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Graduate trumpet student leading the way in video and audio production

Brandon Dicks, a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) student in trumpet performance, is leading the way with incorporating video and audio production into the skill set of the next generation of trumpet players. 

ASU Trumpet Studio students.

Dicks, one of the ASU Trumpet Studio teaching assistants proficient in video and audio production, led the ASU Trumpet Choir in creating a state-of-the-art video as part of Arizona State University’s contribution to the International Trumpet Guild’s June virtual conference that showcased trumpet ensembles from around the world.

“Brandon is the creator from the ground up on the studio’s video,” said Joe Burgstaller, associate professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “He wrote the piece, chose the trumpet ensemble, ran all the rehearsals and directed the videos. This was a natural progression from the year’s worth of audio and video work in which the entire brass area participated.”

Dicks and two other teaching assistants are part of the Trumpet Studio leadership team. Buddy Deshler, DMA in trumpet performance and lead trumpet of the Dallas Brass, was a half-time trumpet and half-time entrepreneurship teaching assistant and was appointed visiting assistant professor of trumpet at the Crane School of Music, State University of New York College at Potsdam in July. Samuel Oatts, DMA in trumpet performance and lead trumpet on Broadway for 15 years, is a half-time trumpet and half-time jazz teaching assistant.

The members of the trumpet choir are (in alphabetical order) Harmony Byerly, Mason Christofferson, Dicks, Gage Ellis, Taylor Hubbard, Paul Reid, Joel Uliassi and Aaron White. All the video and audio recordings for the International Trumpet Guild video were created in isolation from each of the students’ desktops last summer and then edited together by Dicks.

“For any piece of music or video editing that I create, I want a purpose,” said Dicks. “I have been wanting to record the trumpet piece, composed in 2018, for a very long time. I didn't really have a purpose until everything we have been doing in the trumpet studio this past year became that purpose.”

Dicks said the piece was very difficult to perform in terms of time and rhythm, but he credited the students with pushing themselves to a whole new level to create the high-quality video showcasing their talents.

“Brandon has sparked this lightning, an electricity amongst the students to up their game, and you can see that on the video,” said Burgstaller. “They are all superstars, and they are all pushing each other in wonderful ways. These are stellar human beings, and I find them inspirational — their hearts, their motivation, their desire and their resiliency during this pandemic. They are a great example of the incredible success we have had despite the challenges.”

The video includes creative visual aspects such as extremely fast-paced transitions, alternating between screens with white and black backdrops.

“I believe there are three really important success indicators for a great piece of music or art — the piece must be compelling, engaging and resonate with the listener in a way that they want more,” said Burgstaller. “This video encompasses all of them.”

Burgstaller praised Dicks for his internationally recognized “prowess video-making and audio work” and also as “an incredible example of the quality of leadership” in the trumpet studio.

In addition to the video project, Dicks co-founded the virtual Trumpeter’s Multi-Track Competition through a collaboration with Marcus Grant and David Koch. Initially wanting to create a video of themselves playing together, the group realized that there are many content creators they could help promote by encouraging them to create high-quality, self-produced videos for an international competition.

“This first year we were blown away by what people were able to create, some of them with a phone and a simple microphone,” said Dicks. “Most people want to perform or create something as fast as possible without taking the time and the energy to make something beautiful and creative. We wanted to push them to improve their quality.”

Pre-pandemic, the Trumpet Studio, including Dicks, participated in Burgstaller’s one-of-a-kind “Trumpet Warm-up Show,” with a following of 30-plus countries and up to 25,000 viewers a week.

Dicks said the brass studio has been learning in a unique way with video and audio production and that it is something the students are realizing they need to know more about for the future.

“I think that our students, more than any other place, are way ahead of the curve — it's like a slingshot into the future,” said Burgstaller. “This is the generation that is going to redefine the music business. COVID-19 did not ruin the music business; it just accelerated the cycle of evolution, and you are now looking at the forefront of the next generation in the music business.”

lamacdon@asu.edu