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Thread: Brass Band Auditions and Audition Advice

  1. #1

    Brass Band Auditions and Audition Advice

    Cool idea!

    My introduction to brass band was through drum corps. I marched with Phantom Regiment from 2009-2011, and my first year the entire last half of our production was taken from the great work 'Paganini Variations' by Philip Wilby. I remember one day during spring training we listened to all of the source music on a rainy afternoon with JD (the brass caption head at the time), and when we listened to the Wilby piece I was blown away! I had no idea what I was hearing, but I was hooked!

    When I moved to Colorado in 2013 to start my MM degree I started playing with a local brass band (non-competitive) called Rocky Mountain Brassworks. Really great group that sits at about the 2nd section in NABBA if they competed. We did about a concert a month or so, and every concert was in a packed auditorium! The guy who runs that group, Doug Harris, knows how to put together a great concert with a theme that's fun for players and the audience. That's where I got "used to" the brass band instrumentation and learned a lot of repertoire. We would occasionally play some championship level stuff and we programmed 'Of Distant Memories' one concert cycle, and I realized I really enjoyed playing test pieces.

    I played with that group for 2 years, and then there was an opening for Pikes Peak Brass Band (about an hour and a half south of Denver) which is/was a competitive 1st section band. I sat on 2nd Eb Tuba my first year and then moved to the solo euphonium chair the next year. I remember sitting in the first rehearsal with that group and I could barely keep up with how much sound was coming out of the band, but I freakin loved it! The music was great, and the people were great! I took a year off after 2 years with that group, and then the following year I auditioned for Colorado Brass which was a new-ish group that competed in the Championship division, which is ultimately what I wanted; to play that level of music in a competitive group. I joined them in 2019-20, and was super excited to do NABBA 2020 in the championship section on solo euph, then COVID hit. I had my first taste of playing in the solo euph chair in a championship level brass band competing at NABBA 2022 this past April and I can't wait for the next one!

    Favorite non-test piece I've played would be the Sandy Smith arrangement of Los Hermanos de Bop - super fun!
    Favorite test piece I've played - Of Distant Memories
    Favorite test piece I want to play! - Vita Aeterna Variations
    Steven Vaughn, D.M.A.
    Professor of Tuba & Euphonium, University of Northern Colorado
    S.E. Shires Euphonium Artist

    Principal Tuba - Fort Collins Symphony

    Eastman 836 CC Tuba
    Meinl Weston 2182W F Tuba
    Shires Q40 Euphonium

  2. I’m auditioning for the Frontier Brass Band near Edmond, Oklahoma run by Dr. Ryan Sharp! I’d love to hear any advice or tips for playing in a brass band for the first time. I’ll be playing euphonium and I’m excited to have a chance at being apart of a British style brass band!
    Adams E1 Gold Brass Bell and SS Leadpipe
    Undergrad at Angelo State
    Future TA at University of Oklahoma

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by bayoung36 View Post
    I’m auditioning for the Frontier Brass Band near Edmond, Oklahoma run by Dr. Ryan Sharp! I’d love to hear any advice or tips for playing in a brass band for the first time. I’ll be playing euphonium and I’m excited to have a chance at being apart of a British style brass band!
    One thing I'd do is listen to recordings of the greats - Black Dyke, Grimethorpe, Cory, Brighouse, etc., to get a sense of the differences in style between brass band and concert band.

    For euphonium specifically, the sound concept tends to skew more "round" than the American-style concert band sound, with more/different vibrato.

    Also make sure your treble clef chops are good!
    Sean

  4. #4
    I would lean heavily toward playing the audition. If you are offered a position and canít take it or donít feel itís the right fit, you can decline. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Mike

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    Doug and Jake,

    Thanks for the nice message, Doug. I can really sense the "second wind" you seem to have gotten lately. And good for you for doing what you did. I am practicing now as much as I can daily so that I can be in some sort of decent shape should an invite come calling.

    And it looks like both of you know Margie and Neil, what a small world we're in indeed. Yes, they are good people and they have had both Linda and me over to their place and made us feel welcome in our new spot in the world.

    Good luck with the San Francisco Brass Band, Jake!

    I am fortunate to have landed in several ensembles already. Just not quite sure if the Brass Band of Central Florida is in the cards or not. We will see. I am leaning on giving it a go to see if I can make it if given the opportunity...
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Summerfield, Florida
    Posts
    1,618
    Quote Originally Posted by miketeachesclass View Post
    I would lean heavily toward playing the audition. If you are offered a position and can’t take it or don’t feel it’s the right fit, you can decline. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Mike
    You just might have given me some good advice, Mike. Thanks!
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Rosenberg, TX (soon to be Philadelphia, PA)
    Posts
    68
    Do ya'll have advice on preparing for a Brass Band Audition? It looks like I'm about 20 minutes away from the Atlantic Brass Band. They're staffed up except for percussionists, but it looks like I can audition to be a substitute.

