Five Habits Musicians Should Practice Daily – Michelle Bingheim

This week’s Five Things Friday reveals a new perspective in the Brass Chicks community – featuring a post from Michelle Bingheim, a trumpet player and music therapy student, on five habits we should all practice every day.

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Michelle Bingheim is currently a senior at Western Illinois University. Michelle comes from a musical family and developed a love for music at a young age.  She began her music study with piano, but the trumpet eventually won her over.  Michelle continues to study trumpet and participate in ensembles while earning her degree in music therapy.  She enjoys performing with a variety of ensembles and has developed a special love for playing in brass ensembles/bands.  Michelle plans to become a board certified music therapist upon graduation and serve clients in a special education setting while still pursuing her love of playing trumpet. Outside of music, Michelle enjoys consuming coffee, binge-watching Netflix, spending time with her family, being active at her church, and giving back to her community.

1. Self-Care:

Making/taking time for self-care is extremely important.  This topic is important for all professionals, especially for musicians.  Self-care is important because it helps us strengthen our minds and our bodies.  If our minds and bodies aren’t in the best condition possible, then we cannot perform at our highest level.  Self-care is different for every person.  For some, it may mean starting the day off with a run or going to the gym.  For others, it may mean incorporating healthy eating habits into the day, taking time to read, or watching an episode (or two) of Netflix.  Personally, one of the best things that I like to do for self-care is to start my morning off with a cup of coffee.  While this may seem small, that cup of coffee helps me to get in the right frame of mind for my day of classes, rehearsals, meetings, and homework.

2. Individual Practice Time:

While this may sound like a “common sense” thing to do every day, it can be difficult at times during the semester to make time for individual daily practice, especially as a non-performance major.  I oftentimes find myself focused on assignments for classes or busy with 4 hours of rehearsals. This is often when individual practice time can head to the wayside.  On the days when I am crazy busy and take even a tiny bit of time for individual practice, it helps to keep me on track and remind me of my goals.  With the idea of individual practice time also comes the idea of being efficient, especially on those days when you don’t have as much time as you would like.  On the days when you have a limited amount of time to practice, plan ahead and choose to work on the things that need the most attention!

3. Listen to Music

This may sound like another “common sense” point, but it is often hard to put into practice. A nice time to listen to the repertoire that you are working on is while you are resting your face during those individual practice sessions.  When you’re practicing and your face gets tired or you’re feeling unfocused, take some time for the horn to be off of your face and listen to a recording of whatever you’re working on.  If there isn’t a recording, use the piano and sing your part.  It is important to listen to the repertoire while we work to improve it; doing so helps you with interval training and intonation, as well as overall musicality.  Another method of listening is to put headphones in and play along with the recording. Try playing along with several different recordings to develop a broader sense of musicianship and technique. Always keep in mind that just because you listen to a certain recording, it doesn’t mean that the recording is correct. Do not rely on recordings to learn the music; learn the notes and rhythms first and then listen to the recordings.

It is also important to listen to music for enjoyment.  Each person has a different taste in music, but it is important to listen to other styles/genres of music that you don’t normally perform, because it allows you to become a more well-rounded musician and individual. If you play classical music all day, give yourself a break and listen to other genres you enjoy. This helps to keep music making and listening fresh and fun!

4. Surround Yourself with Positivity

In junior/senior high school, I was fortunate enough to attend Illinois Summer Youth Music and work with the family of Ronald Romm, a founding member of the Canadian Brass and a phenomenal trumpet player.  I remember Ron telling us that his office at the University of Illinois was full of positive quotes/affirmations, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself.  The idea of “I am a great player,” instead of “I will be a great player” changed my work ethic and how I approached music.  When we surround ourselves with positive affirmations, we begin to be more confident and less timid.  Surrounding yourself with positivity allows you to live a more productive life and have a better outlook on your playing. Try printing off positive quotes from Pinterest and taping them up in a collage on your wall so that you see them every morning before you leave for classes.

