Low Brass lessons in canberra

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Gavin Stephens B Sc Dip Ed

I started playing trombone aged 10 in Port Macquarie, and played mostly in semi-professional big bands and brass quintets during my high school years. I was the former 1st trombone for Canberra Brass / Hall Village Brass Band, and bass trombone for the National Capital Orchestra. I play bass trombone for Connexion Big Band and fill in for Blamey Street Big Band and Canberra Wind Symphony.

I play both Eb and Bb tuba in my spare time, filling in for community orchestras and bands. I have toured Europe with Eastern Australia Brass playing Eb tuba.

I am a former high school mathematics / science teacher who believes in applying links between maths and music as a way to improve a student’s musical understanding.

My approach to music education includes an emphasis on:

  • repetition to the point of memorisation
  • correct fundamentals (skills acquisition) appropriate to the instrument
  • an authentic learning environment, for example playing real music, in a performance-like environment

I also believe that brass instrument music education should have a focus on tone, intonation, technique and articulation (and generally in that order).

Some things I believe in as a teacher of an orchestral brass instrument:

  • 5 hours per week is the minimum a high-school or adult brass player should practise their instrument (not including band/orchestra rehearsal time) if they want to get better. Primary school students should aim for 3 hours per week of practise.
  • Students must keep a practise diary. This will allow the student to gauge their own progress and also allow a tutor to identify any problems early on.
  • Students should buzz on their mouthpiece at various ‘down-times’ during the day; for example while getting a lift to school; ad breaks on TV. This can be counted as practise.
  • Students must actively study the great brass players; it’s easy to do this these days with YouTube etc. Knowing the ‘greats’ will give you a tone and technique to aim for.
  • Young brass players should join their local Brass Band – its basically a group tutorial for brass players only, and you get to play alongside and learn from the best brass players in town. Concert bands are good but they won’t give a student access to as many brass ‘mentors’ who will be able to pass on tips and other advice.

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