Brass

Degrees Offered:

Bachelor of Arts/Music/Science (B.A./B.M./B.S.)

Click here for Undergraduate degree options (Bachelor of Arts/Music/Science)

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Please see information on the School of Music Application Process.

Perform an audition, up to 15 minutes, on your major instrument (baritone-euphonium, horn, trombone, trumpet, or tuba) for the area faculty. It is not necessary to have an accompanist. The music performed should be as listed below:

  • Any standard solo (one movement of concerto or sonata or comparable solo of Class A level or above)
  • Major and minor* scales with arpeggios, and chromatic scales. *Please prepare all three forms of the minor scale – natural, harmonic and melodic.
  • Sight-reading of commensurate difficulty for all instruments
  • Trumpet and Horn: may be asked to transpose a piece
  • Tuba: if familiar with orchestral repertoire, prepare excerpts of your choice (optional)
  • Trombone: may be asked to play tenor or alto clef

Master of Music (M.M.)

Degree Overview [See Worksheet for specifics]

  • Masters Level-Instrument (664-519/517/521/523/525), 8 cr.
  • Masters Recital (664-990), 4 cr.
  • Advanced Ensemble-Brass (660-567), 2 cr.
  • Orchestra, Ensemble or Band, 2 cr.
  • Seminar-Instrumental Literature (660-798), 2 cr.
  • Musicology and Music Theory, 9 cr.
  • Electives (300 level and above)
Admission Requirements

Please see information on the School of Music Application Process. In addition:

M.M. TRUMPET ONLY: Candidates are required to submit up to five preliminary recordings in MP3 format for evaluation. Preliminary recordings must be received by December 1, but applicants are urged to apply as early as possible. Applicants may be invited to campus for a live audition and interview based on the preliminary recording and application materials. Before extending the invitation to audition, all application materials must be complete.

M.M. candidates should prepare an audition of 20 minutes in length. An accompanist is optional. Students should be prepared to perform contrasting solos, orchestral excerpts, and sight-reading. Videotapes are NOT acceptable for an audition. All students must audition in person. Consult your major professor for exceptions.

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)

Degree Overview [See Worksheet for specifics]

  • Doctoral Level-Instrument (664-719,721,717,725,723), 16 cr.
  • Recitals (664-999), 1 cr. each (5 cr. total)
  • Music Research Methods and Materials (660-619), 3 cr.
  • Seminar-Instrumental Literature (660-798), 4 cr.
  • Minor, 10-12 cr.
  • Musicology and Music Theory, 9 cr.
  • Language: one language at intermediate level (credits and method of completion varies)
Admission Requirements

Please see information on the School of Music Application Process. In addition:

D.M.A. TRUMPET ONLY: Candidates are required to submit up to five preliminary recordings in MP3 format for evaluation. Preliminary recordings must be received by December 1, but applicants are urged to apply as early as possible. Applicants may be invited to campus for a live audition and interview based on the preliminary recording and application materials. Before extending the invitation to audition, all application materials must be complete.

D.M.A. candidates should prepare a 45-60 minute audition recital. An accompanist is required. The audition should consist of contrasting solo literature and 3-5 orchestral excerpts. For other guidelines the student should consult with the major professor. Videotapes are NOT acceptable for DMA auditions. A live (in-person) audition recital is mandatory.

* Doctoral applicants are encouraged to submit an example of scholarly writing as a part of the application.

Doctoral Minor – Required for all Doctoral programs

The purpose of the doctoral minor is to add breadth and depth to the DMA or PhD degree. To insure coherence a minor program must be approved by the appropriate department, a student’s advisor, and the Director of Graduate Studies, and must include courses at the 300-level or above. Typically, a minor requires 12 credits of work.

Students have a variety of options, including completing an internal minor within the School of Music (e.g., a D.M.A. conducting student who minors in ethnomusicology or a Ph.D. in music theory who minors in clarinet performance), completing a minor in a department outside the School of Music (e.g., a D.M.A. in horn performance who minors in Women’s Studies or a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology who minors in East Asian studies).

