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Jeff Nelsen

Jeff is a Canadian pig farmer magician horn player who has thrilled and inspired audiences and students around the world.

While studying music at McGill University in Montreal, Jeff won an audition for an orchestra. He left school and would have happily stayed there, as fourth horn in the Winnipeg Symphony, but he won an audition the next year for fourth horn in the Montreal Symphony.

Since then, and for the past twenty years Jeff has been living his dreams full out and fearlessly. Jeff toured and recorded for eight years with Canadian Brass, he has performed recitals and concerti with orchestras in North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia, and he is a professor at the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Jeff’s biggest passion is talking others into reaching their dreams through what he calls Fearless Performance, a topic on which he recently gave a TEDx Talk. Other performing experiences for Jeff have included playing the full run of two Broadway shows ("Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "The Pirate Queen" - two of Broadway's most expensive flops - he's not allowed back there!), touring with Michael Bolton and Barry Manilow, recording dozens of movie soundtracks, and performing in the horn sections of orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and National Symphonies. Jeff co-designed two orchestral pops shows featuring the horn; “Dancing and Romancing – An Evening with the Nelsens” sharing the stage with his wife, mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen, and “Men in Brass – Bells Up!” partnering with trumpeter Mike Herriott.

Nelsen’s most recent exciting accomplishment is becoming a magician member of the “Academy of Magical Arts” at the world famous Magic Castle in Los Angeles. Jeff misses the pig farm where he spent his formative years…he gets over it through regular visits to "Smokin' Joe's Rib Shack" in Bloomington, Indiana, where he lives with Nina and their already Facebook-famous 2-year-old son Rhys.


My Kit

Essential Must Haves

  • Open Mind
  • Pencil and a red erasable pen!! 
  • Fearless Performance Black "concert" "How Much Do You Want It?" Condensation Rag
  • Clip-on tuner (tunes by vibration instead through a microphone!) - Korg AW-2

Something Worth Learning

How to manage your food and drink intake. 

Understanding of how different foods affect your energy level

Favorite Things

Nina and Rhys, the rest of my family, my friends, my students, my colleagues.

Practice Inspiration

Have a great routine, and do it daily.

"Give me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I'll spend 4 hours sharpening the saw." – Lincoln 

When doing your routine, when doing each exercise, think first about why you're about to do this, then how…then decide what notes you''ll play to learn about why and how.

Have high standards. 

"Most people don't aim too high and miss, they aim too low and hit." 

Perform to, most importantly, tell a story (Purpose), do so with great sounds (Product), and do so through efficient simple techniques (Process).

Learn well, and lock in the bar whenever you improve, and keep learning well. 

"Good enough is the enemy of great." 

Come visit us at IU! "Their horn faculty rocks!!" 

– some Canadian pig farming magician dude

Hello You!

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