So You Want to Start a Brass Quintet

Or, perhaps more accurately, you want to start a chamber ensemble. Or perhaps any kind of musical ensemble. Who am I to say you can’t start a symphony orchestra? If that’s what you want, you can make it happen.

Anyway, you want to start a group. But how? The task seems a bit daunting, right? How do you go from zero to the Emerson String Quartet? There seem to be a lot of steps in between those two points that aren’t very clear. Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:

• Define your vision – What kind of group do you want to be a part of? A guiding focus will help you make a plan of attack for everything else. PCB’s focus is threefold: to perform at an unparalleled level in the brass world, to collaborate with other artists, and to create educational opportunities for the next generation of musicians.

• Pick the right people – Your ensemble will only be as successful as you and the rest of the personnel make it. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t just a musical group. It’s a small business. It will take more than just great players to live the dream. Find people who share your vision and are willing to get their hands dirty. Find out more about why I think PCB has the right people by looking at our bios here.

“Good” is not good enough—there are so many good groups out there performing today that “good” might as well be “bad.” Don’t get me wrong, you have to start somewhere, but understand that in the ocean that is the music business, only the truly remarkable groups can stay afloat. Get noticed.

What makes a group remarkable? It could be any number of things. Being the absolute best players is one way, but it is by no means the only (or even most practical) way to be noticed. Take a look at each of these brass quintets—Empire Brass, Canadian Brass, Boston Brass, Synergy Brass, Atlantic Brass—and see what makes each of these groups stand out. They are all different, but they have all gone above and beyond “good.”

We’ll talk more about the business of a music ensemble, but for now, this is important: define your vision and then find others who see it the way you do. What’s your vision?

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