Five Apps for the Busy Freelancer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marina Krickler is a sought-after musician and educator throughout New England. Hailed for her “soaring… warmly played” solos (Boston Classical Review), she performs extensively with many of the region’s ensembles.
Currently Fourth Horn with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra and the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, she has also performed with A Far Cry, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she has appeared with the period ensemble Grand Harmonie. Ms. Krickler is the co-founder of Andromeda Quintet, a brass chamber ensemble dedicated to creating adventurous listening experiences for audiences of all ages. Her recent solo work includes performances with Haffner Sinfonietta, and Symphony Nova.


As someone who’s primarily self-employed, I’m always looking for ways to improve the quality and quantity of my work. Whether that means making more efficient progress in the practice room, becoming a better educator, or balancing an often-unbalanced lifestyle, here are my top 5 app picks:

1. TE Tuner
Everyone has been singing the praises of TE Tuner – it was voted one of the top 5 tuner apps by Bulletproof Musician readers – and I’m going to add myself to the chorus. I love this app, and the recent updates have only made it a more potent tool. Here are a few of my favorite features:
– Toggle between equal and just temperaments, or create your own temperament system.
– Adjust the pitch standard to A = whatever you need: 442, 430, 415, etc. This is extremely helpful for period instrument work.
– Select between 4 different difficulty levels, which narrow or widen the range of what the app will consider in-tune. Easier settings are perfect for students, and they love the confused and/or happy face depending on whether or not they’re in tune!
– Analyze the waveform and/or plot the pitch of the note you’re holding. Note shapes and articulations become more than just an abstract concept.
Cost: $3.99
Platforms: Apple and Android

2. Garage BanD

A colleague introduced me to this app as a way to get high quality recordings without setting up extra equipment. I use it both in my own practice sessions and in students’ lessons to give them something to model, especially if their particular piece or etude hasn’t been recorded. The user interface on an iPhone isn’t particularly intuitive – you’ll need to turn off the metronome, and take the default length limiter off before using it. Once you’ve done that, the default instrumental settings result in a pretty decent-sounding recording. I’ve only scratched the surface of what the software can do – I’d love to learn how to make multi-track recordings, and find other creative ways to use it.
Cost: Free
Platform: Apple only, unfortunately

3. Headspace
Headspace is a much-lauded meditation and mindfulness app. After completing a 30-day foundation course, you have access to an extensive library of topics. You can select from Packs, Singles, or Minis, and sessions range from as short as 2 minutes to up to 60 minutes long. I found the sport packs particularly relevant to audition preparation, including topics like analysis, motivation, training, and competition.
Cost: Free trial available, with monthly, yearly, and lifetime paid subscriptions available Platforms: www.headspace.com and free apps for Apple and Android

4. Breathe2Relax
This app was introduced to me by performance psychologist Dr. Marla Zucker. Deep breathing helps to regulate the parasympathetic nervous system – this article from Psychology Today explains why this is important. The app allows you to shorten or lengthen the inhale and exhale to find a rate that’s optimal for you. Regular deep breathing helps the body stay productive and calm in stressful situations, and in freelance life those can be plentiful. While a longer 10 or 15- minute session is ideal, even just a few cycles of breathing help me to regain my equilibrium on a tough day.
Cost: Free
Platforms: Apple and Android

5. Strava
I am a big believer in maintaining good overall fitness to improve musical performance. Brass- playing is inherently physical, and staying in shape allows me to keep my energy levels up while meeting the athletic demands of the instrument. It also helps me counteract the many hours of sitting inherent to what we do: rehearsals, teaching, and long drives. Strava is a GPS activity tracker for running, cycling, swimming, hiking, and more. You can see how many miles you’re logging, track your personal records, discover new route, and join challenges with other users.
Cost: Free, with premium memberships available
Platforms: www.strava.com and free apps for Apple and Android

Bio continued:

Ms. Krickler enjoys teaching students of all ages, and has presented masterclasses in both the United States and Canada. She holds faculty appointments at the All Newton Music School, Dana Hall School of Music, and Wellesley Public Schools.
Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Ms. Krickler spent her formative years playing piano and flute before being drawn to the horn at the age of sixteen. She holds a Master of Music in Performance from The Boston Conservatory, a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of Toronto, and a Music Performance Diploma from Mount Royal University. Her teachers and mentors have included Joan Watson, Eli Epstein, Gabe Radford, and Laurie Matiation. In addition to her formal education, she is an alumna of the National Academy Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Young Artists Program, and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Learn more at: www.marinakrickler.com

 

 

Five Things I’ve Learned about Freelancing

by Kate DeVoe

See the end of this post for Kate’s bio.

When I first entered the freelance world after college over a decade ago I had… a lot to learn. College prepared me musically but there were plenty of other things I learned as I went. I learned a lot from trial and error, which I know was good for me because… character or something like that. I’m still learning and I don’t have all the answers, but I think that younger version of me would have really appreciated a post like this.

