Five Questions to Ask Yourself Transitioning from School to A Freelance Career

beccaAfter graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2014 Rebecca Patterson moved to New York City and has become an active member of the the cities rich musical community. She can be heard subbing on the Lion King and Wicked on Broadway or someone around the city with her dynamic big band with co-leader Ron Wilkins that features some of her original compositions and arrangements comprised of some of NYC’s finest musicians. An album will be recorded in 2018. Since her move to New York she has had the opportunity to perform with a diverse range of ensembles on Tenor and Bass Trombones and Tuba including performances with: Christian McBride’s Big Band, Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, The Mingus Band, John Colianni Jazz Orchestra, Birdland Latin Jazz Orchestra, Steven Oquendo’s Latin Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Livio Almeida’s Brazilian Dectet, Chris Potter, Kansas, Marcos Valle, The Ed Palermo Big Band, Metro Chamber Orchestra, Billy Vera Jazz Orchestra, Mariachi Vargas, and San Antonio Wind Symphony. Rebecca also maintains a private lesson studio and makes guest artist appearances with schools and programs around the country. She is an artist for Shires trombones and Giddings mouthpieces. 

Transitioning from music school to the freelance world can be incredibly intimidating. When I finished my degree, I moved to New York City hardly knowing anyone. It took a mere few hours in my new apartment to realize I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

That was four years ago. Each year gets better and work has become steady, but that result has taken constant attention and evolution. Here are some questions that I seem to constantly ask myself throughout this journey.

1. What is your goal?

This may sound like a “duh” question, but this is something that I constantly ask myself. As my career develops I actually find that my answer changes. It’s important to have a degree of focus in your goal, but it’s also equally as important to be flexible.

You may have to journey down some avenues that might not seem so intuitive to reach your goals. For example: if your goal is to be the ultimate side-person, don’t you think it’s important to be a leader at some point to know what a good side-person looks like from a leaders perspective?

It’s also important for your goal to be an informed one. If you plan on getting into the New York Philharmonic or land a major university job right out of college, you might need to realize your goal is not a realistic one. Take a few steps back, come up with goals that act as stepping stones to achieving your dreams.

2. What sets those who are successful on your envisioned career path apart from their peers? 

You’ll find a surprisingly wide variety of variables when you start to examine the careers of others. Though it may seem noble to; don’t limit your examination to musical ability alone. I’ve seen people thrive off of their exceptional business/interpersonal skills.

While someone like Jimmy Heath may have the career you’ve envisioned, it is equally as important to look to up and coming peers that are having success. Living legends started their career in a vastly different industry climate, it’s important to study the changes that have taken place and what is now demanded. This can mean developing a skill doubling, building a small remote recording set up, or knowing music notation software.

3. What skills do you have that set you apart from your peers? If you can’t think of anything… it might be time to develop a new skill.

In today’s freelance climate, it’s important to develop a variety of skills. You may be an exceptional sight reader, but if someone puts changes on your page, can you also improvise? You may be a great improviser, but can you blend in a section? Can you conduct if necessary? Are you able to compose/arrange? Teach? Experience with music technology? There are lots of people who can do one or two of these things extremely well, but the more you can do at a high level, the better. You will also find that many of these go hand in hand. Improvisation demands instrumental proficiency, advanced aural skills, compositional techniques, and rhythmic studies. It’s also worth mentioning, that jack of all trades and master of none is not what I’m talking about. Music is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t force it. With time and effort you will begin to make connections and be able to practice several advanced things all at once.

I also include rehearsal etiquette as a “skill” which includes things like: being on time, promptly responding to emails from a bandleader, not noodling in a rehearsal or warming up super loud before a gig. One piece of advice I received that has worked very well for me is trying to call subs that are better or as good as you. It gives you a chance to call people you look up to, and also shows the band leader that your primary interest is best serving the music. If you get called for a gig and send a bad sub, the bandleader is more likely to replace you. Believe it or not: this can actually lead to contracting work.

