lot of variety. I have begun reserving the "kid music" Gabbie originally referred to for cadences when we are going from place to place because they are fun to say. She now asks for "classic" which is how she says classical, "the dog barking" music which is translated to early jazz, and other types. :-)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Music and mood: nature or nurture?

Yesterday evening, I played a piece of my new daughter, Gabriella (a four year old), called The Banshee by Henry Cowell. To those of you who do not know the piece, it is executed by experimentation of fingernails, and fingers on the piano strings. I thought it was really neat. Gabbie and I have been learning a little about what some of h instruments sound like thi week, so I played it for her and my fiancé. She was instantly scared and plugged her ears. She said, "I don't like those sounds; they are scary!" I have been pondering this since yesterday evening. She has had absolutely no exposure to any classical music or, to my knowledge, any "scary movies". So,are there sounds that we instinctually associate with different emotions? I began popping search words into google related to this matter and came up with: Scarier Music is Scarier with Your Eyes Shut Why Horror Music is so Scary A Little Fright Music: A Few Notes on Why We Find Fright Music Scary Some of the articles I found said that we are conditioned to find these types of music scary, but if that were truly the case, why would a four year old little girl find a simple technical example on the piano really scary? I believe there is more to this like some of the articles suggest. We are nature before we are nurture. What exactly happened to imprint some sounds as scary into our DNA? Some of these articles suggest animal sounds, dynamics, etc. is it possible tha some cataclysmic tragic soundtracks have been instilled into our very being? And if that is the case, are other emotions written into us as well? What if someone could play a child that has experienced horrible traumas happiness? Amplify the aural happiness with sunshine, a safe environment... Could you help wash away their traumas?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Volunteer opportunities for musicians

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Genius in Being

I recently read a very frustrating article called "How to be Brilliant" by Annie Murphy Paul. The article explains how to become brilliant at one thing by not talent but dedication. These kinds of articles always have the usual good points such as taken isn't everything, you must use that talent and take I further. It always baffles me, however, that the articles inevitably talk concerning just one element or facet of our life. Why does every scientist or person seeking a solution to one problem forget that we are human BEINGS. They say sacrifice, give up friendships, family, other activities.... This might seem great to a scientist studying a lab rat but it is a horrible way to treat any being. Ultimately, no matter how great we end up being at something, at the end of our lives we inevitably look back on our journey. I believe people like Beethoven died miserably and pathetically alone. We call this genius. I think there is something incredibly wrong with this picture. I believe the genius is the person that can look back, at the end of their life, and see a well rounded life of love, friends, family, and yes even their art. The other things that involve humanity give humanity to the music. Perhaps this is why we are ever seeking "genius", because we picked one piece of a human and removed all of the other elements. Even the scientific aspects of our brain know better... We have multiple areas of our brain that we fail to tap, and yet we perpetually are furthering our narrowmindedness. Art and music themselves are endless and indescribable in words alone. True genius, I believe can be achieved by opening ourselves up to life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sound for healing, sound for harm

I was reading an article for class the other day and there was a portion that discussed "Joshua's Trumpet", a 75 foot long trumpet being created to sound at 4 Hz. The sound is powerful enough to destroy the entire city of Chicago. This information got me thinking about the power of sound. Whe already know that pieces of music can manipulate someone's mood or inhibit a feeling; what if we expand upon that? The Ancient Greeks believed that certain types of people's needed to listen to certain types of music such as soldiers only listening to war music. I believe they were along the right track. We use certain types of music in today's society to sooth people in various environments such as on the elevator, in the work place, as music therapy. What if we expanded this to school lunchrooms, classrooms, various jobs... There is scientific evidence of music increasing the amount of brain we use as well as making children smarter or even developing a fetus differently. If we as musicians and physic of sound really put our minds to it, not only could we increase the ways music can benefit us, we can also perfect sound as a weapon. Imagine soldiers beig able to go into a war zone and completely disable the enemy by a sound pulse rather then by bullets or bombs. Sound can Ben be used for torture. But though all of this, sound and music can be harnessed to help shape the people and their lives.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sound identity

