STEVEN ABRA, M.MUS, B.MUS
Toronto native Steven Abra’s trumpet-playing career began at the age of twelve as a member of his school band. Recognizing that he was displaying an enthusiasm for the trumpet that had been sorely lacking in his earlier foray into studying the piano, his parents enrolled him in trumpet lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music. It was there as a member of the Young Artists Performance Academy that he had his formative first opportunity to play in an orchestra. This early exposure to orchestral music proved to be a decisive influence on his musical life.
Steve’s musical training has included earning a Bachelor’s degree (BMus) in trumpet performance in 2005 from the University of Toronto where he belonged to the studio of Barton Woomert, and a Master’s degree in orchestral performance from McGill University in 2007 where he studied with Russell DeVuyst. He has recently returned to Canada after spending a season playing Principal Trumpet in the Amman Symphony Orchestra, and teaching at the Jordanian National Music Conservatory.
He currently teaches trumpet, and works as a freelance trumpet player for a number of orchestras and chamber groups in southern Ontario.
In addition to a variety of other musical pursuits, Steve is avidly engaged in an ever-changing list of recreational interests which currently include growing culinary herbs, making gingerbeer, learning German, and trying to make the still elusive perfect sourdough rye bread. Steven teaches trumpet lessons at Neighbour Note.
PHYLOSOPHY OF TEACHING
I’ve found that the exercises and instructions that work well for one student can be completely unsuccessful for another, so I really try to tailor my approach to each student.
“My teaching philosophy is that I try to avoid having a set group of methods that I apply to each student. I’ve taught students ranging from eight through fifty years old, and levels of experience ranging from total beginners through university music students and young professionals. Dealing with such a broad range of students, I’ve found that the exercises and instructions that work well for one student can be completely unsuccessful for another, so I really try to tailor my approach to each student, and to their musical goals individually.
Also, aside from the fact that the solution to a problem for one student won’t necessarily solve the same problem for another student, there’s another advantage to taking an individual approach – the music that inspires me isn’t necessarily the same music that will inspire each student, and inspired students are definitely the best learners. As much as possible, I try to get students excited about playing and making music that speaks to them, so that my role is then to give them some guidance and tools to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of their musical goals.
For some students, that musical goal might be Star Wars, while for another it’s Miles Davis, or J.S. Bach, and I’m happy to work on any of these. Once a student starts working towards playing a piece that moves them, the exercises that help them to be able to play that piece stop being abstract musical gymnastics, and become part of something that they identify with, and they want to do for their own sake, and not just because the teacher assigned it. When that happens, for one thing, it becomes fun to work on an instrument, but it also coincides with much better learning and progress.”