Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tuba Study in Japan

Since arriving in Japan four years ago it’s clear that my biggest frustration is having no North American or European students. The fact is that non-Japanese students are quite welcome at the Musashino Academia Musicae the only problem is that they need to pass a comprehensive Japanese reading and writing examination to be accepted. Musashino is a university and, Of course, all classes are conducted in Japanese.

I am very happy to announce that starting this April 2010, there will be a class opening for tubists who do not speak Japanese, it is not a class that offers a degree but at completion of the class each student will play a full recital and receive a certificate from the Musashino Academia Musicae.

This course itself is not new but that but that the prospectus and application form is available now in English is very new. (Rather that trying to describe this course myself I include a copy of this prospectus below).

There is much more to this possibility that just the study of the tuba. Japan offers a cultural experience that cannot be duplicated: Life within the rich tradition of this fascinating country and the availability of the frequent performances of the great orchestras, chamber music groups and soloists of the world; I’m dubious if there is any city that can compare with Tokyo in this regard.

If you might be interested in this opportunity please contact me at my email address, or at my Skype address. <bobosensei>. I look forward to answering your questions.

Roger Bobo



Parnassos Eminence Courses

These courses were started in 1994 for graduates of music universities or people of equivalent standing who wished to continue high level music study.

Subjects: Piano, Strings (violin, viola), Wind Instrument (flute, clarinet, tuba), Percussion (marimba or other percussion), Voice

Number of students accepted each year : 25

Application Period : January 7 to January 15

Application Process : The following must be lodged with the application.

Address: Musashino Academia Musicae Parnassos Tama
5-7-1 Ochiai, Tama-shi, Tokyo 206-0033, Japan

1. Application Form
2. 2 passport style photos (3 x 4 cm)
3. Last college attended graduation certificate copy or verification of same.
4. Recommendation (necessary only for non music college or non music major graduates.)

Date of Examination : January 23 (marimba, percussion), January 25 (piano, violin, viola, flute, clarinet, voice) May (Tuba).

Examination detail : Examinations consist of a demonstration of instrument ability and an interview.

Examination Place : Musashino Academia Musicae Parnassos Tama Campus
5-7-1 Ochiai, Tama-shi, Tokyo 206-0033

Examination Result : Successful applicant will be advised by registered mail.

Acceptance : Passports must be presented for inspection and fees paid by the beginning of term.

It is not possible to change courses (instrument) following acceptance.
Fees :
Entrance examination fee : \20,000
Entrance fee : \80,000
Lesson fee : \380,000 (yearly)

All fees are inclusive of tax. No refund can be made once fees have been paid.
The lesson fee only can be paid in two installments of \190,000, if required. In this case the second installment must be paid in September, 2010.

Lesson time and hours

First term
 Lessons : April 1 lesson, May 2 lessons, June 2 lessons, July 2 lessons
 Lectures : May 1 lecture, June 1 lecture, July 1 lecture

Second term
 Lessons : September 2 lessons, October 2 lessons, November 2 lessons
 Lectures : September 1 lecture, October 1 lecture, November 1 lecture

All lessons are one hour lessons, lectures are two hour lectures.

●To obtain the course completion certificate at least two thirds of both lessons and lectures must be  taken and a final recital of between 30 and 40 minutes must be given.

● Please be aware that completion of the course does not qualify for credit at any university.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Le Domaine Forget 2010 May 29 to June 14

Le Domaine Forget is the Crown jewel of the plethora summer masterclasses available throughout the world today; it is the meeting place of talented younger tubists and euphonium players from North America, Europe and Asia students to professionals, who are looking for a supercharged learning experience of masterclasses, private lessons and chamber music. It’s also a very enjoyable social occasion with bonding with their international colleagues.

Personally speaking it’s become a habit now, a very good habit. It started in 1954 when I was 15 years old and got on a train in Los Angeles, destination the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan; I returned there for the next three years. Almost every year since that time I’ve been involved in some music camp or some masterclass stage somewhere in the world; the venue changed but the habit remained.

Many of these courses occurred for several years and the attachments grew strong, it was always a little sad when circumstances, usually economics, caused these courses to end. There was the special course in Villa Nova De Castillion near Valencia, Spain, the band camp in Kalavrita, Greece, Musica Riva in Riva del Garda, Italy and the Yamaha Band Camp in Hamamatsu, Japan, all very special occasions, which offered the special atmospheres of the unique localities, renewing old and creating new friendships and most importantly high level learning experiences.

Of all these excellent summer courses the one that stands out in my mind as being by far the best is Domaine Forget Académie de Musique et Dance in Quebec, Canada. Domaine Forget is located among the rolling hills of Saint-Irénée 90 minutes northeast of Québec City on a vast historical property overlooking the St. Lawrence River, an unparalleled setting providing visitors with a cultural experience unmatched anywhere in North America. Le Domaine Forget attracts mostly North American students but every year there are a few students that come from Europe and Asia.