4. What am I doing to develop my musicianship? 

Consider that your answer should include things beyond sitting with your instrument in a practice room. Music is about telling a story, and if you don’t experience life, it’s hard to have a story to tell. It is also hard to find out how to reach an audience/effectively communicate with other musicians from inside a practice room.

A big part of developing your musicianship is going to see live music and seeing how other artist connect to you as an audience member. Seek out opportunities to hear live performances of musicians performing music that you may be unfamiliar with or even ensembles that don’t include your instrument. For me, the unfamiliarity factor of the experience helps you understand how universal music is and the powerful feelings it can evoke without excessive analysis.

Take lessons with masters of your instrument. If you are doubling, take lessons from master doublers. If you live in a place where it’s geographically hard to reach one of these people, reach out for a Skype lesson.

Want to learn how to better express yourself musically on that concerto? Learn to improvise and convey your own musical ideas. If you can convey your musical abilities through your own “words”, it will come through much better when speaking the musical ideas of someone else.

5. What am I doing to actively create opportunities for myself and other musicians? 

In many ways, we all rely on each other. There are more opportunities to create work than just being a bandleader. It can be something as little as letting a bandleader know that you know someone who would do a great job on a certain chair if they didn’t already have someone in mind, or something as big as putting a music series together at a neighborhood restaurant, or even getting friends together to play in the subway. This shows that you have initiative, and that you care about the community enough to give back from which you reap benefits from.

You may find that this actual question becomes your goal. If you’re passionate about helping underserved communities, you can start a music series for women band leaders or black artist or gay artist, etc.

It is never too early to mentor. Though I mentioned generally trying to call people better than you, it’s also equally important to give new faces opportunities to learn and grow. Eventually those younger people will be a vital part of our workforce and will remember your generosity.

Five Ways to Treat Your Instrument Right This Valentine’s Day


Okay, so maybe your instrument isn’t the only figure in your life who’s important to you on Valentine’s Day. But maybe it is! Either way, our instruments stick with us through thick and thin and we owe them some gratitude. Show your horn you care this February 14th with a little TLC!  Continue reading

A Focused Approach: Interview with Donna Parkes

About Donna Parkes

donna parkes

Australian trombonist Donna Parkes has been Principal Trombone of the Louisville Orchestra since 2008 and has been Principal Trombone of the Colorado Music Festival since 2009. Prior to this year she played the 2012-13 season with the Utah Symphony and the 2007-8 season with the San Francisco Symphony. Miss Parkes was a member of the Virginia Symphony from 2001-2007 and was a member of the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas for two years. She has performed with many orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Oregon Symphony, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Miss Parkes has performed at the Arizona Musicfest, the Malboro Festival and the Grand Tetons Festival and in 2016 toured with the Australian World Orchestra.  Solo competition successes include winning the Australian National Trombone Competition, the Brisbane International Brass Competition and finalist in the Jeju Brass Competition in Korea. She has appeared as a soloist or clinician at the International Women’s Brass Conference, International Trombone Festival and the Melbourne International Festival of Brass. Miss Parkes received her Masters Degree studying under Charles Vernon at DePaul University and other primary teachers include Michael Mulcahy and Ron Prussing.


1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. What do you love about being an orchestral trombonist?

I am Principal trombone of the Louisville Orchestra and the Colorado Music festival orchestra during the summer. I also love chamber music and teaching but my primary focus is orchestral performance. There are many parts of orchestral playing I love, it is such a unique and awesome feeling to be a part of the sound of a full symphony. To be surrounded by and contributing to music-making of that magnitude is fantastic. Another part of the orchestra I enjoy the most is the low brass section and how we function together as a team. I have fantastic colleagues in my orchestra and we are constantly striving to improve ourselves while supporting each other and that is very gratifying for me. Having players beside you that you respect and admire, then working together to have the best low brass product we can is so rewarding and fun!

2. 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?

