About Douglas Yeo
Recognized worldwide as a leading low brass performer, teacher, scholar, and author, Douglas Yeo has been appointed Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Trombone at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the 2022–2023 academic year. From 1985-2012, he was bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and before coming to Boston, he was a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, a free-lance musician in New York City, and a high school band director. He served as Professor of Trombone at Arizona State University from 2012–2016 and has also been on the faculties of New England Conservatory of Music and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Since 2019, he has been trombone professor at Wheaton College (Illinois). He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College (1976)—where he studied trombone with Edward Kleinhammer (bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony, 1940–1985)—and his master’s degree from New York University (1979).
In 2014, Douglas Yeo was the recipient of the International Trombone Association’s highest honor, the ITA Award, given to him “in recognition of his distinguished career and in acknowledgement of his impact on the world of trombone performance.” He has written dozens of book chapters and articles for many publications including the International Trombone Association Journal, the Historic Brass Society Journal, the International Tuba Euphonium Association Journal, and the Galpin Society Journal, and is the author of The One Hundred: Essential Works for the Symphonic Bass Trombonist (Encore Music Publishers), Serpents, Bass Horns and Ophicleides at the Bate Collection (University of Oxford Press), and co-author (with Edward Kleinhammer) of Mastering the Trombone (Ensemble Publications). His most recently published books are Homer Rodeheaver and the Rise of the Gospel Music Industry (2021, co-authored with Kevin Mungons, University of Illinois Press), and An Illustrated Dictionary for the Modern Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Player (2021, Rowman & Littlefield). His instructional DVD and seven solo recordings have received critical acclaim as have his 12 music arrangements that are published by G. Schirmer, International Music, Southern Music, and De Haske Music.
As a teacher, Douglas Yeo has given master classes and recitals on five continents and has held residencies around the world including the International Trombone Festival (seven times), the Banff Center (Canada), the Hamamatsu International Wind Instrument Academy and Festival (nine times) and the Nagoya Trombone Festival (Japan), the International Trombone and Tuba Festival (Beijing), and the Dutch Bass Trombone Open (Holland). His website, yeodoug.com (1996), was the first site on the Internet devoted to the trombone, and his blog, thelasttrombone.com—Occasional thoughts on Life, Faith, and the Trombone—was launched in 2016.
Elizabeth Raum, Turning Point https://youtu.be/yzHZW0zF_K4
Girolomo Frescobaldi, recomposed by Eddie Koopman, Canzone https://youtu.be/Sk2BiD2FUYM
John Stevens, The Chief; Steven Verhelst, A Song for Japan https://youtu.be/pPVxhmcMJ8g
The pursuit of any artistic enterprise must begin with the fundamental thesis that it is consequential. To that end, my philosophy of teaching—which has been developed through my own life experience as a professional artist/musician/trombonist and my over 40 years of teaching at the Conservatory/University/College level—may be summarized in two tripart pillars:
WHAT WE DO
STEWARDSHIP. This is the why of what we do. Each person is uniquely gifted in various ways. When an individual achieves awareness of their particular type of gifting, one has a responsibility to be a faithful steward—a good manager, a capable caretaker, a passionate exponent—of same. This stewardship of our gifting is at the root of our artistic personhood, and we strive to diligently and joyfully fulfill the promise we have within.
EXCELLENCE. This is the how of what we do. I have never met a person who wakes up in the morning and says, “Today, I wish to achieve mediocrity in all of my tasks.” If one understands the importance of good stewardship of one’s gifts, then, in the words of Dr. Harold M. Best (Dean emeritus, Wheaton College Conservatory of Music; past president, National Association of Schools of Music), “Excellence is the norm of stewardship.” Each individual aspires to excellence commensurate with their level of gifting. Excellence is not a fixed, one-size-fits-all end point. Rather it is a movable ceiling that each individual continually pushes up against in order to actualize their potential.
MISSION. This is what we desire to accomplish through what we do. Since we operate from the principle that what we do as artists/musicians/trombonists is consequential, we endeavor to shape society with our artistic pursuits. In an increasingly chaotic and disjointed world, our artistic work provides encouragement, comfort, challenge, and inspiration to those who come in contact with us. No matter how we express our gifts—whether as a performer, an educator, an administrator, a composer or arranger, a music therapist, or as one who pursues any of a host of artistic callings—we do so fervently and with the knowledge that we are making a difference.
STRATEGIES TO IMPLEMENT WHAT WE DO
PAY ATTENTION. Fundamental to learning is the ability to pay attention. With myriad demands on our lives that require us to multi-task and manage a wide variety of activities, there are times when we must single-mindedly focus ourselves on a particular project or event. Eliminating distractions and developing the ability to compartmentalize aspects of our lives and living is fundamental to developing the ability to engage in accurate self-evaluation. Such self-evaluation is critical to making positive progress toward goals. In addition, it is not enough to pay attention to things that self-evidently seem related to the trombone. Rather, we recognize that by paying attention to everything that intersects with our lives, we can bring lessons from diverse experiences to our work as artists/musicians/trombonists.
ASK QUESTIONS. Nobody knows everything about anything. It is by asking questions that individuals increase their knowledge base, and teachers and students who understand this have the potential to engage in active, meaningful, and transformative learning. Rather than simply giving a student information and strategies to implement so they can improve their skills, my teaching encourages the asking of questions so both teacher and student engage in the acts of discovery and understanding together.
TRY EVERYTHING. Discovery and understanding are active, ongoing processes. If one assumes that, after determining the “best” way to accomplish a task, they no longer need to continue exploring alternative strategies for both execution and improvement, an individual will fossilize their learning at an early stage. Since new knowledge and more highly developed skills lead to improved methods of solving problems, trying every possible means of addressing tasks ensures that one benefits from the ongoing improvement an individual has been continuously pursuing.