A 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.
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.
BC: With all of your responsibilities at Denis Wick, as a professional musician, and as a person, how do you balance your schedule and manage your time?
MG: That is an interesting question, especially since I just had a son who has totally reorganized (or brought anarchy to…?) any idea of schedule that I had in the past. Also, as my responsibilities have changed over the years at Dansr, how I am able to fit everything in has changed as well. Since I work with and for musicians at Dansr, when I approached them with the opportunity I had to start touring with Alliance Brass, they were very willing to work with me on a way to be able to do that. At that time I was handling Artists and Events so it was manageable to do that while on the road. In my current responsibilities handling the marketing and artist group for Denis Wick, I am basically self managed. Any projects I work on, and partnerships started, any events planned all happen through me. I can easily sit down at my desk at 8am and not get up again (except for coffee of course) until 3 or 4pm without break, working on social media content and ads, video editing, and most recently developing an app. Practicing has to happen before work or during my lunch break. A few days in a row of this and I feel like my life starts to fall apart, so I have learned over the past month or two, that I need to take little mental breaks, and there is a limit to what I can accomplish. And then I accept a new gig, meet a new person who I can collaborate with for a new project, and the vicious circle begins again. That said, I am going to turn 39 this year. I would by far prefer to be realizing what my limits are, than bored out of my mind doing the same task with too much time on my hands at age 39.
BC: Do you think we have a specific role or responsibility as female brass players? How do you incorporate that (or not) into your own life as a musician?
MG: I feel like I learned a lot of lessons about this throughout the years. I went to Interlochen Arts Academy for high school and got my first taste of sexism and who I was and wasn’t going to be in a male dominated section, and teachers who cared little to do anything about it. Some of the more negative experiences there caused me to try on a variety of versions of who I was going to be as a female brass player, in order to be accepted as just a brass player. Was I going to be flirty and fearless? Was I going to just be one of the guys? Was I going to step back and try to blend in to the wall completely ambivalent to what was happening around me? None of these worked out, and I think what I need to bring, and what females need to bring in general, is a genuine passion for performance. If you are not genuinely passionate about playing t, then your instrument, you should not be pursuing it whether you are male or female. However, once you define what part of performance you are most passionate about, you can’t do that and be anything other than your own wonderful self. Also, I think when you’re focusing on where your passion lies, you are never depending on people to act as they should, and as a result, less disappointed or affected when people let you down. You move on and find people you want to work with much faster.
I would say I did not really start seeing success or start working with the people who would build and challenge my musical character, performance, and grow my career until I realized I was genuinely passionate about brass chamber music. At that point it did not matter as much who I was but what I wanted to do next. It just started to happen organically.
BC: Do you see any specific challenges for musicians in today’s climate? In your own work with Denis Wick, how do you determine and evaluate what sets successful artists apart from others?
MG: Technology changed our world so rapidly over the past 20 years, and as a result changed how we do just about everything in our day. Technology has changed how people listen to music, who they are influenced by when looking for product, and how artists promote themselves, to name a few examples. While I’m no expert on the subject, the band and orchestra side of the music industry is caught in the same whiplash most parents are experiencing in trying to catch up and understand what their kids are getting themselves into and how to harness that. This translates to a lot of doom and gloom about the state of music performance and appreciation in the United States.
To me, I see little doom or gloom in what is happening if you are willing to look ahead. The traditional routes of getting employed as a musician are becoming antiquated. It has become much more difficult to win an orchestra job, or maintain a traditional music education career. I think we are in the age of the music entrepreneur. My most successful artists, though they are still taking the auditions, have carved out their own paths. One of my artists, Aaron Janik, is a commercial musician who is living the dream playing with his favorite rock and R&B artists. He got to this point because he was genuinely passionate about it and learned everything from playing his instrument, to all the electronic pedals and accessories he could add to offer more to the music he loves (check out his page www.horn-fx.com). One of my artist groups, Maniacal 4, consists of a group really good trombone players who created an album of classic rock tunes that made them internationally known. Since that album they have performed every style of music all around the world. They got to this point because, not only did they love playing jazz or classical trombone, but they honed their skills in recording, arranging, composing, and harnessed the power of social media. Another of my artists, Buddy Deshler, started his own brass camp, Frederickburg Brass Institute (www.fredbrass.com) which has became so successful he was able to start an additional one this past summer (https://www.tidewaterbrass.com/artists) . In addition to that, Buddy has carved a path for himself as a clinician, bringing his clinic “The Entrepreneurial Student” to schools across the states. Similarly, Chris O’Hara, another very successful Denis Wick artist, carved out a career as a clinician, recording artist, and is the founding member of 2 different touring brass quintets, Synergy Brass, and Alliance Brass.
Not to mention our artists that handle the bulk of their performance on social media, like Paul the Trombonist. YouTube and Facebook have given an international stage to every musician who will take the time to learn a little about acoustics, recording, and blogging. The very thing that is killing a lot of the traditional music careers, is also providing us a flood of options to perform, be heard, and start a career in music that can lead to some very exciting and unexpected opportunities for the performer.
BC: 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?
MG: I always loved and will always love playing the trumpet. I wish more than anything I had defined exactly what it was I loved about playing the trumpet earlier. I think I depended a little too much on the conservatory method of music performance. You study either classical or jazz (if you are crazy you might do both). The end goal is to play in an orchestra, a band, or you freelance and teach. I wish I had defined early on that I loved soloing and chamber music best so I could have spent my time in school focusing my efforts on a solo/chamber music career.
I would advise any young musicians out there that there is a lot to do. Industry is a much bigger word than we allow credit for while we are in school. If you love playing your instrument and want pursue it, define what it is you love the most about it and focus on that early on. Industry means, you can be a trumpet player who builds microphones, is a recording engineer, brass quintet musician, music therapist, sales/marketing manager, lawyer, accountant, CNC Machine engineer, metal shop worker, teacher, physical therapist….etc. Pursue music and it is ok to combine it in a unique and new way. If it is what you love, doing this will only make you more marketable as a musician.
I was reading an interesting article about the difference between American and French offices, and one of the things that really really resonated with me is that Americans define themselves by their work. The French define themselves by what they do out of work. A job is a reality that most of us need to realize, but no matter what job you work, while you still pursue your music you ARE a musician. If you are savvy, we live in an age where you can combine your musical pursuit and job in a million different ways. 50 years ago the options were much less. You were a musician and you played in an orchestra, commercially, or a band. Why lament over those days that were “so much easier with so many more jobs”? There is plenty more to do now if you are able to tune into what you really love to do, and use the time you have in school to develop all the skill you need to bring to the industry.
BC: Any resources you recommend? Books, podcasts, recordings that changed your life etc.
Not intending to self promote… however, I have been spending the last several months developing a large variety of articles by myself and Denis Wick artists dealing with performance related issue we can think of. You can subscribe to The Buzz to get a new article each week (http://www.dansr.com/resources/signup-for-the-buzz-blog). I also have been in the process of creating a Denis Wick app that will house our library of Performance Advice, as well as video clinics, artist recording, in addition to many other resources created to support brass musicians around the world. You should be able to download this by January 2019.
Right now as a musician, the most inspiring thing I have been listening to is new music suggested to me from my artists. A lot of them perform in music worlds that I have never experienced, so I have been able to get a guided tour of R&B artists, free jazz, and a lot of other genres that I never spent much time with. I went to see one of my artists, Scott Robinson, when he was in town over the summer, and he was playing with a group that I otherwise would have never heard about. The music was totally new to me, but it was one of the most inspiring and exciting shows I’ve been to in a while, seeing the musicians playing new music and performing it in ways that were so new to me!