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Fine Arts Brass tips for musicians everywhere

Brass Books
For those interested in the historical background of brass instruments and their repertoire, I would recommend the following books and publications.


Brass Bulletin

Galpin Society Journal

Historic Brass Society Journal

International Horn Society

International Trombone Association Journal

International Trumpet Guild

Internationale Posaunen Vereinigung

The Trombonist

Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association


A Catalogue of Music for the Cornett Collver & Dickey

Adolphe Sax-His Life & Legacy Wally Horwood

Alto Trombone: An Annotated BibliographyRobert Keehle

Brass Bands in the 20th Century G & V Brand

Brass Bibliography Fasman

Brass Instruments: Their History & DevelopmentA. Baines

Brass Musical Instruments in the USA Richard J. Dundas

Brass Unbound Rob Boonzajer Flaes

Contemporary Trombone Repertoire Benny Sluchin

Handel’s Trumpeter Grano/Ginger

Historic MusicalInstruments in EdinburghArnoldMyers

Le Trombone Lapie/Sluchin

Mastering the Trombone Kleinhammer/Yeo

Perspectives in Brass Scholarship Stewart Carter

Sing the Happy Song Brindley Boon

Scoring for Brass Band Denis Wright

Talks with Bandsmen Algernon S. Rose

The Art of Brass Playing Philip Farcas

The Art of the Trumpet Maker Robert Barclay

The Art of Trombone Playing Kleinhammer

The Cambridge Companion to Brass InstrumentsHerbert&Wallace

The Horn Robin Gregory

The Last trumpet:The English Slide TrumpetArt Brownlow

The Soloistic Use of the Trombone in Vienna in the 18th Century C R Wigness

The Trombone Robin Gregory

The Trombone: Its History 1697-1811 David Guion

The Trumpet & Trombone in the Graphic ArtsTom L. Naylor

The Tuba Family Christopher Bevan

The Tuba Source Book Morris & Goldstein

Trombone Technique Denis Wick

Trompeten, Posaunen, Tuben Herbert Heyde

Wind & Song Arnold Jacobs

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Web Sites of Brass Organizations
There are many brass organisations. Here are some to consider joining.

Association of Finnish Brass Players

Australian Trombone Association

Belgian Low Brass

Brass Players Museum

British Horn Society

British Trombone Society

Dutch Jazz Musicians

Historic Brass Society

Hungarian Trombone & Tuba Association

International Horn Society

Internationale Posaunen Vereinigung

International Trumpet Guild

International Women's Brass Conference

National Association of Brass Band Conductors

National Association of College Wind & Percussion Instructors

North American Brass Band Association

Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association

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Should I Choose Music as a Career?
So, you're the best players in your local brass band, you've passed Grade VIII with Distinction, you play in all the County groups, and one day somebody asks the dreaded question 'what you will do when you leave school?'

Should I consider music as a career?

Well, since you asked, no.

The music business is notoriously fickle, with terrible hours and little room for growth either emotional or financial. If you are lucky enough to get work, the long hours spent travelling can take their toll on health and relationships.

It's good to be aware of the facts. Speak to people who are trying to make a living to get a realistic picture.

If however, at the end of the day all this is outbalanced by an overwhelming desire to make music and no other career is an option then consider the alternatives.

Should I go to music-college or university?

Well, at music-college you will mix day in, day out with other aspiring musicians like yourself, all hoping to make it in the profession, building up contacts for the day you emerge, chrysalis-like into a world of auditions and freelance dates. Colleges provide a highly structured, specialised training for solo and orchestral playing. However, be aware that you may never play that Mahler Symphony again after graduation.

At university you would mix with a broader selection of students and could study a subject other than music, whilst still taking lessons from a respected teacher. Many fine players took this route, but it is hard work fitting in a couple of hours practice just as your friends are finishing their day. However, you will be gaining other skills, which could support you if the muses don't bless you.

Which College or University?

Don't rely too much on the prospectus, they all sound wonderful! Speak to students (and staff) who are there. Visit the institutions before your interview if possible and see the real life going on, not just the staged display they put on for visitors. Choose a town or city with a rich cultural life. It may be difficult to get lessons if the nearest orchestra is 100 miles away.

How should I choose a teacher?

This is another important decision. Most people think their teacher is brilliant. But what are they comparing him/her with?

The relationship between instrumental teacher and pupil is in many ways the most important aspect to get right. The majority of performers do a little teaching (sometimes reluctantly), to provide financial security when playing work is thin. Just because your teacher is a distinguished player he may not want (or have the necessary gifts) to pass on those vital skills to you.

Sometimes students are given a sum of money, say £300 to pay for instrumental lessons. Rather than blow the lot on a year's lessons from teacher A, I would be inclined to take lessons from a variety of teachers. After a few months you will discover the ones who communicate their ideas in a way that best suits you.

How should I best use my student years?

Far more important than where you go, or who teaches you is the work you do on your own.

These days performers must be versatile. Be acquainted with the standard repertoire for your instrument but also learn to improvise, swing, conduct, play the piano, learn the sackbut and early music, spend time acquiring the extended techniques of contemporary music, learn the alto trombone, bass trumpet and euphonium (and their repertoire), start to arrange (and possibly compose), learn to use music software, discover new and exciting repertoire (search libraries, music information centres, the internet etc, commission young composers).

Don't wait for the 'phone to ring, form orchestras, ensembles, organise concerts, exchange visits, educational projects. Take every opportunity to perform, no matter how poorly paid. Learn a foreign language and if possible take the opportunity of post-graduate study abroad. Listen to music and attend concerts (rehearsal are often free). This is what musicians do. If you don't enjoy playing in public or listening to music – now is the time to find out.

Most of all have fun; student colleagues may be your friends for the rest of your life, but also they form a network of contacts, upon which you can start to build a career.

Music is a demanding and frustrating profession, but it is also infinitely satisfying and rewarding. Few careers can give the high of coming off stage after a great performance, the opportunity for travel or the passport to places and events not seen by most people in a hundred lifetimes. As Denis Wick says 'the music business is terribly overcrowded, but there is always room at the top'.

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Practicing - why and how
'Steady practice will create the discipline that allows you to do the things the same way all of the time'

The Psychology of Practicing in 8 points

1. The time spent practicing is directly proportional to the amount of concentration that can be applied to work before becoming mentally tired.

2. There is no harm in taking the occasional day off for mental and physical rest.

3. Intelligent thinking is vital

4. Practice is conditioning.

5. Before a piece can sound good musically. It has to feel good physically

6. Success is only achieved by many failures

7. Don’t ever think perfection but in percentages e.g. 10% better than before, aim for improvement using critical analysis;

- How good is good?

- How bad is bad?

- What have I learned today?

- What do I still lack?

8. Musical activity should not be forced, but should be a natural progression of each individual’s talent and skill

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