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.

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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


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.


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.


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

The Trombonist-Turned-Musicologist (No, this is Not a Joke): How Embracing my Past Defined my Future

We are excited today to share a guest post by Alyssa Wells about her path from playing trombone and baritone in bands to pursuing a PhD in Musicology. Thank you, Alyssa, for sharing your story!

Wells - Headshot.jpgAlyssa Wells is a Musicology PhD student and Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include: labor union and industry bands, protest music, the politics of sound and space, and communist and socialist composers. Before coming to the University of Michigan, she completed master’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Musicology (M.M.) and German and Scandinavian Studies (M.A.). While at UMass, her research on Hanns Eisler and music festivals in the German Democratic Republic received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Alyssa also holds a B.A. in Music (trombone) and German Studies from Western Michigan University. In her free time, she enjoys running, cooking, telling terrible jokes, and making annoying puns.

If you would have told 19-year-old me that I am now just about halfway done with a PhD in musicology, I would have probably laughed…

Figure 1 – Alyssa, aged 19. Clearly enthused about musicology

…In fact, until the past year, musicology had never truly felt “natural” to me. The field was intriguing and inspiring enough to decide to devote my life to it, but what I studied simply did not furnish me with the same deep personal connection that I consistently witnessed my colleagues experiencing.  Continue reading

Five (of The Many) Great Things About My Teaching Job

Jessica Stein is a trumpet player and band teacher at the Haldane Central School District in Cold Spring, NY. Most recently Jessica played in the pit orchestra for Marist College’s production of Anything Goes. Jessica is a founding member of Millennial Brass, a brass ensemble that performs regionally in New York and Connecticut. Additionally, Jessica subs with The Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra.

During the summer of 2016, Jessica attended The Aspen Music Festival and School where she performed significant orchestral works alongside some of the countries’ top classical musicians. Jessica has played internationally in Graz, Austria as a member of the American Institute of Musical Studies’ professional festival orchestra. Upon beginning her graduate work in 2014 at SUNY Purchase, Jessica was a finalist in the Purchase College Concerto Competition performing the Arutunian Trumpet Concerto.

Jessica earned her Master’s of Music from SUNY Purchase under the tutelage of Raymond Mase. Additionally, Jessica holds a Bachelor’s of Music with a double major in Trumpet Performance and Music Education from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where she was a recipient of the Sylvia Friedberg Nachlas Endowment Scholarship.

I have never spoken so openly about being a public school band teacher. I just started my job in September 2017, and I’ve been pretty quiet about it. As a professional musician, at first, I felt that having a teaching job was something to be ashamed of. However, in the past six months, I’ve realized that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think it’s time for me to speak out about how fantastic my job is. So without further ado, here are five (of the many) great things about my teaching job.  Continue reading

Five Music Lessons That Become Life Lessons

CaitlinIMG_1439 Jodoin is a Toronto based tuba player with a passion for music education. A graduate from the University of Toronto, Caitlin earned a Bachelor of Music in 2017. She is also currently enrolled in teachers college and excited to convocate in June 2018 with a Bachelor of Education. Caitlin has performed in the Hannaford Youth Band, the Weston Silver Band, the Toronto Community Orchestra, and Kingston Brass. She especially enjoys busking throughout the year with other musicians. To fulfill her passion for music education, Caitlin teaches privately, runs low brass masterclasses, and teaches at the National Music Camp of Canada.

You can find more about Caitlin on her Facebook or Instagram, @caitlintuba

For those who have been at a crossroads in life (like I am currently, about to finish up a teaching degree), understand that it is a transitional stage when you need to figure out a number of things. While brainstorming what I might do come September, I’ve been trying to re-evaluate and formulate my goals. Since music and the arts were created to reflect and express things about life, I’ve decided to write about 5 lessons that not only apply to music, but to life as well.  Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

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?  Continue reading

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:  Continue reading