Five Things I’ve Learned from Going to Honor Bands

Phoebe Saboley is a 16 year old horn player from Columbus, Ohio who has been playing for five years. With three national ensemble performances under her belt and her performance at Carnegie Hall at age 15, she is preparing for a future career in horn performance. With multiple experiences in honor bands around the Midwest, she hopes to share how she has been influenced as a musician and person.


1) Conductors are an endless source of wisdom and inspiration.
I’ve participated in a lot of honor bands during my three years of high school so far, and as a freshman, I used to be intimidated by the conductors and scared to ask them questions. It wasn’t until OMEA All-State Band last year when I learned that by not talking to them during breaks when I had the chance, I was missing out. Our conductor that year was a retired high school band director, which was abnormal because they are normally college professors. However, he had countless inspirational stories about the struggles he dealt with in his life and how he always turned to his students and music to continue remaining optimistic. He spent his three days with us not just on notes and rhythms, but focusing on pulling emotion from us and urging us to play with feeling. Needless to say, my mindset and approach to how I interact with conductors has changed and I find myself seeking out every opportunity to introduce myself to these amazing individuals whenever I get the chance. I have learned so much about more than just music, but life in general.

 

2) Not every suggestion will work for you (take it with a grain of salt). These events typically include sectionals with professors from a nearby college of music. While it is incredible to meet these people and get a better idea for my future, it can also have a negative impact. They are all great teachers, but not every teacher is the right fit for every student. Frequently, I find myself overwhelmed and spending too much mental energy focusing on small aspects of my technique attempting to follow suggestions given to me. Input from different people can be very beneficial, you gain new ideas and perspectives from each fresh set of ears. While they’re goal is always to help you improve, when professors give conflicting advice it is challenging to figure out what works best for you, and inevitably harder to recenter your playing. Luckily, my horn teacher has always been there to help me come to the realization that it’s ok to take some advice and work really hard with it, but it’s also ok to brush some of it off and acknowledge that it’s not right for you.

 

3) It’s hard not to compare yourself to others. It used to go the same way every time, I’d walk in and hear everyone else warming up, and allow myself to feel intimidated and think that I did not belong there. When I finally realized that these were my nerves talking, it was very freeing and empowering. I remember the exact moment my attitude changed. I was in the group warm up room at a national honor band where everyone was warming up for seating auditions. I could see and hear all the horns (that already knew each other and were friends) showing off together. I was especially nervous because I did not know anyone there and was given an alternate spot and later accepted when a spot opened up, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there. However, I walked into the audition the calmest I’d ever felt for one and decided to just play my best, and ended up earning second chair. The moral of this story is not that the horns in the warm up room were bad, it’s that I underestimated my own ability due to their ability. I later learned that some of them were intimidated by me, and from then going forward, I carry myself at these events with confidence in knowing that I do deserve to be there.
4) The problems you think that only you struggle with, are likely the same problems a lot of other people struggle with as well. I spent a week this summer at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music young musicians camp. I decided to take the elective “Brass Techniques”, and could not be more thankful I made that choice. That class was not just limited to playing techniques, it became an open discussion about brass playing and performing in general between high schoolers, college counselors, and two professionals. We spent an entire two hour class period discussing performance anxiety and ways we all experienced it and coped with it. I benefited a lot from hearing about other people’s ways for handling it, but also from hearing that everyone else experienced stage fright too, even the pros! I am still nowhere close to fearless performance, but I feel much more confident when I perform now, knowing that every other musician listening wants me to do well and understands what I’m going through.

 

5) Musicians are the most amazing people! To conclude, the most important thing I’ve learned from attending these events, is that all musicians, regardless of where they’re from, are incredible people with so much in common. I’ve attended camps and honor bands in Michigan, Florida, and Indiana and travelled to visit colleges all over the place, and still felt right at home. Not only do I feel comfortable, but I walk in knowing no one, and leave three days later with friends that I’m still in touch with and hope to remain in touch with for years to come. There is something very special about the bond that musicians can create with each other even if they’re only together over the course of five rehearsals and a concert.

 

Phoebe’s bio continued

 

As a member of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra, Phoebe had the opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall in the summer of 2018 under the baton of Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson. She’s involved with several ensembles in the city, including the Columbus Youth Symphonic Band, Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra, New Albany Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Music Connection, as well playing multiple leadership roles within her high school band and choir programs. Outside of her involvement in her high school and extracurricular ensembles, she has been accepted into the OMEA All-State Band and the NAfME All-National Band every years she’s been eligible, aa well as the Music for All Honor Band of America in 2018. She has attended both the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and the Interlochen Fine Arts camp and looks forward to more musical adventures next summer before her senior year. Her musical interest began in fifth grade with the violin and piano. She dropped both of those in sixth grade and joined band on horn and switched to bass in orchestra. She enjoyed many years playing both before deciding to make the commitment to focus all of her energy on horn. She has been playing horn for five years now and has spent four of them with her private instructor, David Nesmith, who is not only an excellent horn teacher, but also a highly regarded Alexander Technique instructor. She now spends all of her free time playing horn and singing in choir and is looking forward to taking her next steps towards a future in horn performance.

 

Five Apps for the Busy Freelancer

by Marina Krickler

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.

See the end of this post for a longer bio.


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:  Continue reading

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