Dr. Sarah Stoneback is an innovative and exuberant performer, with over twenty years professional performance experience. Dr. Stoneback is an active Conn Selmer Bach Artist/Clinician, trumpet soloist, chamber musician and orchestral performer who has frequented stages throughout the United States, Europe and China. She has been featured with groups including; the National Brass Quintet, the InterHarmony International Chamber Music Festival (Italy), Eurobrass, the Denver Municipal Band, the Montana State University Band and numerous high school bands.
Currently, Dr. Stoneback is the trumpet professor at Montana State University School of Music and holds the position of Principal Trumpet with the Bozeman Symphony. Sarah’s dedication and love for music can be traced to her early experiences, performing and traveling with Stoneback Sisters and Brass. Comprised of a triplet trumpet trio, trumpet quartet & brass quintet, this ensemble has presented over 2,000 educational seminars and residency programs. They frequently solo with bands and orchestras throughout the United States and Europe, including the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, The John Philip Sousa Band, the South Dakota Symphony, the Texas Christian University and the United States Air Force Band of the West.
Dr. Stoneback holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Performance and Pedagogy and Masters of Music from CU Boulder, under Professor Terry Sawchuk. Dr. Stoneback has a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from Arizona State University where she studied with Regent’s Professor David Hickman. She is a 2000 graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, where she studied with Dr. Stanley Friedman.
Follow Sarah on IG and FB where she posts a lot of tips on learning, teaching and performing and more!
As a Conn-Selmer, Bach artist and clinician, Sarah plays on Bach instruments including:
B-flat Bach Stradivarius 37 bell
C Bach Strad 229 bell
Piccolo Selmer Paris/Maurice André
Flugel Horn: Selmer Paris
Mouthpiece(s) of choice: 3C on big horns, Pickett Brass 9DE Cup, #1/27 Shank
Interview with Sarah Stoneback. The interviewer is Stanley Curtis.
SS: Yes, you are correct! How much time do you have? There is so much to share! I come from a very musical family and had an epic childhood. I am a triplet and my sisters Mary, Kristin, and I all play trumpet. My Dad, Dr. Ron Stoneback also is a trumpeter and educator, who has written several textbooks for bands. My Mom also plays the horn. Music and performing has been a lifestyle and focal point since I was in 5th grade.
By the time my sisters and I entered our undergraduate studies at Arizona State University, we had performed upwards of 1,000 + performances including soloing as a trio with the St. Lous Symphony, performing at conferences including the International Women’s Brass Conference, Texas Band Masters, Texas Music Educators, presenting community concerts as a trio/quartet/quintet and school outreach, conference appearances, and more.
Our individual practice schedule consisted of anywhere between 2 – 6 hours a day from elementary through high school into college studies. Weekends, summers and evenings would find us touring all over where we grew up in South Dakota and beyond. I am grateful that our parents supported each of us in our trumpet playing, encouraging each of us to be the best we could be and work hard and diligently. They also would give us movie tickets to get out of the house so we would stop practicing, lol. However even though we practiced a lot we still participated in sports at school like cross country and track, and I was big into gymnastics for many years and competed.
At an early age we were introduced to top performers and educators in the trumpet field like Maynard Ferguson, Susan Slaughter, Doc Severinson, Marvin Stamm, Mike Vax, Keith Johnson, Marie Speziale, Chlora Bryant, Willie Thomas, and more. These connections made at an early age really set our experience on trumpet in an exciting direction. After being invited to open for the IWBC conference in St. Louis, Susan Slaughter with the St. Louis Symphony invited us to solo with the St. Louis Symphony years later. So, these connections made at an early age were defining and we still keep in touch with many.
