Five Ways to Support Female Colleagues and Students in the Brass Section

As 2017 winds to a close, we’d like to use our final Five Things Friday of the year to make a difference in the community. We spend a lot of time here at Brass Chicks discussing the reality of how things are for us as women playing brass instruments, but sometimes fail to make the connection to what we can do to make things better. Hopefully, the five methods below can help us to help each other and make a change in 2018 and beyond!

1. Listen to women

Go to shows and concerts featuring female musicians, buy albums of work by women, and listen to and play music by female composers. Additionally, show your students that you are doing these things! Lend your students CDs where they can hear female players. Send them YouTube links to videos of your favorite female soloist. In addition to helping out the musicians whose work you share, this can help show the next generation of musicians that brass is not just a men’s game and women are setting a standard of excellence in this field.  Continue reading

Interview with Trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis


Combining cinema sweep, transportive emotion, and rich melodic grandeur, Australian-­born trumpeter/composer Nadje Noordhuis possesses one of the most unforgettably lyrical voices in modern music. Her deeply-­felt, clarion tone and evocative compositional gift meld classical rigor, jazz expression, and world music accents into a sound that is distinctively her own. Noordhuis was one of ten semi-­‐finalists in the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition and was selected as a Carnegie Hall Young Artist to undertake a weeklong residency with trumpet great Dave Douglas in 2010. Recent engagements include a yearly week-­long run at New York’s Village Vanguard with Rudy Royston’s 303, performances with the Grammy-­winning Maria Schneider Orchestra, performances at jazz festivals in Europe, Canada and Brazil with Grammy-­nominated Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, and regular appearances with her group at the historic 55 Bar in Greenwich Village.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I’m a trumpet player and composer, mainly in the jazz realm. Continue reading

Five British Composers Who Write Good Brass Music

This week we are very excited to present a Five Things Friday post by Jo Harris, member of the British trumpet quartet Bella Tromba. 

1. Cecilia McDowall (b.1951)
Cecilia wins hand down as the most prolific writer for brass soloists and chamber musicians. Expect lilting 6/8’s, flowing melodies and playable parts. Cecilia finds a personality in brass instruments that has all the joy of a dancing girl at a country fair.

Check out The Night Trumpeter for Trumpet and Piano for stunning storytelling and extended techniques.  Continue reading

Five Books to Revamp Your Mindset and Motivate You on the Path to Success

As a teacher and a performer, I love reading books about performance psychology and business. Anything that challenges me to reevaluate ways I’ve been thinking and design smarter habits is great for both me and my students. I’ve been thinking for a while about which books I would choose for this post and it was actually been pretty difficult since there are so many great options. I decided to limit my choices to books that are not specifically about music but are still extremely relevant to musicians. Continue reading

Five things I Learned from Desk Job to Freelance Life – Caitlin Featherstone

This week we are very excited to present Caitlin Featherstone for Five Things Friday. Enjoy!


Caitlin Featherstone is a Southern California Native currently residing in Brooklyn where she is working as a full time freelance musician and teacher. Since moving to New York City three years ago, Caitlin has been playing consistently with a number of orchestras, churches, theater companies and opera companies. She has also recently joined The Brooklyn Conservatory working as a music teacher in several of their Public School music outreach programs. In addition to freelancing, Caitlin is the fifth and newest member of the “Deliciously Creepy Cabaret Sensation”, Orphan Jane. A locally famous music ensemble. In 2016, Orphan Jane released their second album, “The Traveling Everything Show”, on which Caitlin is featured. When she isn’t playing trumpet, Caitlin is a professional Dog Sitter in the NYC area as well as an aspiring Sommelier. Caitlin is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory where she studied under Roy Poper and received her Bachelor’s in Trumpet Performance and a Minor in Ethnomusicology.

This past March, I decided to make a crazy and seemingly stupid life change. I decided to quit my cushy day job of two years and dedicate myself to my trumpet career full time. This meant losing the stability of a weekly paycheck and my own personal office where I called the shots, and buckling down to finally take action and move my career in the right direction. However, it also meant finally having the freedom to take chances, having the time to take care of my mental and physical wellbeing, and actually feel like I was being proactive about something that gave me a purpose for being in New York! Continue reading

Five Things to Keep in Mind When You are Stressed and Busy

Hi fellow brass chicks! We didn’t forget it is Friday and hope you didn’t either! It is such a busy time of year with the holidays, school, and gigs and we certainly know things can get a little crazy. Hopefully this post will help 🙂

1. Perspective. 

This one may seem obvious but it is always important to keep in mind that the stressful things that we are worrying about may be “first world problems” that not everyone has the pleasure of experiencing. For example, after a busy day of teaching and  playing, I walked into a cafe and ordered a small salad. The woman behind the counter yawned and apologized and I said, “Oh don’t worry, I am tired too.” But then she asked if I get to sit down at my job, because she was tired after standing all day – and as a musician, most of the time we are sitting so I definitely didn’t have anything to say back. Continue reading