How My Ethnicity Has Shaped Me as a Musician

Chloe Louise Swindler is a Boston-based trumpet player. While growing up in Tucson, Arizona, she began her classical studies in trumpet at age 9. After joining the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra at age 13 and later competing in the ensemble’s concerto competition at age 16, Chloe was invited to perform the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with the orchestra. The next year, she performed the Arutunian Trumpet Concerto with the Arizona Symphonic Winds. After high school, she attended Boston University and studied under Terry Everson.

In addition to being classically trained in trumpet performance, Chloe began playing guitar in her freshman year of high school and has since composed more than fifteen songs for varying combinations of guitar, vocals, piano, trumpet, and ukulele. Here’s a link to her SoundCloud.  While attending Boston University, Chloe began to be more interested in jazz music. This led her to perform in various jazz combos as both a trumpeter and a vocalist. In the fall of 2015 during her study abroad in London, she was a part of both the Royal College of Music Big Band and Swing Band.

In January of 2017, the Boston University Dean of Students invited Chloe to perform an original song for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. A video of that performance can be found at

In this video, she references her thesis work on African-American female instrumentalists, more of which can be found here:  https://blackfemaleinstrumentalists.wordpress.com  and

After graduating from Boston University, Chloe began her studies at the Yale School of Music and is currently beginning her final year of the program. In her first year of the program, she joined the Yale Jazz Ensemble on trumpet and was a featured vocalist during the 2018 spring concert series. For the upcoming academic year, Chloe will be joining the roster for the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass as an Associate Artist. As part of the tour, she will be performing in New York, Philadelphia, Texas, Arizona, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Iowa.


How My Ethnicity Has Shaped Me As a Musician

One week ago, I took a lesson with a trumpet player in a major symphony and they asked me a question that I wasn’t expecting: are you prepared to compete in a man’s profession? At first, I was taken aback and it wasn’t until I began writing this did I realize that my answer is decidedly – yes. In this open post, I’m going to weave together my thoughts on three topics: a man’s world, my research on black female instrumentalists, and community outreach.

First on the list is my response to their question. Only after the lesson did I realize that there are three responses to that question. 1. Yes, I can adapt and accept that the large majority of my colleagues will be men. 2. Yes, I will thrive by creating my own environments with other female musicians. 3. No, I should seek a different profession. During the lesson, I stammered for a moment and began talking about how in reality I think more often about being one of the only black musicians in the orchestra. [For anyone wondering what my ethnicity is – I often joke that I’m “Half-rican American”, since my father is black and my mother is white.]

At the Yale School of Music, there were five black musicians this year in the program out of over 200 students in the school. There’s something to be said about the typicality of this at classical conservatories. Do Black families not support their children pursuing classical music as a viable career to the same degree as some White/East Asian families? Do Black performers value classical music education less than – say – jazz education? Is there a lack of fundamental resources – i.e. practice space, free time to practice, money for instruments, transportation to/from rehearsals – that disproportionately affect young Black musicians? These questions cross my mind frequently, but I don’t have the answers. I do however feel the effects of such a large racial disparity. You feel the absence of the Black presence in conservatories. When a Yale professor states that rap isn’t music (with rapper Kendrick Lamar winning the Pulitzer Prize the next week in…music) and suggests that you listen to the Beastie Boys for true rap, you feel it. When you have to explain to multiple White colleagues to not use the “N” word, you feel it. When there’s not a single woman or person of color composition performed all year, you feel it.

But there was a time when I didn’t feel it. When I first started playing trumpet up until my junior year of college, I would have responded to the man’s world question with the first response: yes, I can adapt and accept that the large majority of my colleagues will be men. Until junior year, I was nearly blissfully unaware of the disproportional representation of women and people of color in music. This is because I had always had strong female mentors. My first trumpet teacher and middle school band teacher was Cathy Cmiel, a woman who began inspiring me in my first year of playing with band seating challenges, scales, and a weekly practice log. My long term trumpet teacher from around 6th to 12th grade was Betsy Bright-Morgan, a trumpet player in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra who sets a great example by being both a strong trumpet player and a mother. My youth orchestra conductor was Dr. Suzette Battan, a woman who pushed me to perform solo with an orchestra and perform works by Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Gershwin, Respighi, John Williams, etc. When I got to college, I had Rebecca Oliverio in my year, who has since done two summers as a Tanglewood Fellow and a summer at Music Academy of the West. I had so many strong role models growing up that I was completely unaware of the bubble that was soon to be popped. And when it popped, it wasn’t pretty.

I will say there were signs before the burst. The summer before high school, my mother took me to the International Trumpet Guild conference in which I competed in the youth solo division. I remember both of us being amazed that there were hardly any women at the conference. My freshman year I competed in the National Trumpet Competition in both the solo and ensemble division. Again, the same story: very few women. But I didn’t feel the burst until junior year of college.

