Low to No Cost Learning Opportunities

Low or no cost learning opportunities may be as close as your local college. Many colleges and universities host free or low-cost events to attract people of all ages to their campuses as well as hosting a variety of speakers that complement courses their students are enrolled in but are also open to the general public. These could be master classes in a school’s music or arts department, guest lecturers, poets or authors. Many schools will also showcase their faculty and student’s research works. Regularly checking the school’s website and following its social media pages can be a good source of information for dates and times for such events. 

Signing up for email or text notifications can also be a good source of information on when these types of events are scheduled.

Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, recently hosted their annual Brass Extravaganza. The event is open to any brass musician from student to professional and everyone in between. It featured several master classes moderated by professional brass musicians and was free to attend. Each participant was given music they would perform with the group which they rehearsed during the day. Participants were treated to lunch as well as master classes and performances by the OhioBrass, the Westminster Faculty Brass Ensemble and Dr. P. Blake Cooper on Tuba.

There was also a seminar on The Healthy Musician: Staying Physically, Mentally and Emotionally on Top of Your Game featuring professional horn player, Dr. Rachel Hockenberry. Participants learned a variety of yoga poses specifically geared to address issues that brass players may encounter and were given the opportunity to practice the poses during the class and to ask questions of Hockenberry. 

Master classes were also held throughout the day where participants were able to play for the professional musicians and given advice on how to improve their playing. Private lessons with these instructors would run up to $100 per hour for some so these master classes were invaluable tools for those in attendance since the event was free. 

Horn player Dawn Paulsen is in her 50s and has attended this event for the past 4 years. She began playing the French horn again after taking an extended break from playing when her daughter, a music teacher, needed a horn player for a musical at her school. She then started taking lessons from Adjunct Professor of Horn Heather Johnson at Westminster College a few years ago and is happy that the school allows players of all ages to attend the brass day event. 

Paulsen said, “I learn something new every time I come. I am usually uncomfortable playing in front of other people. They think because I am older that I know what I am doing, so that can be a big challenge for me.”

The brass event allows her to learn alongside students of all ages and everyone learns from the professionals that play recitals and moderate the master classes.

At the end of the event, all the participants took the stage and performed their ensemble piece for the audience.

Warming Up

Warming Up
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Professor Kevin McManus takes a moment to sit at the piano and warm up prior to the start of a rehearsal session.


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