5. Remember the “WHY”

Begin with the end in mind; keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.  It is important to remember where we are headed so that we stay on track.  None of the things mentioned above matter if we don’t have a plan, or if we don’t know why we are putting in all of this work.  When we are stressed and our bodies are tired after playing for several hours, we have to remind ourselves of the end goal.  It is important to remember why we have taken this path of being a musician and why each of us loves making music. Keep finding new ways to stay inspired and never give up. Progress is not linear; it takes time and dedication. Always remember the phrase, “two steps forward, one step back.” You might not be happy with where you are now, but we all have bad days now and then. It might seem like we’re moving slowly; but that’s alright! It takes a lot of time to become a professional and seasoned musician; however, with the proper motivation and time-management, all of us can reach our goals faster than we think.

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interview with Bella Tromba

We are so excited to continue last month’s theme of interviews with inspiring women-led ensembles and feature the London-based trumpet quartet Bella Tromba.

 

Portrait shoot. East Dulwich. Sunday 5 June 2016.
Bella Tromba hold a unique position in the UK’s chamber music scene, offering a pioneering performance style and a commitment to programming outstanding brass repertoire.

Bella Tromba have presented recitals at Cheltenham Music Festival, South Bank’s Purcell Room and recorded for BBC Radio. Opening night concerts at the St David’s Cathedral Festival, Cambridge Music Festival and Wymondham Abbey Music Festival were performed to sell out audiences and they have been featured on the cover of Classical Music Magazine and Brass Herald.

London based freelance trumpet players; the members of Bella Tromba perform for the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Britten Sinfonia as well as leading West End shows and championship section brass bands. Known for their diversity of programming The Guardian described Bella Tromba as “a glamorous all-trumpet girl band, dedicated to exploring and expanding the instrument’s potential”. The support of the SPNM, Ralph Vaughan-Williams Trust and the Britten-Pears Foundation has ensured a wealth of repertoire for this distinctive ensemble.

Winners of the Park Lane Group Young Artist Award, Bella Tromba have been active in the performance of new works. Commissioned and premiered composers include by Paul Edlin (Purcell Room), Howard Skempton (Cheltenham Music Festival) and John Reeman (Dartington Festival). They performed Telos 135 for four trumpets and timpani by Peter Maxwell Davies in the presence of the composer at Canterbury Christ Church University and recorded Peter Longworth’s Colori di Roma following performances in Poland and Canada.
Bella Tromba created an illuminating live electronic dance set that fused Classical Mozart with beat led tracks and sub bass frequencies for the Beautiful Days Festival.

Bella Tromba performed as Guest Artists at the International Women’s Brass Conference in Toronto, Canada and have given recitals and conservatoire level master classes in Europe. Bella Tromba are Live Music Now Fellows and in this capacity they initiated and developed outreach projects in Special Needs School, Day Care Centres, Pupil Referal Units and hospitals. Their work has been formally recognised by HRH The Prince of Wales.

Bella Tromba perform on Denis Wick Ltd mouthpieces and mutes. Bella Tromba are have been chosen as Selected Artists by Making Music and are recipients of the Dorothy Parkinson Memorial Prize and the Dartington International Summer School Scholarship.

 

1. It is so inspiring that Bella Tromba has been an active trumpet quartet performing a wide range of music for over 10 years. With your own diverse backgrounds and a variety of children’s performance and engagements, the group seems like such a fun group to be a part of. Tell us about your experiences! How did the group get started?

Vickie: Bella Tromba was founded in 2004 when four female trumpet students were waiting to do their orchestral auditions at the Royal Academy of Music. There was a lightbulb moment and we thought let’s get together and play through some quartets. Under the guidance of the late James Watson we continued to play together and before we knew it we were an established ensemble!

