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

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.


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!

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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

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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!

Five Things Friday – format and news

We are very happy here at Brass Chicks to be celebrating 6 weeks of  Five Things Fridays! We have had six different Five Things Friday posts so far that have been helpful, eye-opening, and inspiring. Thank you so much to our guest Brass Chick bloggers and our readers! We cannot wait to see what comes next 🙂

Submissions are coming in fast but we do still have openings for mid October thru the rest of the year. Please  do not hesitate to reach out to us at or on our Facebook page if you would like to write a post for the future!

New to Brass Chicks or still unsure exactly what a Five Things Friday post entails?

Five Things Friday is a weekly series where the writer states 5 things that are important, interesting, or helpful to her. These can be 5 things learned, 5 things you love, 5 examples of xyz, or anything else that gets you excited! We love this format because it allows ANYONE to write a post regardless of experience level or background. Examples include: 5 favorite trumpet players, 5 recordings that changed your life, 5 things you learned in your time at school– the possibilities are endless.

In terms of format – we don’t have a length limit set for each of the Five Things but please check out previous posts for an idea. If you are interested in writing a post, reach out to us with a Friday in mind, and then your post will be due to us the Monday beforehand. We will also post your photo, a bio under 250 words, and any links you may want to share.
We hope to hear from you soon and thanks for being a part of the Brass Chicks community!

Looking Back: Album Releases From This Summer


As Summer 2017 draws to an end, we look back on a prolific four months of album releases featuring female brass musicians. With music including classical, jazz, and mariachi, this summer’s albums have something to offer for everyone.

NB: If you or a friend released an album this summer and we missed it, let us know in the comments! Continue reading

Five Favorite Practice Strategies – Melissa Hagstedt 8/25

Super excited to share another great productive and helpful Friday post – this one from trombonist Melissa Hagstedt.


Melissa is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School,  and is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Music Performance at New York University. While at UNCSA she studied with John Ilika. At UNCSA she performed frequently with the Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Band, Trombone Choir and Wind Ensemble. Prior to her time at UNCSA, she was a member of the 2013 National Association for Music Education’s All Nation Concert Band. Currently she is studying with Dr. Per Brevig and plays in various ensembles throughout the NYC area such as the NYU Symphony Orchestra, NYU Brass Choir, and the NYU Brass Trio. She has had experience as a pit orchestra musician in the productions Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Giovanni, Ballad of a Baby Doe and Pirates of Penzance with both the Blue Hill Troupe, Utopia Opera Company and Vocal Productions NYC.

Thanks, Melissa, for sharing your practice strategies with the Brass Chicks community!

Here are my five favorite practice strategies. Each of these practice strategies have been personal breakthroughs which I feel have helped me make great strides in becoming a better player. I hope that you will try some of these out to see if they work for you!

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