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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

The Brass Junkies Episode 54: Charles Lazarus of the Minnesota Orchestra

Andrew Hitz

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Charles Lazarus is one of the most crazy talented musicians I've ever worked with. Classical, jazz, pop. The guy can do it all. And not just kind of do it. It's really impressive what he does.

This episode ranges from talking about the very painful lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra from just a couple of years ago to some fun Dallas Brass road stories.

Episode Description:

"Charles Lazarus, 4th/utility trumpet in the Minnesota Orchestra joins Andrew & Lance in an interview to discuss everything from producing concerts to Gestalt dream analysis. Charles has grown beyond the typical role of orchestra member to someone who produces concerts for the orchestra on a regular basis. We talk about the long and painful lockout experienced by the Minnesota Orchestra, the ideas of Michael Kiser, and (believe it or not) Esquivel. Charles also explains the importance of clarifying your goals, and the importance of tenacity, access and influence. 

Additionally, we hear some legendary stories from Charles’ time in Dallas Brass including a standoff with the cops and a story about 'The Nub.'"

Links:
Charles' website
Charles' Minnesota Orchestra bio page
New album! Lovejoy

Want to help the show? Take a minute to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes.

We are proud to announce we have a new sponsor for the The Brass Junkies! The Brass Area of the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh PA is our new partner (and Lance has been teaching euphonium there since 2000). If you are interested in learning more about the program, visit the site HERE!

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at https://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Last but not least, we are now on Instagram! Follow us at instagram.com/pray4jens/ TODAY!

Produced by Joey Santillo

The Brass Junkies: David Cutler & JD Shaw

Andrew Hitz

Listen via

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Stitcher 

This one was a blast to record! Two of my best friends joined me and Lance to talk about a bunch of stuff. Can't wait to hit the recording studio with these bozos in May!

Episode Description:

"JD Shaw & David Cutler join Andrew & Lance in a slightly chaotic exploration of the group Cones and Tones. Both on faculty at the University of South Carolina, JD and David also make up (along with Andrew & Lance) a new group called Cones and Tones. The group has had a couple performances and is heading into the recording studio in late Spring of 2017 to record an album which will attempt to cover the multiple styles and diverse personalities these four knuckleheads bring to the table. JD (making his third appearance on TBJ) tells how the group got started and talks about programming a “musical variety show.” 

David (author of the great books The Savvy Musician and The Savvy Music Teacher) also takes some time to talk about The Savvy Arts Venture Challenge, the world's leading experiential entrepreneurship workshop for musicians, performing artists and educators (formerly known as The SAVVY Musician in Action).

Additionally, we spend more than a few minutes busting each other's chops."

Links:

Savvy Arts Venture Challenge
JD's arrangements
JD's USC faculty bio
David's website
David's USC faculty bio

Want to help the show? Take a minute to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes.

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at https://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Joey Santillo

The Brass Junkies: Billy Bargetzi - Episode 52

Andrew Hitz

Listen via

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Trombonist Billy Bargetzi joined me and Lance in an interview that is both entertaining and powerful. Billy is a journeyman who has played with an incredible array of some of the most amazing players of our time. Additionally, he teachers at the University of Alabama- Hunstsville, which is celebrating 50 years of existence. Both his parents were avid opera singers and his dad was also a big band singer, which informed Billy’s interest in music that crosses genres and styles. 

He went to school with prior TBJ guest Harry Watters and his brother (and future TBJ) Ken, performed with Dick Nailer and discusses the importance of attitude. 

Speaking of which, Billy talks at length about his six-month bout with Bell’s Palsey. Why he persevered, how he came back and how this attitude made all the difference. Powerful stuff.

Links:

Billy's Conn-Selmer bio page
University of Alabama at Huntsville 50th Anniversary Celebration

Want to help the show? Take a minute to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes.

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at https://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Joey Santillo

Lance LaDuke: Three Tips for Talking to Audiences

Andrew Hitz

If you haven't spoken to audiences a lot, chances are you need to work on it. It can be one of the most terrifying things that some people ever try to do in life.

But it doesn't need to be.

One of the best people I've ever seen on a mic is my partner at Pedal Note Media, Lance LaDuke. Here is a piece that Lance did a long time ago that he has let me republish here. Good stuff!

(This is reprinted with Lance’s permission and originally appeared at bostonbrass.wordpress.com.)

Um, I’d like to, um talk, you know about er, um, oh you know, like, talking to audiences and stuff.

Captivated?

Can’t wait to hear more?

Didn’t think so.

As musicians, we sometimes feel that we can just let the music speak for itself. There is no need for us to sully our performances with speaking. We practice for hours, perfecting every phrase, every nuance, striving for an ideal performance. Then we adopt a “play it and they will come” mentality. Since we’re God’s gift, people will instantly respond to our every phrase and nuance; we’re just that good. Adulation, groupies and a tour bus are all in our near future.

Other times we feel insecure in performance. Will it go as planned? Will the audience like the piece or program? I hate speaking to crowds. I don’t know what to say. Will they throw vegetables? If so, will there be enough to serve at the reception?

Whatever the reason, it has become increasingly common (and in some cases expected) for musicians to speak to their audiences. While this can seem beneath some of us, and terrifying to others, it needn’t be either.

