Remembering Sam Pilafian


Join us in celebrating the life of legendary educator and tuba performer Sam Pilafian. Sam has been a long-time mentor, teacher, friend and confidant to Blue Devil members and staff alike. His amazing talent, love of music, hilarious sense of humor and dedication to all who came to learn from him was truly special.

Sam Pilafian consulted, educated, and collaborated with the Blue Devils brass section and instructors. He was the co-creator of The Breathing Gym, used by the Blue Devil brass section. He worked with the members and staff on techniques and had keen understanding of the drum corps activity.

When it comes to master teachers, Sam Pilafian, was at the top of the list. Behind the scenes, he was a huge influence on the breathing program the Blue Devils have incorporated into their program. John Meehan wanted to enhance the program with breathing exercises and Sam was the first person that was called on for advice. As busy and famous as Sam was, he always had time to talk shop and work with the corps.

With Sam as a consultant for the Blue Devils horn line for the past six years, the members and instructors had an incredible resource on-hand for anything and everything related to music education and performance. The most exciting part of this collaboration was that the brass staff and members had the opportunity to work with a legendary musician and educator.

Sam Pilafian, Professor in Practice at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami, and tubist of the Boston Brass, was perhaps best known as a founding member of the internationally renowned Empire Brass Quintet (1971-1993). He recorded and performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, and Pink Floyd.

As a solo jazz artist, Sam recorded fifteen CDs. His long career earned him an Emmy(R) for Excellence in Instructional Video Production, the Walt Disney Award for Imagination and Innovation in Design, the Walter Naumberg Chamber Music Award, the Harvard Music Association Prize, the University of Miami's Distinguished Alumni Award, the Brevard Music Center Distinguished Alumni Award, the Robert Trotter Visiting Professorship at the University of Oregon and the annual Outstanding Teacher Award from the Arizona State University.

As an arranger, composer and recording producer, Sam produced and wrote for Joseph Alessi (New York Philharmonic), the Boston Brass, the Brass Band of Battle Creek, the Academy (of Drum Corp International), and the United States Air Force Band. Sam was the coauthor with Patrick Sheridan of the best selling pedagogy texts and DVD's "Breathing Gym" and "Brass Gym". Professor Pilafian served for over forty years on the faculties of Boston University, the Tanglewood Institute, Berklee College of Music and Arizona State University.

It was our privilege and honor to work with Sam for the past six years. He enriched our Blue Devil family in so many ways and he will be sorely missed.

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