Five Tips for Diving into the Freelancing Scene

Diana Allan is a current NYC based freelancer. She recently graduated from Mannes School of Music in 2015 with her M.M. Studying with David Jolley. Previously she obtained her B.M. in Music Education K-12 from Mansfield University and studied with Rebecca Dodson- Webster. In the midst of gaining both degrees, she doesn’t stop there. Diana is currently working on her professional Studies degree at Mannes where she will graduate next spring 2019 with her third degree.

At the beginning of this year Diana was the founder of the NYC based horn quartet, Quartado. They will be making their debut recital this upcoming June at Darling coffee. Also this past year, Diana was Co-founder of the group 13th and Broadway. Musicians gathered to read through different broadway shows. They will also be making their debut cabaret recital this upcoming May at The Mannes School of Music.

  1. Introduce yourself

Whether you’re in school or not, introduce yourself to new people; tell them what you play, what you do and what you’re about. You’ll be shocked that months later you might get an email or phone call from them for a potential gig or project.

        2. Ask Questions

Find people who are freelancing and playing the gigs. How they got they, who connected them, are they looking for players or subs? Obviously ask within reason, but the questions are endless and important to carving your path.

        3. Learn from the spotlight

Take lessons from people who are doing what you want to do. ie, broadway pit musicians, The Met, a well know quartet or trio etc.

        4. Have a calendar

One of the most important things that I’ve come to realize in my every day life is my agenda. It’s like my bible. There’s always the debate digital vs paper. Personally I use both. Both it’s so important to at least have one spot where you wrote all your gigs down and the rehearsals/performances that come with them. Nothing’s worse than double booking yourself.

          5. Unpaid or cheap gigs? Take them at first. Make connections.

That’s where it all starts. From there you’ll create a network. You’ll start to realize even though NY is a big city, the community is small and well known.

A Five Minute Flow for Five Things Friday

This week’s Five Things Friday post comes to us from Dr. Kate Umble Smucker, who you may remember from her post, Five Yoga Poses to Release Neck and Shoulder Tension, on Brass Chicks last October. This week, she has produced a great video of a five-minute evening yoga flow!

IMG_0345-2Dr. Kate Umble Smucker is a trumpet player and music educator based in New York City. She currently plays with Calliope Brass Quintet and teaches trumpet at the Music Conservatory of Westchester. Kate is also a 200 hour registered yoga teacher. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of yoga with fellow musicians so they too can experience the benefits she has enjoyed by incorporating yoga practice with trumpet practice. 

Kate is a dreamer who loves to bring big ideas to life. Working with Calliope Brass, Kate assisted in the development of the educational show, “What’s Your Story?” She is a founding member of Spark Brass, a brass and percussion ensemble dedicated to promoting the positive impact of music education. She is also the founding artistic director of Lancaster New Sounds, a concert series that showcases new music by living composers. Her love of jazz prompted her to put together and lead the 18-piece King Street Big Band which is still active in Lancaster, PA.

Kate holds a Doctorate in Trumpet Performance from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, a Masters of Music from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor of Music Education (K-12 instrumental) and a Bachelor in Trumpet Performance from the University of Northern Colorado. Her primary teachers were Dr. Keith Benjamin, Professor Keith Johnson and Dr. Robert Murray.


Hello Brass Chicks!

For this Five Things Friday, as your brass musician/yogi in residence, I decided to create a five minute flow you can use to unwind at the end of a long day. Think of it as a way to give your body a hug and say, “Good job body! You’re amazing! Keep up the good work!”

I really enjoyed making this video and I hope you find it helpful. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any requests for poses to release or strengthen certain areas. I am also available to travel to you for a private customized yoga session, or to work with you and a few friends. You can get in touch via email: kateumble@gmail.com

Namaste 🙏
Kate Umble Smucker

Five Tips for a Productive Practice Session

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Horn player Kelsey Ross is an active performer and educator currently based in New York City. Prior to moving to NYC, Kelsey earned both her M.M. and B.M. degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, as a student of Denise Tryon (former fourth horn, Philadelphia Orchestra). While in Baltimore, she recorded the music of Kevin Puts and Aaron Jay Kernis under the direction of Marin Alsop and has recorded pieces by emerging composers with the Peabody Wind Ensemble for Naxos Records. She was also a founding member of both the Brassanova Brass Quintet and Harbor City Wind Quintet which performed at venues throughout the Baltimore area.