I have found myself listening to a large amount of brass ensemble literature lately, and have found myself more often then not disappointed by the overall sound of the group. When I think of different instruments, I think of different colours and timbres; I think of the different sound qualities joining together to play in harmony. The groups I have been listening to have for the most part been professional, so their tuning is for the most part on par, their intonation is good and they obviously know how to play. So what is it that leaves me wanting? I have been pondering this, unable to find words. Today, however, I was on one of my favorite brass ensembles' websites (The Washington Symphonic Brass) and found a quote of J. Reilly Lewis, music director Of the Cathedral Choral Society and The Washington Bach Consort, concerning the Washington Symphonic Brass: "Impeccable musicianship... Roundness and warmth of sound not often associated with brass ensembles." I believe this is very true. There are too few groups that have this roundness and warmth. The goal of an ensemble is to create a unified sound, but I believe this concept is being taken to an extreme. A French Horn is meant to sound like a French Horn, a 1st trumpet like a 1st trumpet, a trombone like a trombone, etc. when these individual colours come together, they are glorious. It gives me goosebumps nd brings tears to my eyes. On most of these recordings I have been hearing a French Horn that sounds like a trombone, a 2nd trumpet that sounds like a 1st trumpet. I believe even the two trumpets in a quintet need to bring to the table different colours. I have had the pleasure of playing as a sub and now member of the Baltimore Brass Quintet for many years and each time I play with them it is a treat. Now know why it is so different then most groups I have been in. Jeremy and Brian have been playing together for most of their lives. With one look they can switch parts and when they do their colour changes, the second part maintains a slightly darker sound that fits perfectly into a properly constructed sound pyramid. They also instinctively know that there are exceptions to this rule. When a melody passes from trumpet to trumpet, they sound like the same player. With the Horn player sounding like a trombone, the colour of the horn is missing from the whole and the sound pyramid is skewed, with the lower bass voices being more powerful and there being no middle portion of the pyramid. If the horn player sounds like a trombone, there are two sound pyramids essentially and two groups (two trumpets in one group, and horn, trombone, and tuba in the other) playing the same music at the same time. Perhaps the answer is to work at maintaining a solid sound pyramid while focusing to unify pitch, intonation, dynamic intensity, etc. Brass ensembles have such potential to be enjoyable and intense in their uniqueness. They say in relationships, each person needs to maintain their own individual identity; maybe musicians should do the same. Bringing their own traits and personalities as well as unique timbres of their instruments to a group, while maintaining a professional level of musical integrity would not only shake things up and open worlds for the musicians, but the listeners as well!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Benevolent Venues

I wanted to compile a list of possible venues where we can perform benevolently. Churches Elementary schools Middle schools High schools Private schools Home school meetings Community centers Subways Boardwalks Bus Stations Shopping Malls Veterinary Hospitals and Clinics Animal Shelters Animal Rescue Groups such as PAWS (these do not euthanize and are often run strictly on donations Family neighborhoods Caroling National Parks State Parks Historical Sites Campgrounds Hospice Hospital Children's Ward Coma patients VA Hospitals Soldier homecomings from deployment Bases where soldiers are stationed for combat Injured veterans American Legions VFW's When it comes down to it, we could play pretty much anywhere for free. Where is the line though? After all musicians need to eat too. I tend to volunteer my services to assist in a good cause that typically cannot afford funding for musical entertainment or for fundraisers to raise money for a cause I believe in. Each of us is different and will tend to be drawn to different "good causes". Another idea is to give discounts on a sliding scale. That way you can at least give a tiny discount to churches or other places you feel strongly about but who you know can afford your services. On the same scale, places such as nursing homes or animal shelters could only pay for your gas and dinner and volunteer animal rescue groups you could play for free. The only person that can decide what warrants benevolent performances is you. Also, talk to a tax company and see what kinds of write offs etc. could be available for charity and volunteer performances.

