The challenges of wearing braces while playing a brass instrument can be enough to derail some promising musicians, but it doesn’t have to, according to John Colson, professor emeritus of music at South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD. Colson, who spent 34 years as the conductor and music director of the South Dakota State University Civic Symphony Orchestra, offers advice to trumpet and French horn players who wear braces in his new book, Braces & Brass.

The book offers study materials, practice procedures, and an assignment guide that leads students through gradually more strenuous stages. The focus is on French horn and trumpet because musicians who play other brass instruments don’t have the same difficulty coping with braces.

It started when triplet sister trumpet players, Mary, Kristin, and Sarah Stoneback, were fitted with braces and experienced difficulty playing their horns. Known today as the Stoneback Sisters and Stoneback Brass, they are acclaimed professional trumpet players. They say that Colson’s exercises helped them through the difficult time they had playing their instruments while wearing braces.

Their father, Ron, a professional musician and author of instrumental music books of his own, suggested that Colson publish his helpful methods.

Braces & Brass is available online at www.rbcmusic.com.

[South Dakota State University, January 30, 2008]