A graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his wife are continuing their long-time support for students studying brass at IUP. IUP Now Article
Internationally known tubist Jim Self, a 1965 graduate and 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, and his wife, Jamie Self, have made a gift to establish the Jim and Jamie Self Brass Scholarship, which provides scholarship support to students enrolled at IUP who are pursuing a major or minor offered by the Department of Music with a concentration in brass.
Previously, Self and his wife, Jamie, made gifts to establish the Legacy Brass Quintet, the honors student brass quintet, and the Jim and Jamie Self Tuba Scholarship. The Legacy Brass Quintet performs advanced quintet repertoire and receives specialized coaching from the IUP brass faculty. The Selfs also have funded the Jim Self Chamber Brass collection housed in the Orendorff Music Library.
In honor of his significant contributions to IUP, in 2012, a room in IUP’s Cogswell Hall, home to the IUP Department of Music, was named the Jim and Jamie Self Brass and Jazz Room.
Self, a native of Franklin who also lived in Oil City, is an award-winning Los Angeles-based freelance and studio musician, a veteran of thousands of motion pictures, television shows, and records, and a tuba soloist on many prominent movies. His tuba was the voice of the mothership in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and he has solos in major films including John William’s scores to Jurassic Park, Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and Hook.
For many years, he was first tuba for John Williams, James Homer, James Newton Howard, John Debney, and others. Jim has recorded with hundreds of artists, including Placido Domingo, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and Don Ellis. He is principal tuba/cimbasso with the Pacific and Pasadena symphonies, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra.
Early in his career, Self was in the US Army Band in Washington, DC and was a tuba professor at the University of Tennessee.
He holds a DMA from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music where he is an adjunct professor of tuba and chamber music. At USC, he organized the USC Bass Tuba Quartet which won first prize for chamber ensembles at the 2014 ITEC at Indiana University.
His compositions and arrangements include works for solo tuba, brass quintet, other brass, string and woodwind chamber music, wind band, and orchestra. Self has produced 21 solo jazz and classical recording projects that feature jazz greats like John Chiodini, David Angel, Gary Foster, Pete Christlieb, Francisco Torres, Ron Kalina, and Warren Luening. Many of these recordings feature his own unique instrument, the Fluba (a tuba-sized flugelhorn). His music, recordings, and additional biographical information are available on the Jim Self website. He is also a small plane pilot.
Jamie Self is a retired personnel officer for the chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles. She was born in Modesto, California, and lived for several years in Cairo, Egypt, where she administered the Fulbright program. Jamie Self is also an amateur violinist and plays in various Los Angeles area orchestras.
“Jim Self is a prime example of someone who has built an extraordinary career and continues to give back, inspiring and guiding ongoing generations of music students at IUP,” Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Curt Scheib said. “We are very grateful for the generosity of Jim and Jamie Self and their continued commitment to IUP and to our students,” he said.
“I received a scholarship from the Lions Club when I graduated from high school,” Self said. “I’ve never forgotten that gesture, and it made me want to do the same for other music students.”
Self said that one of his first opportunities to work with IUP after graduation was when he reconnected with the late William Becker, his former trumpet teacher, and the late Dan DiCicco, IUP’s former band director, who invited him back to be a soloist.
He worked to raise funds for the naming of the tuba studio after IUP tuba professor Gary Bird, music faculty emeritus. In addition, by working with other alumni, a tuba scholarship was established in Bird’s honor. That led to the Selfs creating their own dedicated tuba scholarship, and then the Legacy Brass scholarship.
“That got us started in donating funds, and we’ve continued to donate over the last 15 years. We have a total of 35 scholarships throughout the United States,” he said. These scholarships include endowed instrumental scholarships at Oil City High School and tuba scholarships at the University of Tennessee. In 2012 they endowed a Creative Tuba Award through the International Tuba Euphonium Association and offered the seed money for ITEA to establish a general endowment.
Self gives credit to the IUP Music Department for providing a comprehensive education that helped him to be a versatile musician.
“I really got everything I could get out of IUP—I played in every group as a musician, and really got the basic skills I used in creating my career at IUP,” he said.
“For many years I thought I was cheated because I went to a small music school and it didn’t train people like Eastman, or Juilliard, or those kinds of places. My colleagues were from those schools. But I’ve realized that IUP is why I’m such a versatile player.
“After many years of poo-pooing it, I realized I must have gotten these skills somewhere, and what I got there was versatility. If you go to Eastman, you don’t get to play in the marching band for instance, you don’t get to play in the jazz band and the classical band. You’re put in a certain hole, and there is no pigeonholing at IUP,” he said. “IUP provides outstanding opportunities for students, I would encourage all alumni to support IUP and its students,” he said.
While at IUP, Self was a member of the music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha, and belonged to Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.
In addition to his financial support for IUP, Self also visits IUP frequently and meets with students. In 2022, he was a guest artist in residency, working with students in master classes, presenting a recital, and serving as the featured artist for IUP’s Tubaphonium Day Mass Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble and the IUP Tubaphonium Ensemble concert.
A number of concerts by IUP faculty and students have featured works by Self, including concerts during the university’s OcTUBA Fest events.
IUP continues to see incredible generosity and unwavering support for the university’s student-centered success initiatives—including increasing IUP’s affordability and value—and the university’s commitment to making a significant, positive impact on health and wellness, especially in Pennsylvania’s rural communities.