Jo: If I am honest I didn’t have a clue that anything would come of it but the more we played together the more we enjoyed it and we had a lot of encouragement from our professors. Jim (Watson) even pulled the Academy Principal into our rehearsal room so he could listen to us and he took it so seriously that my mind started ticking over and I thought maybe we could enter a few competitions and do some recitals.

Becca: I got started with Bella Tromba about four years ago. I had been playing with Vickie in a big band and she invited me along to play with the group. It was very nice to be a part of an ensemble that are excited by all types of music. They focused not just on playing the music but on how to introduce audiences to new music and engage with people.

Emma: I joined the group in 2012. I was at Trinity Music College and I heard that the girls had been in touch with the Head of Brass to ask if anyone played Bass Trumpet. He said to me, ‘Emma, you now play the Bass Trumpet’!

When you play bass trumpet in an orchestra there are a lot of bars rest but in a chamber group you can really say exactly what you want and you get tunes!

 

2. What have you done as a group/individually to get to where you are today? Any secrets for success?

Becca: I always have a goal that I am fighting towards. Sometimes the goal changes and that can be a good thing. I think knowing yourself as a person and what you want to be as a musician is important. You should keep your individuality alive whatever situation you are in.

I think it’s very important an ensemble connects on a personal level as well as a musical level. Although we are four very different people we are a tight group of friends and we respect and take on board each other’s comments and musical ideas.

Some people like to interpret others music, some to improvise but for me music creation is a part of myself as a musician. I don’t think Silent Night is a piece that trumpets should always be tacet in! I like to arrange other people’s music and give it a new personality.

Vickie: I remember my Granddad taking me to watch Mahler 5 with the Halle orchestra age 8 and being captivated and wide awake!

Moving from the North of England to London I found that playing in a brass band had helped me enormously. The sense of community within a brass band is so important.  Helping each other to learn the notes and learn a new piece together and listening to each other are skills that have moved across to the quartet.

Playing with a group of friends is more fun than by yourself and you can experience adventures across the world with them by your side. Most musicians I meet have a real drive towards making music as fun as they can, they live and breathe music.

Jo: Loved music more than anything else! It’s a gift to be nurtured and cared for. I feel very blessed to be a trumpet player. Whatever struggle you are going through cling on to that and it will see you through!

Emma: Just owning a bass trumpet, spending time learning the repertoire and being a part of Bella Tromba has helped me to become known as a bass trumpet player.

 

 3. What do you love about being a female brass player?

Vickie: In this day and age the male stereotype is diminishing so we don’t notice the divide as much as we did in the past. I have really enjoyed working with young female musicians, inspiring young players to continue and even to consider it as a career. Being a musician is the most fun and diverse career and I would say go for it! You get to experience so much as a chamber group, traveling playing repertoire that is close to your heart and performing in different venues.

Jo: Just being myself and enjoying my playing!

Becca: I don’t know what it’s like to be a male brass player! I have never really thought about it!

Emma: I don’t think it matters that I am a girl. I don’t notice a difference and I don’t feel that I have a role as a female player.

 

4. 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? Do you have any advice for young female musicians?

Jo: Performing at the International Women’s Brass Conference with Bella Tromba in 2010 was a life changing experience for me. I suddenly understood how I had been shaped by learning in a predominantly male environment. Everyone at IWBC was so friendly, welcoming and entrepreneurial. I understood that the reason I had invested so much time and energy in Bella Tromba was because it was a place where I could be myself and thrive.

I do have a tendency to want to bond with younger female brass players and support them because I wish someone had done that for me. My new role models are Emma and Becca though. They just don’t see a difference in male and female players, they weren’t brought up being singled out for being a girl. Their experience has been radically different from mine and so their aspirations are inspiring for me.

Becca: I don’t think about having a specific role as a female musician, I think things are different now. My advice to female musicians would be to be self-aware and confident even if you are not outgoing or a proper lad. Confidence will drive you forward. Just be your own person and everyone will respect you for who you are.