As female brass players I think our primary role is to be the best musicians and human beings we can. I have tried to simplify my approach and focus less on being a great female musician but rather to gain respect as a great musician and colleague. There is no doubt the role of being a woman brass player has many challenges and I believe everyone has to find their own path. It looks different for all of us but each woman should feel confident and supported to be her true self. I love that during my career I am seeing more women players and as there are more role models, that will only continue and grow. In the current climate of gender equality awareness I am encouraged that younger women will deal with less of the issues of the past. I strongly believe we need to support one another as women and be brave enough to speak up when situations are not acceptable. Our responsibility is to stand for what is right for yourself and for others every time. To strive to live the principles you believe in – for me that is being a dedicated, respectful and kind musician.

3. Tell us a little about what you do to stay motivated and focused in your job as a musician. How does this relate to your experiences running? (You’ve talked before in an interview with The 8th Position about the physical and emotional benefits of running to you as a person and a trombone player.) Do you feel running marathons has an impact on your daily life as an orchestral musician?

I find holding myself to high standards regardless of the situation has kept me motivated and focused. I try my best to make the best sound I can and to be the most sensitive musician I can – no matter what the environment. Having standards that you expect of yourself means you’re not as affected my all the variables that come up. I love to challenge myself by mixing up my musical diet – chamber music, recitals – anything to keep me fresh and striving for new goals. There is no doubt that for me running has a huge impact on my life as a musician. Purely from a physical standpoint there are benefits, when I am in great running shape I breathe better and playing is just easier. The mental benefits are even greater – running keeps me relaxed and energized. It requires true discipline which as musicians we all have , if you don’t put in the training miles the race will not be a fun day! Distance running in particular challenges your mental grit and having that skill developed is always valuable – if you can get through the last 4 miles of a marathon and stay positive you can achieve just about anything. For me the one the great lessons from running is to run YOUR race for that day – to focus on your best efforts and appreciate that as a success. Losing the attachment to comparisons to other runners and being able to trust your training and run the best you can, for me directly relates to being the best trombonist I can every day.

4. Do you see any specific challenges for musicians in today’s climate? How do you mitigate those on your own or when teaching?

There are challenges for the today’s climate and it is continuing to change. Much greater flexibility is required and musicians need to be able to be far more proactive in their approaches. There are no guarantees especially in the orchestral world so having  a wider skill set and being open to different career paths is vital. I encourage all my students to be open minded and try to learn many parts of the musical spectrum. Today you can not wait for gigs to fall in your lap – you need to make opportunities and be excited to try new things. The benefit of this climate is there are now many more ways to have a career in music if you are prepared to put in the time and energy. If you truly love it you can find a way to make it happen.

5. 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?

It sure would have been nice to know I was going to have the opportunities I have – but the competitive nature of the orchestral world certainly motivated me. I would have given my younger self a confidence boost of assurance that time and experience has taught me. For younger musicians I would say work as hard as you can – it always pays off sometime down the line. The hours of dedication are invaluable and will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment you can’t get from anything but focused practice. The practice room is the most important place and you need to enjoy the art of the craft itself. Love what you do passionately but remember you are not your instrument – it does not define you. Success and failure are both just lessons to be taken in stride. I would encourage every young woman to find the support to be her authentic self and to speak up loudly when situations are not acceptable. Find mentors and career heroes and ask them all the questions – take in all the information you can. Be true to your principles – because at the end of the day the only opinion that truly matters is yours.

6. Any resources you recommend? Books, podcasts, recordings that changed your life, or anything else?

I have found the Bulletproof musician website to be a great resource and an area we often don’t get enough guidance or help with as a musicians. For me, hearing new players and wildly different interpretations is inspiring. I am also loving all the new great blogs and resources online – there is great information and motivation to be found!

