High School Apprentice Program (HSAP)

The Milwaukee Festival Brass is currently seeking talented musicians who are interested in playing in a brass band. An experience unlike any other, qualified students will perform within our British-style brass band, mentored by the gifted adult musicians seated next to them. We guarantee you won’t be counting rests – in a brass band, everyone gets a workout! No other after-school youth ensemble program will grow your technique and musicianship faster. And what better way to build on the excellence of your high school’s music curriculum and ensure a lifetime of musical excellence than to rehearse and perform with successful adults from every career path and walk of life who are committed to music-making at the highest level?

Brass bands use a standard British instrumentation, consisting of Bb Cornets (in place of trumpets), Flugelhorns, Eb Tenor Horns (sometimes called Alto Horns – in place of French horns), Trombones, Baritones, Euphoniums, Tubas, and Percussion. Students eligible for the High School Apprentice Program (HSAP) who normally play trumpet or French horn would be asked to switch to cornet or tenor horn. Those auditioning, horn players in particular, should consult their band directors and private teachers regarding the differences between these instruments. They require different mouthpieces and slightly different embouchures as well.

It is necessary to play these instruments to maintain the unique tone quality of the brass band created by all conical bore instruments. All of the brass musicians read treble clef with the exception of the bass trombone. Students will be coached in new fingerings and/or clefs.

Brass banding has a long and storied tradition in Europe, originating in Great Britain and continuing to this day. Bands compete vigorously; contest results are followed online and in band magazines with the same enthusiasm as Major League Baseball is here in the U.S.

How do I set up an audition?
Students may contact the HSAP coordinator, Dawn Williams, at 262-309-9333 to set up an audition date and time.

Audition Requirements:

Brass players should be able to play all of their major scales and a chromatic scale at quarter note equals 132 or faster and should be clean & rhythmically precise. Brass band playing requires great facility of the fingers.

Each player should demonstrate significant double tongue skill. Quarter note equals at least 144. Students should demonstrate as much multiple tonguing as possible i.e. linear, horizontal and arpeggiated. The director is looking for speed and clarity.

A short etude or portion of a solo of at least WSMA Class A level should be prepared. Solos by Herbert L. Clarke, Arthur Pryor, Herman Bellstedt and Arban are appreciated.

No accompaniment is necessary. Varying levels of sight-reading will also be included.

Percussionists should be prepared to play all of their rudiments on snare drum at a fast and controlled tempo. At least quarter note equals 132. They will also be asked to play timpani and change pitch/tune the drums. A short etude or portion of a solo of at least WSMA Class A level should be prepared for snare drum. No accompaniment is necessary.

Although mallet percussion is not required, preference will be given to those who are able to play keyboard percussion and snare. To audition on keyboard percussion prepare all of your major scales to at least 2 octaves and more octaves will be better. A mallet solo should be prepared as well.

Drum set is not required but preference will be given to those who are able to play set and snare. They should be able to demonstrate a rock beat, a fast jazz swing beat and a polka or two-step beat.

Varying levels of sight-reading will be included and may include any percussion instrument that the student can play.


The cost of the program is $50.00 for each concert in the series. This fee is paid by the second rehearsal of each concert. Check should be made out to the Milwaukee Festival Brass. The program fee is non-refundable. If the student misses too many rehearsals for a concert, they may be ineligible for performing. This does not disqualify them from future concerts. There are a limited number of scholarship applications available. If you wish to apply for one of these scholarships, please contact Dawn Williams at 262-309-9333 to discuss.

Concert Dress:

The Milwaukee Festival Brass performs in concert black. This means tuxes for men and all black for women.