All posts by John Manning

Welcome Back 2015!

Welcome back to all of our returning students, and a special welcome to all of our new students in the brass area. We are very excited about our new building, which we will actually be in one year from now! We are also looking forward to this new academic year with our new Visiting Professor of Trumpet, Dr. Courtney Jones. He has greatly contributed to the brass area and has some exciting performances and projects coming up. For more about Dr. Jones, visit his website. In addition to our weekly seminar classes for each instrument, once or twice a semester, we hold a combined brass area seminar. This semester the Resonance Projection Trombone Quartet will be performing on October 8th. Keep an eye on this blog for updates throughout the year.

Brass Area Seminar – April 17, 2014

This week’s Brass Area Seminar featured by five chamber groups, including the Old Capitol Brass Quintet, a Trombone Quartet, a Horn Quartet, a Tuba/Euphonium Quartet and a Trumpet Quintet. I was very impressed with all of the performances and quite proud to heard such great music making from everyone. Due to the full program, we will be posting our comments here and invite all students to post theirs as well.

Here are my comments and observations:

1. Old Capitol Brass Quintet (Hidas) – The group blend and expression was excellent. The tone of the very opening was so bright it sounded angry, but warmed up quite nicely. Remember, when projecting in the forte range to think of it more as “full” than  “loud” to maintain a nice tone. The balance in this room (Music West Atrium) was excellent and the group blended well. The tuba/trombone triplets weren’t quite together on the triplets before the horn solo. Megan, nice job on the solo. Be sure to let the longer notes and ending notes “sing” a bit more. The pitch and tone matching while muted still needs work. Nice group phrasing in slow, homo-rhythmic section. During some individual solos, even the short ones, the clarity and response needs improvement. Great ending and overall an excellent performance.

2. Trombone Quartet (Agrell – Gospel Time) Collegium Tubum has performed this work several times and it’s great to have a resident composer in the brass area [who gave you a well-deserved standing ovation!] Nice group blend, but be sure to maintain a consistent pulse to maintain that great momentum you created. Great solos by everyone. Be sure to work on pitch and tone at the top of your ranges. In the last fast section, watch the intonation on the octaves. Great job guys!

3. Horn Quartet (Verne Reynolds) Nice job and beautiful selection. Be sure to work on starting cleanly and make sure everyone is ready. I would suggest making better eye contact and breathing together in time. Low horns should strive to be more solid on pitch, as the upper horns are relying on you for a foundation to tune to. Nice work!


4. Tuba/Euphonium Quartet (Brink) Nice shirts! Very nice performance overall. A few things: Jayna, remember to stand to announce and speak loudly and clearly. Sometimes the rhythm/time is a bit inconsistent. Remember that when playing minimalistic music (that repeats a lot of material) you must be consistent with both playing and breathing. Occasionally the transition from triplets to duple rhythm rushed. Great variety of dynamics and overall affect.

5. Trumpet Quartet  (City Scapes by Eric Morales) Very nice group sound. Lower trumpets should strive for a warmer tone in the low range. Great energy and group momentum. Try adding a decrescendo to vamps; this strongly sets the groove then gets the background out of the way to introduce the melody. In the second and third movements, make sure that the melody and harmony balances – sometimes the harmony overpowered the melody. I loved the mouthpiece tapping effect, especially when the valves were activated to change the pitch – I have never heard that extended technique. Great job everyone!

Thank you again to all of the performers, and remember to start planning YOUR chamber music group for next semester!


Jury Repertoire Forms

Brass Juries are next week, Monday, May 13th through Thursday, May 16th. Please remember to sign up for your jury time on the brass bulletin board at UCC. If you a taking a proficiency, please indicate that and sign up for two adjacent time slots. Also remember to complete the Brass Jury Repertoire Sheet. Hard copies are now in the pocket on the brass bulletin board at UCC and, for your convenience, attached to this post. Good luck everyone.


Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar Application Deadline March 1st

The application deadline for the 2013Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar is Friday, March 1st. University of Iowa students who are interested in applying after that deadline should notify Professor Manning as soon as possible for an extension.

Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar at MIT

The seminar takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology from July 21 to August 2, 2013. The seminar includes several hours of coaching each day, masterclasses, open rehearsals, plug-ins, performance classes, instrument classes and recitals by the Triton Brass Quintet, the Atlantic Brass Quintet and the Tritantic Brass Ensemble. Tuition is $1400 for the two weeks and housing is $780 for a single room or $528 for a double room.

For more information about the seminar and to apply on line, please visit the seminar website.