Five New Semester Resolutions and Challenges for 2018

877E13F4-8C01-400E-AE91-3A2669554237Casey Cronan, originally from Milford, CT, holds a bachelor‘s degree in French Horn Performance from New York University and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in French Horn Performance at Purchase College. She has been a member of Washington Square Winds, a woodwind quartet dedicated to performing and commissioning new works, since 2011. Casey recorded on Washington Square Wind’s 2014 album They’re Alive. She frequently performs in NYC with various groups such as Loft Opera, Chappaqua Orchestra, and the New York Opera Exchange.

In honor of the first week of my final semester as a student at Purchase College, I would like to share my New Semester Resolutions and Challenges for 2018:

1. Lose the valves!

One year ago, I signed out the school’s natural horns out of curiosity more than anything.  I found the natural horn to be far more taxing than my modern horn, but it was also rewarding to play classical repertoire on the horn for which it was written.  Although I have enjoyed playing without valves, this horn is unforgiving, meaning I must go back to basics.  Foremost, intonation is challenging, particularly on half stopped or quarter stopped notes, but by using both drones and visual tuning aids, I am improving my ear for natural and modern horn.  The second main challenge of playing the natural horn is that all the work put in bending pitches drains my endurance much faster than other types of playing.  This semester I challenge myself to practice smart.  Expanding my endurance will happen gradually, so I resolve to respect my embouchure instead of imposing more time on the face because I have a practice timeframe in mind.  In the end, relearning the basics of horn playing on a natural horn should directly benefit my contemporary horn playing.

2. Perform difficult, but rewarding works!

Years ago, I happened upon the Henri Tomasi Concerto for Horn and Orchestra and found this piece to be exciting to practice, but too intimidating to consider programming on a recital.  Much of the piece exists in the upper register with several prolonged notes at the top of my register.  It has strange leaps and arpeggios, but should be played as if it is easy.  This semester, I will perform my second Master’s recital at Purchase and although it may be prudent to choose safe pieces, I have decided to program this rarely performed gem in addition to Mozart Horn Concerto 3 on natural horn!

3. Comprehend intricate theory!

For my final semester, I challenge myself to analyze music that I had thought to be inscrutable.  To that end, I have enrolled myself into a course that teaches 20th century post tonal theory. My end-of-semester goal is to understand how selected atonal pieces are constructed, to describe at length the intricacies of works out of the Second Viennese School and to dive into the history.  Students of this course are also encouraged to use these methods to compose and perform works in class.  In the past, I would have dreaded such a test, but I have decided to take control of this final semester and embrace the difficulties and the progress.

4. Turn mock auditions into real auditions!

Occasionally, I would hear of an audition in the area, but I usually balk at the idea of taking an audition. I would make up excuses telling myself that there are surely innumerable people applying for the same job that have more prestigious resumes and renown, so why should I bother?  This semester, I challenge myself to take an audition.  I am fortunate to be in a program right now that incorporates excerpt classes and mock auditions into the curriculum.  With the wealth of resources available to me as a student, I resolve to face my fear of auditions and start taking those risks.

5. Being kind to yourself!

This is the most important resolution that I need to take to heart.  Any time spent talking myself down or thinking I’m not worthy compared to others is time that cannot be spent working toward goals. It is not helpful to derive self-worth from playing everything perfectly all the time, as it has in the past, discouraged me from reaching my potential because I assumed I would not be good enough compared to the innumerable imaginary people who are better than me.  Instead, this semester, I will practice waking up knowing I am already a worthy person just as I am, therefore I should play the horn to earn the life I want, rather than picking up the horn to scrape morsels of fleeting confidence.  I resolve this semester and beyond to be an unshakable friend to myself and welcome whatever the future holds.




Five People To Contact about getting More Gigs

Happy Friday! This post is a shortened and slightly altered version of a Facebook Live chat I did back in December about how I got started freelancing in New York City. It originally had over 200 views so I decided to upload it to Youtube so it lives there now 🙂

Do you find yourself wishing you were performing more? Perhaps you just graduated and you are looking to get your start in a new city. Or maybe you recently quit your teaching job to focus more on performing.  These points should be possible for you regardless of your instrument, point in your career, or location.

