Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.


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