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

Interview with Trumpet Player/Composer Nicole Piunno

IMG_7166.jpgNicole Piunno (b. 1985) is a composer who views music as a vehicle for seeing and experiencing the realities of life. Her music often reflects the paradoxes in life and how these seemingly opposites are connected as they often weave together. Her harmonic language and use of counterpoint mirrors the complexity of our world by acknowledging lightness and darkness, past and present, beauty and brokenness, confinement and freedom, chaos and order, spiritual and physical, life and death. 

Nicole holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition and a Master of Music degree in theory pedagogy at Michigan State University. Her composition teachers were Ricardo Lorenz and Charles Ruggiero. She earned a Master of Music degree in composition at Central Michigan University, studying with David Gillingham. She has also worked with Jason Bahr, David Ludwig, and Tony Zilincik. Nicole earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and her emphasis was on trumpet.  Her music has recently been performed by the Principal Brass Quintet of the New York Philharmonic, Athena Brass Band, University of Akron Faculty Brass Quintet, and the Michigan State University Symphony Band. Her music has also been performed at the Orvieto Musica TrumpetFest in Orvieto, Italy, the OWU/NOW Festival of New Music, the Women in Music-Columbus concert, the SCI Student National Conference, and multiple International Trumpet Guild Conferences.

Nicole suffered an injury to her orbicularis oris during her fourth year at Ohio Wesleyan.  After completing a semester at the University of Michigan where she was pursuing an MM in trumpet performance, she left to have embouchure surgery.  She receives calls from brass players seeking advice on injury and the process of rehabilitation. She has overcome this surgery and rehabilitation process and now enjoys playing, teaching, and sharing her experience with others.

Brass Chicks: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. How did you get started as a composer?

Nicole Piunno: I love beauty and reality and I try to reveal those things through music. 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

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3045&v=Y5_AKfdJTDQ. 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXokxxiPyBw

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.  Continue reading

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:  Continue reading

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!  Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

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