Possible Recital Program Themes

Last week in Brass Pedagogy we were asked to come up with a list of possible recital program themes. This was fun and surprisingly a challenging assignment. I would like to share my list of ideas, and would love feedback with additional thematic ideas! Please keep in mind this list is French Horn specific so some ideas would need to be modified for other instruments Jazzy Pieces Pieces written for specific horn players Nationalism Regional music Chronological Versatile Horn and other instruments than piano Horn, Cello, Harp, water glasses or marimba, Bagpipes 1 specific style Various mediums Horn evolution Evolution of horn calls Nationality of horn calls Acting pieces All one type of work All encores and prunes Favorite encores of famous players All one theme Take descriptive words of when your recital is and form fit a recital All pieces that incorporate percussion All transcriptions Medieval or Rennaisance vocal music Baroque vocal pieces Vocal duets Adiemus pieces Disney theme music Different groupings Emotions or moods Nursery rhythms or children's melodies Hunting calls Extra musical implements (costumes) Transiberian orchestra lighting Staging Silent film Pictures Pieces of art Audience catered Gregoriam Chant Hildegard Von Bingen Supplemented by Nature sounds Survey of compositions in a margin of years Commissions Pieces that use different techniques (stopping, multi phonics, etc) Thematic music (music specifically composed for specific themes) All Bach cello Improvised Parlor songs Theme and Variations Non western composers World music that is not conventional for horn Mixed types of horn, Tibetan horns, Alpine Horns, Diggerydoos; multi-cultural Unaccompanied recital, loop pedal, effects pedal Sonar and Horn All composers are horn players Only works by women composers for horn All hunting horn All natural horn Acted out with brass quintet or pianist and soloist dialogue being shared through musical styles and techniques World music techniques (Middle Eastern semi-tones) New Age vocal transcriptions

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reaching the Everyday Person

When thinking of different places to perform benevolent brass, the first thing that pops into my head is "the community". How does classical music reach the everyday person these days? This has been a constant frustration of mine for many years now. The everyday person does not typically go to concert halls; most of them will say they do not ever listen to classical music. I have explained to a few people that they in fact do listen to classical music, it inspires emotions and they probably don't even realize it... When watching films. Watching a film with a nonmusician and pointing out moving or exciting music Is definitely an eye opener. I began doing this with my boyfriend Shaun when we first began dating. I asked him to try and watch a scene he thought was particularly moving without sound. He had never realized before that what was really pulling at his emotions in a suspenseful or sad or tragic scene was the music. I am proud to say that now he points out cool horn licks to me.:-) But where else does the everyday adult hear classical music? They do not really hear it anywhere. Introducing someone who has not ever listened to classical music is rather difficult. I have tried countless times to get Shaun to listen to classical recordings and he rarely finds them interesting or even tolerable. However, last semester he attended quite a few of the concerts I participated in and each time talked about the music like a kid talks about their new favorite toy. Live music is a great way to introduce a nonmusician to the classical realm. Why is this? One of the reasons recordings are more difficult to catch the interest is the files are condensed so they eliminate the highs and lows, reducing sound files and making it cheaper and easier to get your hands on. But what exactly are te high's and low's of a sound file? I am no physics of sound expert, but I believe these are the areas where the color, overtones, and rich/alive aspects of music lie. I tried an experiment at the suggestion of my horn professor, William Zsembery, during my artist diploma. I was having trouble listening to CDs of classical music for enjoyment purposes. He suggested I try listening to records. I noticed such a difference I went out and bought a record player and began collecting records. Nonmusician, everyday people tend to not go to the music so as musicians, I believe, it is our responsibility to figure out how to bring music to them. I tried to think of ways and would love some additional ideas. I believe the best way we can reach everyday people is through random performances in public places. I would love to memorize a collection of tunes for a small group and go bus stop hopping. Here in Iowa City that woud be very easy to do considering the bus is free and goes everywhere. Another way to bring music to everyday people is through street musicians. I have noticed that everyday people that enjoy classical music have been exposed, outside concert venues, via street musicians. Another great way to reach everyday people is through flash mobs. These are spontaneous and fun for musicians as well as being great exposure opportunities.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nursing Home Programming