After graduating from Arizona State University studying with David Hickman (see below for more about these studies), we hit the road. In this capacity, we performed full-time presenting community concerts in association with the National Endowment for the Arts, State Arts Councils, Conn-Selmer Inc., Educational Residencies in elementary and collegiate settings, music ministry support, conference performances, guest soloing appearances, and more. We were self-managed and enjoyed running every aspect of the business from promotional work, contract and grant writing, communications, programming, etc. With all of this, we started published our own online magazine, and called it “Stonebrass The Magazine”, featuring people we met along our travels and life stories. We also organized scholarships for students to attend camps and special music function around the country. It was real life field experience.
SS: Yes! My sisters and I graduated our senior year from Interlochen Arts Academy in 2000. While there, we studied with Dr. Stanley Friedman. This was a magical experience, making amazing musical memories. Always want to get back there, hopefully sooner than later.
SS: Studying at Arizona State University was a memorable and pivotal moment in my sisters and I trumpet playing career. There is so much I could share that was defining and shaping experiences in musical growth. One of the reasons we chose to attend ASU, in addition to studying with David Hickman, was the Rafael Méndez Library and the ability to work directly from this.
After we performed a tribute performance to Méndez with Doc Severinsen, the twin sons of the late Méndez granted us rights to perform all the trio music from the library. With this permission, bands and orchestras didn’t need to pay fees to collaborate with this music. Outside of this, the instruction, guidance and experience the university, faculty and ensembles provided was top notch and a dynamic experience.
SS: Yes, I value and am so grateful for my time at CU Boulder in my graduate studies. Much like my growing years, there is so much I could say, the experience was truly one of kind. For five years, I was a trumpet teaching assistant where I was able to teach Undergraduate students.
SS: I did a case study applying the Kolb Learning Style to teaching music. The basis was understanding how learning styles informed both the teaching and learning experience in music. Ultimately, this journey set me on a path to truly find my own teaching voice and connect with student–and not just the ways I was taught. If you are interested in digging deeper, check out an article I wrote for the ITG Journal–and my dissertation!
Stoneback, Sarah, “Incorporating Kolb’s Active Experimentation in the Trumpet Studio” (2017). International Trumpet Guild Journal. Publication, Summer 2017.
Stoneback, Sarah, “Application of the Kolb Learning Style Inventory and Border’s Adaptation of the Model to Trumpet Instruction in the Applied Collegiate Trumpet Studio” (2014). Brass and Percussion Graduate Theses & Dissertations. Paper 1.
SS: My research is rooted in the Kolb Learning Style Theory. Unique to my approach incorporates a perspective that Dr. Laura Border adapted to teacher instruction and student learning. I have taken this and adapted it to music teacher instruction and music student learning. Viewing my teaching through the lens of this approach continues to shape my approach to teaching and performing and learning in general for both myself and how I walk with students throughout their learning experiences on trumpet and music. It has also provided me a tool for multiple modes of presentation. Using this approach also provides ways to connect with students on a deeper cognitive level where more “Ah-Ha” moments can be possible. It also provides a way for me as a teacher to understand why some examples may be more effective for students than others. It has revolutionized the way I view education and know has done the same for educators I have worked with through the years.
SS: I am lucky to live in a community where the Arts are strong and filled with a lot of opportunity to collaborate. I am the Principal Trumpet of the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra. I am also a member of Bobcat Brass Trio, comprised of my brass colleagues, Jeannie Little and Mike Nelson. Throughout the Pandemic I have had the unique opportunity to become a member of the Virtual Trumpet Ensemble, led by Joseph Leyva.
I also perform frequently with my students here MSU. For example, this coming Thursday, March 11, I am performing Vivaldi’s Trumpet Concerto for Two with one of my students for the faculty/student collaborative recital. I also enjoy doing projects with colleagues. I just finished recording for an upcoming release of an original composition written for me by one of my MSU Colleagues and friends, debuting in a couple of weeks. During the Pandemic, I have also been doing a lot of pre-recorded recitals and projects–so, I have enjoyed diving into that. I am also a member of Eurobrass, a 12-member German-based Brass Ensemble and looking forward to hopefully touring this coming summer.
SC: What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or performing?