• Interview with Dr. Paul Droste

    I have had "sessions," (I hesitate to call these "lessons") but sessions early on with Harold Brasch. In fact, the year I was at Rochester, he came by on a clinic. The NYSSMA convention was there, and he was all alone at his booth, so I cut my classes and camped there for the day [laughs] and peppered him with questions. He also came to Columbus, one of the local high schools had him as a soloist, and the next day he was to be available at a music store, on a Saturday morning. I walked in, and there was nobody there interested in talking to Harold, so I had him for the better part of a day. So, he was one that evaluated my playing, and really, in his negative way, which he had - let's say "direct way" - he questioned my teaching, he questioned my equipment, he questioned my mouthpiece, he questioned just about everything that Max Denmark and Jack Evans, had taught me (I think this was while I was at Eastman) so those were my teachers to that point. "What idiot told you this," "What idiot didn't call this to your attention?"

    He had me upset at myself, never upset at the teachers, I think they did the best they could, and, again, I was not studying with a euphonium player, so they didn't teach me the lip and jaw vibrato, I had to find that one on my own. But when you are used to being the first chair player of the band, a very good band, and then somebody comes in and just tears you apart, and really doesn't put you back together again - he just tears you apart. He says, "If you've got any smarts at all you'll play these exercises and these pieces," and so on. Although he did a lot of teaching in Washington, and I have heard that when the new euphonium players came to Washington, they automatically were sent to Harold Brasch or Art Lehman for lessons (even though they were professionals at that time, they needed that). I don't know if Mr. Brasch and I would have survived a teacher-student relationship, but he was very direct, and really opened my eyes to some things which I really hadn't developed at that point.

    At Ohio State, for instance, in the undergraduate years, I was using a three valve bell-front Holton, that's what the school supplied, I didn't own my own. Of course, Harold comes in with his "Wotan" four valve Boosey & Hawkes, half-again the size of the bore, and a mouthpiece that would swallow mine pretty easily, and said, "Hey kid, if you want to play at this level, this is the equipment you have to have." I probably was misguided a little bit in equipment, small mouthpieces, small instruments. Jack Evans at Ohio State never liked the British euphoniums, he always said, "They sound stuffy, they play stuffy." So, it was just not an issue at Ohio State where I would say, "I'm going to go buy one of these," or somebody would say "Let's get a couple for the school and make sure Droste gets one of them." So I took what they gave us at the school.

    Later on, it would have been in my first two years of teaching in nearby Pickerington, I got my first call from the Columbus Symphony Orchestra to come in and play the high tuba part on the Berlioz Fantastic Symphony. So, my three valver wasn't going to cut that, the School of Music had just purchased the Conn 24I, upright, four valves, so I borrowed one of those real quick and headed in to the first rehearsal. Jules Duga was the tuba player, Glenn Harriman was the principal trombone. My sound and tuning and other things just did not fit at that first rehearsal. Glenn Harriman said, "I have a Besson euphonium at home, I'm going to loan it to you. Get it and work on it before the next rehearsal." So, I borrowed that, played it all there, made my entrance tape for Eastman on Glenn's euphonium, and then moved to Rochester, and then I really bought my first euphonium there, which was a four valve compensating Besson.

    I thank my first experience with the Columbus Symphony for steering me in some new ways. Once again, the equipment I had was small, the mouthpieces were small, and Glenn not only told me what to do, but gave me the equipment with which to do it. Between he and Jules I think they nagged at me enough that I played it the way they wanted it to be played, anyway.

    Nowicke: You had been taking lessons with Reinhardt.

    Droste: At that point, yes. Actually, I did mostly trombone with Reinhardt, just because that was his specialty and I remember some of the last lessons, telling him that, "I'm playing euphonium 90% of the time, this isn't doing me any good here on trombone." But most of the work with Reinhardt was on trombone, and most of it was on high register building, which was his specialty.
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