Kate originally met Adrienne on a gig in the DC area and it was so great to hear from her in this interview. Adrienne has been doing great things in the DMV area and we are so excited to feature her here with the Brass Chicks community.
Adrienne Doctor is a trumpet player residing in the Washington DC area where she is a member of a premier military band. An active freelance musician and teacher, she has performed with Monarch Brass, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond IN Symphony Orchestra, the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, and the Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra. She has given masterclasses at Duquesne University, Columbus State University, the University of Maryland, and various high schools around the country. Doctor has performed as a soloist at the Music For All National Summer Symposium, with the Seven Hills Sinfonietta, and the Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra. She attended the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestra Musicians in 2010 and 2011 and the Bar Harbor Brass Institute in 2013. Her primary teachers include Philip Collins, Alan Siebert, and Roger Sherman. She resides in northern Virginia with her husband and two cats.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. What group are you in?
My name is Adrienne Doctor, and I am a trumpet player in a premier military band in the Washington DC area. I also have a private studio in Fairfax County, VA. I did my BM in music education and MM in trumpet performance at the University of Cincinnati where I studied with Phil Collins and Alan Siebert. My husband is a trumpet player in the US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.
2. What do you love about being a musician in the military? What about being a female brass player?
I feel a great deal of pride being a member of a military band. I feel that serving other people is my calling. Being a member of a military band has been the perfect fit for me, in that regard. On a daily basis, I get to serve others by providing musical support to citizens, service members, their families, and leaders of the US and other countries around the world. One of the most important parts of my job is honoring fallen service members in Arlington National Cemetery whether it is providing musical support in full honor and standard honor funerals or playing taps at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This aspect of my job is incredibly rewarding and humbling.
Being a female brass player certainly has its ups and downs. We are certainly a minority in military bands. I am only the fourth female trumpet player in my unit’s 95 year history. An important value in the military is selflessness, so I try not to think of myself as a female brass player, but, rather, a brass player who is there to do my job and serve my unit and the people. However, a significant part of our job as a musical organization is to reach all people. In that regard, it is really important to have a diverse band because it allows us to connect with and represent the entire population. Recently, my unit’s trumpet ensemble put on a recital in which I was the only female performing. After the concert, a few young girls immediately came up to me to talk and ask questions. It was certainly a moment of clarity. It reminded me of the importance of having female brass players in the band. Those girls saw someone up on stage who was like them which made them able to connect with the concert and music in a different way had it only been men. It is so important to empower the next generation and show them that women can do anything. Similarly, I enjoy playing taps at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and hearing young girls and boys whisper, “it’s a girl,” as I march by.
3. Having a stable and rewarding job playing for a living is something many of us strive for. Have your goals changed since you joined the group? Any future plans or projects you are a part of in addition to the group? Tell us about your work playing for veterans and on the organizing side of the Patriot Brass Ensemble.
My goals seem to be constantly changing. When I was an undergraduate, I had every intention of becoming a beginning band or junior high band director. When I was a masters student, my goal was to make a living as a performer. After that dream was realized and I joined the military, my goal has been to be the best soldier musician possible. I hope to contribute as much as possible to the important mission of the band. Currently, most of my personal goals are related to community outreach and service. I volunteer at a homeless shelter, for a hospice center, at various retirement homes, and for the Patriot Brass Ensemble, which is a non-profit organization geared toward providing live concerts to veterans in VA retirement facilities around the country. One of the best parts of being in a military band is having the flexibility and time to volunteer. I have been through many difficult times in my life and have had to rely on the generosity of others. However, even during the most difficult of days, it was always easy to remember how blessed I am and that no matter how bad it got, I knew that many others have it way worse. My personal challenges made me determined to make the lives of those who are struggling better. My mother spent the last few months of her life in a nursing facility where I lived with her as her caretaker. Any program or event that the facility put on would make her and my whole week. This coupled with my military service inspired me to get involved in the Patriot Brass Ensemble and become the vice president of the board of directors. There is not much better than bringing a smile to the face of a veteran in a nursing or retirement facility. I always have plans to perform recitals at retirement facilities in a solo or chamber setting. Also, I have dreams to start a music program for kids at the homeless shelter where I volunteer.
4. Is there anything you wished you had known as a student or young professional that you know now? Any advice that you’d like to share with younger female musicians?
My best advice to music students is to live your life fully outside the practice room. Our life experiences shape who we are as musicians and the kind of music that we make. Music has the ability to tell stories and make people feel many different emotions. You can tell these stories and convey these emotions best if you have experienced these emotions yourself. Also, college students who aspire to be performers or educators should focus on building professional and friendly relationships with their peers. Perfect grades are not all that important. Get out there and perform as much as possible with and for your peers and mentors. Focus on learning for yourself and not for your GPA. I also wish that I had started taking auditions sooner. I took my first audition as a masters student. Everything worked out and I won a job while finishing my masters degree. However, I felt that I learned more about myself as a musician after I took my first audition, and it helped me become competitive at future auditions.
My best advice to female brass players is to not be too focused on being a minority. You just have to focus on being the best you can be. Generally, women have to be that much more professional and that much better a musician to be taken seriously. Encourage each other and be proud of yourself and all you’ve accomplished. Also, do yourself a favor and go to the International Women’s Brass Conference in 2019. I went to the conference for the first time in 2017, and I have never felt so comfortable and supported in a musical environment. It was an inspiring week that I will never forget.