Students may, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, devise a distributed minor that brings together courses from a variety of departments around a particular topic or area of interest. For example, a D.M.A. student in voice devises a minor in vocal health that includes courses in communicative disorders, or a Ph.D. student in musicology devises a minor in Medieval History that includes courses in art history, history, and languages.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Brass area faculty members are active performers with professional expertise in chamber ensembles, orchestra, jazz, early music, and contemporary music. School of Music brass students benefit from this range of knowledge and receive an all-encompassing and well-rounded education focusing on musicianship. All brass majors work closely with faculty in weekly lessons and in master class. Brass lessons are tailored to each student, fostering their particular educational interests, while maintaining the study of technique that allows students to become musically confident and expressive.

Students who elect to study chamber music in brass quintets, quartets and trios enjoy additional faculty contact through weekly coaching. Instrument-specific performing groups (trumpet, horn, trombone, and tuba-euphonium ensembles) rehearse and perform concerts and are part of the annual course of study for brass players.

hrn collection

The horn collection at UW-Madison: Descant horns, natural horns, several Geyers, a Vienna horn, a full set of Wagner tuben, and more.

Each brass faculty member fully engages with students in their musical growth. Musical potential is expanded through the many opportunities and interactions with their professors. As a team of experts, the brass area provides mentorship, guidance, and a sense of connection for the thriving brass community in the School of Music. Members of the brass faculty work closely with the large ensemble conductors. They have taken part in recent commissioning consortia to premier works with the wind ensemble, as well as to perform as soloists with the orchestras.

Both undergraduate and masters students audition to perform in one of the large organizations (orchestras, bands) and also can choose to audition for the Jazz Orchestra. Other possibilities include Black Music Ensemble, Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, $2 Broom (electro-acoustic improvising ensemble), or Early Music Ensemble.

Alumni from the brass area can be found in major symphonies and professional chamber ensembles, on university faculties, as band directors in schools, as jazz artists and educators, and in careers in arts administration/entrepreneurship, composition, and recording (see individual instrument pages for detailed information).

GUEST ARTISTS

Brass area guest artists perform recitals and concerts, give lectures on topics such as technique, professional auditions, international performing, and present master classes designed to include student performers. Guest artists have included; Terence Blanchard (jazz), Gerry Pagano (orchestra), Tine Thing Helseth (solo), Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Allen Vizzuti (jazz/classical), Douglas Wright, John Urness (orchestra), Mark Lusk (solo), Demondrae Thurman (solo), Chris Washburne (jazz), Bernhard Scully (solo/chamber), Barbara Butler (solo), John Fedchock, Gene Pokorny (orchestra/solo), Bonerama, Brian Lynch (jazz), Randy Gardner, Niklas Eklund (baroque), Ryan Anthony (orchestra/chamber), chamber groups such as Boston Brass, American Brass Quintet, Western Brass, Concerto Palatino (baroque), Sotto Voce Quartet, and many more performers drawn from United States and abroad.

CHAMBER MUSIC

Enrolling in a chamber music class, such as brass quintet, gives each student the benefit of concentrated attention from the brass faculty member/coach. Student performers take on the individual responsibility for preparation and performance. They are encouraged to play a strong role in artistic and programming choices. A hallmark of the University of Wisconsin-Madison brass faculty is that each has performed with an internationally acclaimed brass chamber music group (American Brass Quintet, Empire Brass Quintet and Meridian Arts Ensemble). They have a wealth of input to share with their students. Weekly coaching sessions take place for brass chamber music in fall and spring semesters.

Each semester the Wisconsin Brass Quintet actively demonstrates in concerts the results of this resident faculty ensemble’s high caliber rehearsal and performance standards. The ensemble meticulously prepares both standard repertoire and new works. Faculty members actively share their valuable knowledge about the traditions and innovations in chamber music with the groups they coach.

