Brass Faculty

Ken Cervenka

Professor, Brass | 617 747-8140

"I think in early development, because everything is new to them, students want to try as much stuff as they can, so that takes precedence over the listening. . . . So one of the first things that we do in the improv class is an exercise where they have to stop playing, improvise, stop playing, and improvise for different preset lengths of time. That gets them listening. As soon as they stop playing, they have to deal with what they just played."

John Faieta

Associate Professor, Brass | 617 747-3099

"In all my years of working with students on an individual basis, what I've noticed is that the kind of work you need to do in order to achieve success, those kinds of things are really important everywhere. If the students decide they want to be a performance person or they don't, it doesn't really matter. The point is, they're learning a discipline. It contributes to their work ethic, which influences everything they do."

Christine Fawson

Assistant Professor/Chair Representative, Brass | 617 747-8304

"I'm learning as much or more as a teacher than I did as a student here. I'm in a different place. I think a lot of people will say when they first start teaching that it really teaches them a lot about themselves and how they learn. You have to explain things that you just did before. Students are coming from all different perspectives, so they're asking questions about things I never even thought about. It makes me look at things deeper and be more honest with myself. I'm practicing things that I want to be able to explain to my students, because you can't be a hypocrite. You're totally responsible for what you're saying."

Marshall Gilkes

Assistant Professor, Brass | 617 747-6519

"In my teaching, I like to focus on a combination of technique, music, and improvisation. I want students to work on material that helps bridge the gap between their ear and their slide."

Charles Lewis

Associate Professor, Brass | 617 747-8475

"I listen carefully to the student and, emphasizing complete breath support, I respond in earnest. I decide whether they are breathing correctly and make sure that their embouchure is in order—I'm known for resetting troubled embouchures. Getting to know a student is very important—learning their likes, dislikes, and desires. Desire, in my estimation, plays the biggest part in success, musical and otherwise."

Tiger Okoshi

Professor, Brass | 617 747-8327

"Sometimes students have a lot of dreams, but don't have the facility to go there. And sometimes students think they're not innovative enough. Or they don't have any leadership. Then I will tell them, 'Go work with this person over here. She has a great dream. Help her out.' By helping someone else, they may discover some other goals and think, 'Oh, wow. I think I can do this.' And now they see a possibility they didn't see before."

Tom Plsek

Chair Emeritus, Brass | 617 747-2291

"I believe in doing simple things as perfectly as possible. If you can do simple things really well, the difficult things will develop. I'm big on fundamental technique, the basics of breathing, embouchure, articulation, and slide/valve control. Mastery of these basics needs to be as subconscious as possible. You don’t want to have to think about them when making music."

Richard "Gus" Sebring

Professor, Brass | 617 747-6252

"To sit onstage in Symphony Hall among the most refined orchestral musicians in the world is an incredible experience. Players at the highest level demonstrate a complete mastery of instrumental technique, an amazing degree of finesse, consistency of intonation and rhythm, and a lyric, deeply emotive radiance."

Jeff Stout

Professor, Brass | 617 747-2297

"I hope students come away from my courses with a love of music. Whether they become professional musicians or semi-professional musicians—or they go into some completely unrelated field in order to make a living—I hope that they have a love for music, support live music, and are educated fans. I read an interview with author Gore Vidal and he was asked, 'How come there aren't more talented writers in America?' He said, 'There are plenty of talented artists in America, but there aren't many talented audiences.' That applies to music, too. If I can create somebody who is going to be a fan, a real fan of music, that's important."

Phil Wilson

Professor, Brass | 617 747-2244

"Teaching ensemble is a real juggling act. I am a coach, just like my father was a coach of the hockey team at Philips Exeter. And I've got his whistle that I use occasionally—I do!—because almost everybody in the Rainbow Band is a jazz player, a good one, in their own right. And you're dealing with that, trying to blend them together."