Alfred Carslake, Music
2019 Scholar – Classical Music, Trumpet
In January – February 2020, I embarked on a month long trip to Germany as part of my BBM Youth Support Global Industry Scholarship. The aim for me on this trip was to have lessons with professors of German universities, ones that I saw as potential options for masters study. I also hoped to form personal connections with some of these professors, and to find an option that best suited me for my potential future studies. During this trip I had 13 individual lessons, met 9 professors, watched over 10 hours of other people’s lessons and master classes, watched 2 trumpet class concerts, and visited a very nerdy trumpet shop!
I made many new friends and connected with old friends from Australia who are already overseas studying, and some that were doing similar trips to mine. Since returning from my trip I have been able to fully grasp what and incredible learning experience this was for me.
I was really able to narrow down my options and decide where to focus my energy in the future with my music studies. I hope this will help me continue on my path to becoming a full time orchestral musician.
Lessons and Experiences
My trip began in in Berlin, where I was staying with a friend who currently lives and studies trumpet performance in Denmark. I had a few days to beat the jetlag, as well as get back into shape for my first lesson.
My first lesson was with Gabor Tarkovi, former principal trumpet of the Berlin Philharmonic, and now Professor for Trumpet at Universität der Kunst, Berlin. This lesson was on my third day in Berlin, and on the second day I had already been fortunate enough to meet him through a friend who is currently studying in his class. Professor Tarkovi was incredibly warm, and kindly invited myself and my friend to watch the day’s lessons before my lesson the next day! It was incredible to hear him play so much in these students’ lessons, and give some insight in preparation for my own lesson. The students were all preparing for an audition for the Karajan academy, so it was interesting to see what sort of things they had to prepare, and the advice that Professor Tarkovi gave.
After Berlin, I travelled to Cologne where I stayed with an Australian friend. From here I travelled out to a smaller town, Detmold, where I had a lesson with Professor Klaus Bräker at the Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf. Over the next few days I travelled to Karlsruhe, where I received a lesson from Professor Reinhold Friedrich, and watched a masterclass with British trumpet player and professor at the Royal Academy in London, Mark David.
After Karlsruhe, I travelled to Budapest, where I was to meet Professor Jeroen Berwaerts. Professor Berwaerts is the professor for trumpet at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover, however his residence is in Budapest. The trip to Hungary made this lesson the most expensive, as I was no longer able to stay with friends, and I had to book separate flights to get myself there for one night. I was apprehensive about this lesson for this reason and quite nervous, however his reputation exceeded him, and it was one of the best lessons I had on the trip. I felt we instantly had a very great rapport, and he encouraged me to apply for the university for a master’s.
Over the next few weeks I had lessons with Wim Van Hasselt in Freiburg, Hannes Läubin in Munich, and Sarah Slater in Osnabrück.
I also took part in a four day masterclass course with Professor Klaus Schuhwerk and Professor Wolfgang Guggenberger. This course was an incredible experience, and after having two lessons with each professor and observing the lessons of others I really felt the educational experience of this course was absolutely holistic. The two teachers teach in very similar styles with similar pedagogical backgrounds, and I left feeling inspired and convinced by their teaching methods.
All of the teachers I saw on this trip had something unique to offer me, and I always left each lesson feeling inspired by the things I had learnt, or the playing I had experienced from each teacher. My goals for the trip were to work out which teachers I liked the most, and to discover what I needed to do in order to have the best shot at audition for their classes. I felt like by the time I finished the trip I had created a very clear picture about what I needed to improve on, and what teachers are looking for in an entrance exam audition process. In addition to this hearing other students play was an incredible opportunity to see the standards of some of these classes, and gave me an idea about other aspects of my playing I could improve.
I certainly felt like the most difficult part of the trip was staying consistent in each lesson. Adjusting to the climate in Germany was tricky, and physically my playing sometimes felt less than ideal. It was challenging getting access to practice spaces often, however this resulted I believe in a heightened ability to be flexible, and I feel happy with my improvement of focus in important times – in switching on for a lesson under less than ideal circumstances.
Having travelled in Germany last year on exchange, I felt very lucky that I already had a bit of a support network on my travels. I felt fortunate that I mostly had someone to stay with in each city, and always a friend to spend time with. I think for me this really heightened the experience, and I noticed it most when I was alone that solo travel can be difficult. Especially when you’re in a situation where putting yourself out there is crucial. However I think this trip really helped me to feel comfortable in my own skin, with my own musical abilities and where they are at currently. Simultaneously it really helped give me direction, which I believe is really important in my first year out of the safety net of my bachelor’s degree.
I am so grateful for this opportunity, and so thankful to the BBM for supporting me financially and personally to make this trip happen. I think this trip will be crucial for me in the realisation of my career goals, and I really hope to be studying in Germany later this year in a master’s degree.
I would also like to thank all the teachers I had lessons with, my friends for putting me up, my family, and of course my teacher in Sydney, Leanne Sullivan.