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

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 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

Five Things to Help Work Through the Challenge of Braces

Alyssa Richards is a trumpet player hailing from Southern Pennsylvania. She was raised by two very musical parents, and her favorite childhood memory is watching her dad direct his high school marching band. Inspired by him, she decided to learn the trumpet in the fourth grade. Alyssa knew from a very young age she wanted to study music, but it wasn’t until high school she took it seriously.


Braces are any brass players worst nightmare. When I got braces as a junior in high school, I was terrified. I was angry that the one thing I loved more than anything in the world was momentarily taken away from me, and I thought that my life was basically over. I was in multiple groups as a lead player and determined not to make a fool of myself. I forced myself to get better, working until I physically could not play (which is one thing I would not recommend) just so I could regain my playing abilities again. Unlike the readers here, I had nobody who understood to help my adjustment and I had to sort through a lot of bad advice. Here are five things to help you work past the challenges braces can create.

1. Return to the basics

Anytime you go through a major transition it is important to return to those long tones and technique exercises we so often avoid. I personally practiced exercise number 47 in the Arban’s method book every single day because it helped me rebuild a foundation for my upper register. This may have worked for me,but may not work for you, so do not be afraid to experiment with different exercises until you find one that works for you.  Continue reading

Five Things to Stop Stressing About and Start Appreciating as a Human and a Female Musician

Julie Passaro Krygsman is a musician and aerialist based out of the northern NJ/ NYC area. Julie has been playing trombone for over twenty years performing in various entertainment companies, orchestras, brass bands, quintets and concert bands including Imperial Brass, Music in the Air and the NJ Sackbut Ensemble.  

See the end of this post to read Julie’s full-length bio.

 


1. The substance of art

If you’ve ever suffered from imposter syndrome you’ve asked yourself “Why am I doing this in front of people. Am I a hack?” The origin of those questions is rooted in your passion. You care so deeply that you don’t want to do poorly at your craft. Take a moment and embrace that.  Continue reading

Five Popular Songs with Women Playing Brass

This week, we’re sharing a Five Things Friday post on the lighter side. How many of these songs have you heard before?

1. Beyoncé — Blow

Known for touring with an all-female band (Suga Mama), Beyoncé stayed true to form and recorded “Blow” with an all-female horn section: Katty Rodriquez, Adison Evans, and Crystal Torres.

2. Talking Heads — Blind

This 1987 single, written by David Byrne, is a “parody of partisan politics.” If you listen to the track closely, you can hear the work of Laurie Frink, trumpet!

3. Kool & The Gang — Good Times

This track from Kool & The Gang’s 1972 album by the same name includes the work of Sharon Moe, horn.

4. Radiohead — Codex

This 2008 track from Radiohead’s eighth album, The King of Limbs, includes the flugelhorn playing of Yazz Ahmed. (If you watch Westworld, you may recognize this song from the season 2 finale!)

 

5. Lorde — Sober (Vevo Series)

On the re-orchestrated, acoustic version of “Sober” Lorde recorded for Vevo at Electric Lady Sound Studios in New York, she featured three horn players: Rachel Drehmann, Jenny Ney, and Kaitlyn Resler!

Five Reasons Why Having a Baby Has Made Me a Better Musician

Kristina Mulholland is an active freelance French horn player and educator in the greater Philadelphia area.  Some of her recent performances have included Symphony in C, Riverside Sinfonia, Patriot Brass, and Opera Delaware.  In 2018, Kristina gave the Philadelphia premiere of Karl Stockhausen’s Nebadon.  Her teaching engagements have spanned from private instruction to large ensemble rehearsal, from summer camp to general music, and from preschool through college-aged students.  Ms. Mulholland received her Bachelors in Music Education from The College of New Jersey and her Masters and Artist Diploma in French Horn Performance from Temple University. Find out more about Kristina online at www.kristinamulholland.com.

Photo credit Ben Tran Photography


It all started when…

August 17th, 2017.  11:45am. After the initial intake process, including over an hour of trying to find a vein for an IV (one of the attempts literally bent the needle), it was time for the C-section of my breech baby.  

Doctor jokes to keep the mood light:

“So if your child marries and his wife has a breech baby it will be a son of a breech.”

“We don’t do the Cleopatra treatment to the operating room.”

“This will be the happiest day of your life.”  

And just like that, at 12:10pm, 9 pounds and 7 ounces changed my life forever.  It was the most terrifying, painful and longest day of my life. But it turned out the doctor was right, it was also my happiest.  

Then comes everyday real life…

New parents from all different career backgrounds know this feeling.  A major shift in identity happens when you suddenly have a new, vulnerable, beautiful being to care for.  A balance, compromise, redefinition of how things in life work happens in such a unique way for each person.  Its virtually indescribable.

I found this balance to be especially difficult to navigate as a musician, educator, and wife of a musician/educator.  Some of my personal internal struggles–How do I prioritize my family over teaching hundreds of other people’s children?  How do I balance practicing and caring for my child? How do I deal with the guilt and anxiety of leaving my child with a babysitter?  How do I balance income opportunities with childcare costs? How can I be the best version of myself for my family and my career? What matters most?

Just promise me you’ll keep playing…

This past year has not been easy but it has been worth it.  I often find myself reflecting on a moment that happened playing a gig a few months before having my baby.  An older gentleman came up to me after he found out I was pregnant and said, “just promise me you’ll keep playing.”  At first I was offended. Playing horn is such a large part of my identity. Who is this person to assume that I have chosen to completely abandon my career once the baby arrives?  Then I reminded myself that I am so incredibly fortunate to live during a time when, as a female, balancing a performance career and a family is even an option.

Five reasons why having a baby has made me a better musician…  Continue reading

Five Ways to Take Care of Yourself Before the Fall Semester Starts

Today’s post is written by our very own Kate Amrine who is gearing up for a busy fall semester of teaching and performing. We believe today’s post will appeal to all fellow Brass Chicks, regardless of  career status and direction. Enjoy!


Since the fall semester is around the corner, I thought this would be a great post to get everyone thinking about their preparation for the busier times of year. We all have our own idea of what taking care of ourselves means but hopefully this will broaden your perspective and help you reconsider what is best for your own preparation for the fall semester

1. Self Care

This is the one you probably most expected right? So self care isn’t just face masks and bath bombs… self care means taking action to improve one’s health. This could mean taking a vacation, journaling, developing a healthy morning routine, exercising, and so on. What can you do every day to be a healthier and happy person so you are in a better position to be a successful musician?  Continue reading