1. Remember that networking is just getting to know people. When I was younger the word “networking” made my skin crawl. The idea of networking seemed so foreign to me—like perfecting the art of selling yourself. I’ve since come to learn that networking is just taking the time to get to know people and let them get to know you. It’s connecting with each other. I really enjoy connecting with others so this change in perspective was huge for me. Continue reading

Interview with Mary Galime, Artist Manager and Product Specialist for Denis Wick USA

Mary GalimeA trumpet performer for over 20 years, Mary Galime has enjoyed the last 10 years of her career back home in Chicago. In addition to her performance schedule in the Chicagoland area and Alliance Brass Quintet, Mary is part of the marketing department with  Dansr, Inc., the North American importer of Denis Wick and Vandoren products. As the Artist Manager and product specialist for Denis Wick USA, as well as a Denis Wick Artist herself, Mary works together with performing artists, teachers, students, schools, and businesses, striving to promote music performance and education in communities across the nation.

Interview

Brass Chicks: Tell us about what you do! How did you get involved with Dansr/ Denis Wick?

Mary Galime: I went to school determined to become an orchestral musician. I received both my bachelors and masters degrees in music performance. The year after I finished my graduate degree at DePaul University, I started freelancing, teaching, performing with a brass quintet, and playing with a competitive British style brass band, Chicago Brass Band. The brass band and brass quintet won my heart, and suddenly I realized that playing in an orchestra was not what I really wanted to be doing. Since a career in chamber music did not seem lucrative enough to cover the bills, I found a job running a local music store. One of our distributors was Dansr, Inc, North American distributor for Denis Wick Products and Vandoren. I had met one or two of their reps and at the time I decided I did not want to run a music store any longer, a sales position was opening at Dansr, Inc. Working with Denis Wick, and Dansr, gave me great people to work with, and really expanded my understanding of the music industry. And as the icing on the cake, gave me plenty of flexibility to continue a trumpet performance career on the side. Though I started in sales, I later became the Denis Wick Artist Relations manager, and Event Coordinator. A couple years ago I took over the marketing responsibilities/product specialist in addition to managing the Denis Wick Artist Group.  Continue reading

Five Movies about Women Who Kick Brass

By Rebecca Epstein-Boley

It may be different where you all are, but where I am right now in Michigan, the air is beginning to cool down and leaves are just beginning to fall from the trees. It is the midway point of my academic semester and I’m beginning to need a mental break from all my work. There is only one reasonable response to these circumstances: movie night!

For anyone else who will be having a night in, I share this list of five films featuring influential women who play brass:

1. Everything but Oom-Pa-Pa (Original German: Kein Zickenfox)

This film tells the story of the Frauenblasorchester Berlin, the largest women’s wind band in the world. Discussing the women in the band’s personal lives as well as the music they perform, this documentary is an inspiring celebration of the power of women who come together to make music.  Continue reading

Five Post-Grad Lessons from Playing Trombone in College Marching Band

This week’s Five Things Friday post was written by Kristen Frank, an alumna of Lousisiana State University’s “Golden Band from Tigerland” who played the trombone in high school and college. She holds bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology with a minor in linguistics and an MS in psychology and currently currently teaches psychology at Baton Rouge Community College.

See the end of this post for Ms. Frank’s more complete biography.


The wand chooses the wizard, and the trombone chose me. Here are five things I have learned from playing since I graduated!

Ten years ago, I was in the 10th grade, my instrument of choice the flute. I loved it: It was pretty, small and lightweight, and the same instrument my aunt had played in her high school band. She had gone on to play piccolo in her college days, and I thought I would do the same. Two years later, however, my flute was sharing the stage (literally: my last concert in high school saw me switch back and forth at least twice, not to mention the jazz band sections) with the trombone. The trombone was big and awkward, and, at first, I couldn’t buzz, much less play, to save my life. A year later, though, I had gotten into my college’s marching band on trombone. This was amazing, given that I had basically taught myself and only been playing a year. It was tough: the hours were much longer than in high school—band camp itself was a week from about 8 am to 8pm—and I was in a section full of guys, which I was not used to. I grew to love my section-mates, however, and the next three years flew by. Now that I’ve been out of college for a while, some important lessons from that band and from playing the trombone stay with me: Continue reading

Five Things to Teach your Female Students about Jazz

This week’s Five Things Friday post was written by Marie Millard, trombone, founder of Sonoma Jazz Girlz.

Marie Millard received her music degree from Cal State Hayward in 1996 and began teaching elementary band and private trombone a year later. In 2016 she discovered that the all state high school honor jazz band that only had three girls in it when she participated in 1991 had even fewer girls in recent years, and she started Sonoma Jazz Girlz, a jazz improv class for junior high and high school girls. She plays with Awesome Hotcakes (awesomehotcakes.com) and blogs at halfthatjazz.com.

See the end of this post for Marie’s full-length bio.