After returning from a semester abroad, I took a transformative class at B.U.: instrumental conducting with Dr. Kinh T. Vu. He brought in Ann Howard Jones, a prominent choral conductor who had just left the position of director of choral activities at B.U. after 24 years to talk about her experience as a female conductor. This class conversation, during which we sat in a circle and all talked about our various experiences in music, opened my eyes to reality. Women typically don’t conduct. Women typically don’t play trumpet or brass instruments, let alone Black women. Above all, I tried to think of a professional Black classical musician. I could only think of Wynton Marsalis. Black women? I couldn’t think of any. I began to wonder if there was a history to us or a collective narrative over time.

This enlightenment coincided with my other program at B.U. – the Kilachand Honors College. During your junior year, you prepare a thesis for KHC on any topic but you have to pick an advisor to guide you. After our class discussion with Ann Howard Jones, I decided on a topic: I wanted to learn the history of black female instrumentalists.

Picking my advisor was difficult. I knew I wanted a Black advisor. I didn’t want to explain “the Black experience” of my day to day life on top of doing this research project. I knew I would have to fill in the gaps of Black history that my high school education did not fill. I wanted a mentor and most of all, someone who knew more about being Black and Black studies than I did. I chose Dr. Gene Jarrett, who had served as Acting Director of African American studies, Chair of the Department of English, and Professor and Associate Dean of the Faculty (Humanities) while at B.U. (now Dean of NYU’s College of Arts and Science).

During our first meeting we had very little success coming up with names or books on the topic. We both sat down in his office and he said – okay, what Black female instrumentalists do you know of? I could name one at this point: Esperanza Spalding! After that…no one. So he had a brilliant idea: composers usually play instruments right? We found one book on Black female composers called From Spirituals to Symphonies by Helen Walker-Hill. This was my first introduction to composers/pianists Florence Price and Margaret Bonds. From there, Pandora’s box opened and the names and disconnected puzzle pieces began piecing together.

Around the same time, multiple mass public vigils were being held both on campus and across the United States for various Black victims of police brutality. I invited a colleague to one with me, to which they responded, “talking to you is my contribution to the Black community” and declined to come. This wasn’t the first time this had happened. At an Easter gig in an almost entirely white population of Massachusetts, an older white gentleman came up to me after my church gig and said, “we don’t get many of you out here”. Black? Woman musician? Who knows. A girl in high school had told me that I only got into Boston University because I was Black – despite being my high school valedictorian in a class of almost 400 students and playing first chair band in All-State all four years of high school. When people say these things, you have to shrug it off. But I will say, it affects your trumpet playing.

During the time that I was writing my thesis, I was consumed in anger. What was I playing on trumpet? Who knows. Was I practicing a lot/at all? I can’t remember. But I do remember the anger. Learning about the forgotten histories of Black musicians struck a chord with me. Why didn’t they teach about these people in our music history classes? Why is there a blatant erasure of non-white male narratives in all of our classical music history education? Why is that normal? This pushed my thesis writing even further. I began missing classes to read for my thesis, writing sections of my thesis like a mad woman for each of my meetings with Dr. Jarrett as check-ins, and writing songs about my reaction to their lives and work. Halfway through writing my thesis, the Boston University Dean of Students invited me to perform an original song for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. A video of that performance can be found at https://youtu.be/Y5_AKfdJTDQ at time mark 50:45. In this video, I referenced my thesis work on African-American female instrumentalists, the final oral presentation for which can be found at https://youtu.be/vXokxxiPyBw. For more information about my final written thesis and a basic outline of the history of Black Female instrumentalists, visit my blog at https://blackfemaleinstrumentalists.wordpress.com.

My thesis work edged me closer to the man’s world answer number two: yes, I will thrive by creating my own environment with other female musicians. While doing my thesis work I discovered so many (pardon my language) badass Black jazz and classical female instrumentalists. Valaida Snow, Vi Redd, Melba Liston, Clora Bryant, Nina Simone, and Mama Thornton to name a few. I saw a live performance of the ACS trio, an all Black Female jazz trio with Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, and Geri Allen that was such a powerful display of raw talent. I went to see Beyonce’s All Female Band perform their 10th anniversary show at Berklee – that brought me to tears. On top of that, I did a phone interview with tuba player Velvet Brown, who teaches at the Penn State School of Music and the Peabody Institute. She also helped start the International Women’s Brass Conference and the Stiletto Brass Quintet, an all women brass quintet. I want to share a great story from that interview that has helped me continue to keep my head up high:

“When I got my first teaching job, I know that there were some people who perhaps did not get the job. There was a Caucasian colleague of mine … and he said – “Velvet, you do know that a lot of people are thinking that you got this job because you’re black and because you’re a woman.” And I said – “Oh okay. Well…” Then I was asked to play at a conference and maybe that was a motive of – oh, we have to have diversity; let’s get this one person – she’ll fit all the bills. Was that the case? I don’t know. But when I played – my friend said: when the audience left, I think you set it straight that you got the job because you know how to play.”