Audiences want to connect with performers. Programs, bios and notes provide data but not personality. There are many potential reasons (the de-formalization of performances, the rise of reality programming and the connective possibilities of the internet, to name a few). The fact remains that many (most?) most conductors, soloists and chamber musicians will have to “face the music” and speak to the folks who have paid to come hear them play.

Fortunately, audiences have very simple needs. SO STAND UP, TURN ON THE MIC, AND ANSWER THESE THREE QUESTIONS:

1. WHO ARE YOU?

We see your name in the program and read your bio. BUT if you’re a chamber group, introduce the players (so we can connect the names to faces) and let us know something about them. If you’re a soloist, tell us something that happened to you today in our city or at our venue or comment on something that happened in the world that may be on everyone’s mind. Not a lecture, a minute or two. Break the ice. Think dinner party.

2. WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING?

Remind us. Don’t just read the program to us but give us a framework to help us get a head start on what we’re about to hear. Set the table for us.  This is especially helpful if the composer is less familiar to a general audience. This can take less than a minute

3. WHY SHOULD WE CARE?

Is there an interesting story about the composer or the piece? Why did you select it? Is there anything in particular we should listen for? One to two minutes should do it.

Tailor the talk to your style. If you’re funny, let it be funny. If the piece is serious, let it be serious. DON’T read a script. If you need notes, fine, but talk TO the people who have come to hear you and BE YOURSELF!

THAT’S IT! NOW GO SIT DOWN AND DAZZLE US WITH YOUR PLAYING!

It’s really that simple. We don’t need a twenty-minute lecture. We DID come to hear you play. We just want to know WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU’RE PLAYING AND WHY WE SHOULD CARE.

See you at the reception.

I hear there are plenty of veggies.

Lance

The Brass Junkies: David Childs - Episode 51

Andrew Hitz

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David Childs, phenomenal euphonium soloist, recording artist, teacher, publisher and magazine editor joined me and Lance to talk about his career up to this point and where he’s headed.

We talked to David about studying with his father (Robert Childs who along with Nicholas, made up the groundbreaking Childs Brothers euphonium duet), inspiring younger players and his explorations into electro-acoustic music, specifically his experiments with adding sensors to his horn. Additionally, we share our admiration for Demondrae Thurman (he's dreamy), portfolio careers and Richard Strauss.

Finally, David is a regular part of the North American Brass Band Summer School in Nova Scotia each summer, is a Manchester United fan and has inspired Lance to start using the term “X, Y, Zed” more frequently. Although for no clear reason.

Links:

Personal site, davechilds.com
North American Brass Band Summer School, nabbss.com
Prima Vista Musikk, primavistamusikk.com
Brass Band World Magazine, brassbandworld.co.uk

Want to help the show? Here are three ways:

Take a minute to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes.

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at https://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Lastly, you can do us a HUGE favor by just sharing our show with your knuckle head friends who would also enjoy it. You know who they are. Bring them into the fold!

Produced by Joey Santillo

Finding the Sweet Spot When Practicing

Andrew Hitz

"Lack of focus when practicing comes from one of two things: boredom or frustration."
—Lance LaDuke

If you are bored, raise your standards. That side of the equation is very straightforward (although not always easy!)

If you are frustrated, break the passage down to its individual parts (fingers, ear, rhythms, range, dynamics, etc) and figure out exactly what requires attention.

If a passage is in the upper register, it may appear that range is the reason you are missing a lot of notes. But if your fingers are close but not exactly correct, you will continue to miss those notes until you clean up the fingers.

So continuing to hang out in your extreme high register with sloppy fingers will not only not fix the problem, it will tire you and only reinforce the bad fingers leading to even more work later on.

There is a sweet spot that lies between boredom and frustration. The best players in the world are also the best practicers. They have found a way to hang out in between the boredom and frustration and get more done in less time than those who don't.

More done in the practice room in less time? Sign me up!

The Brass Junkies: Scott Hartman - Episode 48

Andrew Hitz

Listen via

iTunes
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Stitcher 

Scott Hartman, Lecturer in Trombone at Yale University joined us to discuss his incredibly successful and diverse career. Scott has taught and played concerts throughout the world and in all fifty states. He regularly performs and records with the Yale Brass Trio, Proteus 7, the Millennium Brass, the Brass Band of Battle Creek, and the trombone quartet Four of a Kind. Mr. Hartman spends several weeks each summer in residence at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. 

Scott covers his thoughts on how the chamber music business changed over the years since from his time with Empire Brass to today. We learn of the important distinction between Scott A. Hartman and Scott P. Hartman and get some great Empire Brass stories.

Oh and at one point, Scott may have sounded possessed. And he can be a meathead.

Links:

Don’t go to:
http://www.slushpump.com/

But do go to:
http://www.hartmanmouthpieces.net/
http://music.yale.edu/faculty/hartman-scott/
http://www.bbbc.net/roster/ 

Want to help the show? Here are three way:

Take a minute to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes.

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at https://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Lastly, you can do us a HUGE favor by just sharing our show with your knuckle head friends who would also enjoy it. You know who they are. Bring them into the fold!

Produced by Joey Santillo