<< This pictures is a fun #fbf to one of my first gigs in NYC several years ago – playing with Pitch Blak Brass Band. Some of the people in that group I still play with on gigs today and I was originally put in contact with the group through one of the other trumpet players.
So, here are five people / organizations to contact that could get you more work. Hope this helps!

1. Colleagues that play the same instrument as you

This one seems obvious but I’m putting it first because it is the most important. Much of the freelance work I’ve gotten is from subbing for friends and other connections. This is great because these people you probably already know: people you recently performed with, colleagues from school, other freelancers in your area. Contact them and meet for lunch or coffee, or a drink. Maybe put together a reading session and play some duets or brass quintets. This is especially great because you are in close contact with these people, playing and hanging out. So they hear how you play and how you are to interact with – and thus may feel comfortable recommending you to sub for them or for a gig that they can’t do. Similarly, you can ask them how they got their start or if they have any recommendations for other playing opportunities.

2. Other colleagues that don’t play your instrument 

This one seems a little less obvious but bear with me. You might think or wonder if or why a bassoon player would ever recommend you to play trombone with an orchestra but the simple answer is you never know. This person could be the contractor or happened to be in the same room as the contractor when they asked if they knew any trombone players and your name came up. Maybe this non brass player is putting together a chamber music concert and might want your group to play. The more people that know you as a person and as a musician is in your best interest to be working as much as possible.

3. Teachers or other freelancers who you admire 

Take a lesson or treat someone to drinks or a meal. Pick their brain about freelancing: explain what you want to be doing or the problems you are facing and inquire as to how to do better. Playing for someone who you respect can be a great way to get better (obviously!) but also to learn what may be needed to change your freelance situation. Maybe you aren’t ready to do the kinds of gigs that you want to be doing… and finding that out in a lesson is a lot better than finding out on the gig 😉  I’ve gotten a couple gigs from teachers and they can be amazing opportunities so you never know! This category of people is great because most likely, they have been in your position wanting to work more, understand how you feel, and may be willing to help you.

4. Local groups and Organizations like Churches and/or Community Theaters etc

Want to play more orchestra gigs? Have you reached out and introduced yourself to all of the community groups in your area or local colleges that may hire ringers? What about going to a concert and meeting with people involved before or after? There are many ways to go in this direction but I think the best way in my opinion is personally – as in – in person with your physical presence rather than sending many cold emails. Of course cold emails are great and necessary and everyone does them – but if you can, sometimes showing up to meet someone in person or support a group’s performance can be even more valuable and memorable for the group potentially hiring you and for you – to see if it is even a group you want to be involved with anyways. For things where an email or showing up might not be appropriate, consider asking a friend involved in one of these organizations to mention you in an introduction email or ask if you could drop their name to start the conversation. Sometimes groups or organizations will respond more favorably to a colleague of a musician they work with rather than a random musician they haven’t heard of who seemingly has no connections to the group.

5. Yourself! 

I talk about this a lot in my Facebook live video because I think this point is super important and often overlooked. We have all heard the starving artist metaphor of a musician sitting by the phone waiting to hear from a gig offer. Of course there is a lot of work involved as a musician (practicing, emailing, networking, etc) so it is never simply just waiting blindly for a gig to appear but sometimes it can feel like that. Consider setting up your own opportunities or putting something together with friends! This can be super rewarding because you are in charge, picking the music, the venue, and running all of the details so you aren’t waiting for someone else to call you or put something together. This is obviously easier said then done but there are many opportunities out there where music can fit in- that might not have been previously  considered. Think about places like cafes, a library, a gallery, or a nursing home etc. How can you add value to your community (i.e. Providing a service people need) while filling your own desire to perform? Another benefit of putting together your own opportunities is that by hiring other freelancers for gigs, they will be more likely to hire you in the future as an appreciation and thanks for you hiring them first. Remember we are all part of a network of musicians helping each other out so take advantage of this when you can.
Hopefully theses five points will help you on your search for more performing opportunities. There are many blogs and books out there about how to get more playing opportunities as well. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Making Statements: An Interview With Abbie Conant

We are thrilled to have been able to conduct an interview with the fabulous Abbie Conant. Abbie famously fought the Munich Philharmonic for 11 years in court to be solo trombone and now performs groundbreaking multidisciplinary works. She has been a pleasure to work with on this interview!