At the end of the day, all that you can do is play. Talking to Velvet Brown helped ease that supreme anger that had consumed me and gave a very clear perspective. So I took her words and inspiration to heart. I applied to the Yale School of Music Master of Music trumpet program and I was accepted! Upon acceptance, I realized that there was another Black Female trumpet player in the program – Ashley Hale. We broke a great record by being the first two Black women to ever be in the Yale trumpet studio at the same time (a studio of six total trumpet players).

One of the greatest parts of Yale is the ability to interact with other schools outside of the School of Music. In my first year, I got a job as a research assistant for Professor Daphne Brooks, who tirelessly works as Professor of African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. Over the past year, she became a Black Studies mother to me. With Brian Kane from the Department of Music, Brooks and Kane began running a two year initiative in my first year called BSAW, the Black Sound and the Archive Working Group. Over the past year, they brought in a wide collective of cross disciplinary musicians and educators who approach researching and/or performing Black Studies in vastly different ways. This pushed me to revive my thesis work after having set it down to focus on my trumpet playing. Then it happened…I broke.

At a certain point, it becomes consuming. I began writing daily Facebook posts on each woman I found in my research and made it to about day seven before I had a breakdown. I felt so overwhelmed that I felt like I alone knew of the amazing histories and influences of all of these women and that it was my job to educate everyone I knew or even anyone with ears really who would listen for more than a minute. I burned out funnily enough. Which made me to focus all of my energy on what I came to Yale to do – trumpet! Remember that ol’ collection of metal tubing in the corner that I had been neglecting?

Which leads me to my last point on community outreach. Being in New Haven as a Yale community member is…interesting. From my perch in the Yale School of Music Band Room, I can look out onto the New Haven greens and see extreme poverty. People sleeping on the greens, asking for money, police dogs sniffing on public buses, you name it. The first few weeks of moving to New Haven I remember calling my mom crying because I didn’t know how to help all of the people who so desperately needed something. It wasn’t until I began teaching in Yale’s Music in Schools Initiative as a Teaching Artist that I really felt like a part of the New Haven community and felt like I was making a difference.

I began teaching at two schools – one where the majority of Yale professors’ kids attend and one where I have seen collectively less than ten White kids and an overwhelming majority of Black students (despite the demographic of kids in New Haven being ~40% Black). The first school has the best testing for reading, writing, and math in the district and the second school has the worst testing for these subjects. My experience teaching at these schools was starkly different. At the first school, I would teach a group of all boys (nearly all White) from 7:15am-8:15am. The first few weeks, they were very respectful but by the end of the semester they would proudly let me know they didn’t care, they didn’t practice, and some would leave to go to the bathroom and would not come back for the remainder of the lesson. They made it obvious that they didn’t care. I understood, they were kids and some kids need more patience and encouragement than others. But by the end of the semester, they showed no interest so I stopped teaching there and started teaching more at the second school.

At the second school, something magical happened. I had a real connection with the kids. They became my kids. All of them were Black and the majority of them were girls in grades five through eight. Most of them had home lives that were less than healthy based off of their descriptions and they confided in me because I was like a mix between a sister, a mother, and a teacher: a beautiful sweet spot. Unlike the kids at the first schools, most of their parents were trying to pull them from the music program because they were failing core classes but they were fighting to stay. When I got a call that two of their parents pulled them I out, you can bet that I bawled my eyes out. There was

so much more work to do with them – not necessarily in music but in life. Almost each of them cried in a lesson when I asked them two big questions: what they wanted out of life and how much they typically work for something in relation to seeing results. Most of them cried because they realized I actually cared about what their answer was or because I cared to ask them at all. Some of them cried because they have been able to “float by” in school because they don’t hit other kids or act out during class. Needless to say, the bar was set low. I was asking them to try. For some, this seemed like it was the first time someone asked them of that.

There were definitely low points of teaching at the school. One student was suspended after our first lesson, one student reportedly beats his mom at home so he doesn’t have to go to school (when he misses a lesson, it’s a big deal), and two had their parents pull them out. But there were beautiful high points that involved representation. During their winter concert that I sat in on, I came with my big curly hair and hoop earrings as usual and the girl I sat next too looked so excited as she pointed out that I had big hair and hoops just like her. Or when my little girl students would come in and we would look like twins with the same wild hair, they got excited. They don’t typically have that sort of representation. A Black female trombone player in the middle school asked me personally in a group demo what she can do to get better and my the band director highlighted to her, “See, Chloe is also a female brass player!” These kids have brought light to my life and I genuinely feel that the combination of being Black, being a woman, and playing an instrument have all shaped my relationship with them.

