Category Archives: Masterclass

Andrea Tofanelli Invites You To Italian Brass Week

The Italian Brass Week is an international festival born 19 years ago under the artistic direction of Luca Benucci, the first horn of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. During these years, the festival and the Association have dealt with the formation of thousands of young artists from all over the world, with the aim of consolidating a reality that too often goes unnoticed and give the opportunity to emerging musicians to participate at a primary visibility event for the world of brass and music.

The mission is the enhancement of great Italian and foreign talents, through promotion and cultural exchange. The festival gives the opportunity to young students, new professionals and professionals to take part in an event of international importance, to play and learn from the most important musicians in the world of brass, being part of the greatest orchestras, conservatories and universities.

The high level of training and the quality of the event were rewarded with the bronze medal of the President of the Republic and with many other awards, obtained for the importance of the event and for involving generations of young musicians, who were trained and they have become excellent interpreters.

The Italian Brass Week has moved to various locations in Tuscany, Santa Fiora, Vinci, to land last year in Florence, because Florence is an important reference for cultural growth. It is a city devoted to hospitality and already culturally renowned as a meeting point between present and past.

During these years the artistic quality of the festival has always been guaranteed by the presence of virtuosos and soloists from all over the world, Italian, European and international teachers, jazz bands and brass ensembles who participate, compare and play together in an important moment for the professional growth of all the young people taking part in the festival.

Italian Brass Week
Click to visit Italian Brass Week

Coltrane Pitch Diagrams

Go to the profile of Lucas Gonze

In the mid 90s I was browsing in the bookstore at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I was looking for Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, a book of algorithmically-generated scales which had a following among jazz musicians, most notably John Coltrane.

Near it on the shelves I came across a similar but more peculiar book, Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns, by Yusef Lateef.

As a frontispiece he had included two surprising images.

What were these? A small note at the bottom of the acknowledgements said:

Geometric Drawings: By John Coltrane, 1960. Gifts to Yusef from John.

Over time I became fascinated by the Coltrane drawings and set about decoding them using a protractor, compass and tracing paper.

First I made a clean schematic of Coltrane’s marked-up diagram.

In thinking about it I realized it could be simplified from two rings to one without losing any of the intrinsic relationships.

Of course, from a musician’s perspective this had the surprising result of converting from a whole-tone scale in Coltrane’s original to a chromatic scale in my single-ring version. Then I realized there could be a three-ring version as well, with the intervals on each ring describing diminished triads.

This new three-ring version was visually strange and beautiful, and had a feature that wasn’t evident in either the one-ring or two ring versions: a winding pattern.

Pick a section starting with C and walk to the next C, one semitone at a time. The first four notes of the series would be C, C#, D, Eb. In the one and two ring versions D and Eb are adjacent, but in the three-ring version Eb is on the far ring.

That got me to thinking of the series as a winding banner.

And from there a 3D pattern, not a flat one.

I made a clean final version of this sketch.

From there it was natural to go on to versions with four, five and six rings.

When I had finished my six-ring version, I was sorry that I couldn’t go any further, because each set of rings shows a symmetric interval, and there are no symmetric intervals larger than this.

My drawings were complete, so I made a little title page for the collection.

Not long after I went to a Yusef Lateef concert. It was at Lincoln Center in New York City. He was a stellar player and the show was unforgettable.

After the performance I made my way to the crowd of people chatting by the stage door with the musicians, introduced myself, and asked him to sign my copy of his book.

We talked about the Coltrane diagrams. I showed him a version of my work. He told me that Coltrane had been drawing the original diagrams between sets on a gig they did together, and had given them to him. Lateef said this wasn’t the first time. “He was always doing that,” Lateef said.

That was probably during a period when Coltrane was studying Slonimsky and thinking about generative patterns for melodies. The year was 1960. He was growing from the modernist formalisms of bebop harmony — all bright lines and strict causality — to the ecstatic spirituality of free jazz. The connection between his post-bop and free jazz was numerology, a belief that divine or mystical phenomena can arise from quantitative thinking.

