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 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

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

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.

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Five Ways to Support Female Colleagues and Students in the Brass Section

As 2017 winds to a close, we’d like to use our final Five Things Friday of the year to make a difference in the community. We spend a lot of time here at Brass Chicks discussing the reality of how things are for us as women playing brass instruments, but sometimes fail to make the connection to what we can do to make things better. Hopefully, the five methods below can help us to help each other and make a change in 2018 and beyond!

1. Listen to women

Go to shows and concerts featuring female musicians, buy albums of work by women, and listen to and play music by female composers. Additionally, show your students that you are doing these things! Lend your students CDs where they can hear female players. Send them YouTube links to videos of your favorite female soloist. In addition to helping out the musicians whose work you share, this can help show the next generation of musicians that brass is not just a men’s game and women are setting a standard of excellence in this field.  Continue reading

5 Things I’ve Learned While Traveling with My Trumpets

We are pleased to welcome trumpeter Katie Clark as this week’s Five Things Friday guest writer!

KatieClarkWhen I first set out on my trumpet travels this fall, I was asked if I would like to write a piece for “5 Things Friday” on Brass Chicks about what I’ve learned or discovered while curating my own education this year.

I’ve been blogging about my travels, trumpet, and being gluten free on my blog, Katie’s Trumpet Travels (, so feel free to find out more about me and my story there!

I voluntarily withdrew from my doctoral studies at the University of British Columbia last spring to attend the University of Toronto’s Master of Teaching program. However, after attending Chosenvale: The Center for Advanced Musical Studies in June, I realized that I needed to make the trumpet my career; I love it. So I was unsatisfied with my doctoral program, no longer wished to attend teachers college, and was forced to come up with a plan. I’ve always said that studying abroad would be a dream come true, but I was hesitant to spend two to four years abroad as I am very comfortable living in Canada and wish to work there one day. For some reason, I did not see it as a road block to spend one year abroad. I guess when you’re determined to make something happen, it happens.

I then decided that I didn’t need a school. I had spent the past seven years in music schools and really just wanted to expand my trumpet technique and proficiency. I needed teachers. I then considered the many teachers that I’ve met throughout the past few years whom I’ve learned a lot from and drafted out a travel plan. In doing this, I was also lucky to stumble across the news of a conservatory needing an extra trumpet performer for a concert in March and found a base point for my European adventure. Considering I was not going to be a full time student, I had a lot of free time to schedule lessons and other classes across Europe during my time abroad. I was also very lucky to have a friend who was taking a gap year between her undergraduate and graduate degrees join me on this adventure because travelling with someone is a lot more fun than travelling alone.

Anyways, too much rambling! I am now five weeks into my seven weeks of trumpet travel in Europe, am a contract student at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag, and have learned many new things about trumpet, travel, and myself that I will attempt to organize into a clear list. Please note that these are the most valuable things that I have picked up while travelling and curating my own education and that they may be different for you!  Continue reading

An Interview with Lori Eure

This week at Brass Chicks, we are pleased to share an interview with Lori Eure. Lori is a singer, actor, musician, and dancer, who also doubles on a variety of instruments. In the recent Cabaret national tour, she performed on trumpet, horn, euphonium, and accordion, in addition to singing, acting, and dancing. A true quadruple threat, Lori has a unique perspective on musicianship and artistic life.

About Lori Eure

headshot 3 .jpgLori Eure, originally from North Carolina, currently lives in New York, NY. Lori is a singer, actor, musician, and dancer. Some theatre credits include: Broadway: Cabaret (at the infamous Studio 54) Sally Bowles understudy/Kit Kat Girl. National tour: Cabaret. Regional Theatre: Ring of FireThe Buddy Holly Story, Wonderland, We Will Rock You (Las Vegas Cast), Beehive at The Kennedy Center, Annie, and Guys-n-Dolls. TV credits include: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Spin City. Lori gives much thanks and love to her family and friends. “Life and love go on… Let the music play!”

From Ravelle Brickman’s review of Cabaret in DC Metro Theatre Arts:
“…Some of the stand-outs are Lori Eure, who cavorts on a bannister while playing a mean French horn, plus a gaggle of sax players, horns and strings, clarinets, accordions and drums and even a banjo.”

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An Interview with Caroline Steiger

This week, we are excited to share an interview with Dr. Caroline Steiger, Assistant Professor of Music and Artist/Teacher of Horn at Texas State University.  We love her thoughts on education and the changing nature of the music world!

About Caroline Steiger

Dr. SteigerDr. Caroline Steiger is an active teacher, clinician, and performer both in large and small ensemble settings. Caroline grew up in Southeast Michigan and went on to study at the University of Michigan, earning a B.M. in Horn performance with Teacher Certification in 2010, Penn State University where she earned her M.M. in Horn Performance, and the University of Michigan, earning her D.M.A. in performance in 2015.

Dr. Steiger is currently the Assistant Professor of Music and Artist/Teacher of Horn at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. She has held positions at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music (Visiting Assistant Professor of Horn, 2014), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Horn Instructor, Summer 2017), Penn State University (Teacher Assistant), and the University of Michigan (Graduate Student Assistant). Several of her students have gone on to study music at the undergraduate and graduate level, while her high school and middle school students have participated in State Solo and Ensemble (MI) as well as the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. While at Penn State University, Caroline was the Assistant Director of the Penn State Horn Ensemble and helped plan tours that included performances at the Pennsylvania Music Educator’s Association (PMEA) conference, Lancaster, and Hershey, PA.

Dr. Steiger’s work as a musician includes regular performances with the Mid-Texas Symphony and Round Rock Symphony Orchestras. She has played with the San Antonio Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra during their 2015 US tour. In addition, Caroline has held Principal positions with the Dearborn Symphony (Dearborn, MI), Adrian Symphony (Adrian, MI), Rochester Symphony (Rochester, MI), Oakland Symphony (Rochester, MI), Orchestra of Northern New York (Potsdam, NY), and the Northern Symphonic Winds (Potsdam, NY). Caroline has performed in great halls across the country, including Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall in Detroit, Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, and Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, getting a chance to work with conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Leonard Slatkin, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Stefan Sanderling, Lio Kuokman, Karina Canellakis, and Giordano Bellincampi.

Committed to chamber music, Caroline has played with the Potsdam Brass Quintet, faculty quintet-in-residence at SUNY Potsdam, the Emblems Woodwind Quintet, an Ann Arbor-based quintet focused on performing new and underrepresented works, and in 2015 participated in a chamber music residency at the University of Michigan with New York Philharmonic principal winds where she performed with Philip Myers.

Dr. Steiger’s main teachers include Adam Unsworth, Bryan Kennedy, Lisa Bontrager, Soren Hermansson, and Corbin Wagner. She has also studied with and participated in masterclasses with Gail Williams, Fergus McWilliam, David Krehbiel, Robert Ward, Bernhard Scully, and Jeffrey Lang.

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