The Legacies Left Behind

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Jeff Conner

In April the world lost an incredible musician, teacher, and mentor. Sam Pilafian was a teacher and mentor to countless musicians around the world. His influence and legacy will be felt for generations to come.

Pilafian was a founding member of the Empire Brass, taught college for more than 40 years, performed with major symphonies throughout the country, recorded with Pink Floyd, and even appeared on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”—all on the tuba! Since first meeting Sam when I was in high school, he was always a teacher, mentor, and support system for me. When Sam joined Boston Brass in 2013, it was an incredible honor to share the stage with him around the world. If you don’t know Sam Pilafian, please google him.

From Past to Present

It’s important for young musicians to learn about the musicians who came before them and the legacies they have left behind. These musicians opened doors, created styles, and passed down pedagogies, so you can play your instrument.

Many of these past musicians and teachers paved the way and created opportunities that are now available to you. Ask your band directors and private teachers who their instructors were and who influenced them.

To Listen and Learn

Become a proactive listener and stay curious about all styles of music. Who are your favorite players, conductors, composers, and bands? Read a book, magazine article, or interviews about the musicians you enjoy and who your band directors enjoy. Watch master class performances given by these musicians on YouTube.

Investing in the history of your instrument and learning about musicians in the past will help you create your own voice in the music world.

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