Emma: There are a lot more male brass player and in any job, we should be striving towards equality. I teach a lot of girls and boys. I grew up in Cornwall and men and women both play brass instruments

 

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 musicians?

Becca: Learning something that you think you will never use can still be very useful. Even if it isn’t the direction you want to be heading in just be open to learning.

Vickie: If I could tell my younger self something it would be that it is OK not to want to be an orchestral player. I knew it wasn’t the path I wanted to go down even though the Guildhall School of Music wanted to push me in that direction.

Jo: So much! But you never stop learning and every new experience shapes you so it’s ok to go through battles or make mistakes. I would just want younger players to enjoy their playing. If they really do have a burn that means they can’t imagine doing anything else but playing then go all out and be strong, you’ll make it through and it is worth it.

Emma: Practice! Just have fun, I still have fun every day.

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6. Any resources you recommend? Books, podcasts, recordings that changed your life etc.

Jo: Ensemble playing, learning repertoire you feel a connection with, watching concerts and seeing musicians you admire at work is a wonderful place to start. All that will charge you with ideas and motivation.

And hymn tunes, I love hymn tunes! They are great for breathing, sound, transposition, swopping between instruments, playing musically… just about anything!

I find Paul Archibald’s Breathe books and the Clarke studies a really good way to start my practice.

Emma: If you want to be a bass trumpet player you really need to know the orchestral repertoire. Obviously, all the Wagner and Rite of Spring but also more contemporary stuff like Schoenberg.

Vickie: I have never stopped practicing the Arban!

Becca: Social media is such a useful resource! No matter what network you belong to, there are musicians all over the world that you can connect with. YouTube is great for discovering new music, exploring different genres and even collaborations. Bella Tromba have started to upload ‘play along’ videos. We want to become part of a worldwide community of musicians.

For more about Bella Tromba, check them out here!

Five Tips for Contemporary Chamber Music-Making: Amanda Ross

This week’s Five Things Friday is from trumpeter Amanda Ross, on her experiences with her contemporary chamber ensemble, Girlnoise. Thanks to Amanda for sharing her thoughts with us!

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Amanda Performs with her chamber ensemble, Girlnoise

Girlnoise is an mixed chamber ensemble specializing in contemporary music and improvisation. Founded in 2015 in Ann Arbor, MI Girlnoise has collaborated with several local composers and musicians and has performed at UMMA, Canterbury House, and University of Michigan’s School of Music. In January 2017 Girlnoise held its first collective gathering, Meditation on Water, to help raise awareness for the Flint Water Crisis. As well as playing trumpet and arranging for Girlnoise, Amanda Ross is a doctoral student in trumpet at the University of Michigan. Continue reading

Interview with Natalie Mannix

We are so excited to continue our September theme of celebrating inspiring teachers with our interview featuring trombonist and educator, Natalie Mannix. 

Natalie Mannix, principal trombonist of the Delaware Symphony, is an avid soloist, chamber musician, orchestral performer and educator. In fall of 2016 she began her current position as Assistant Professor of Trombone at the University of North Texas after teaching 8 years at Towson University in Baltimore. Previously, she was a member of the United States Navy Band in Washington, DC for over 9 years where she performed with the brass quintet, concert and ceremonial band.

She has appeared as guest artist and clinician at colleges and conferences throughout North America, including the 2016 and 2013 International Trombone Festival, the International Women’s Brass Conference, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and the American Trombone Workshop. In addition to frequent performances with the Baltimore Symphony, Natalie has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Opera and Kennedy Center Orchestras, the Washington Trombone Ensemble, the Monarch Brass, Stiletto Brass and several regional orchestras and brass ensembles. A new music advocate, she has commissioned several works for trombone and continues to perform and promote music by emerging composers.  Continue reading

An Interview with Kristy Morrell

Kristy Morrell is a faculty member at USC’s Thornton School of Music as instructor of horn and chamber music and the chair of the department of Winds, Brass and Percussion, and at the Colburn School of Music. She has been a member of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra since 1997, and performs frequently with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Opera, Pasadena Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Pacific Symphony and New West Symphony. She is also a respected recording artist, performing on numerous motion pictures, television soundtracks and records. Kristy has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from USC, where she also received her Master of Music, and a Bachelor of Music and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. (Bio adapted from music.usc.edu)

We are honored to share Dr. Morrell’s thoughtful interview responses!
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Five Things To Keep in Mind as a Music Student

We are very excited to feature Bri Ihasz – a french horn student with some great things for all of us to keep in mind about music.