Okay, this reallllllly long winded post is all to highlight my experience. At first, my response to the man’s world question was – yes, without knowing the intricacies of the field. Then my answer was – no, for a while after being consumed by my research, anger over Black erasure in classical music, and lack of representation. Then I put my head on straight, took a deep breath, and recognized I have all of my life to write on these women from my research and uncover their lost or unknown histories. There will always be archives to dig through, research talks to go to, and pages to write down the experiences. But at the end of the day in my struggle to find what being Black and an artist meant to me, I forgot what got me there: trumpet. I want to be one of the women to write about, to lead as an example for my students and young female musicians, and most of all – a career in a man’s world.

Five Reasons to Pursue and Practice Experimental Techniques

This week’s Five Things Friday post was written by trumpet player and composer, Megan DeJarnett.

Megan DeJarnett HeadshotMegan DeJarnett is a Los Angeles-based composer-trumpeter who has spent her life in the thrall of a good story. Throughout her musical training, she has prioritized communication – the composer telling a story to the performer or audience through the score, the performer commenting on the music aurally or visually, and the audience’s response to a piece all figure prominently in her creative practice. Megan has dedicated herself to the creation and performance of new music, collaborating with composers around the world as a soloist and a co-founder of Phantom Collective, a student-run chamber brass ensemble at CalArts. She has premiered new works across the United States, including at the 2016 National Trumpet Competition, and has studied trumpet with Edward Carroll and Matt Barbier. Megan’s creative work focuses on bridging the gaps between composer, performer, and audience through physical, idiomatic, and textual means.

Megan holds a BM in Theory and Composition from Arizona State University and is currently in pursuit of her MFA in the Performer-Composer program at CalArts. She is constantly seeking out new collaborators; her work can be found at https://megandejarnett.com.


In my time as a composer and performer, I’ve met countless brass players who will gladly go up against Hindemith or Bruckner or Mahler and can multiple tongue until they’re dizzy, but who shy away from studying and improving their extended technique. And I can’t blame them! Extended and experimental techniques can be daunting to approach, especially when you’re not sure what you’ll get out of it in the long run. Below are five of my biggest reasons why extended technique is an invaluable addition to any brass performer’s practice:

1. Get to know your horn – and yourself – better. It can be easy to reduce your playing to where your notes center and how much ping is in your articulation and how you’re phrasing something, but do you know where on your horn it’s easiest to find a split tone? How comfortable are you playing with your valves unscrewed? What happens when you run out of air and you have to sustain the same note for twenty more seconds? Can you play a just intonation piece that relies heavily on seventh-partial tuning? Do you have a crappy mouthpiece around that can hold a bassoon reed? Diving into extended techniques requires you to know your horn’s tendencies and your own capabilities as a human body, which can have a fantastic ripple effect into your other styles of playing.

2. Reinforce your classical chops. Most extended technique can be worked on through slight modifications to your favorite Arban’s exercises. Use your lip bending to pursue split tones. Flutter-tongue your way through a Bordogni etude to work on your airflow and lung capacity. Play a tricky passage with your horn tuned down a septimal comma to get your ear used to a different tuning. If you’re constantly pushing yourself beyond what you need for your everyday playing, suddenly Jolivet doesn’t look so scary anymore.

3. Expand your repertoire. Whether you’re looking at a monster of a work like Michelle Lou’s Honeydripper or a subtly shifting microtonal piece like Catherine Lamb’s overlay/smear, pursuing extended techniques will open new doors and introduce you to music you’ve never considered before. And with more repertoire to work with, you can put on stylistically diverse recitals and stop hearing “it’s been played this way for three hundred years” when asking for feedback.

4. Open yourself up to collaboration. Because extended techniques can take a long time for a performer to fully realize (and because techniques and abilities vary from one instrumentalist to the next), experimental composers often will collaborate with their performers for extended periods of time. It’s a great opportunity to facilitate the creation of new music and form partnerships that can last decades. There are plenty of women composers in experimental music, so this is a great way to diversify your programming, too.

5. Develop a new aspect of your artistry. As performers and musicians, we’re at our best when we have more to learn and discover. Opening ourselves up to nontraditional styles and techniques allows us to grow into more nuanced, effective artists and reach new audiences. And when we’re having a good time, so are our listeners!

If you’re looking for jumping-off points to start your own extended technique journey, you can learn about split tones in this book by trombonist Matt Barbier (free to read and download!) and multiphonics in Jen Baker’s release, Hooked on Multiphonics. Best of luck!