About Abbie Conant

abbie clearAward-winning Performance artist and Juilliard-trained trombonist Abbie Conant is somewhat of a legend in the international orchestral brass world. The story of her epic fight and ultimate victory against egregious gender discrimination in the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, where she won the position for principal trombone at a screened audition in 1980, inspired author Malcolm Gladwell to write the NY Times Bestseller, Blink, where Ms. Conant’s story is detailed in the last chapter. The 11-year-long court battle was documented by composer/musicologist/activist, William Osborne, in an article entitled “You Sound Like a Ladies’ Orchestra.” The document is supported by actual court records and experiences in the orchestra with 89 footnotes. This source document has generated countless newspaper and magazine article (Der Spiegel, {the German analog to Time Magazine}, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, etc.) as well as a documentary film, (Abbie Conant, Alone Among Men by Brenda Parkerson), a play produced at the Landestheater Linz, Austria by Award-winning British playwright, Tamssin Oglesby called, Der (eingebildeter) Frauenfeind, (The [Concieted] Misogynist) and a screen play for a feature film in the works by Canadian writer/producer Dale Wolf.

After winning her lengthy court case, Ms. Conant won a full-tenured Professorship at the University of Music in Trossingen, Germany and left the orchestra in 1993. Abbie Conant has performed instrumental music theater works with surround sound electronics in over 150 different cities around the world. She has given masterclasses in as many esteemed music institution such as The Juilliard School, The Eastman School, New England Conservatory, Yale School of Music, Indiana University, Royal Northern College of Music, the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg, Sweden, DePaul, CalArts, McGill, Oberlin and many others. In collaboration with composer/husband William Osborne, the pair has created a new genre of chamber music theater. They have produced five evening-length chamber operas for singing/acting trombonist.


1. Your story of battling sexism and discrimination in the orchestra world with the Munich Philharmonic is unbelievable, yet your strength and determination (and great playing of course!) paved the way for many discussions and policies on sexism in the brass world. Have your thoughts on that experience changed in any way? Especially in light of recent events in classical music and political culture with harassment and this kind of behavior being less tolerated in the public eye? Continue reading

Five Things I Learned About Freelancing After Having A Baby

This week’s Five Things Friday post comes to us from Philadelphia-based French horn freelancer, teacher, and community connector, Kristina Mulholland. Kristina’s is the first post of what we hope will become many on Brass Chicks which provides information for and aims to help women balancing motherhood and brass playing careers. Thanks to Kristina for sharing her experience! See the bottom of this post for Kristina’s full bio.

Kristina MulhollandI am so excited to be this week’s Five Things Friday guest contributor.  Sharing my perspective, throwing my two cents into the pot, adding more online content to this topic is so important for women who are freelancers and brass players.  You can balance family AND a brass playing career and it’s about time we celebrate!  Below I will be sharing my ideas related to freelancing and brass playing from my own new mommy angle.   My hope is that my article allows room for conversation among current brass mamas and provides avenues of support for future brass mamas out there.  

Without further adieu, the five things I learned about freelancing after having my first child:  Continue reading

Five Struggles Musicians May Face Throughout Their Careers and How to Move Past Them

Happy Friday! We know the semester is starting for those of us academics, gigs may be picking up, and regular post-holiday life is now in full swing. We hope everyone is moving along steadily towards their goals and that this post from Brass Chicks’ very own Kate Amrine can help if you find yourself in a difficult spot.