Recently, Kelsey made her Carnegie Hall debut performing with the New York String Orchestra under conductor Jaime Laredo. Kelsey has also participated in the Domaine Forget summer festival in Quebec and the Barry Tuckwell Institute in Colorado. She has played in master classes with David Cooper, Radovan Vlatkovic, Frøydis Ree Wekre, Gail Williams, Barry Tuckwell, Abel Pereira, and the American Horn Quartet.


1. Have clear, specific goals

I’ve found that the best way to keep myself productive is to be as specific as possible with my goals. When I first got to school, there were so many different parts of my playing that I wanted to work on, and I did not know where to begin. Thankfully, my teacher helped me define goals to work towards so that I was focusing on just a few things at a time. For some people, these goals could be anything from cleaning up articulations to strengthening loud playing in the high range. For many people, the goal is as simple as winning an audition. Whatever your goal is, write it down.

2. Create a plan – and stick to it

Now that you have your goals in mind, it’s time to create a plan of action to reach them. If your goal is to win an audition, what do you need to do to get to that point? Figure out how much time each day you will dedicate to your audition excerpts, how far in advance you will start working on the excerpts, at what point you will start playing mock auditions, and how many you will play each day/week. Schedule out each step leading up to your goal and again, write out your plan so that every time you start a practice session you know exactly what to work on. No more aimless practicing.

3. Find a friend to keep you accountable.
Sometimes it can be hard to keep up the motivation, which is why I like to partner with a friend to keep me accountable in sticking with my plan. While I was in school, my friends and I would keep each other motivated to wake up early and practice before most of our peers were even awake. Knowing that my friends were also waking up and getting work done motivated me to do the same. Surround yourself with positive, hard-working people who inspire you, and you’ll be motivated to be as productive as they are!

4. Eliminate distractions

The more focused you are, the more productive your practice session will be. If possible, find a quiet place to practice and put your phone on airplane mode so you’re not tempted to check your notifications. If you can’t resist your phone, put it outside of your room and use a separate tuner/metronome to practice. Figure out what time of day you are the most focused. For me, this is early in the morning and late afternoon. Therefore, I try to schedule most of my practicing during those times to maximize my focused energy.

5. Record yourself  

It can be difficult to evaluate the larger picture of your own playing, especially when you are focusing on specific details of your technique. Recording is a great way to hear your playing from someone else’s perspective. When you record yourself and listen back, you can notice things that you might not hear while you are playing your instrument. I’ve found that recording myself every day has made my practice sessions more efficient because it helps me pinpoint exactly what I need to work on, which allows me to set specific goals for my practice sessions.

P.S. Every so often, take a step back and notice your improvements. Remember to celebrate the small wins!

Five Ways to Bring JOY Back Into Your Playing

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Reverend (Rev.) Kiah Abendroth is an ordained interfaith minister and a third generation female trumpet player. She holds her Master’s Degree in Music from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, specializing in Classical Trumpet Performance. Her instructors include renowned trumpeters Judith Saxton, David Washburn, and Dean Boysen – as well as her father, Roy Abendroth (and of course the influence of her mother and grandmother, Lori Abendroth and Beverley Shearer). Although Rev. Kiah’s training is classical, she also enjoys playing free improvisation, jazz, world, sacred music, and more!

Rev. Kiah freelanced as a performer and educator in New York City for three years. While she was there, she was the producer and soloist for a show at the Lincoln Center Institute entitled, “Introspection.” Kiah is a 2011-2012 Kenan Fellow with Lincoln Center Education, having completed a fellowship in arts education and imaginative learning.

