Q&A with Tom McCaslin
Tom McCaslin is the professor of tuba and euphonium at East Carolina University. He received his licensure in music performance from McGill University in Montreal and his master’s degree in music performance from Arizona State University. McCaslin also has served as principal tuba in the Auckland Philharmonic in New Zealand. He has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony, the Ann Arbor Symphony, the New Mexico Symphony, the Santa Fe Symphony, and the Regina Symphony Orchestra.
What musicians inspire you?
I have a broad spectrum of diverse influences. Although I am a trained classical musician and that is what I teach, I listen to a full gamut of music. Artists who inspire me are the ones who are creative and are seeking to make music that inspires them. This leads me in a lot of different directions. I love a lot of classical composers like Beethoven and Mozart. I also enjoy jazz. Additionally, there are musicians out there who are creating pop music that is really challenging and fun to listen to.
How did you become passionate about music?
I am Canadian. When my parents were looking for something for me and my brother to do outside of school, there were two choices. There was hockey and then there was music. My parents weren’t too excited about putting us into hockey because of the physical nature of the game. So, they directed us toward music. It was a social outlet, and that’s where I met all of my friends. My love of music started there and never stopped. I started taking private lessons early on, as well. The lessons just enhanced my experiences with the group in my hometown, and I could not imagine being anything else other than a musician.
What do you enjoy about teaching music?
Seeing what people are capable of that they did not realize they were. Watching them on a one-on-one basis discover that their preconceptions of what they were capable of were, most of the time, way too low. The minute that I see a student have that light bulb come on and say, “Wait a second. I can do that,” it’s really special. I try to get as many of those moments as I can to see the progress happen to the point where the students start to make their own goals and their own dreams of music they want to play without me having to tell them and prescribe them specific things.
If we were to look at your iPod or ride with you in your car, what music would we hear?
I have the newest Kayne West album in my CD player. I have been listening to solo tuba CDs. There is also a Roger Kellaway cello album.
Any music/songs people might be surprised about when they learn you listen to them?
This has been a production of East Carolina University. To hear more, please visit www.ecu.edu/treasuredtunes.