By: Julie Schramke
I am so excited that Achieve Language Academy is the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant to bring the Copper Street Brass into our school for a year-long residency. The Copper Street Brass is one of very few professional brass ensembles (people who play trumpet, trombone, tuba, and French horn) in the United States, and they are based in Minneapolis. A couple of years ago, they added a percussionist to the ensemble, so they are not strictly a brass quintet any more. However, by adding percussion, and keyboards, and electric guitar, they are more like a hybrid of a rock band and a brass quintet, with feet in both the classical and jazz and pop music worlds.
I started following them six or seven years ago, when I heard them play at the Vintage Band Festival in Northfield, MN, and then again that same summer when I heard them at the State Fair. My husband, Bill Teeple, has been a trombone player since fourth grade, and he is the person who first put them on my radar. Since then, we have become a season subscribers, and wouldn’t miss one of their high energy, entertaining, educational, and just plain fun concerts. A couple of years ago, I talked with them about having them come to play a concert at Achieve Language Academy, but there are not many grants open to charter schools, and bringing them in was well beyond my budget.
Last year, Allison Hall, trumpet player, shared with me the work that the ensemble was doing with St. Paul Music Academy, where the members of the ensemble would work with students on composition and arranging, since Tim Bradley, their artistic director and arranger, arranges all of the music for the group. I shared that this is similar to a project that I have done for several years with my seventh and eighth graders, having them create arrangements of pop songs for instruments they can play, and we decided to work together to bring this experience to our students. She also offered the idea that some of the work that they do with the school be with our band students. I thought this was a marvelous idea, since my main instrument in college was voice, and I have some experience with woodwinds, but less with brass instruments.
Last year, the Copper Street Brass added a program for young listeners. “Big Ears and the Blue Ox” uses the characters in the Paul Bunyan legends, and through original music and spoken word, introduces PreK through third graders to the sounds of a brass quintet, and the concepts of high and low. We were incredibly fortunate to add this performance to our schedule of visits, so the youngest students at Achieve Language Academy could have the experience of hearing a professional brass ensemble.
I am very excited to welcome the Copper Street Brass to a year long residency experience at Achieve Language Academy.