Programming for Nursing Homes can be fun and exciting.  First, call the nursing home you would like to play at and find out how long your performance may be and the date on which you may perform there.
If it is a Christmas gig, programming is easy peezy. I recommend that you spend some time finding Christmas arrangements from their generations, such as Bing Crosby arrangements.  This gives them a piece of their younger days and gives you a different arrangement to play besides the Canadian Brass standards. Stick to mainly pieces that will give your audience a warm and fuzzy feel and keep pieces such as "What Child is This" to a minimum. I would be cautious in these environments of playing "Rock" music or "Jazzy" type pieces unless you have been there before.  Remember that during a lot of your audience's prime, this type of music was still considered forbidden or even Devil Music.
If you perform in different seasons, it might be cool to include top chart hits from various years that came out in the month you perform for them. Maybe even include some good old fashioned parlor music or dance tunes. Compile a book with lots of extras for that gig so that you may incorporate your audience's interest.  Interact with your audience and let them live alittle. Perform pieces where they can clap their hands along or sing the words. Keep in mind that some of these people are veterans or were wives of veterans.  Patriotic tunes are typically popular among the elderly.The parlor tradition was a big smash in the olden days. Steven Foster songs are a good choice.  I would even throw in a few more modern tunes they might like such as John Denver hits or   arrangements of pieces from John Wayne or Shirley Temple movies.
Dress the part if you feel inclined.  If you have a female member maybe she would be willing to go out into the audience with some make-up and put some blush on willing cheeks while the rest of the group performs pieces that were popular in beauty parlors.  Along the same lines, with parlor tunes see if the nursing home might chip in and make some hot tea and pastries for the audience.
As a musician we can take their mind off death, we can take them back in time to some of their fondest memories... we can give them happiness and peace of mind.  Something so easy for us means so much to them.  Have fun with it and make an event of it!

Nursing Homes in the Iowa City Area

One of the places where our music is definitely needed and appreciated is in nursing homes.  These are normally volunteer gigs.  In the local area there are numerous Nursing Homes:
Nursing Homes in the Iowa City Area

Bickford Senior Living
3500 Lower West Branch Rd
Iowa City
(319) 351-3200
Legacy Active Retirement Community
1020 South Scott Boulevard
Iowa City
(319) 341-0911

Windmill Manor
2332 Liberty Drive
(319) 545-7390

Walden Place
2423 Walden Rd Iowa City, IA 52246
Telephone: (319) 337-7277

 Emeritus at Silver Pines
136 36 Th Ave Sw Cedar Rapids, IA 00000
Telephone: (888) 810-9348

Mercy Hospital
500 E Market St Iowa City, IA 52245
Telephone: (319) 339-0300

Greenwood Manor
605 Greenwood Dr Iowa City, IA 52246
Telephone: (319) 338-7912

Oaknoll Retirement Residence
701 Oaknoll Dr Iowa City, IA 52246
Telephone: (319) 351-1720

Programming: Ebb and Flow

Whether it be for a classical music performance or for a radio track list, I believe whole-heartedly, that there should be a purpose to every program you put together.  Perhaps this purpose is connected to an emotion such as grief or love. Perhaps it is associated to a place such as Rome, a graveyard, a doorway, a carnival... Perhaps it is associated to technical difficulty, derived from the most technical and difficult pieces you could possibly get your hands on...

A program should flow and meld together creating an inner connection.  Just as the movements of a symphony, your program from beginning to end should have variety that flows together.  I like to open with something that is flashy; in a recital it would typically be a horn call or fanfare. For an ensemble it is perhaps a smart move to begin with something the audience can relate to, something that asks for their attention without being too demanding. Conclude with a piece that is a good closer.  What exactly is a good closer? For abbreviated purposes it should send the audience away happy with a catchy and easily remembered piece, maybe even something that will remind them of the name of your group.