Brass Chamber Music

If you are a brass student interested in taking chamber music for credit this semester, please contact Professor Manning. Groups must be established by the end of this week and coachings should commence by next week (the third week of classes). The complete text of the syllabus reads:


025:190:002 Brass Chamber Music

Professor John Manning

UCC 3758



All brass chamber music groups must be established by the third week of the semester, if not earlier. A complete list of the members’ names, instruments, emails and phone numbers must be submitted to Professor Manning by the second week of school to have a coach assigned. Group members must meet to determine three common times amongst their weekly schedules (one for a coaching, one for rehearsals, and one alternate time.) Professor Manning will make every attempt to coach all brass chamber music groups his schedule will accommodate, but will not be available to coach groups after 5:00 pm or on weekends. Graduate teaching assistants may be assigned to coach some brass chamber groups. If individual students or incomplete groups are interested in taking brass chamber music for credit, notify Professor Manning and he will attempt to assist you in completing a group.


Each chamber ensemble is responsible for performing at least twice during the semester. The first performance is to be presented on campus, either in the music school or for an on-campus University event. The second must be presented off campus, in the local community (school, church, hospital, etc.) If a faculty member cannot be present at the performance, a program, photo or letter verifying the performance must be submitted to the coach by the end of the semester. Additionally, all brass chamber music groups may be required to perform (10-15 minutes of music) at the Brass Chamber Music Concert near during the semester.


Each member of the ensemble is expected to practice his or her individual part to an appropriate level as to be prepared for each rehearsal and coaching. Additionally, the ensemble is responsible for a minimum of two hours of rehearsal between each coaching, showing significant progress and preparation of the assigned music. It is recommended that the ensemble schedule one two-hour rehearsal per week, but, if necessary, the ensemble may schedule two one-hour rehearsals. Coachings are one hour weekly.


Repertoire is to be determined by members of the ensemble and is subject to the consultation and approval of the coach. The ensemble is responsible for obtaining all music and photocopies are not acceptable for performance. Music must be either borrowed from the library, a faculty member, or purchased by a member of the chamber ensemble. Whenever possible, the score must also be made available to the coach and each member of the ensemble must have a copy of the score. The ensemble will keep track of the original score throughout the semester and each member of the ensemble is responsible for score-study and marking their parts with necessary cues.


Attendance is mandatory for all rehearsals and coachings. If there is a conflict, all members of the ensemble and the coach must be notified no less than 24 hours in advance. Regular times must be established for weekly rehearsals and coachings.

A designated member of the student ensemble is responsible for reserving appropriate rooms for all rehearsals and coachings.


Grades will be based on preparation, effort, improvement, attendance and two performances (see requirements above). Teamwork and cooperation are essential to the success of any organization, and will be taken into account for determining the final grade of each student. Student ensembles are expected to resolve all musical, personal, and logistical conflicts to ensure the success of the chamber group. At least three members of any quintet/quartet must be taking chamber music for credit. All members of the chamber group, once established, are committed to the group for the duration of the semester, regardless of whether the course is audited or taken for credit.

Course Numbers

The correct course number for brass chamber music (brass quintets, quartets) is 025:190:002. The other two courses listed under “Wind Chamber Music” with similar course numbers are 025:190:010 (Brass Choir) and 025:190:012 (Collegium Tubum Tuba Euphonium Ensemble). Please be sure to sign up for the correct section.

Area Brass Semiar – 11/29/12

On November 29th, the UI Brass Area enjoyed another area-wide seminar. The seminar was held in the atrium of the Music West Interim Building from 12:30 to 1:20. The performers included:

  1. Old Capitol Brass Quintet
  2. Undergraduate Trombone Quartet (newly named the “Half-Plaid Quartet”)
  3. Jiffani Dill Tuba Euphonium Quartet (named after the combination of the names; Jayna, Tiffani, Danny and Will)
  4. Meagan Conley, trumpet
  5. Low Brass Orchestral Section

The Old Capitol Brass Quintet (Meagan Conley, Caitlin Elliot – trumpets; Drew Phillips, horn; Nate Lee, tromboe; Kate Wohlman, tuba) performed Kenneth Singleton’s Four Songs by Charles Ives. The Half-Plaid Trombone Quartet performed Acheived is the Glorious Work from the Haydn’s Creation. The Jiffani Dill Quartet performed “Intrada”, the first movement from Barbara York’s  The PC Quartet: “Traditional Values” tuba quartet. Megan Conley performed a selection of orchestral excerpts for trumpet including Scheherezade by Rimsky-Korsakov, Ein Heldenleben by Richard Strauss, and the Shostakovich Piano Concerto. The Low Brass Section performed excerpts from Verdi’s Nabucco and Berlioz’s Hungarian March.

Members of the brass faculty offered brief comments and made the following announcements:

1. Professor Jeff Agrell spoke about his class “Improvisation for Classical Musicians” 025:106:001.

2. Juries will be held on Tuesday, 12/11; Wednesday, 12/12; and Thursday 12/13 and sign-up sheets have been posted on the brass area bulletin board on the third floor of the UCC School of Music.