Rev. Kiah Abendroth recently relocated to the island of Kauai where she is now exploring songwriting and creating original music. To Rev. Kiah, music is uplifting and healing. It is her aspiration to work with the power of the creative arts to help support and cultivate community: bringing us together – within ourselves, between one another, and with our world. Please don’t hesitate to visit her online at www.KiahSong.com or www.RevKiah.com. In addition to performing, Rev. Kiah offers trumpet lessons and empowerment coaching in person and online.


If you’re wanting to bring more joy and PLAY back into your playing, it is my sincere hope that by reading about some of my journey, you may be inspired further on your own.

  1. Take a Break. Much of my early progress came with my dedication to play everyday, even if it was just a little bit or very late at night (Sorry mom!). Although taking breaks can be controversial, it has become very valuable to me to check in regularly with my body and heart: How am I doing right now? Body, how are you? Heart, can I help you in any way? In listening and caring for these parts of myself, I am suddenly more available to bring my full presence back to the practice room or stage. Sometimes, what I needed was one guilt-free day off to go frolic in the woods, or sleep, or do some “meaningless” activities. These things can be so refreshing and rejuvenating to me! After a break, I often find that my playing is fresher, lighter, and simply more pleasant for everyone. I try to remind myself to be gentle. Treating myself well ultimately helps my playing.

 

  1. Nature. It can be refreshing to practice outside. Even when I lived in Manhattan, I went ahead and marched down the hill outside to go play some sonatas in Central Park. There have been many studies about the healing effects of spending time in nature. Playing with a flower right in front of me or making up a little ditty to play for one of my favorite trees can be so enjoyable, and help remind me of how connected we all are. When I’m in a beautiful and calm environment, my playing becomes more beautiful and calm as well.

 

  1. Be ridiculous. Playfulness is a natural part of being human. Sometimes, in my adulthood, I can forget how to be playful. One of the fastest ways to break out of my shell, is to do something utterly ridiculous. I went to an open mic once and ended up doing the whole performance upside down, leaning backwards over a large wood block. It was terribly uncomfortable, and definitely hard to play, but it brought such a sense of lightness and playfulness to the performance that I still smile when I think about it today. As I look for opportunities to do something out-of-the-box, I find that my approach is infused with more curiosity and lightness. Note: please be careful if you decide to play upside down!

 

  1. Priorities. It can be easy, after playing for so long, to lose touch with why I started. What were my favorite things about playing when I was young? What was it about trumpet that I loved? Connecting back to my child-self, I remember the simple joy of playing, the wonder of the music. Bringing it back to the present, I ask myself: What are the most important things to me in life right now? How are these things supported by, or expressed through, music? When music and the rest of my life feel connected, my values and priorities can be expressed more easily. The music itself can feel more fulfilling and enjoyable.

 

  1. No Wrong Notes. I know as a classical performer, this can be a stretch. “What do you mean, no wrong notes? Tell that to the conductor, thank you very much.” Probably the most healing part of my own journey back to a joyful relationship with music, was allowing myself to improvise. I took a couple months off of my regular practice routine and started playing by ear. I explored how the notes don’t really go “up” and “down” like the images on the page, but exist more or less in the same place – right at the tip of my lips. I started wondering where the music really comes from (feel free to write me about that one!). I found that I perceive the music first through feel, then visually, and lastly orally. I redefined what it was to make a “mistake,” seeing those moments as opportunities to get outside of my normal ruts and discover new sounds. All of this helped me understand myself better as a musician and ultimately find a way of playing that works for me. Through improvising, I was able to shift my view of music. I found myself dropping back into my heart, where that childlike wonder still lived, and enjoying the present-moment adventure of simply being alive.