Five Ways I got Ready for my International Solo Debut

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. Selected past performances include performing two solos with orchestra in Japan, an off Broadway workshop of Duncan Sheik’s new musical “Alice by Heart,” a solo recital in Mississippi at the Music by Women Festival, a featured recital at the International Women’s Brass Conference, and a recital at the Women’s Composers Festival of Hartford. Upcoming performances include Rite of Spring for two trumpets, a solo show of music inspired by politics, and a tour with Mariachi Flor de Toloache.

 

Kate is also extremely dedicated to commissioning and performing new music, premiering over 30 pieces both as a soloist and a chamber musician. Her debut album “As I Am” was released in November 2017, featuring new music by women composers. Kate is also an active freelancer in New York City, where she performs in many different ensembles – from musical theater and Broadway to standard orchestra gigs and more. Kate is also very passionate about increasing diversity and representation in the women’s brass community. She is the co leader of the Brass Chicks blog and co leader of eGalitarian – an ensemble of women brass players playing music by women composers. As an educator, Kate enjoys teaching private lessons in her own studio and as an Adjunct Instructor at New York University.


I was inspired to write today’s post from seeing the feedback on some of my recent instagram posts about my time performing and soloing with the orchestra in Japan the past two weeks.  I had a great time performing Torelli’s Concerto in D and Leroy Anderson’s A Trumpeter’s Lullaby. Out of our 4 concerts in Japan, I was performing one of these pieces (if not both), on 3 out of the 4 performances.  I wrote a little bit about my preparation and the process of putting it together and how I felt about the whole experience on instagram but I figured a longer and more detailed version of these posts may resonate with people so here’s how I got ready for my international solo debut!

  1. Practice like your life depends on it


I had to start with the most obvious one first. This isn’t anything you haven’t heard before, but I truly believe I went to some new levels in my preparation that I hadn’t done for any other gig previously. I played Persichetti’s “The Hollow Men” in June with an orchestra so I did all of these things for that solo as well. Leading up to the performances, I did everything I possibly could to overprepare. I listened to many recordings of each piece to figure out all of the musical decisions I wanted to make. Obviously, I practiced my own interpretation many many times and worked out all of the kinks in my own playing. I recorded myself. I played it for many friends, neighbors, and anyone else who would listen. I also set up a reading session with a string quartet to go thru both pieces. We “rehearsed it” and then did a mini performance in my apartment which I recorded to simulate nerves and so that I could practice along with the accompaniment in the future. I even played the Torelli for a teacher several months ago when I first confirmed the performance so that I could plan my preparation accordingly. Since I booked that lesson well in advance to both the June solo and the July Japan performance, I was able to ask some questions and learn more about being a soloist in ways that I never expected. Thanks Chris Coletti!

 

  1. Prepare for the worst (and the unknown)

In addition to my extensive musical preparation, I also did a lot of work physically and mentally leading up to the event that I believe truly helped make the experience even smoother. In the months leading up to the performances, I was juggling my own teaching schedule and regular NYC gig schedule so I didn’t always have a perfectly free day to spend all the time on the solos or even play them early in the day when I knew I wasn’t tired yet. Sometimes I would practice the solos at the end of a practice session or after a long day of teaching when I knew I felt and sounded terrible – because I had no way of knowing how my face would feel on the performance day.  It can be distracting and traumatizing to try and make music when everything physically feels terrible – so I tried to prepare myself for if that happened so that I would have the practice making quick changes and adjustments even if my face wasn’t cooperating.

For those times that my face feels tired and over worked – especially while playing – I felt so thankful to have lots of Robinson’s Remedy Lip Renew on hand. This stuff is seriously magic and made my lips feel instantly renewed and ready to go. Get some here and let me know if you want a sample!

As a pescatarian, I knew I wouldn’t have a hard time eating in Japan because of all of the amazing sushi – but often times we were given dinner in between the rehearsal and concert, and it wasn’t always possible to count on having a vegetarian option. Since I never knew if I would be able to grab dinner elsewhere, I brought lots of extra snacks with me that had lots of protein so I wouldn’t be hungry.

  1. Be diligent with your schedule and ready to make some sacrifices.

I honestly had such an amazing time performing these solos in Japan and couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Even looking back, there isn’t too much I would have done differently. One thing that’s important to mention is that I knew in my preparation I was ready to make some sacrifices. There were times in NYC that I chose to stay home and practice the solo instead of socializing, doing something fun for myself, or even relaxing. Even once we were in Japan, it was often a hard balance between wanting to explore the cities and hang out with the other musicians and doing what I needed to do on the trumpet to be ready for the concerts. I feel very confident in how I balanced everything – but it’s important to mention that I definitely had to make some tough decisions.

