Entrepreneurship and Career Development

Entrepreneur of the Month

Matthew VanBesien

Entrepreneur of the Month

Professor Jeff Nelsen

Hornist and Entrepreneur

With a wide-ranging career as an internationally acclaimed hornist, pedagogue, entrepreneur and professional advisor, world-renowned Jacobs School of Music professor Jeff Nelsen is Project Jumpstart’s Entrepreneur of the Month. His enterprising activities connect with an amazing cross-section of the music industry.

Jeff is one of the many pig-farm-raised Canadian magician horn players in the world, and has thrilled audiences and inspired students for over twenty years. Best known as the hornist of the Canadian Brass, with whom he toured and recorded for 8 years, Jeff has also performed with all of the US "Big Five" Orchestras (Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland). He is an alumnus of the Montreal, Vancouver, and Winnipeg Symphonies and continues to perform with orchestras throughout North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. His storied musical career includes varied highlights of two full runs on Broadway of shows Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Pirate Queen, many film and video game soundtrack recordings, tours with pop artists Barry Manilow and Michael Bolton, and a crazy performance with the Balkan Gypsy funk band Slavic Soul Party.

Enjoy a Top Ten list of Jeff’s comments to
Project Jumpstart that cover his career,
entrepreneurship, and his advice for JSOM students.

An active supporter of new music, Jeff will premier a double horn concerto next week that was written for him and his IU doctoral student Mike Walker. They co-comissioned the work by Jason Thorpe Buchanan and will perform it at Eastman School of Music with Musica Nova on March 21. Jeff’s favorite performances are with his mezzo soprano wife Nina. They are performing their  pops show with the Peoria Symphony this coming Mother’s Day.

Jeff is an avid entrepreneur, with projects that cut a wide swath through the music community and beyond. His company Fearless Performance LLC offers events and materials designed to train musicians and corporations to perform their best when it matters most. Jeff has taught his performance methods to thousands of people all over the world, and will hold his 8th annual Fearless Performance for Musicians seminar at IU this summer. As a creative entrepreneurial move, Jeff has made his events portable and is now sharing fearlessness through online webinars and in 2 and 4-day workshops all over North America. He’s also created concert-black water bottles and towels that provide well-timed reminders to “Be Fearless!” during performances.

Jeff’s sheet music company, Perform Music (PM) provides augmented performance materials intended to go beyond just buying the sheet music. He wants to help create inspired PERFORMances of what starts as ink on the page. PM provides commentary on history, copies of parts Jeff used in performance (with his red-pen markings,) and shares what he calls Performance Narratives, stories that describe potential visuals and emotions (drama!) that a performer can imagine during performance.

Jeff keeps quite busy online as well, teaching horn and coaching Fearless Auditioning to students and professionals. Another recently discovered training niche is helping brass players replace “locking up” at the beginning of notes, a condition Jeff has dealt with and figured out over the last 20 years. Jeff has also recently become a magician member of the Academy of Magical Arts at the world famous Magic Castle in Los Angeles and hopes to be training magicians in fearless performance very soon!

Corporate consulting is one of Jeff’s current new projects. He will co-host a one-day corporate event with The Coltrain Group in Bloomington on April 18, and work with the Fortune 500 company CATerpillar in May. Jeff gave a TEDX talk in 2011 and is a speaker coach for TED Talkers. Jeff has designed his own mouthpiece, and co-designed a french horn (180KA-JN model) with Bavarian horn company Dieter Otto.

For more on Jeff Nelsen, visit his newly developed website >