Have Tuba, Will Travel

By Liz Gladieux

It doesn’t matter that BGSU was 2,360 miles from his hometown of Portland, Ore.; Joseph Ready knew it was a good fit to continue his tuba studies. Ready will receive his master’s of music in performance during the University’s historic 100th commencement ceremony on Aug. 8.

“I was looking for the right place to get my master’s and have the opportunity to play in a brass quintet,” said Ready. “When I saw the BGSU opportunity, I knew it was the one for me. I was so thrilled to be chosen.”

Ready’s love for music and the tuba is evident to all who meet him.

Once on campus, Ready became a participant and mentor in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE), a partnership between the College of Musical Arts and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Since 1970, the program has provided Michigan's musicians of all ages a comprehensive music education experience.

“Once a week, we would meet on campus and drive to Detroit,” said Ready.  The group would leave from the BGSU campus around 4:30 p.m. and return around 11:30 p.m. “It was definitely a long day,” he said.

Ready spoke fondly of working with the CYE. “For many students this was the only option to pursue music. Either their schools weren’t offering a particular instrument or music had been totally cut from the budget.” He also noted that other students used it as an opportunity to get more training and mentorship.

One special student sticks out in Ready’s mind. “He was so enthusiastic! He loved playing the tuba and was eager to learn more.  He wanted to be a music teacher and mentor others when he got to his career.”  

Ready’s biggest challenge with the CYE students was building consistency. “The students had many different levels of ability and talent,” he said. “It was really rewarding to see the improvement in each student and how that positively impacted the rest of the ensembles.”

“It was really rewarding to see the improvement in each student and how that positively impacted the rest of the ensembles.”

As much as he enjoyed working with the CYE, it was not Ready’s favorite part of studying at BGSU. “I loved playing in the Graduate Brass Quintet! The opportunity to play consistently with the same people and to be mentored by Dr. Andrew Pelletier was amazing.”

Pelletier, an associate professor of brass, said, “Joe has been the tubist for the Graduate Brass Quintet since its formation, and, as its coach from the start, I must tell you that I cannot imagine that ensemble enjoying the great success and rapid growth that they have created without his foundation, both musically and professionally. By the second year of the group, I found myself, quite regularly, choosing music that would highlight him and his artistry. I have never experienced a graduate tuba student who came into our program as prepared or as enthusiastic as Joe.”  

Another highlight for Ready was being taught and mentored by David Saltzman, tuba instructor. “My time with Dave Saltzman has been invaluable. He is a great teacher and mentor, as well as being a role model as a performer and person.”

The feeling is mutual. “Joe Ready is an exceptionally talented and very natural musician,” Saltzman said. “He constantly breathes life into phrases that I rarely hear with students his age. Quick with both his wit and charm, he has been a pleasure to work with in the tuba/euphonium studio here at BGSU and someone I look forward to watching as he begins his career in music.”

Dr. William Mathis, chair of Music Performance Studies, has nothing but accolades for Ready.

“Joe is a founding member of the BGSU Graduate Brass Quintet and has provided leadership for this group for the last two years. He is an excellent tubist and consistently performs at a high level compared to any professional standard,” he said. “I have always enjoyed Joe's infectious smile and his loud and jolly laugh. He has contributed a great deal to the College of Musical Arts and it has been a pleasure to have work with him for the past two years.”

Ready has fond memories of performing at Bravo! BGSU with the Graduate Brass Quintet.  “The setting was great,” he said. “When we started, we had no idea what we were getting into. It ended up being intense and challenging.” Ready had never played where an audience entered and left during the performance. “It could have been very disconcerting, but we really enjoyed it.”

After graduation, Ready will once again hit the road for more tuba performance training.  “I’ve been accepted at Roosevelt University in Chicago in their Artist Diploma program, where I will get a lot of performance and practice time that will allow me to be ready for a top orchestra or premier military band.”

If you go to the commencement ceremonies, don’t expect to see Ready walking across the stage for his diploma. You will have to listen for him. “I’m not going to walk,” he said. “I’d rather perform with the Graduate Brass Quintet while others walk.  I really love what I do!”