3. Sigma Alpha Iota is sponsoring  their Third Annual School of Music All Stars competition. This event is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. The only requirement is that each student must be a full time student for both semesters (graduate – 9 s.h. and undergraduate – 12 s.h.) All nominated soloists will perform in the All-Stars Competition concert on Wednesday, February 13th, at 7:30pm. At the end of the concert, a panel of judges will select one winner to be awarded 4 hours of recording time in Riverside Recital Hall, paid for by Sigma Alpha Iota. The competition concert in Riverside Recital Hall will be recorded, so even if an individual is not selected as the winner, he or she will receive a live recording of their piece.

The brass faculty will nominate two brass students based on their jury performance. Students interested in competing should play the appropriate solo selection for their jury and must notify the faculty at the beginning of the jury that they choose to compete.

4. A “Jury Jitters” performance will be held Sunday, December 2 from noon to 1pm at MWIB.

These area-wide seminars have proven to be valuable and quite enjoyable. We plan on continuing this tradition. We will announce the dates of the Spring 2013 semester area-wide seminars soon.

Detailed comments from faculty, and students, will be left below as comments to this post.


Putting the A-C-T in Practice

For our first tuba euphonium studio masterclass of the semester , I presented the following outline to encourage good practice habits. I thought that I should share it here:

“Putting the A-C-T in Practice: Appraise, Correct, Train”
A Masterclass Outline Presented by Professor John Manning
University of Iowa School of Music
August 30, 2012

Appraise your goals
Appraise your schedule and practice habits
Appraise your strengths and weaknesses

Once you get into the practice room…

  1. Assess your playing critically and identify challenges
    • Acknowledge mistakes and take note of them
    • Activate your inner critic; become your own teacher
    • Avoid becoming hypercritical, frustrated or distracted
  2. Can’t play it?
    • Can you sing it?
    • Can you buzz it?
    • Can you simplify it?
  3. Troubleshoot
    • Take time to isolate and diagnose
    • Try, Treat, Trace,
    • Transform

Correct your approach
Correct your mistakes
Correct your methods

  1. Assault problems and issues aggressively
    • Alternate working on small cells, and testing your progress in context
    • Allow enough time for real improvement
    • Anticipate progress but don’t be discouraged by small setbacks
  2. Conquer ChallengesTake your time…
    1. Circle the problem areas
    2. Concentrate on what you DON’T play well
    3. Change the most challenging aspects of the music to simplify
  3. Train yourself to…
    • …to learn it correctly
    • …, then increase difficulty
    • …and keep your cool

Train yourself to practice regularly, efficiently, and effectively
Train for success
Train like an Olympic athlete – with consistency, discipline, and dedication

  1. Act like a teacher to yourself
    • Access your “inner critic”, but not while performing
    • Alter your approach and change your perspective
    • Acknowledge mistakes, it’s how we learn
  2. Consistency
    • Consistent playing comes from consistent practicing.
    • Create good habits to override bad habits.
    • Challenge yourself to Excel, Stretch, Engage, Choose & Serve
  3. Tenacity
    • Treat music like a project, complete with tasks and due dates
    • Trust your instincts
    • “Try not. Do, or do not”. – Yoda

Unique Opportunity for Students

Please read the following message regarding a new and unique opportunity . I encourage brass players to seek out a chamber work with strings.

To all new and returning brass students,

I would like to welcome those of you who are new to the University of Iowa and a welcome back all our returning students. I hope all of you had a wonderful summer filled with great music and are excited about taking on the challenges of the new academic year. I know that all of us on the faculty are very excited about the prospect of working with all of you.

I wanted to fill you in on a new initiative here at the University of Iowa that is a very exciting opportunity. The University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program is a new program that will bring 3-4 professional string quartets each year to UI for week-long residencies. During these residencies, the visiting quartets will give public performance, master classes, sessions on how they built their careers and work intensively with student chamber music groups. The UI School of Music is incredibly fortunate to have this resource and I would like to invite you to take full advantage of it.

We will have three outstanding groups visiting us this year. Ranging from experts in the field of new music to competition winners to a group whose career has spanned multiple decades and trained many of today’s young groups, these quartets will be sharing their knowledge and talents with all who have registered for String Chamber Music during the next academic year.

October – JACK Quartet (

February/March – Linden String Quartet (

April – Cavani Quartet (

Students who are enrolled in String Chamber Music (025:188: 001) will have weekly coachings with Elizabeth Oakes, participate in a weekly seminar and will have the opportunity for multiple coachings and master class opportunities with the visiting quartets. This fall, students will also have the chance to participate in a master class with the St. Lawrence String Quartet (

You can enroll in 025:188:001 as a preformed ensemble or as an individual. This is course is not limited to string players but groups must contain at least one string player. If you are interested in the course, please contact me directly to see if we might find a group for you. Enrollment as an individual does not guarantee placement in a group; placement is contingent on number of students enrolled, finding appropriate repertoire and finding the right match.

Please feel free to email me directly if you have any questions. (

Wishing you a great start to this new academic year!

Beth Oakes

Elizabeth Oakes