The combination of fine students, very high-level internationally renowned teachers, a highly efficient and low profile administration, an unbelievably beautiful location, and at least of equal importance, it’s fun, it’s big fun. The brass classes this year are from May 31 to June 14, however, if circumstances make two weeks impossible, it is possible to come for only one week.
I have aggressively avoided posting anything that may appear like an advertisement either on my blog or so please view this as an invitation, an invitation to a very special two weeks (or one), learning guaranteed, fun guaranteed; you will be very welcome.

For more information go to the Domaine Forget web page.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Old Timers Then and Now

Being incarcerated in this Tokyo hospital while recuperating knee surgery has given me the benefit of having time to think and reflect; mostly that’s a good thing but with this much time my thoughts have taken me to some surprising places.

Ever since I was a boy, since that time I took those first baby steps into the world of music and especially since the realm of brass playing became part of my consciousness, I have maintained an eye toward the future, which I immodestly would call vision. It was a natural thing to think that way then; brass playing was less evolved than the other instrumental families and tuba was truly at the infancy its evolution, that evolution that was destined to be unique in music history.

As I observed this evolution, which was moving at sifi velocity, I was always a little amazed to hear older players telling me; “things are not like they used to be”, “we are loosing the ‘real tuba’ sound like it was supposed to be”, or simply, “ The younger players today are loosing the magic of the ‘good old days’ ”. I was always amused by those archaic and quaint statements and the more forceful they were the more clearly I kept my eyes fixed toward the future. As surely as computers and the internet would have confused and frightened my parents if they were here today, so would the world of brass and particularly tuba have amazed and perhaps frightened those “Old Timers” many of whom, by the way, started us on our amazing evolution.

Today I still consider myself looking far more forward than to the past, perhaps that’s just the way I am but there is also a logic to the forward vista; in our short history there is very little to look back on, as tubists, it’s sad to be a conservative!

Yesterday, during this unwanted forced period of free time and while browsing the archives of my computer I ran across a recording of myself giving a masterclass at the annual symposium presented by the military bands of Washington DC; I’m sure this masterclass was at least 25 years ago and I’m also sure it’s been at least 25 years since I’ve listened to it; it wasn’t bad! I’m a little more organized now, less repetitious, I’ve added a few new points and certainly more focused but my basic message was very much the same, IE, specific ideas on phrasing, dynamics, where to breath and keeping our sights on the tuba of the future to guide our growth in a good direction.

But now I have to ask myself if I am becoming one of the “Old Timers” teaching the same old “ Eye toward the Future” stuff? I will continue thinking about that.

One thing I know for sure is that the old days in my musical life were good. And their influences on my formative musical thinking was profound. The lush sound of the Philadelphia strings, the beauty of phrasing of Marcel Tabuteau (1st oboist of the Philadelphia Symphony) and the tone coloration William Kincaid (1st flutist also of Philadelphia in the 1940s and 50s). The robust musicality of trumpeter William Vacchiano of the New York Philharmonic and unwavering power and presence of Bud Herseth in the Chicago Symphony, the poetry of the horn players Philip Frakas (Chicago) and Mason Jones (Philadelphia) when they played their personal treatments of the famous horn solos from the symphonic repertoire of the romantic period. And I will never forget when I was 14 years old and the New York Philharmonic was on tour in Los Angeles. I had just finished a lesson with William Bell. After the lesson he took me backstage before their Sunday afternoon concert. The trombone section of Gordon Pulis, Lewis van Haney and Allen Ostrander was rehearsing the choral from the last movement of Brahms 1st. They played trough it several times; it was a religious experience for me.

And probably the most impressive of all these sonic icons was Arnold Jacobs and that perfectly blended and balanced brass section of the Chicago Symphony in the 1950s. I hesitate to say this but I don’t think there has subsequently been a brass section equal that elegant, powerful and homogenious, wall of sound that Chicago had more than a half century ago. Now I’ve scared myself, clearly I’m showing a tendency to that quaint old thinking; things just ain’t what they used to be!

Instruments are getting better, repertoire is expanding and clearly players are far more virtuosic and able than the middle of the last century, but I still miss some of the sounds from my romanticized teenage sonic iconic memory. I try to stay focused on the future, that’s the only way to continue growth in this musical world but to ignore history in order to keep sight of the future would be a mistake. We are a beast with the capacity to simultaneously view the past, present and future, we need all three to be complete.

Tokyo, Nichidai Itabashi Hospital, recovering knee surgery, January 4, 2010.