The following are five struggles that I’ve found musicians face throughout their careers. Most of these are equal-opportunity offenders, meaning they can affect you regardless or your age or experience level. Fortunately, I’ve included some info on how to move past them so feel free to share with anyone who may need to hear these messages.


1. Lack of Money

This is the most obvious problem so let’s start with it! Of course, lack of money can hit everyone at various points in their careers but is especially an issue for those of us just graduating school. Especially when not every music school provides us with skills and a concrete plan to make a living in music after graduating, it is extremely important to figure out what is best for us individually and make a plan. In addition to funding projects or music expenses we may have (starting a group, making an album, going on tour, marketing), we all have living expenses such rent, food, and student loans to reckon with.  Continue reading

Auditions, Caruso, and Music From the Heart: A Conversation with Julie Landsman

We are excited to have recently conducted an interview over the phone with the incomparable Julie Landsman! Julie was a joy to speak with and offered, unsurprisingly, a wealth of advice and information informed by her career.

About Julie Landsman


Principal horn with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 25 years, Julie Landsman is a distinguished performing artist and educator. She achieved her dream of becoming principal of the MET in 1985 and held that position until 2010, and has served as a member of the Juilliard faculty since 1989.

Landsman is a current member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and has performed and recorded with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. Additionally, she has performed as co-principal with the Houston Symphony, as substitute principal with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and recently with The Philadelphia Orchestra as associate principal, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as principal.

Her students hold positions in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestras, Washington National Opera Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, and the American Brass Quintet. She recently received the “Pioneer Award” from the International Women’s Brass Conference and was a featured artist at the International Horn Society Conference in 2012 and 2015. Her recent series of Carmine Caruso lessons on YouTube have led to further fame and renown among today’s generation of horn players. Landsman currently resides in Nyack, New York.



Brass Chicks: Your career has been incredible and has taken you all over the world. What was the process of winning your position at the MET and becoming the first woman in the brass section of that orchestra like?

Julie Landsman: Winning an audition at the MET was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The audition was 100% behind a screen – anonymous – and it’s documented in a very famous book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. The last chapter describes the details of  my audition. The men who voted for me had no idea who I was or that I would become the first female brass member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Continue reading

Five Things to Help You Build Your Private Teaching Studio

Gabe-201webGabe Mueller is a freelance trombonist and music educator based in St. Louis, Missouri.  A graduate of the University of North Texas, Gabe earned a Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance in 2008.  Since returning home to St. Louis in 2012, she has enjoyed being a part of the local music scene (currently performing in a variety of groups including the St. Louis Low Brass Collective and funk band Hazard to Ya Booty) and has a bustling private low brass studio.  She will be releasing her new album, “Solos for the Beginner and Intermediate Trombonist,” later this month.

Find out more about Gabe online at or on Facebook and Instagram @gabemuellertrombone

I first started teaching private trombone lessons when I was in college in Texas.  I only had a few students, and they were passed on to me by a friend of mine who didn’t have any more room in his studio.  But when I moved back to my hometown (St. Louis), I knew that teaching private lessons would be an important aspect of my music career and that I needed more than just a handful of students.  I also knew that I had no idea how to acquire said students!

I started building my current low brass studio 5 years ago.  The first few years I worked hard at recruiting to build my studio, but it paid off big time.  At this point I do very little “recruiting” but regularly receive emails and phone calls from parents of prospective new students.  Though my studio is pretty full, things are always changing and it is nice to have a steady flow of new student inquiries.

There are many things you can do to build your own private studio, but here are five suggestions I have. Some may make you say “duh” and some may make you say “are you crazy?!” but they have all played a part in building (and maintaining) my studio.

1. Offer Free Masterclasses

This is by far the number one piece of advice I would give to anyone wanting to start or build their private studio.  Offer to do free masterclasses at schools.  The point of these masterclasses are to meet potential new students and have them see you in person and get an idea of who you are and how you teach, but also (and more importantly) to start building relationships with band directors.  For me, this was crucial in building and maintaining my studio, but I’ll get to more of that later.  Continue reading