Five Ways to Diversify Your Recital Repertoire

Today’s post is by our very own Co – Head Brass Chick –  Kate Amrine

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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 a tour of Japan with the New York Symphonic Ensemble, a solo recital in Mississippi at the Music by Women Festival, and an opera at BAM with string ensemble A Far Cry. Upcoming performances include a recital at the New Music Gathering, a big band tour, a concerto in her hometown in Maryland, and a concerto in Japan. She is extremely dedicated to commissioning and performing new music, premiering over 30 pieces both as a soloist and a chamber musician. Kate’s debut album As I Am was released in November 2017 featuring new music by women composers. Kate also frequently performs on Broadway and in other regional musical theater productions both in and outside of the NYC area. As an educator, Kate enjoys teaching in several after school music programs and serves as an Adjunct Instructor at New York University.

— here are the Five Ways to Diversify Your Recital Repertoire —


1. Don’t limit yourself to standard instrumentation like brass + piano or brass quintet. Look into chamber music that involve brass with winds, strings, or percussion. Some of my favorites are Eric Ewazen’s Trio for trumpet, violin, and piano; Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim for trumpet and soprano; and Libby Larsen’s “Ridgerunner” for trumpet and percussion.  

 

2. Consider programming music by composers who are not dead white men. It can be such a great experience to work with a living composer who you know personally and can be a part of the process. Having an audience meet and hear from the composer also gives a whole new level to a performance. Use your recital as an opportunity to incorporate music by women composers and/or diverse groups who are often less represented and explored.  These efforts can have an incredible wave of reactions in audience members who may not have heard music by someone who looked like them and may not have realized those people even existed. 

 

3. Make choices with lighting and staging that go beyond a standard classical recital. Sometimes it can be boring for an audience member to watch a performer stand in the same place behind the music stand for a while. Consider changing it up visually. Collaborate with a dancer or a lighting technician on a piece. Think of how you can incorporate something visually that adds a different element beyond what simply playing the piece would have conveyed. Personally, I have performed a solo in a balcony overlooking the recital hall, performed a piece entirely in the dark, and performed a piece with the performers spaced out around the venue instead of front and center on stage. 

 

4. Perform some of your own compositions or arrangements. Outside of being a valuable skill and learning experience, it really adds something extra when an audience hears something written or arranged by the performer themselves. You are able to tell the story of the piece, your inspiration behind it, and why you chose to write it. These stories can connect you with your audience in a way that may often be more meaningful then playing xxx’s Sonata Op. 99.

 

5. Have the entire recital take place in a non traditional venue or format. Consider a venue outside the concert hall, like a bar or community center – where you may be able to attract a wider audience and create a different experience. Perhaps you can have a beer pairing with half of the pieces or create certain mini food courses with a movement of a piece. Even changing up the format and allowing audience members to walk around or chat in between pieces can create a different vibe that may be more refreshing than the standard classical concert experience.

There are many more options that I could have drawn from but hopefully these are helpful to opening up your perspective on recital repertoire. Many of them apply to standard concerts as well. We would love to hear which of these, or other options, you often take advantage of when planning a performance so please don’t hesitate to comment or be in touch. Hope this helps!

Five Things to Remind Yourself Before Performing

We are excited to feature a post by sixteen-year-old trumpet player Evelyn Hartman on Brass Chicks! Evelyn is our youngest #FiveThingsFriday writer yet but her words pack some serious wisdom. 


evelyn.jpegEvelyn Hartman is a sixteen-year-old trumpet player living in Northern Michigan, where she is currently a junior at Petoskey High School. She is involved in her school’s award-winning marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band. Evelyn is also in the Northern Michigan Brass Band, having now played repiano cornet, soprano cornet, and flugelhorn parts in various programs. Another group Evelyn is involved in is the Northern Symphonic Winds. Both Northern Michigan Brass Band and Northern Symphonic Winds are often exclusive from high school players.

Evelyn has participated in several Solo and Ensemble performances. In her sophomore year, she received first division ratings at both the District and the State level for the Arutunian Concerto. This year she performed the piece Rustiques, by Eugene Bozza, again earning first division ratings at Districts and States.