Since I rarely take days off the horn unless I’m feeling hurt, I knew that on our travel days I would have to get up earlier in order to get some playing time in. I also brought the Eazy Bucket Silencer practice mute with me which is an amazing silent mute with minimal back pressure. I had quite a few airport warmup and technique practice sessions 🙂

 

  1. Visualization

I’m a big fan of imagining how things will be before they happen and there’s nothing better to imagine than the walk on stage before a concerto. When I was practicing the pieces, I would think about the walk on stage, the look at the conductor, and all of that fun stuff before I started the piece. Even in the dress rehearsal, I tried to imagine that it was the performance and that there was an audience there. In my practicing, I knew what I was going to be wearing – I tried on the shoes – this is a big one! – and I felt physically comfortable. One thing I honestly didn’t think about ahead of time was hearing the applause and being done with the performance. I think when it happened I was honestly so surprised and appreciative. It was such a great moment.

 

  1. Act as If

For me the idea of being an “international soloist” had this unbelievable amount of pressure to it. It seemed like that was for those other people and not something that I was doing or could do or would ever do. I’ve written a lot about soloing as I’ve come to do it more and honestly 2 years ago this wasn’t something I would have ever thought I would be doing. I remember talking to my teacher at Peabody – Joe Burgstaller – before an upcoming audition a few years ago about how I couldn’t believe that I was asked to audition and that I didn’t believe that I was that kind of player  – that I was younger, less experienced etc than the people in the ensemble. He gave me this great advice to act like I already had the job, that I was already their colleague, and that I was already on the same level as them – and I truly felt so relaxed in the audition room. So for me now being an international soloist, the label and this new position that I would be taking on was very intimidating but the only way to move past it was just to accept it and truly become that person that did that thing. There was no other option other than to act as if I had already done it and that I was a person that did those things. For me it was kind of like the “fake it til you make it” thing but I was also believing that I was that kind of musician and by believing it and all of the work that I put into it – I truly became that kind of musician and made my international solo debut.

 

Five Steps to an Audition

Madison Lusby is a Junior at The Juilliard School School. She is the recipient of the Harry Aronson Scholarship and is a student of Raymond Mase. She attended Interlochen Arts Academy for her junior and senior year of high school studying with Ken Larson. Maddi has been invited to compete in the National Trumpet Competition multiple times. In 2014, Maddi traveled to Beijing and Shanghai with her Interlochen Arts Academy Brass Quintet to perform at the Shanghai Conservatory. The quintet also completed in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. Maddi was selected for participation in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. Following a residency at SUNY, NYO-USA toured the United States performing in world class venues including Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall, and Ozawa Hall.

As a student at Juilliard, Maddi had the privilege of attending/playing in masterclasses with David Krauss, Ethan Bensdorf, Louis Hanzlick, Kevin Cobb, Phil Smith, and Chris Martin. She has performed under the baton of Fabio Luisi , Alan Gilbert, Jeffery Milarsky, ​Pablo Heras-Casado, ​Robert Moody, Josep Caballé-Domenech, Yaniv Dinur, and Allen Tinkham.

Maddi also performed with the New York Youth Symphony as principal trumpet on Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. Maddi attended Sewannee Summer Music Festival and studied with Pete Bond of the MET Orchestra. She also attended The Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar, working with Sam Pilafian, Tom Bergeron, and Andrew Sord. Last summer she attended the Eastern Music Festival and studied with Jeff Kaye. Maddi is from Grapevine, Texas. She and her twin sister Sydney live in NYC during the school year.


1. Body:

Practicing healthy habits and keeping your body in shape can make a world of difference for your next audition. Eating a healthy balanced diet a few weeks or months leading up to an audition can help in many ways. When you feel and look confident it will show through your playing. Eating processed foods, drinking alcohol, and eating excessive sugar are sure to make you feel jittery and tired. In your audition you want to feel poised and confident. Another thing that will help you get your body ready for an audition is working out. I practice Bikram Yoga which is a yoga series practiced in the heat and provides a great rigorous workout while also working on my mind space. There are so many workouts and they are guaranteed to make you feel great and ready for your audition.

2. Mind:

One of the most important parts of preparing for an audition is mental preparation! There are many ways to help get your mind in the right place for an audition. I do many mind preparation exercises. Take naps after you practice. I know it probably sounds crazy but yes naps help your brain consolidate information. After a practice session take a 20-30 min nap and when you have your next practice session your brain will remember things better. Speaking of sleeping, make sure you get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep. Sleep will keep your stress levels down and nobody does productive practice when they are tired anyway. Make sure you are building yourself up because when you are self-deprecating you might actually start believing yourself. Instead give yourself compliments and tell your mind you have it in you to succeed. Meditation and Yoga can also help you prepare for an audition. Getting your mind in a relaxed and meditated state can help you play like you practiced and improve concentration. Also, check out the program called, “The Bulletproof Musician” by Dr. Noa Kageyama it is guaranteed to help you!!