The program should be venue and location appropriate.  If you play in a graveyard, for example, you probably do not want to play perky and loud music or if your are performing in a pub you should veer away from a sad and slow program.  Keep your program audience appropriate too.  If you are playing for tried and true Texans, performing the Maryland state song and avoiding country tunes is probably a bad idea. Just as if you are playing for a Jewish ceremony, Christian wedding hymns are not going to win you any encores.  A good way to choose a program that is venue and location appropriate, without being too obvious or repetitive, is to think of your venue and write down a few words that relate to it.

For example you contract a brass quintet gig for an  evening outdoor gig in Gettysburg on a battlefield.  You go and visit the location.  It has an old standing oak near where you are playing. It is early fall and the leaves are just hinting at their vibrant colors. In this example you have several elements: the civil war, a battlefield, Fall, evening, superstition, probably a wind blowing, mountains in the background, etc.  Well the Civil War.... men in uniform.. North and South fighting for freedom, for glory... boys who pretended to be men.
There are so many different directions you could shape a program in this example...

One way.. imagine a 16 year old boy laying with his head on his rucksack in a trench close to the bows of the oak gazing up at the stars through the mist of his breath dreaming of what?.. his sweetheart back home, his mamma's cooking, his little brother reading him a story, his pa smoking a pipe by the fire...find pieces to fit this web you are trying to weave.

Another way to spin off from this scenario is obviously honoring the dead, honoring their sacrifice, respecting their resting place.  Place yourself in the shoes of their loved ones back home, in the shoes of their last breath... and program what you might have as a soundtrack behind these situations, these moments in time.

We as classical musicians often forget that music has power.  It can cross boundaries that most politics envy.  It can bring comfort and peace to the heart stricken, bring joy and happiness to the sad, celebrate with the one listening, give courage in times of need, and even fuel anger and hatred... Music has been known to breed chaos and even drive insanity. As musicians I believe we should build upon this, use our gift to help people find what they are looking for inside themselves.

Brass Literature Class Presentation

Hello all!  I wanted to post the presentation that I did in class this week.  I found some very enjoyable pieces for brass groups including brass quintet, quartet, trio, ensemble, horn ensemble,  and quartet.  The information for how to find each is included so you should be able to find the album and more music like the song relatively easily if you take an interest.  Enjoy!  I know I did:)

1. Titanic” Fantasy by Richard Bissell and performed by The London Horn Sound

Recorded at Abbey Road Studio in 1999 9:12

Written for 12 horns, timpani and percussion

Based on 3 tunes from the Titanic film score

Solo performer, Hugh Seenan finishes the solo on an ethereal top D

2. Nessun Dorma by Giacomo Puccini, arranged for Brass Choir by Daniel Leavitt and performed by Washington Symphonic Brass 2:48

3. O magnum mysterium by Lauridsen, arranged for brass choir by Jeffrey Budin and performed by The Bay Brass 6:36 on album Sound the Bells

Formed in 1995, The Bay Brass, is comprised of a cooperative of players from the San Francisco Bay Area's leading performing organizations including theSan Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and Symphony Silicon Valley. The aim of the group is to present both large-scale symphonic brass ensemble works and compositions for smaller combinations of players in acoustics which complement the wonderful sound of brass. In addition, The Bay Brass programs concerts of remarkable diversity, combining the traditional brass repertory with jazz and other contemporary styles, including the works of some of today's most influential composers.