1960 was arguably his peak year. He founded his landmark band with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones and recorded his signature hit, “My Favorite Things.” Whatever the diagrams meant to him, they were connected with his best art.

Lateef was warm and generous with his time. I promised to send my own schematics, and later that year I did, along with a cover letter.

10 Fundamental Things People Don’t Understand About Practice

By Nicolas Cole

People that boast how many days they’ve gone without sleep in hopes of proving their dedication to their craft are missing the point.

Practice is an art — it is not a simple “plug and chug” of hours in and skill level out. And in order to actually make the time you spend practicing meaningful, you have to bring a heightened level of awareness.

You have to know what to look for, what to fix, and ultimately, how to enter your “zone.”

1. It’s not about just “practicing.”

Going through the motions isn’t enough.

You have to be present and aware while you practice, and actively looking for all the things you still need to improve upon.

2. Your schedule and your practice times go together.

If you are practicing in the morning some days, evening other days, and afternoons at random, you are not as effective as the person who practices at the same time, every day.

Your schedule needs to be based around your practice hours — not the other way around.

3. Consistency is the most important part.

Rome doesn’t get built in a day.

You can’t go 5 days without practicing and then try to pull a 12-hour marathon to make up for lost time. Practicing a little bit each day is far more effective than day-long sprints.

4. The “sweet spot” for practice is 3–4 hours.

Reason being, that first hour you are still warming up, and that last hour you are entering “burn out.”

So in reality, a 4 hour practice session is really only 2 hours of truly quality practice — which means it is exceedingly important that you are “mentally present” during those middle 2 hours.

5. Don’t practice what you’re already good at.

Competition inherently looks for weaknesses.

If you are a master of one thing but a total newbie at another, then all someone has to do is target your weaknesses. Make it a point to practice what you’re not good at, so that you are more well-rounded.

6. Reflect after each practice session.

Ask yourself, “What did I improve upon today? Did I learn something new? Did I challenge myself? What can I work on next?”

You want to constantly be asking yourself questions so that you know what to improve upon next.

7. It’s not about “getting it done.”

It’s about getting it done “right.”

If you are the type of person who times how long you’ve been practicing, you’re already starting off on the wrong foot. It’s not about practicing for the sake of “just practicing.” You have to have a vision, something you are working toward.

Then, it no longer becomes about time. It’s about skill.

8. Study yourself.

The ability to watch and learn from yourself is also extremely undervalued.

If you are an athlete, record yourself playing your game. If you are a gamer, record your screen as you play. If you are a writer, go back through your work with a pen and look for improvement areas. If you are a musician, record yourself and listen to yourself play.

You will never be able to see your mistakes while you’re in the moment of practicing. So separate the two.

9. Watch other people.

If you can learn how to record and learn from your own practice sessions, you will have a better eye for watching how your competition operates as well.

You will be able to pick apart what it is they are doing, and then steal their strategies.

This learning then becomes an inherent part of you — your process.

10. Always be growing.

Always be looking for how you can improve.

Always be focusing on your weaknesses, not your strengths. Always be searching for new competition. It’s a journey and on you to stay moving forward at a consistent pace.

Introducing Guitarist – Juan Manuel Ruiz Pardo

Promo video of the “Solo Guitar Show” project, where I perform my own arrangements of classic pop & rock songs: Beatles, Queen, Police, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Abba, Tears for Fears, Toto, Bon Jovi…

Juan Manuel Ruiz Pardo

The Phenomenal Alexander Hrustevich – A true virtuoso

Alexander Hrustevich – Accordion Virtuoso

…a virtuoso was, originally, a highly accomplished musician, but by the nineteenth century the term had become restricted to performers, both vocal and instrumental, whose technical accomplishments were so pronounced as to dazzle the public.

In recent years, the term virtuoso has been overused and downgraded to include any artist who has command over their instrument. The word ‘proficient’ should suffice when describing most accomplished performers however, once in a while, a musician will come along who goes way beyond just proficient. I am reminded of the likes of Paganini,  Pavarotti and Jacqueline du Pre when looking to fit this bill.

