Our Team

Who are we?
We are musicians, teachers, academics, artists, and business people who believe all students should receive a quality education, and that music education has a unique ability to open up the world for young learners. We believe that the arts and humanities are key to helping students make deeper connections to the world around them, guiding them to become well-rounded members of society.

Chris Hasselbring, Founder

Chris has been an active performer and educator in the Chicago area since 1997. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Music (B.M.) from Rutgers University, and his Master’s Degree in Music (M.M.) from Northwestern University (while serving as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago), Chris went on to play principal trumpet with the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra in Colombia, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in China, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. In 1996 Chris toured the U.S. as a member of the Dallas Brass before settling down in Evanston to teach as a faculty member at the Music Institute of Chicago (MIC), one of the nation’s premier community-based music schools. Chris’s keen interest in early music and the natural (Baroque) trumpet lead him to the creation of Brass for Beginners®, the first beginning brass general music core arts curriculum that uses an interdisciplinary approach. He is also co-founder of Brass for Beginners LLC, which was formed to make affordable natural trumpets and curriculum commercially available. As a performer, Chris has appeared with organizations such as Chicago Philharmonic, Joffrey Ballet, Chicago Bach Project, Camerata Chicago, Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Handel Week in Oak Park, and The Bach Institute at Valparaiso University. Chris has served as a member of the Lake Forest Symphony since 2005 and the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra in Door County, WI from 1997-2016. You can contact Chris at chris@brassforbeginners.com

Jason Wyrwicz, Managing Director

As a passionate entrepreneur, Jason is excited about how Brass for Beginners will positively impact the future of so many, and cannot wait for his two young children (4 years and 11 months) to someday experience the program. As an engineer and entrepreneur, Jason designs and manufactures products for the band & orchestra segment of the global music market. His experience spans product design, manufacturing, business development, management consulting and organizational development. Jason holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Manufacturing Engineering, a Masters of Engineering Management from Northwestern University, as well as a Masters of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is a self-taught guitarist and regular kitchen karaoke participant. You can contact Jason at jason@brassforbeginners.com

Kirsty Montgomery, Curriculum

Kirsty is a British-born Chicago-area educator who loves music, history and coffee. In spite of dropping history at secondary school on account of it being utterly boring, she holds a BA in political science from Northwestern University, and a MA in social science, MA in history, and Ph.D in history from the University of Chicago. As an educator she has taught history (European Civilization, World Civilization, Ancient World Religions and Philosophy, History of Britain, and the History of China and India) at academic institutions including Oakton Community College, Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development, The University of Chicago, and the Illinois Math and Science Academy. She has presented at academic conferences worldwide and published several articles, most recently in the International Trumpet Guild Journal (2015). Her scholarly interests include the history of lip-blown instruments, and she is also the co-author of Around the World in Twenty-One Trumpets, a cross-disciplinary method for teaching the fundamentals of brass playing. Through this project she continues to explore ways to excite children about history and culture. Kirsty serves as a scientific advisor & artist for the European Music Archaeology Project (EMAP), and she is currently the Head of School at Lakeview Academy. You can contact Kirsty at kirsty@brassforbeginners.com

Curtis Hasselbring, Sound Design

Curtis Hasselbring is a composer, trombonist and guitarist who resides in Syosset, NY. Curtis received his B.M. in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory (1988) and his M.M. from Rutgers University (2005). Curtis has spent the last 25 years in New York City’s experimental and jazz music scenes performing and recording with such diverse artists as Medeski Martin & Wood, Slavic Soul Party, the Either Orchestra, Frank London, Tom Harrell, and Anthony Coleman among others. Curtis appears on over 80 recordings including three releases as a leader with his group, the New Mellow Edwards and several recordings featuring his electronic music. Curtis has composed a wide variety of music, including chamber music, a wind ensemble piece, music for large jazz ensemble as well as pieces for small jazz groups. In 2010, Curtis received a Chamber Music America Doris Duke Commission for the creation of a new jazz work for his two ensembles combined. Visit curha.com to learn more about his work.

John Humphries, Editor

John Humphries studied Musicology at Oxford University and the natural horn with Anthony Halstead at London’s Guildhall School of Music. His book, The Early Horn (Cambridge University Press) has been described as "a superb book" "packed with usefulness", and he is a contributor to and a member of the editorial advisory board for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Brass Instruments. His reconstructions of Mozart’s incomplete horn concerto movements have been praised for their "polish, authenticity, good scholarship and talent" and have been recorded many times over while his arrangements have been performed and recorded by The Wallace Collection, the horns of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and on the legendary London Horn Sound CD. His arrangements for young players have appeared on all the UK’s leading exam syllabuses and he has considerable experience of teaching brass to young children.

Tony Nuccio, Graphic Designer

At the age of five, Tony Nuccio discovered the benefits of visual communication by writing his name on his bedroom wall with a dark blue crayon. It was accompanied by the best interpretation of his likeness that he could muster and it proclaimed to the world (or, at least, those who chanced to see it–just three inches above the baseboard over there, near the foot of his bed) that, not only was this HIS side of the room but that he had a pretty good command of drawing letters that weren’t too terribly illegible or out of proportion. Years later, he’d earn a degree from Chicago’s Ray College of Design where he learned to marry (now proportionate and legible) letters with photography and illustration to tell interesting stories. Soon after, he began his career in educational publishing where he helped make really cool and teachable textbooks for some great publishers like Houghton Mifflin, Random House, Scott Foresman, and Pearson. Somewhere in there, Tony’s passion for music grew and he learned all about it by studying at Columbia College and playing in rock bands. These days, he’s grateful for having the opportunity to meld his design sensibilities and musical knowledge together by helping create Around the World in 21 Trumpets with the cool folks at Brass for Beginners. He also designs award winning books and periodicals as an Art Director for a major law association. Now if only he could have explained all that to his mom when she caught him with that crayon…

Jack Hasselbring, Curriculum

Jack Hasselbring received his B.M. in Music Education at Rutgers University (1998). Jack co-authored the first Brass for Beginners curriculum based on standards for beginning-level band methods and geared to the capabilities of the natural trumpet. In 2007, with a grant from the Mount Olive Education Foundation in Mount Olive, NJ, Jack started a tuition-free natural trumpet program for third grade students at Mountain View Elementary School. Jack currently teaches Elementary Band and Strings at Holland Brook Elementary School in Whitehouse Station, NJ.

John Kenzie, Illustration

John Kenzie is a Chicago-based illustrator whose work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler and the New York Post as well as many regional magazines and on commercial products. One time he drew the Kool Aid man, and has been coasting on that ever since. Current hobbies include digital sculpting for 3D printing, and finding time to build a racing quadcopter. Video games make him feel guilty, but he plays them all the time anyway. While he almost never leaves his house, it is seeming like an increasingly good idea. Examples of his work can be found at 13labs.com