The Brass Department
Our brass studies programme aims to provide holistic training for students by developing their capacities in solo, chamber ensemble and orchestral performance, as well as providing professional development in the areas of community engagement, brass pedagogy, and musical entrepreneurship.
At any time in the Conservatory, there are usually just 7-8 trumpet, horn ad trombone students and three or four tuba players. As the intake of each cohort is deliberately small and highly selective, every student benefits from intensive personal attention from their studio teachers, who are internationally respected musicians, as well as brass principals of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, the brass studies area includes multi-layered, team-taught brass courses that provides students with a broad exposure to the expertise of the entire brass faculty.
In their major study area, hornists, trumpeters, trombonists and tubists focus on individual development and performance excellence with their studio teacher; studies which are reinforced by the community of their student-colleagues, and critically explored through weekly studio classes, and also via self-reflection in their e-portfolio (an online reflective compendium of their pedagogical journey while at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM). These performance studies culminate in regular individual performance opportunities, especially in their third and fourth year solo recitals in the Conservatory Concert Hall.
During their time in the Conservatory, all brass players perform regularly with the large ensembles - the Conservatory Orchestra and the Conservatory’s new music ensemble, OpusNovus. Both ensembles provide training and performance opportunities, exposing students to the music of the 18th through 21st centuries.
Over the Conservatory’s fourteen-year history, the brass area has hosted dozens of world acclaimed brass artists in masterclass and concert settings, and have developed ongoing relationships with a number of internationally recognized chamber ensembles. These have included innovative community engagement and outreach projects alongside the Boston Brass, and student composition creation and commission via the guidance of the Australian Brass Quintet.
From the core brass curriculum that includes: first year Brass Class (which introduces students to fundamental aspects of developing into a brass-playing professional, as well as a kaleidoscopic overview of the history of brass playing), to the second year Orchestral Brass Class (which exposes the cohort to weekly reading sessions of core orchestral brass repertoire), and finally to the third/fourth year Advanced Concepts in Orchestral Repertoire (designed to prepare the upperclassmen for professional orchestral auditions), the YSTCM brass student is assured a thorough grounding in professional brass playing skills by the time they graduate.
Throughout the four years of the brass program we offer Brass Chamber Music classes, which avails brass students the opportunity to proactively explore small ensemble music making under the guidance of our brass chamber coaches. Engagement in the brass chamber music program often inspires students towards utilizing their ensembles as vehicles for independently (albeit with the help of the excellent support staff of the Conservatory) exploring community and outreach projects in the broader Singaporean (and ASEAN) community. Additionally, elective courses in brass studies allow students to plot individual tracks to suit their developing strengths and professional aspirations, including specializations in areas such as compositional engagement from a brass playing perspective, advanced brass chamber music and entrepreneurship, and an introduction to brass pedagogy.