Tickets available now! I hope to see you there.
Students and Parents,
I recently received word that Minnesota Youth Symphonies (MYS) is looking for trombonists to audition for their Repertory Orchestra for the 2nd and 3rd trimester of their 2014-15 season.
Auditions will be held before November 15.
I currently have one student in MYS, starting his second year. I encourage all my students to seek extracurricular performance opportunities whenever possible!
Another great local youth orchestra is the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS).
As always I am happy to help my students prepare for auditions!
This weekend was busy busy busy.
But oh so good.
On Saturday, I had the immense privilege to perform in the backing orchestra for international superstar baritone Josh Groban. He is a class act- not only a talented singer but a professional one. He introduced himself to his local musicians and kept everything on a tight schedule without fuss. His touring band- seven mind-bogglingly talented individuals- was also exceedingly nice and made us feel like part of the ensemble. I also had the pleasure to share the stage again with my good friend Melissa Morey, and if you’re looking for a horn teacher, look no further! Taking the stage for an audience of 8,000 people is an experience beyond exciting.
On Sunday, Winona State University professor Donald Lovejoy’s labor of love, Festival Brass, did a reprise concert to last week’s, this time at WSU itself. We played some fantastic music for large brass ensemble, including a spine-tingling rendition of Alfred Reed’s Symphony for Brass and Percussion. Performers included members of the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, faculty at local colleges from the U to UW River Falls, and then there was little old me.
I mention it thusly because on top of luxuriating in the musical experiences I participated in this weekend, I got nothing short of an education in the world of professional playing- both on a large, international scale, and on a local one. It’s not often I get to play with such top talent, and it’s definitely a goal of mine to make it a more regular thing.
People are often curious about how the process of booking and getting jobs in the music industry works. Auditions are indeed a part of the puzzle, especially for players hoping to land an orchestra gig. But for freelancers like myself, getting gigs is all about visibility and word-of-mouth. Groban’s gig came to me because Melissa gave my name to the booking agent; Dr Lovejoy found my website when searching for local players for a concert last year. Most gigs come into my hand because of other gigs- a perpetuating cycle- I played here and so-and-so liked me and thought of me when the next concert for X group came up. I play in Metro Brass because of my time with Sheldon Theatre Brass Band- and I can’t even remember how I got that gig anymore.
This is often a tenuous lifestyle, I won’t lie about that. And there are downsides to the ‘word-of-mouth’ method of booking gigs. Music and especially the brass world can be a bit of an old boys club, and not just in a sexist way. Friends book friends book friends and no one else gets a chance. Luckily, you have two very important tools at hand to combat this.
1. Be a reliable player.
Notice I did say phenomenal, or outstanding, or anything- but reliable. It’s so boring, I know. And you should always strive to be the best performer you can be. But if you’re reliable- not only can you hit the notes and rhythms and play in tune, but you can also be counted on to show up on time, dress appropriately, and act professionally- people will book you again.
2. Be a good person.
Bring the drama? Act aggressively to criticism? Can’t be nice to your fellow performers? Don’t expect to work much. Like anyone else, musicians like work to people who are pleasant and easy to get along with. Most of us are pretty nice people- I’m speaking for my studio, of course- so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for anyone. Just remember that acting maturely, calmly, and friendly at a gig is a sure fire way to impress the powers that be.
Got it? Now go practice. You still have to know how to play all your scales.
The ever brilliant and talented Mr David Byrne offers up some harsh realities in his latest piece for The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/oct/11/david-byrne-internet-content-world
Most of my students are younger than the internet, and so I’m particularly curious to get that generation’s take on Byrne’s thoughts. For me, the article brought up the larger issue of how we treat folks who make and distribute art in our culture. In general, there is an expectation that artists, and musicians in particular, are so inspired to create and perform that they love to do so regardless of receiving compensation for their work. So moved by the muse that guides them, artists put beauty into the world freely and gladly.
Those of us at work in the industry know better, and struggle against this misconception everyday. I wouldn’t give up the joy of performing for anything, and I am blessed to have chosen a career that makes me happy. But it is, ultimately, a career, and I need to be able to support myself using my hard-earning skills or I will founder.
To get back to Byrne’s point, though, we are very quick to snap up musical content when we can get it cheaply and easily. Services like Spotify and Pandora allow us to broaden our scope and tastes. I find them useful for that purpose, but whenever possible I purchase music, and preferably through a local agent or directly from the musician whenever possible.
And on another note, to my students who don’t know who David Byrne is, allow me to give you a little more education:
Most recently, Mr Byrne has been collaborating with the fantastic St. Vincent.
He’s had a long solo career.
But once upon a time he gained fame with the group Talking Heads.