Alexander Hrustevich fits the description perfectly. There is nobody more proficient at playing the accordion than Alexander.

Ukrainian-born Alexander Hrustevich is one of the best bayanists in the world. Mr. Hrustevich is constantly invited to perform in many countries, including Poland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Serbia, Brazil and many others. Just recently, he performed with legendary musician and composer, winner of several Grammy awards Bobby McFerrin in a sold out, three thousand audience arena in Kiev.

The very first notes will take your breath away… Alexader Hrustevich is able to play the most complicated transcriptions of violin, piano and orchestra pieces with the bayan; starting with Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra and finishing with a fragment from Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Using his ten fingers at the same time, he is able to easily play both orchestra and violin parts. For these extraordinary abilities people and critics call Mr. Hrustevich – “the man orchestra“.

As prof. David Yearsley writes about Mr. Hrustevich’s recording, which he saw on Youtube: “The small stage on which Hrustevich demonstrates his art is festooned with yellow and orange balloons and fake flower garlands. The camera is hand-held, but despite all of this, you can feel how great are this virtuoso’s gifts.” The professor also compares his interpretations of Bach Passacaglia with a pianist: “Tricky passages that the pianist divided between the two hands, Hrustevich manages with one. He revels in the virtuosic spectacle of fingers flying and sliding and contorting over buttons and in the same time picking almost every note cleanly. It’s rather like playing the Bach Passacaglia on a travel typewriter, only harder.”(The Musical Patriot).

Born in 1983, Alexander Hrustevich started to play the bayan by the age of 6.  He graduated Ukraines National Academy of Music as a student of prof. Besfamilnov. Apart from his solo activity, he is also a member of the National Academy Orchestra.

Michael Griffin -The Magic of Musical Metacognition

Dear Music Teacher

I provide music department INSET focussing on the impact of growth and fixed mindsets, teaching for metacognition, cultivating an intrinsically motivated department, and the teaching of music practice. I’m presently taking bookings for my UK tour this September and October.

I tour each year from Australia, and have provided for numerous schools and music services throughout the UK. I am the author of ‘Learning Strategies for Musical Success’ and ‘Bumblebee! Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs’.

Topics include:

Music and Mindset: Elephants in the Classroom!

From the ancient world through the Renaissance, artistic skill was viewed as an intuitive gift rather than the result of effort. Even today, musical ability is more often considered innately derived than any other ability or human faculty.

Indeed, 75 per cent of music educators subscribe to this theory that superior achievement in music is due to genetic endowment. To what end? Mindsets powerfully impact learning behaviour. Learners with a growth mindset work harder, embrace challenge, persist for longer and learn from criticism, whereas the fixed mindset gives up more readily and ultimately achieves less.

Teacher mindsets result in teacher expectations impacting student achievement. Mindset is the most important precept in music education today. It is that important that every music teacher understands the impact their beliefs, words and actions have on cultivating the learning disposition of students. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can cause irreparable damage.

The Magic of Musical Metacognition

Metacognitive teaching has the greatest impact on learning. It is that wonderful learning stage when the learner drives the learning. An umbrella term, metacognition means “thinking about our thinking”. It includes planning, questioning, monitoring, memorisation, self-reflection, self-knowledge about our learning strengths and weaknesses, and self-evaluation. It involves understanding our motivations, setting goals, knowing which practice strategies to implement, and being able to exercise self-discipline. It’s about knowing when and how to use practice strategies for maximum learning.

Metacognition enhances autonomy, powerfully impacting intrinsic motivation. How is this maximised in music teaching? Supported by the work of John Hattie and Gary McPherson, and specifically for music teachers, a tripartite model for fostering metacognition will be presented.

Deliberate Practice: Expanding Musical Potential

Many teachers focus instruction on what to practise, but the how of practise is the most important concern. Children who are unable to motivate themselves to apply deliberate practice strategies will lack real progress. Progress is the great motivator. If students do not think they are making progress, they quit trying. The best predictor of musical progress is the quality and quantity of practise time.