1. Chord Spelling and Improv

Before I started teaching my jazz class, I emailed the jazz director at nearby Sonoma State University and asked what he thought were the biggest deficits in his incoming students. He mentioned two. The first was chord spelling (what notes are in each chord), which had already been my priority concerning what to teach. How many of my private students came to me playing the blues scale over anything and everything? And it’s a HARD habit to break. I would rather a student come to me knowing nothing about improvising than come to me knowing the blues scale! Continue reading

Building it Better: An Interview with Carol Jantsch

We are thrilled to have had the chance to interview Carol Jantsch, tuba! Carol is an incredible musician and, as her interview responses make clear, she is also a thoughtful, engaging person (with an astonishing number of projects going on)! Thanks to Carol for making the time to respond to these questions.

Praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as having “a sound as clear and sure as it [is] luxurious,” Carol Jantsch has been principal tuba of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 2006. She won the position during her senior year at the University of Michigan, becoming the first female tuba player in a major symphony orchestra. In addition to her duties in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ms. Jantsch is a renowned tuba soloist. She also teaches masterclasses internationally and is on the faculty at the Yale University School of Music and Temple University’s Boyer College of Music. See the end of this post for her full-length bio.

Interview

Brass Chicks: From ultimate frisbee to tuba throwing, marathon running to yoga, you have tried a broad variety of forms of exercise over the course of your professional tuba career. How have different kinds of athletic activity influenced or related to the way you play?

Carol Jantsch: Listing them all like that makes me seem a bit like a crazy person, which may in fact be the case—although I go rock climbing more often than tuba throwing these days! Playing any instrument is a physical endeavor, so staying generally active and healthy helps with ease of playing and longevity. Yoga has probably been the most applicable to brass playing for me, in that it teaches a higher level of bodily awareness and more specific muscle control.  Continue reading

Five Tricks for Handling Multiple Projects at Once

This Friday, we at Brass Chicks are feeling a bit overwhelmed. There always seems to be so much to do – and so little time to do it! Nonetheless, we (like many in the music field) do the work we do because we love it. Although the topic of this post is not as explicitly musical a subject as what we usually discuss here, these skills can be invaluable for musicians in the era of the portfolio career. The advice below might seem basic, but these steps, combined with a little discipline, can turn too many things to do into a road map to your next set of accomplishments. If you, too, are feeling the strain of juggling more responsibilities than you feel you can manage, we hope the following five tricks for handling multiple (or many) projects at once can help:

1. Make a List

This may seem obvious: we are all familiar the ubiquitous to-do list, and we all know how to make one. You probably enough lists every day that it feels like there’s nothing special about the medium. Even this post is a list! Additionally, to-do lists frequently fail and can cause stress. Nobody wants tons of uncompleted tasks hanging over her head!  Continue reading

Five Ways to be a Better Colleague

Today’s post is written by our very own Kate Amrine. Check out her bio on her site here.  

A passionate and creative performer, Kate Amrine is a prominent trumpet player balancing a multifaceted career from developing new repertoire and curating concerts to freelancing with many different groups in the New York City area. Recent performances include an off Broadway workshop of Duncan Sheik’s new musical “Alice by Heart,” an orchestra tour to Japan to perform Torelli’s “Concerto in D,” and Rite of Spring for two trumpets. Upcoming performances include several dates with new ensembles eGALitarian and Wavefield and more!


1. Be prepared

It is very important to have a strong handle on your performance before addressing any other aspects of being a successful musician and a good colleague. Have you practiced all of the music, written in any needed cues, and listened to multiple recordings when possible before your rehearsal? Are you showing up with all of the relevant mutes, pencils, and hard parts already figured out ahead of time? It is normal to want to ask the conductor or section leader a question about phrasing or something unclear in the part but often times these questions are things that could be figured out before the rehearsal over email or in person beforehand.  Continue reading

Five Things to Help Work Through the Challenge of Braces

Alyssa Richards is a trumpet player hailing from Southern Pennsylvania. She was raised by two very musical parents, and her favorite childhood memory is watching her dad direct his high school marching band. Inspired by him, she decided to learn the trumpet in the fourth grade. Alyssa knew from a very young age she wanted to study music, but it wasn’t until high school she took it seriously.


Braces are any brass players worst nightmare. When I got braces as a junior in high school, I was terrified. I was angry that the one thing I loved more than anything in the world was momentarily taken away from me, and I thought that my life was basically over. I was in multiple groups as a lead player and determined not to make a fool of myself. I forced myself to get better, working until I physically could not play (which is one thing I would not recommend) just so I could regain my playing abilities again. Unlike the readers here, I had nobody who understood to help my adjustment and I had to sort through a lot of bad advice. Here are five things to help you work past the challenges braces can create.

1. Return to the basics

Anytime you go through a major transition it is important to return to those long tones and technique exercises we so often avoid. I personally practiced exercise number 47 in the Arban’s method book every single day because it helped me rebuild a foundation for my upper register. This may have worked for me,but may not work for you, so do not be afraid to experiment with different exercises until you find one that works for you.  Continue reading