I first experienced quintet playing when I was in a tuba/euphonium quartet in high school. I didn’t do all that much in college, mostly tuba quartets. Once I got into the Air Force Band, I ended up playing a lot of chamber music. We had a tuba/euphonium quartet (with Don Nauman, Gil Corella and Dave Porter) that rehearsed and performed regularly. We even took a couple short tours. The most fun I had, though was in a brass quartet that was the brainchild of trumpeter Bill Adcock. In the Air Force, we were known as “Top Brass” and our civilian alter ego was “Nothing But Valves”. Andy Wilson was the other trumpet and Sam Compton played horn. We were very busy as a group. We rehearsed and gigged a lot, I did a lot of arranging and transcribing for the group, we had pieces written for us and recorded a CD.

The quartet was an amazing learning opportunity for me in pretty much every respect. Before this experience, I had primarily played in tuba quartets and often had the melody. In “Nothing But Valves”, I was the bass voice and had to be counted on to provide both time and intonation stability. My success at those skills remains open for debate.

The other things I learned in “Nothing But Valves” were the skills necessary to run a small business that happens to be in the music making industry. Division of labor, scheduling, budget, promotion, programming, talking to audiences, negotiating contracts, interpersonal relationships, goal setting, these are all skills I picked up while performing with this group. The foundation built in this group helped me later with Boston Brass and currently in my position at Carnegie Mellon University, where I teach classes Music Business and Marketing and Communications, am the freshman advisor and also mentor individual students and groups launch their careers.

As a professional Euphonium player, one has to look for opportunities to create their job. In the US, brass quartets are probably the largest “traditional” opportunity. There is a ton of great music that is underplayed. I have tried to show that the euphonium has a place in quintets. I don’t think it works 100% of the time, but neither do flugelhorns. Outside of that, I’d say the biggest opportunity is wherever the player’s mind will take them. Many of my former students have done amazing, unexpected and wonderful things. I try to encourage my students (and anyone else who will listen, and some who never will) to go where their musical ear takes them. I’ve never been a big supporter of traditional models; as an artist you must follow where your music takes you.

About the Author

LANCE LADUKE is internationally known as an educator, performer and creator. He teaches at Carnegie Mellon University as Artist Lecturer in Euphonium, Freshman Advisor and Coordinator of Special and Creative Projects. Lance teaches business, marketing and communications as part of the CMU Music Entrepreneurship Program, coaches and mentors a variety of chamber ensembles and is also Adjunct Professor of Euphonium at Duquesne University. Lance was a member of Boston Brass and the US Air Force Band in Washington DC, has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and currently plays with the River City Brass. He has taught and/or given master classes at some of the world’s finest conservatories, including Juilliard, the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Lance co-wrote and produced “Band Blast Off,” a highly successful band recruiting DVD and maintains an active speaking career, sharing his thoughts on practice, leadership, and self-development. His wildly successful book, “Music Practice Coach, Five Workouts to Get the Most Out of Your Practice Time!” is available as a free PDF at lanceladuke.com. Lance is an Educational Ambassador for Jupiter Band Instruments.

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