Types of repetition, chunking, and slow practise must be core. Engaging music students in metacognitive practice processes is the most effective means of guaranteeing progress. What is required is not just that students engage in the proper practise strategies, but that they know what they are, and are consciously aware of using them. How is this taught explicitly, and how can we be certain that students really understand practice?

Or have all three topics as part of a whole day of INSET. Return email for more. Independent teachers welcome to attend.

Michael Griffin


“Wonderfully inspiring – still on a high.” Guildhall School of Music, London

“So much information that is backed by research. Great advice and I’m inspired to try a new mindset in my teaching.” R Tombs, NSW

“I had a great day learning about how students are motivated by progress. We were taught all about how to determine progress and how to instil a growth mindset in our students. I then took what we learnt back to the classroom and my students are more motivated in their music practice.” J Goodwin, NSW

“Brilliant! Just what I needed to get back in the groove!!” – Hampshire Music Service, UK

“This was a first-class talk by a high calibre, international speaker. What a great start to a new school year. Red Maids, Bristol
An excellent talk this evening. Michael is a superb speaker and delivered key messages in such an engaging way.” Headmaster, King’s High School, Warwick UK

Developing Musical Skill Presentation 2018 (1)

Unlocking Musical Potential – Teacher PD UK 2018

Schools and conferences.

Learning Strategies for Musical Success

Bumblebee! Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs

Here is what music does to your body

Countless research has been done over the years as to the positive effects that listening to and playing music can have on the brain and the body. Here is an excellent and succinct video that summarizes this.

Here Is What Music Does To Your Body

Here is what music does to your body.

Posted by Hashem Al-Ghaili on Thursday, 1 March 2018

The Mouthpiece Booster – A review by Roger Moisan

By Roger Moisan

To boost or not to boost; that is the question. The mouthpiece booster has been around now for about 25 years and was originally developed by Denis Wick in response to the Bach Heavytop Mouthpiece Range. “What does it actually do?” I hear many brass players ask. Well, to start with, it doesn’t boost anything. What it does do is add mass to the mouthpiece, thereby reducing vibration loss at the busy end of the instrument. This enhances the sonority and weight of sound creating a richer, darker timbre with more overtones. No, it doesn’t make playing easier but fortissimo dynamics hold together better.

I have used mine for many years now but am selective in which genres it is appropriate for. Always orchestral as conductors love the sound but not for jazz and big band playing.

There are now many versions of the booster available which fit different mouthpieces with alternative weights, but the most versatile and simplest is still the Denis Wick model. There are boosters to fit every brass instrument from cornet to tuba and they provide an extra option for the versatile brass player.

Check out the ‘With and without’ video and see if you can tell the difference.

You can study online or in residence with

Roger Moisan

Stratos Embouchure System – A review by Roger Moisan

By Roger Moisan

 Stratos is the brainchild of trombone  player Marcus Reynolds who suffered a terrible accident when a stage collapsed while the band was playing. This left Marcus with serious facial injuries which devastated his playing and career. He invented Stratos to enable himself to rebuild his life as a musician.

“Following a serious stage accident that led to major reconstructive surgery, he had to battle to learn to play again. This struggle gave him insights about the brass embouchure that he used to develop the STRATOS system. The development and refinement of STRATOS took nearly 3 years but has resulted in a system that is used successfully by hundreds of brass players world-wide to improve their embouchure and playing.”

In a nutshell, Stratos is a small device that attaches to the instrument or mouthpiece and regulates the amount of frontal pressure the player may place on the area of contact with the mouthpiece. This has the immediate effect of freeing up blood flow to the delicate musculature of the embouchure and lip tissue, thus allowing improved endurance and sustainability of playing. Jaw alignment is also a result, causing the airstream to flow directly into the centre of the mouthpiece, thereby maximising tone and the weight of sound.  A more relaxed embouchure develops, improving flexibility, slotting and range. The air stream is more effective as a result of continued use, making the whole brass playing experience much easier, which, in turn, lets the player focus more on the music and less on the physical aspects of brass playing.