4. Robin Hood Prince of Thieves arranged by Josef Reif 3:12 on Vienna Horns CD Track #1
Horns (8 or 12) and percussion

5. Fanfare for the Common Man by Copland performed by the PJBE Track #1 on Greatest Hits CD2

6. Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky in 1874. Performed by the PJBE Tracks #18-32

7. St. Louis Blues performed by Canadian Brass on album 2 Centuries of Hits Track #7

8. Bernhard Crusell-Four pieces for the Band of the Swedish First Lifeguard Regiment Marche on album Antique Brasses, performed by The London Gabrieli Brass Ensemble approximately 8 minutes Tracks #24-27  Movements: Marche, Waltz, Andante, and Al la chasse

9. A Philharmonic Fanfare by The University of Maryland Brass Trio Track #1 on album Brass Trios composed by Eric Ewazen

10. Skarpskyttepolka Composed by Thure Hasselof and performed by Swedish Brass Quartet Track #9 on album Svenska Messingkvartetten

11. The Lion Sleeps Tonight by Solomon Linda performed by Berlin Philharmonic Horn Quartet on album Four Corners!

12. Wanton Horns (Chinese Kitchen Dreams) by Klaus Wallendorf performed by Berlin Philharmonic Horn Quartet on album Four Corners!

Friday, February 10, 2012

What's in a Name?

Hello again! I have been calling multiple people in the veterans programs to find answers and am still searching. While I wait to hear more I wanted to discuss what I believe to be an important topic that musicians face whether in the charitable realms or in paid gigs: marketability. Let's face it.. In today's society when anyone thinks of musical entertainment a brass quintet would be one of the last things they think of. D.J.'s, karaoke, rock band, etc.... But not brass quintet. So, what's a good way to begin? Your group needs to have a good name. Choose a catchy name, one that not only sounds neat to say but also is aesthetically appealing. This will help with advertising down the road. Keep in mind, the name you choose needs to be fitting of the type of group you are in, in this case a brass quintet. "Crazy Train" or "Skyrockets in Flight" might be catchy names but they have absolutely nothing in them to indicate they are the name for a brass quintet. Also, when choosing a name think ahead to the main type of audience you are trying to attract. The area you live in and the social atmosphere of that area actively play into the main type of audience you bring in. For example, if you want to primarily play for children's programs and you live in a retirement area, it probably is not going to work very well. Get to know your community and your group members and ultimately choose the name that best suits the entire picture. Your community and surroundings are very important. Does your community have a strong religious affiliation? Did anything happen of significance historically in the community? Are there specific cultural ties to a particular nationality? These are just some of many questions to ask yourself. What's in a name? The name you choose represents your identity. It is the first and last thing about you that the public sees and often remembers. It has the ability to subconsciously and even consciously shape your musical program, your attire, even venues where you choose to perform. For example. Say you live in an area where there is a string Irish heritage. Picking a Celtic name such as Sláinte Brass (Irish Gaelic for cheers) would be naturally appealing to the community. You could play in local pubs, parks, concert halls, etc. A brass quintet with a more conservative name probably would not be as easy to get into local pubs. This name is appropriate for all ages and all types of crowds. A name like this opens doors to come up with a fun look. Being creative and appealing with your attire makes you more personable and eye catching. This might seem like a small thing. After all, your music should sell itself. But having an appealing name is a great way to catch your initial audience and leave a lasting impression.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I have been reflecting this past week upon the difficulties of the everyday classical musician attempting to get involved with performing for soldiers. I have decided to attempt to take a round about approach and contact veterans associations, the American Legion, and other organizations I come across to find out what kind of performance opportunities are out there. I will be focusing on the local area of Iowa City and Coralville but will try to taylor my conclusion to musicians everywhere. These associations tend to have a huge amount of funding backing them for activities and entertainment. I will attempt to find out all I can concerning this topic this week. Below is a questionare of sorts I will ask these organizations: How does one go about arranging for performances for local veterans? Are there specific places such as the American Legion or VFW that could serve as an appropriate venue? How would one go about advertising? Is there funding available for musical entertainment? What kind of music would appeal to local veterans? Are there children's programs available for veterans families? What kind of paid and volunteer services can musicians get involved in? If anyone has any question suggestions, I am all ears. When I call to ask for information, I am going to present the community brass quintet I play in as the group. I believe that a brass quintet can meld into the performance preferences of everyday people much better then say a horn quartet or woodwind quintet. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Performing for soldiers

