Tom Brantley - Artist Profile

The Lake Wales Arts Council is excited to announce that GRAMMY-nominated Tom Brantley will be performing at the Lake Wales Arts Center on March, 22nd 2019 at 7:00 PM in Updike Hall. We had a conversation with Brantley on his career, accomplishments, and inspiration. We hope you enjoy this interview!


Did you study music when you were a child?

Yes.  Both of my parents were young and still in college, majoring in music, when I was born.  I grew up in Band Halls, Band Camps, and on gigs.  My Father plays Trombone and mother plays flute.  My mother taught flute lessons wherever we lived.  I played drums, piano, bugle, cornet and listened to music constantly.  All kinds of music.  Began playing professionally at the age of 12.  I eventually took piano lessons and then started playing trombone in 5th grade band.  I took trombone lessons from the local college trombone teacher who was a world class teacher, player of classical and jazz music as well as a musicologist (music history teacher/scholar).

Who were your inspirations in music while growing up? 

On Trombone, Bill Watrous, Carl Fontana, Urbie Green for Jazz trombone.  Jay Friedman, principal trombonist in the Chicago Symphony and Christian Lindberg, Classical Trombone soloist from Sweden. My band directors were also big influences, especially my high school director, who became my lifelong mentor, the late Dr. Gerald Waguespack.  Gerry was like a father to me and his widow, Aimee, remains a big influence.

When did you start to pursue music as your main field of study and why?

As young as I can remember I pursued music.  I had no choice, it was what I cared about.  My parents tried to talk me out of going into music.  Nothing could stop me. It was what I had to do!

Can you speak about your time at North Texas?

Very intense.  Most of the pressure was on myself but it did payoff.  I became a member of a band of musicians, Rhythm and Brass, that shaped who I am today because of my connections to North Texas.  I then got the call from the University of South Florida because of recommendations from North Texas.   A wonderful School of Music with a remarkable reputation.

Did you have any teachers inspire you while attending college?

Yes, many!  It would take too long to mention all of them!  Many of them are still inspiring me and helping me!  Tom Fraschillo, director of bands at University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg Mississippi (now retired) was a huge influence, along with Raoul Jerome, director of Jazz studies.  I owe them so much!

Did your experience as a musician in college motivate you to become an educator? 

In some ways.  My teaching experience as a graduate student and being a clinician on the road helped me become skilled enough to become a full professor at USF.   


What would you consider the greatest accomplishment in your career thus far?

Grammy nomination was cool, recording projects, etude books, and performing is always great.  I am always proud of my student’s achievements. In some ways, their achievements mean even more to me than my own, especially as I get older. Traveling the world and performing in places such as Thailand, Japan, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East are always very fulfilling!  Doing all of this while having the greatest wife and wonderful son who is now an incredible young man is my greatest accomplishment, without question.

What is the most rewarding part of being a professional musician and composer?

It is a form of connection, of communicating with others.  It helps me reveal  who I am and what I am feeling, which allows me to connect to other people. That’s always rewarding..

What does your concert at the Lake Wales Arts Center mean to you?

It is great to play just down the highway from Tampa.  A familiar place for me, having played here before and having the freedom to play solo compositions of my own for a wonderful and appreciative audience!

I am grateful!

Do you have any exciting plans for the future; i.e. method books, concerts, student performances, etc?  

I am playing in Paris and in other parts of France this summer with my colleagues and students this summer for two and a half weeks.  I also hope to release a third etude book and release a solo recording of my original music soon!

If you are interested in purchasing tickets for the Tom Brantley concert at the Lake Wales Arts Center, please do so here.

Isabel Wadsworth