BRASS-RELATED ACADEMIC COURSES

Courses in brass repertoire and pedagogy are offered on a regular basis for graduate and upper class undergraduate students. Brass faculty members teach courses in their instrument fundamentals to future music educators.

ENSEMBLES

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has multiple active instrument-specific chamber ensembles that rehearse and perform regularly. Click here to learn more.

Wisconsin Trumpet Ensemble

The Wisconsin Trumpet Ensemble is directed by Professor of Trumpet, John Aley. Participation in the trumpet ensemble is intended to increase ensemble skills for each performer. It presents an opportunity for the study of trumpet specific repertoire. Wisconsin Trumpet Ensemble programming has been augmented by guest collaborative musicians performing on percussion, organ, and bass trumpets. Each year, new repertoire is introduced so that students gain an understanding of concert programming for trumpets over the span of their studies.

The ensemble is made up of trumpet undergraduate and graduate music majors and rehearses during the weekly master class time in the first half of the spring semester. The class focuses on all aspects of trumpet performance. Grad students are encouraged to accept leadership roles in the choice of repertoire, provide mentorship in rehearsals, and leadership in concert and competition venues.

The trumpet ensemble music spans the Baroque era to the most recent of contemporary compositions. Students have contributed arrangements to the Wisconsin Trumpet Ensemble library. Students have the opportunity to conduct, too. As well as performing on campus, the Wisconsin Trumpet Ensemble has given outreach concerts at area churches, senior centers as well as travelling to other state schools of music and to compete at the National Trumpet Competition. Past trumpet ensemble members have gone on to teach at the public school and college level, serve in military bands, and perform in orchestras and brass quintets.  A recent grad from the Wisconsin Trumpet Ensemble has served on the judge’s panel for trumpet ensemble for the National Trumpet Competition.

Low Brass Ensemble

The UW-Madison Low Brass Ensemble is a combination Trombone Choir and Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble and is co-directed by Mark Hetzler (Associate Professor of Trombone) and Tom Curry (Assistant Visiting Professor of Tuba). The ensemble rehearses on a weekly basis and performs in concert at least once each semester, as both a large Low Brass Ensemble and two related groups, the Trombone Choir and the Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble. The group plays original compositions, transcriptions and arrangements of all kinds of music. This ensemble is open to any UW-Madison student who passes a live audition. The group also provides a wonderful opportunity for low brass players to double: trombonists who wish to get more time on the euphonium, or tuba and euphonium players who want to play tenor or bass trombone.

Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble

The Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble has been an important element of the UW low brass program for more than two decades. Made up of undergraduate and graduate music majors and accomplished non-majors, the ensemble rehearses weekly, performs a major concert each semester, and performs additional campus, school and community concerts on a regular basis, locally and around Wisconsin. The ensemble functions both as a choir of 12-20 players and in smaller chamber groups of 4-5 performers. Their repertoire consists of original compositions as well as arrangements and transcriptions of music from all periods, including jazz and popular works. Members of the group are encouraged to contribute as writers, and student compositions and arrangements are regularly included in the ensemble’s repertoire.

The ensemble has been featured at International Tuba-Euphonium Conferences (ITECs) in Chicago, Minneapolis, Regina, Saskatchewan and Greensboro, North Carolina. They have also performed twice at the annual U.S. Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Conference in Washington DC. Quartets that have formed as subgroups of the ensemble have won recognition in regional and international competitions. The Sotto Voce Quartet, one of the world’s most outstanding professional brass chamber groups, began when the four members of the quartet were UW students and members of this ensemble. Over the years, many members of this ensemble have gone on to successful careers as professional performers, college and university professors and public school teachers across the country.

Twisted Metal (Horn Choir)

Every spring, the UW Horn Choir reformulates itself as Twisted Metal, Wisconsin’s premiere all-horn rock band. Students arrange favorite songs, and the group adds a drummer in order to rock out in style.