3. Listen:

Listen to the music you have to play in the audition. Listen to it so much you think you are going crazy. Listen to the whole piece not just the excerpt or part you are having trouble with. If you listen to other works by the composer or similar works composed in the time period you might get a better idea of the kind of style or personality the piece is supposed to have.

4. Productive Practice:

Make sure your practice sessions are totally focused and productive. It’s easy to let your mind wander and get off topic but you can’t let that happen it is a waste of time. It is better to practice for two hours completely focused than practice five hours of mindless practice. I think one way to insure you do practice productively is set goals for yourself and create a practice schedule. Keeping a detailed journal of your practice sessions is also so important. If you write down what you are struggling with in a journal you can easily go back to that exact spot in a different practice session instead of wasting time practicing what you are good at.

5. Mock Auditions:

Mock auditions can help you play your best when it comes down to the real audition. In order to do a successful mock audition you have to simulate the actual audition as close as possible. Make yourself nervous, there are a few ways you can do this. Hold a plank for 30 seconds, run up a flight of stairs, jumping jacks, just make sure to get your heart rate up and breath unstable. Put up a curtain and pretend there are judges behind it, or even better get your friends to sit behind it and write down comments for you. Set up a recording device, for some reason when we press the record button and see that red light come on we tend to tense up. Lastly, play through things “perfectly” without stopping. You can’t redo a real audition so don’t redo your mock audition!
I hope these tips help in preparation for your next audition!

Five Tips On Preparing For Your Final Undergraduate Recital

This week’s Five Things Friday post was written by trumpet player Karlynn Charette! As the new school year approaches, we think these are great tips for undergrad students to keep in mind.

Karlynn Charette is a Canadian trumpet player who has been playing since the age of 12. She spent pretty well all of her time during her high school years in the band room and was inspired by her high school music teacher, Murray McNeely, to follow in his footsteps. Now 25 years old, she has been studying music at post secondary institutions in Kingston, Ontario, Canada at St Lawrence College from 2011-2013 in the music and digital media program. She graduated with an Ontario College Diploma. Currently she is finishing up her Bachelor of Music degree at Queen’s University majoring on Trumpet and will be graduating this spring 2019. Karlynn is planning on applying to teachers college and working towards becoming a high school music teacher. She currently works two part time jobs at a Canadian Charity called Joe’s Musical Instrument Lending Library and a retail store called Canadian Tire. She is involved in her University Wind Ensemble, the Queen’s University Chamber Orchestra and recently joined the Lasalle Adult Summer band. Karlynn recently completed her final year of trumpet lessons at the University with professor Dan Tremblay and she has written about her experience with tips and tricks on how to prepare for the recital day.

1. At least eight months in advance: Pick out your repertoire
You want to be as prepared as possible and feel comfortable with your repertoire. Continue reading

Five Things I’ve Come To Terms With While Pursuing a Freelance Tuba Career

Allison Lazur has explored various aspects of the arts, including work in the art of baking as well as life on stage as a performer. After obtaining a degree in the pastry arts from The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, Allison baked for five years at various outlets throughout the tri-state area. She returned to school in 2011 to pursue life as a tubist, graduating with a degree in Tuba Performance from the Hartt School in West Hartford, CT.

Allison enjoys an active freelance career by performing with several groups including The New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble, Smiling Rhino Theatre and Chatham, New Jersey’s Community Players. In March 2015, she premiered a tuba concerto with the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra written by Charles Menoche at Central Connecticut State University. 

She is currently the instructor of tuba at Wesleyan University, while also keeping a small studio of private students. Her most recent endeavors include a 1920s Dixieland Jazz group, French 75, as well as currently being a member of the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra (HICO), which performs new music throughout the state of Connecticut.

1. Financially Filling in the Gaps
As a former pastry chef, promotional girl, retail worker, insurance biller and current journalist, I’ll admit I’ve worked several jobs unrelated to tuba to fill in the financial gaps. I’ve always struggled with the idea of dedicating focused time and energy to jobs unrelated to playing my horn. I have felt as though I was cheating on music by flirting with jobs that weren’t nearly as fulfilling as playing tuba, but paid the bills. I would dabble in one field, then switch to another and then another until landing in a profession I could tolerate or maybe even enjoy while also pursuing music. And I’ve decided this is okay! I have finally found a balance between having a steady, weekly paycheck and wholeheartedly continuing to pursue my tuba career. I’ve learned to accept that at the end of the day, as long as you’re pursuing your purpose, everything works out.  Continue reading

Interview with Sara McDonald

Sara McDonald is a vocalist/composer living in Brooklyn New York. She recently graduated from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music with a degree in vocal jazz. Soon after graduation she went on to perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and then headed to Germany to record this big band record. In February she was named the winner of the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award.


