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Robert Brett Nichols

Robert Brett Nichols

On Friday, March 17, 2023, Robert Brett Nichols died unexpectedly after a brief illness.  He was 49 years old.

Brett was born February 1, 1974 in Muskogee, OK to parents Bobby Lee Nichols and Melvalene (Shepard) Nichols.  He grew up in Checotah, OK where he was the first Boy Scout of Troop 642 to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. He was a 3 year member of the Oklahoma All-State Band on tuba; as well as a member of the Tulsa Youth Symphony. He graduated from Checotah High School in Checotah, OK in 1992.

In 1996 he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, where he was a student of Bernard Guzik. He attended graduate school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he studied with Matthew Good of the Dallas Symphony. He went on to accept the Graduate Assistantship in Tuba at Bowling Green State University in Ohio under tuba soloist, Velvet Brown, earning a Masters of Music in Tuba Performance in 1998.

Brett then spent 3 years at the Lausanne Conservatory of Music in Switzerland where he studied with Roger Bobo, former tubist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  He also studied Twentieth Century Techniques with Michel Becquet, Professor of tuba, Paris Conservatory.   While in Switzerland, he performed with two competitive British brass bands.

After returning to the U.S., Brett worked as a substitute for the Tulsa Symphony and Tulsa Ballet Orchestras.  He performed frequently with the Tulsa Starlight Concert Band as well as numerous area brass quintets.  He played with the Signature Symphony in Tulsa, OK for 20 years, first as a substitute, then serving as principal tubist with the group for 8 years.  He also had the privilege of performing with David Amram at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, OK.  Until his death, Brett remained active in the Oklahoma music scene as both a freelance tubist and low brass clinician.   He was the 4th generation to live on the family farm near Okemah, OK where he was a pecan orchardist and enjoyed fishing and wildlife.

He was preceded in death by his mother.  He is survived by his father, Bobby Nichols of Okemah, OK; brother, Rex Nichols and wife Bety of Tulsa, OK; and sister Anita J Nichols of Okemah, OK; as well as extended family, many former students, and a lifetime of friends.

Direct cremation will take place at Cremation Society of Oklahoma, with his ashes to be interred at a later date.  There will be no service.  In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Brett by attending a concert of the Signature Symphony at TCC, The Tulsa Starlight Concert Band, or any of the other fine instrumental music groups in the area.  Brett would have loved this.

Online condolences may be made at

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