James Self (b. 1943, Franklin, Pa.) grew up in Oil City, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Oil City High School he attended Indiana State College (now known as Indiana University of Pennsylvania) from 1961-1965. At Indiana State College Self studied with William Becker, earning a music education degree.
Self joined the United States Army Band in 1965. During his time with the U.S. Army Band, Self earned a Master's Degree in Tuba Performance from Catholic University and studied with Harvey Phillips. After the Army, Mr. Self was offered the position of Assistant Professor of Tuba at the University of Tennessee in 1969. In 1971, while still working at the University of Tennessee, Self began working on a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Southern California. At USC he studied under Tommy Johnson.
Since 1974 Mr. Self has worked as a recording studio tubist for all of the major Hollywood studios, performing on over 1500 motion picture sound tracks and hundreds of television shows and records. Major films featuring his solos on John Williams scores include Jurassic Park, Home Alone I & II, and Hook. His career-defining solo was as the voice of the mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
In addition to playing tuba, Self is a published composer and arranger. He has written about 35 titles for brass, string and woodwind chamber music, as well as many works for band, orchestra, solo tuba and trombone. Self is the principal tubist of the Pacific Symphony, which commissioned him to write a feature work, Tour de Force, performed in April 2008 at the Symphony's home in Orange County.
Jim Self has taught at the University of Southern California since 1976. At USC Self teaches tuba and coaches brass chamber music. He has also taught at such festivals as Music Academy of the West and the Henry Mancini Institute.
Works for Winds