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Bri Ihasz is currently a junior studying Horn Performance and the University of Michigan. The daughter of two musicians, Ihasz grew up surrounded by music in a small town south of Buffalo, NY. She absolutely loves the Michigan School of Music, but she’s also involved in other activities, such as being a part of the marketing team for a local independent record label and being a sister of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She hopes to one day move to LA and either find work playing in lab orchestras or working for record labels.

Thanks, Bri, for sharing your thoughts with the Brass Chicks community!

Continue reading

Denise Tryon interview

In honor of school starting up again, throughout September we will be featuring interviews with inspiring teachers of the women’s brass community. We are so excited to present Denise Tryon as our first interview of the month. Thanks again Denise for sharing your thoughts with the Brass Chicks community!

A native of Roseville, MN, Denise Tryon joined The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2009 as fourth horn. Previously the fourth horn of the Detroit Symphony (2003-2009), she has also held positions with the Baltimore (2000-2003), Columbus (1998-2000), and New World (1995-1998) Symphonies and has participated in the Colorado Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival. An accomplished solo performer, Tryon has performed recitals in Sweden, Norway, Poland, Japan, and the United States.

“Denise Tryon’s command of the lower register provides the strongest foundation of sound for a horn section, and yet, her sound is supple and flexible.”
—Yannick Nezet-Sequin, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra

Continue reading

5 resources for audition season – Kate Amrine 9/1

We are approaching the beginning of the semester and the beginning of the freelancing season! I hope you have all had a great summer and are now gearing up for something exciting this year. Maybe that might include an audition! Here are five resources that might be helpful to you this year and beyond throughout your audition path – whether it is a school placement audition or your first orchestral audition.

1. Bulletproof MusicianI know this website has been mentioned before on Brass Chicks but Noa Kageyama does a great job at outlining many helpful tips related to performance anxiety, music, and mindset. This article includes tips for future auditions related to your preparation beforehand.

2. Audition Hacker – This is a great website that addresses many aspects of audition preparation – from practicing tips to concerns about what happens during the audition. Check out the articles here.

3. Crushing Classical Podcast featuring Denise Tryon – Denise Tryon (former Fourth Horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra) is a master of the low horn and orchestra auditions. This interview describes her audition path and includes several helpful tips! Denise Tryon also runs an audition workshop to help students prepare with mock auditions, masterclasses, lectures and more. Check that out also!

4. Angela Beeching’s blog. Angela’s blog is so incredibly helpful on a wide range of topics including performing, speaking, marketing, and networking. Since the earlier points in this post are more about the physical aspects of playing and how/what to prepare, I knew a post on how to boost productivity would be super helpful to make sure we all stay on track in our preparation.

5. Find out what it’s like on the other side of the table — the panel! If you know someone in the organization, you might be able to find out an extra tip or two about what they could be looking for. Set up a mock audition with friends and alternate who is on the panel taking notes. You will learn SO much from being on the other side of it. Here’s a very interesting interview featuring Maxine Kwok-Adams – 1st violinist (I know, I know…this is Brass Chicks) in the London Symphony Orchestra. This interview with Maxine describes what it is like from her point of view on the panel – everything from what they may be looking for, common mistakes, and other tips.

Happy practicing and audition preparation 🙂 Got any other good audition tips? Reach out to us on our Facebook page and let us know. We would love to hear from you!