Evelyn also enjoys playing for charity. This last holiday season, for example, she formed a brass ensemble that went around to local retirement homes playing a large selection of Christmas carols. In the summer of her sophomore year, Evelyn attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp on a merit scholarship and sat first chair in their top wind ensemble. She also earned the Outstanding Camper Award at the end of the session. For this summer, Evelyn was selected as an alternate for National Youth Orchestra 2 and was also accepted into Interlochen Arts Camp’s six-week World Youth Wind Symphony program. She recently confirmed enrollment into Interlochen’s program and is eager for it to begin.


Performances are a time of magic. Whether it is in a small room for a panel of judges or before a filled concert hall, performing allows us to share our art with others. For me personally, performing used to be a time of incredibly high stress. I found myself nervous days before it was time to showcase. As a result of this, my performances usually just weren’t that great; I merely survived. And I know I’m not the only one who has suffered from this pressure. I’ve seen many performers, from all ranges of ability, suffer symptoms of performance anxiety. Stars like Jim Carrey, Adele, and even Fryderyk Chopin have admitted that stage fright has been an issue for them.
Continue reading

Interview with Hana Beloglavec

DSC_3893-Edit1.jpgPerformer and pedagogue Hana Beloglavec has always had an interest in chamber music. Currently she is a member of Seraph Brass, a dynamic chamber ensemble drawing from a roster of highly talented women across the United States. With Seraph Brass, Beloglavec has recorded an album, Asteria, and has been a guest artist at the Lieksa Brass Week and the International Women’s Brass Festival. Also interested in trombone quartet chamber music, she competed in the finals of the 2014 International Trombone Quartet Competition with the Lakeside Quartet. She also was a member of The Handsome Dan’s Trombone Quartet, which won the 2013 Eastern Trombone Workshop’s Trombone Quartet Competition as well as the 2013 Yale Woolsey Concerto Competition.

Also deeply interested in orchestral music, Beloglavec has performed as a substitute trombonist most recently with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. While living in Chicago, Beloglavec performed as a substitute with the early-music ensemble Music of the Baroque and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Hana Beloglavec received her DMA from Northwestern University, where she studied with Michael Mulcahy, Douglas Wright, Timothy Higgins, Randall Hawes, and Christopher Davis. She completed her MM at Yale University and her BM degree at Western Michigan University, where she studied with Scott Hartman and Steve Wolfinbarger, respectively. Hana Beloglavec is currently the assistant professor of trombone at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


1.  How long have you been teaching? What are your responsibilities at the school? What do you love about teaching? Any favorite teaching moments?

I have been teaching private lessons for a long time (since I was an undergraduate student, maybe even earlier), but I have been teaching at the university level for the past three years. At LSU, I teach applied tenor and bass trombone students, trombone studio class, and trombone choir. I also coach brass quintets and teach the trombone portion of a brass pedagogy class for performance majors and masters students. Outside of my teaching, I serve on committees and recruit students, and I have my “research,” which includes performances with Seraph Brass, personal solo recitals, orchestral performances, etc.  Continue reading

Interview With Sarah Culp – NJ High School Band Teacher

To celebrate both Women’s History Month and Music in Our Schools Month, we are so excited to interview some fabulous music educators who are making an impact on their students across the country. I went to a summer festival with Sarah and I have always loved reading her posts about teaching… and I knew she would have great things to share with the Brass Chicks community.  – Kate Amrine


sarah culp.jpgSarah Culp is the current Director of Band’s at Manchester Township High School in Manchester Township, NJ. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from William Paterson University of New Jersey where she studied Classical trumpet and minored in classical voice. In addition to overseeing the jazz band, concert band, pit Orchestra, and other small ensembles at her school, she is enrolled in the Master of Music in Music Education program at Rutgers University. She also holds the position of Principal trumpet in both the Toms River Municipal Band and the Central Jersey Wind Ensemble. She resides in Toms River, New Jersey.

1. How long have you been teaching? What are your responsibilities at the school? What do you love about teaching? Any favorite teaching moments?