I personally use Stratos in my warm up each day to set the embouchure ready for my practice session. I then play a variety of exercises:

  • Claude Gordon Systematic Approach lessons 2 and 7
  • Charles Collins Lip Flexibilities Etude 1, Etude 5
  • Max Schlossberg (various exercises)
  • Valveless scales
  • Cat Anderson Whisper G

I use Stratos during my session when practising a lyrical phrase. I play the phrase once then remove the plunger on the device and repeat. The freeing effect is immediate and causes the muscle memory to ‘kick in’ when playing that phrase.

Teaching beginners with Stratos is brilliant as you can set up a student’s embouchure correctly and most effectively from the outset. Their progress is faster, more sustainable and ultimately more satisfying for the new player.

Finally, it is my opinion that Stratos is the simplest yet most brilliant addition to the brass playing world, bar none. As with all great inventions, it is often necessity that gives birth to a new concept and if it wasn’t for Marcus having to rebuild his playing from scratch, we wouldn’t now have this asset to our brass playing lives.

Roger Moisan LTCL PGCE

For more information about Stratos and how to get yours, visit:

Join the fastest growing and most dynamic International Musicians Community – FFM on Facebook

Join Freedom For Musicians at our Facebook Home

Freedom for musicians is an international cooperative for musicians to share and cross promote each other’s work. In our Facebook group you can promote your gigs, products and
services to an international audience. You can also feature on our website

What Freedom for Musicians can do for you:

By joining the Facebook group you are automatically a member of FFM.

You can have your music blog or articles published on the website.

You can have your music videos and youtube channel published and promoted at FFM.

You can list your products and services on our musicians directory and in the musicians market.

You can publish your events and concerts on our Upcoming Events feature.

You can be a featured artist.

You can become an FFM Ambassador for your country.

Music students can featured in our Spotlight.

You can release your digital music via our own independent record label FFM Records.

Come and join FFM’s Facebook community and be part of the fastest growing and most dynamic international musicians network.

48 minutes ago

Freedom for musicians is an international cooperative for musicians to share and cross promote each other's work. On our FB page you can promote your gigs, products and
services to an international ... See more

1 hour ago

It is with great excitement that I introduce to you the
FFM Live Lounge.
You will soon be able to live stream your gigs, sessions and broadcasts directly on the FFM website Live Lounge. This will ... See more

7 hours ago
Sounds Of Brass

Sounds Of Brass

8 hours ago

Let's welcome our new members:
Chubroc Champion,
Dalvines Alvin Milimu

11 hours ago
Wes Mane - Intro (Music Video) - Sessions Vol. 1

issssssssa Intro

Wes Mane Intro Sessions Vol. 1 View all Music by Wes Mane at Instagram - soundcloud -

16 hours ago
Freedom for Musicians

An online magazine with free promotional spaces for all musicians world wide with a huge global audience. By musicians, for musicians and free from exploitat...

17 hours ago

14 year old Kacey Hacquoil

19 hours ago
FFM Records - An online magazine with free promotional spaces for all musicians world wide with a huge global audience. By musicians, for musicians and free from exploitation

Hi all, in order to get our website ranking higher on google, could you please leave a comment on the web page that you visited.
Much love and happy music making.
p.s Major announcement coming ... See more

An online magazine with free promotional spaces for all musicians world wide with a huge global audience. By musicians, for musicians and free from exploitation

19 hours ago
Mutter & Söhne - Rock'n'Roll Mama

"Mutter & Soehne" haben ihr Debutkonzert bestanden ! Megastimmung und spitzenmäßiges Publikum ! DANKE !!!🤘

Ein herziches Dankeschön für's filmen an Ernest Habringer !

Die Rockmutter der Deutschrockszene aus der Stahlstadt Linz! Eike S - Voc/Sax/Keys, Andi Pi - Git/Backvoc, Tom Siegl - BassBackvoc, Andi Sze - Drums

19 hours ago

Let's welcome our new members:
Dan Ackley,
Chris Williams

« 1 of 103 »