Tom Brantley
Stylistic Etudes for Trombone: 20 Original Etudes in a Variety of Styles

New York, New York, United States
Publisher: Carl Fischer Music
Date of Publication: 2018

Etude book


Tom Brantley’s Stylistic Etudes are a welcome relief from the purgatory that studying “the same old stuff” can impose on both student and teacher. These are challenging works intended for advanced students. Each etude spans at least two octaves, most even more, and require equal facility in lower and higher registers. Most of the etudes are two and three pages long, simultaneously developing technique and endurance.

The feature that sets this publication apart is that Brantley composes these etudes in a variety of styles. About half of the etudes are in a “Classical” style. Some are intended to be studied in conjunction with orchestral excerpts. For example there are etudes based upon Bolero, Tuba Mirum, and La Gazza Ladra. They especially focus on the style, articulation, and intervals needed to perform the excerpt but contain demands that go far beyond the excerpt itself. Other etudes ask the student to play in the style of Mozart and Haydn, reminiscent of Achieved is the Glorious Work, or of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.

Brantley alternates these “Classical” etudes with etudes written in various commercial styles and he encourages the student to listen to performers who embody these styles. Students should listen to B.B. King while preparing the Delta blues etude and Stan Getz while preparing the Bossa etude. Another work is in the style of Count Basie swing, and another New Orleans funk.

The career of a 21st Century trombonist often requires facility in many styles. In one publication Brantley provides a resource that challenges the musicianship of the student in a variety of styles. He places a strong emphasis on hearing and listening while practicing and learning. The etudes are complicated and require meticulous attention to detail, but their performance will be immensely rewarding.

Reviewer: Paul Overly
Review Published April 2, 2019