This is currently my 5th year of  teaching. I did 2 years in Paterson, NJ Teaching k-8 general Music and marching band, 1 year in Clifton NJ teaching 7th and 8th grade band and assisting on the High School Marching band and this is my second year running a full high school program. I currently run the concert band, jazz band, marching band, pit Orchestra, and small chamber ensembles at Manchester Township High School. What I love most about teaching s giving kids a safe place to be where they are loved and accepted by all, and a place where they can express themselves. My students are a family and they all take care of each other. We also get to make great music and I love seeing them improve through the years. It’s the most rewarding thing to see a student change and develop as a person and as a musician. There are moments when my band nails a piece or nails a run of their field show and my heart is so full that I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Continue reading

Five Pieces for Horn by Five Living Women Composers that I performed this week – Bailey Myers

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Hornist Bailey Myers is a Washington DC-based artist and activist, performing all types of music as often as possible and working to empower women in the music industry. Since moving to the Baltimore/Washington area in 2016, Bailey has performed with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestral Institute Festival Orchestra, the Washington Chamber Orchestra, and the Baltimore-based Occasional Symphony. As a soloist and chamber musician, Bailey is passionate about featuring works by women composers and has performed at many events and churches in the area. Bailey has recently been named the new music director of Ascension Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, MD where she will be expanding a public concert series as one of her duties, and she is excited to use this platform to give more exposure to women composers and musicians (especially brass musicians!).

Bailey Myers currently studies with Denise Tryon at Peabody Conservatory and anticipates graduating with her Master’s Degree in Horn Performance in May 2018. She received her Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance from Oberlin Conservatory in 2016 under the instruction of Roland Pandolfi. In addition to her musical studies, Bailey also received a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Oberlin College with a Chinese Studies concentration and a Politics minor.

 


This past Tuesday I had my Master’s Recital, which featured all works by living women composers. It was the second recital of all women composers that I had programmed (the first featured Jane Vignery, Thea Musgrave, Clara Schumann, and Beyoncé), so it was an exciting challenge to find another hour of music. I owe so much to Lin Foulk and her awesome database, which I highly recommend as the first place to start for any horn players looking for music written by women – solo or chamber music. The following five pieces were what I ultimately chose to program, and I am very happy with the results.

 

1. Imaginings by Dorothy Gates:

 This piece is perfect for opening a recital; it has a dramatic opening and a flashy ending, while not being terribly difficult to put together with piano. Composed for Michelle Baker, recently retired 2nd horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, it features the low register in particular. Baker premiered Imaginings just this past summer at the 25th International Women’s Brass Conference, and you can hear her SoundCloud recording on Dorothy Gates’ website here. Dorothy Gates is definitely a composer to check out if you’re a brass player – she is a prolific composer of brass music, especially brass band music, and she is a trombonist herself. Born in Northern Ireland, she now resides in the United States where she is Senior Music Producer for The Salvation Army’s Eastern Territory in New York and the Composer-in-Residence for the New York Staff Band – a position she has held since 2002. She is the first woman to be employed by The Salvation Army in this role. You can learn more about her here. Continue reading

Five Things to Bring and Eat on a Long Day

Today’s Five Things Friday post is by Audrey Flores.

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Audrey Flores is a freelancing horn player in New York City. She attended the Juilliard School and the Mannes College of Music, and regularly plays in Broadway productions and with orchestras in the tri-state area. She plays a 2007 Engelbert Schmid Triple Horn with a medium hand-hammered bell that was also made in 2007, purchased brand new from The Horn Guys in Los Angeles in 2008.

Formerly Principal Horn of both the Allentown Symphony and Symphony in C in Camden, NJ, Audrey has also played with the New World Symphony, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Mariinsky Orchestra, and the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble. She was a musician in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Orchestra in 2011 and 2012, and in the New York Spectacular in the summer of 2016. She released her first solo album in June of 2017.


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Ever have those days where you leave your apartment as the sun comes up, and get home when the stars are long gone? Days like this can be hard on your health, and harder still if you end up starving and spending your hard-earned cash on overpriced food before you’ve even gotten paid. Here are Five Things To Bring and Eat on a long day. Eat well and don’t forget your toothbrush! Continue reading