1. Tell us about your band the NYChillharmonic and what you have coming up!

The NYChillharmonic is a 22 piece progressive-indie-jazz ensemble that I write, arrange/sing for and lead. Continue reading

Five Things I Need When I’m Headed out The Door

JoAnn Lamolino is the Associate Principal Trumpet of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra following a successful national audition in February of 2018. She has performed with the Hawaii Symphony and the Honolulu Brass Quintet since the 2015-16 season. JoAnn is also a member of the Reading Symphony Orchestra in Reading, PA. For two seasons, she was a member of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in SC. Additional performance highlights include the Baltimore Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, American Ballet Theatre, State of Mexico Symphony in Toluca, MX, Czech Radio Symphony, Adele, Josh Groban, Taoramina Arte in Taoramina, Sicily, Spoleto USA,  and on Broadway shows. As a soloist, JoAnn has performed at the Trinity Concerts at One Series in Lower Manhattan, Bahamas Music Conservatory, RAI National Television of Italy, Charleston Symphony, throughout Europe with American Music Abroad and was a First Prize winner at the International Women’s Brass Conference.

JoAnn received a Bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a Master’s degree in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Principal teachers include members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


Since I started playing with the Hawaii Symphony three seasons ago, I’ve learned a lot about performing well while my body clock is displaced by 5 or 6 hours. I primarily live on the east coast and make an average of 7-8 round-trips from New York to Honolulu per season. It can take anywhere from 9-11 hours of non-stop flight time or 10-13 hours with a stop. I’ve always enjoyed traveling a lot and dealing with all of the particulars that go along with it. When the opportunity arose for me to play in Hawaii, I was very excited for a lot of reasons. I’ve compiled a list of my 5 Things I need when I’m headed out the door.  Continue reading

Five Things I Learned About Myself while Sitting in the Pit

Kaitlyn Resler, 22, born in Orlando, Florida, is a master’s degree student at The Juilliard School and a recipient of a Kovner fellowship. Ms. Resler also received her bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Julie Landsman. Ms. Resler is currently an active player with Wicked on Broadway, The Colorado Symphony, the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra and the Florida Orchestra. Kaitlyn is Co – Leader of eGALitarian – a brass ensemble of women musicians in NYC dedicated to improving and inspiring the lives of women in the community. 


Pit life is one of the most fun playing experiences I’ve ever had. But as we all know… it does often require a significant amount of downtime, often with nothing to do but dwell inside our crazy, beautiful minds! These are five things I realized about myself in the past few months while I had those endless hours of pit contemplation.

1. You can’t win at music. Sure there are competitions, job auditions etc… but ultimately isn’t music all about sharing a story with the audience and impacting lives? When I put it into this perspective the concept of “winning” music seems a little silly.  Continue reading

Five Tips for Surviving during Your First Year Out of School

Émilie Fortin is a Montreal-based adventurous musician and teacher who explores every possible facet of the trumpet. A versatile performer, she is a freelancer for several ensembles and orchestras. She has contributed to the creation of more than a dozen works with various emerging composers in an effort to enrich the repertoire of her instrument. She currently plays with the Griffon Brass Band. Originally from Abitibi-Témiscamingue, she received a bachelor’s degree in classical performance with Lise Bouchard at the Université de Montréal. In the spring of 2017, she completed her Master’s degree at McGill University under the direction of Russell DeVuyst. Perfecting her craft with great masters, Émilie always seeks to excel in her personal practice. It is with this in mind that she has participated in brass workshops at Domaine Forget and Chosen Vale (Vermont). She was selected to be a member of the Montréal Contemporary Music Lab in the summer of 2016, as well as a participant for Soundscape Festival (Italy) in 2017 and for Banff’s Evolution Ensemble program for this summer. Firmly believing that pedagogy is an integral part of performance, Émilie is a teacher in various secondary schools in the region. She has also had the opportunity to teach the trombone, trumpet and music theory at an orphanage in Croix-des-Bouquets (Haïti). During the 2017-2018 season, she developed her focus on community engagement and teaching with The Global Leaders program, where she was one of 35 people selected for an international cohort of enterprising young musicians.


1. Play music that you like
You don’t have a jury to please anymore, or a specific format to fill (unless you’re participating in a competition). Play that sonata you always wanted to do but was too chop-tiring for a 60-minute recital, try that cool chamber music piece with your friends, or arrange some pre-existing works! It’s so easy to feel that playing music is a chore after being at music school that it’s essential to be back in touch with the pleasure of creating art. In my case, I made a list of people I would like to play with, teachers I would like to take lessons with, and music I would like to perform. After finishing school, I found this was a great way to help me keep me motivated and keep track of my goals. Rather than just playing gigs, I’m organizing my own concerts with the repertoire I want to play. I’m surrounded by musicians and friends who are willing to embark with me on crazy projects, so I’m always inspired. Don’t wait for opportunities; create them! Continue reading