    What should I expect?
    What should I prepare?
    Euphonium player with the Houston Brass Band
    Willson 2950
    Gidding & Webster EXL

  7. #7

    Brass Band Auditions and Audition Advice

    I moved the audition-related posts here, but the order you see above may seem a little odd.
    Last edited by davewerden; 07-11-2022 at 05:56 PM.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  8. #8
    I responded via PM but my advice for auditioning for a brass band on Euphonium is as follows:
    -If they ask you to just come to rehearsal to sub, make sure you know the music you are playing backwards, frontwards, leftwards, rightswards. Find a recording and play through your part 10 times. Even if you can't play the technical stuff right now, NOT GETTING LOST, knowing the transitions and knowing who is playing what and where is more important. If the conductor gives feedback during play (too loud, too soft) follow whatever they tell you.
    - If they ask you to play a piece, choose something well known with brass band accompaniment. I'd suggest either Sparke's Harlequinn or Pantomime or Peter Graham's Brillante. Chances are the people auditioning you will have played those pieces before with other soloists and it makes it a more fair comparison. Especially for a competitive brass band, comparison is everything. If you can't play the technical parts of those pieces, choose something you can play that has brass band accompaniment - anything by Philip Sparke or Peter Graham will probably be fine.
    -Offer, even if they don't ask, to play either baritone chairs. Be enthusiastic about it and plan to get your own instrument if asked.
    -This goes with the above but offer to be at any needed rehearsal at a moment's notice. The more available and flexible you are, the more gung-ho and positive, the more useful you are.
    Adams E3 0.6 with SS Bell
    K&G 3.5D
    ---------------------------------
    Founder and Solo Euphonium
    San Francisco Brass Band

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JakeGuilbo View Post
    I responded via PM but my advice for auditioning for a brass band on Euphonium is as follows:
    -If they ask you to just come to rehearsal to sub, make sure you know the music you are playing backwards, frontwards, leftwards, rightswards. Find a recording and play through your part 10 times. Even if you can't play the technical stuff right now, NOT GETTING LOST, knowing the transitions and knowing who is playing what and where is more important. If the conductor gives feedback during play (too loud, too soft) follow whatever they tell you.
    - If they ask you to play a piece, choose something well known with brass band accompaniment. I'd suggest either Sparke's Harlequinn or Pantomime or Peter Graham's Brillante. Chances are the people auditioning you will have played those pieces before with other soloists and it makes it a more fair comparison. Especially for a competitive brass band, comparison is everything. If you can't play the technical parts of those pieces, choose something you can play that has brass band accompaniment - anything by Philip Sparke or Peter Graham will probably be fine.
    -Offer, even if they don't ask, to play either baritone chairs. Be enthusiastic about it and plan to get your own instrument if asked.
    -This goes with the above but offer to be at any needed rehearsal at a moment's notice. The more available and flexible you are, the more gung-ho and positive, the more useful you are.
    IF youíre auditioning for a euphonium position why would you offer your services as baritone player? If they have a euphonium vacancy audition for that alone, otherwise you might as well suggest tenor horn or trombone. Offering to play a position that isnít the one youíre planning on auditioning for smacks of desperation. Where would it end? Cornet? BBb bass?

    My experience of auditions in the UK brass band scene is that you donít know the pieces before you arrive. In at the deep end, which is clearly best, as our bands have a weird compulsion for competition and pressure.

    I also wouldnít play a well known solo if you have the choice. Be off the wall. Be challenging. If you play Brilliante thereís every chance someone will say ďDavid Childs does it betterĒ.

    Just my two penníorth.
    Adams E2 0.80 Yellow Brass, Satin Lacquer, Blue Abalone Buttons
    AR Resonance M Top / L Backbore Gold Plated Phosphor Bronze

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Magikarp View Post
    IF you’re auditioning for a euphonium position why would you offer your services as baritone player? If they have a euphonium vacancy audition for that alone, otherwise you might as well suggest tenor horn or trombone. Offering to play a position that isn’t the one you’re planning on auditioning for smacks of desperation.
    I disagree. If a player doesn't mind playing baritone, that's a good way to get into an ensemble. I don't suppose Gail Robertson and Demondrae Thurman play baritone in the Brass Band of Battle Creek out of desperation.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magikarp View Post
    also wouldn’t play a well known solo if you have the choice. Be off the wall. Be challenging. If you play Brilliante there’s every chance someone will say “David Childs does it better”.
    That is a risk. However, it's also a risk to play something that is non so well known. It's a matter of guesswork sometimes, and either choice can be valid. The important thing is to pick a piece you can nail!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

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