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Gareth Small [Trumpet]

Gareth Small

Gareth Small - Halle Orchestra - London Brass

Gareth Small is one of the most in demand trumpet players in the UK. He holds positions in the Halle orchestra and London Brass. On the commercial scene, he can be found in many of the ‘all star’ sections in the London recording studios. His versatility holds no bounds, as he seamlessly moves from classical section to pop lead player. A true force.

Gareth was born in Swansea , Wales and spent three years studying with James Watson and John Wallace at the Royal Academy of Music in London .He has subsequently featured in the colleges "Celebrity Recital" series.

Recent work of Gareth’s includes: Summer 2007:
Proms with the Halle and BBC Symphony Orchestra. Soundtrack to ‘The Golden Age’ out in October 2007. Tour of Brazil and Italy with London Brass. Germany with the Philharmonia, Adverts for Sainsburys, National Lottery, Play Station, Topps Tiles. Clarkes Shoes. CD Recording of ‘Music of the Spheres’ Karl Jenkins/Mike Oldfield. ‘Joseph’ in the West End.

Hi Gareth – Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us!

  1. How old were you when you began to play? And what were your early influences and experiences? I started playing aged 7. My first memory is dressing up as a Beefeater and playing ‘God Save the Queen’ in 1977-Silver Jubilee celebrations! Unfortunately there are no photos of this classic moment! My influences have been my grandfather who played lead trumpet and my dad who studied trumpet at the Royal Acadamy of Music, so brass playing is definitely in the family. One of my earliest memories I have was sneaking in to Maida Vale with my dad and his college friend John Wilbraham who was rehearsing Mahler 2 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1978-that blew me away.

  2. At what point did you realise that your trumpet was to be your life’s work? It was rugby or the trumpet and there was definitely a limited career to be made in Rugby for me! I was involved in brass bands, big bands, wind bands and orchestras in Wales from the age of 12 and new that this was what I wanted to do in the future.

  3. You studied at the Royal Academy of Music. What are memories of that time, musically and socially? Socially playing with the RAM football team, the pop band ‘A 2 Z’ with Aled Jones and marching down Marylebone High Street on my birthday after an RAM brass band rehearsal were some of my best memories at the RAM. Musically playing a joint concert with Empire Brass, London Brass, members of the LSO Brass and some RAM students showed me what high standards you need in the profession.

  4. How easy did you find the post college transition from student to professional player and what were your playing activities during this time? I was lucky enough to be on trial for Co-principal trumpet with BSO and the Halle in my 3rd and 4th year at college as well as working with the LPO, playing in ‘Crazy for You’ in the West End and recording TV ads/films for Karl Jenkins and Mark Thomas while at the RAM. I then got the Halle job whilst in my 4th year at college. When I got to Manchester I really had to work at learning so much repertoire and found it really hard work. After about 2/3 years the repertoire started to repeat itself so I could relax a little!

  5. You live in Manchester and are a regular in London studios. With a young family, this must be tough. How do you manage it? I have a fantastic wife Kath who is a saxophonist and understands our lifestyle. We have family in London so she will often come down with our son Tomas when I am working.

  6. Now that you are a professor at Chethams and Manchester University, how do you think the business has changed, and how do you prepare your students for it? Students have to be able to play all styles to make a living, from pop/orchestral/jazz through to baroque. I try to give them a grounding of the basics in brass playing, (learning inner trumpet parts) and man management-what not to say!

  7. You are well known for your strength and versatility as a player. How much of this is a natural instinct, and how much is calculated technique? I would say that most is instinct and if you can’t sing it you can’t play it! Playing in brass bands when I was young 3 times a week helped my technique and stamina.

  8. Do you have a fail safe practise routine of any kind? Would you mind sharing a couple of secrets?? Long notes, lip flexibilities, Stamp / Arban / Schlossberg / Schash / Vizutti. I also use ‘Chopstixs’ (metal weights for you chops) when I am driving about in the car.

  9. Could you give us an idea of a typical week in the life of Gareth Small?? Monday – looking after my son Tomas (my wife is teaching) Tuesday- 6 hours rehearsal for the week’s concerts Wednesday- 3 hours rehearsal and concert (and a few hours teaching) Thursday – teaching and repeat concert. Friday- maybe free/out of town concert/rehearsal pops concert Saturday-maybe free/out of town concert/pops concert manchester Sunday- Concert

  10. Do you use any playing or lifestyle techniques to keep up with your demanding schedule? I try to keep fit with running, 5 a side football and golf.

  11. You know we had to ask!! What instrument set up do you most regularly play on? Do you alter much of it when you change from classical to commercial/pop? Smith Watkins Bb large bore trumpet with 34 pipe, 12 pipe for jazz/lead, 68 pipe for solos. I also have a Bach 37 ml that I tend to use with London Brass/Halle Brass and commercial things.

  12. Have you encountered any problems during your career, playing or otherwise?. If so, how did you overcome them? I have not really suffered any problems but I am forever making sure my embouchure is consistent by warming down and not over playing.

  13. If you had a concise paragraph of advice for an up and coming player, what would it be? If you can, learn and listen to the music before a rehearsal. Buy the teas in the break! When on tour always pack you suitcase and set your alarm (on the right time zone) before you go out for a beer!

Many thanks Gareth. Speak to you soon – PROZONEMUSIC.COM

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