After performing an orchestra concert one evening last semester, my boyfriend and I were driving home. He was excited for me about my performance on the concert and we somehow dove into a conversation about music and the audience. I told him that I was really frustrated because the people I really want to play for I do not know how to reach. Playing on an orchestra concert was only so satisfying for me. I wanted to be able to perform where my music wasn't just entertainment, where it was actually needed. I wanted to play in active war zones. Until that point I had believed that the only way a classical musician could do so was by becoming a member of one of the military bands. Due to a back injury from a car accident, I did not believe I would be accepted. That was when my boyfriend, Shaun, told me about a program through the USO where musicians can apply and audition to be able to perform for soldiers in war zones. I could not wait to get home and look up the information. I have always wanted to touch lives with my music and playing in war zones was reinforced even more by the fact that my boyfriend is an army reservist who has already deployed twice. Men and women everyday give up their home lives to go fight for our country. If I could go for even one performance to bring these people hope and a piece of home, then it is the least I could do. I began to research into ways that every day musicians can apply to go overseas. The USO program is for entertainers of celebrity status, but reading through their site, they provided a link to another site for musicians and entertainers that did not fit into the "celebrity" category. Unfortunately, the site is very vague on costs and what the performer will be reimbursed for. For one to find out, they would need to go through the audition process. I will keep looking into this and post my findings.


Why does one become a classical musician? Of course, a valid and popular answer would be because we love our music. But what does loving something ethereal like music actually entail? We dedicate our lives or a large part of our lives to music, to expanding our knowledge and abilities, to make a livelihood doing something we enjoy, and to share our passion with others. I believe a large part of being a musician is sharing our music with others. Most musicians these days do this by participating in orchestras, bands, small ensembles, and performing recitals. We see this at universities, conservatories, school functions, churches, and the stage. We contract for gigs through the churches and schools in our communities. Some musicians learn to compose and arrange, adding their published work as supplemental income. Some musicians become part of a teaching studio or open there own. Whatever light you cast on a musical career, it reveals itself as a community oriented profession. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a musician executes the most beautiful and touching performance of their lives and no one is there to hear it,it might as well be silence. We as musicians need to be heard. At some point in our lives and careers, we begin to want to give back to our communities, to know that what we do will obtain some measure of immortality through our listeners, pupils, and performers of our pieces. What better way to do this then by serving our communities in a way that will make a lasting difference. In today's world of music, this sometimes seems impossible for a classical musician. Orchestras are a dying breed. Classical music is not considered popular. Why bother? Why even care? After all we can just perform ridiculously complicated recitals at schools of cutting edge material. Isn't that how we become famous as a classical musician? That is what most professional musicians do on recordings we listen to isn't it? I strongly disagree with this mentality and I have seen it far too much in younger generations. We as musicians need to be heard by our community. We have the power to breach barriers that most politicians would be envious of. We can inspire hope, cheer people up when they are sad, make them weep when they have forgotten how to... Music has power and it is a gift that is meant to keep giving. There are people out there that need music in their lives more then ever. The elderly at nursing homes whose family has forgotten them and time has left behind. We can provide entertainment and bring a piece of the real world back to them. We can perform for the children of tomorrow, opening their minds to a whole new world, breaching the walls of the close minded boxes that society tends to place them in. We can bring hope, moral support, courage, a piece of home, and peace to soldiers in battlefields. Music can touch people and bring them light when they are in their darkest hour. I believe it is our duty as musicians to bring this light to dark places, to give hope back to the hopeless, to bring courage to the lost, to bring the world back to the forgotten...This is our legacy. This is the way we may achieve a measure of immortality. It all sounds good in theory. But how may one maintain a livelihood doing services for their community? It is my goal to find funding to be able to make a living performing services for those in need of our music, and to execute an entertaining and marketable program for a variety of audiences.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Hello all! This blog is meant to be a place to find information about music for volunteer services, community service, charity, and good deeds in general, the kind of performing opportunities that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Topics of interest may include information regarding performance at hospice, veterans and military support opportunities, nursing homes, flash mobs, children's programs, etc. Enjoy!