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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

The Brass Junkies: Billy Bargetzi - Episode 52

Andrew Hitz

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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

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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

The Tricky Part of Awareness

Andrew Hitz

"Awareness of what is without judgement is relaxing and is the best precondition for change."
—Timothy Gallwey from The Inner Game of Tennis

The without judgement part is the real key to the above quote. Any time I catch myself using the word should I know I am going down a dangerous (or at the very least not helpful) path.

I should be more prepared for this recital.

I should have this piece memorized by now.

I should already have a gig.

I should have my lesson plans done for tomorrow.

The problem with judgement is that it focuses on something that can't be controlled or changed, the past. And focusing on something that can't be changed is not a good precursor for change.

And yet awareness is incredibly vital. Without knowing what your blind spot is as a conductor, a bassoon player or an entrepreneur, you have very little chance of improving it.

So be brutally honest with yourself about what you can and can't do and yet be kind to yourself and accept what has already happened (or not happened!) as exactly what it is, done.

Perhaps my favorite quote of all time sums this up perfectly:

"You have to abandon all hope for a better past."

Amen.

I drove through a beautiful snow-kissed Glenwood Canyon yesterday on my way to Grand Junction to be the featured guest artist at The Best of the West Festival at Colorado Mesa University!

I drove through a beautiful snow-kissed Glenwood Canyon yesterday on my way to Grand Junction to be the featured guest artist at The Best of the West Festival at Colorado Mesa University!

The Brass Junkies: Wes Funderburk and Tom Gibson - Episode 47

Andrew Hitz

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Two of my knucklehead friends, Wes Funderburk and Tom Gibson, joined us for one of the most chaotic and accidentally informative episode yet. Wes and Tom both live in Atlanta and write, gig, teach and conduct there (both play/conduct/arrange for the Atlanta Pops, the Joe Grandson Big Band and teach at Kennesaw State University. Additionally, Wes teaches at Georgia State and Tom teaches at the University of West Georgia). They each have also launched successful online projects (one of which involved a banana and a net pot) and happen to be two of the funniest people on the earth. 

Tom unpacks his tone color, time and note shape approach to teaching and Wes recalls the time he borrowed a burger from Hardee’s.

Warning: It’s a little chaotic at the beginning of the episode. Hang in there. It’s worth it. 

Links:

Wes' personal website
Wes' Kennesaw bio page
Tom's West Georgia University bio page
Atlanta Pops
Joe Grandsen Big Band


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: Phil Snedecor - Episode 46

Andrew Hitz

Listen via

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Phil Snedecor is one of the most talented people in know in the music business and I don't just say something like that lightly. He is an accomplished composer, arranger, conductor, teacher, entrepreneur and on top of all of it is one of the best trumpet players in the world.

I hate saying nice things about my friends but some of them give me no other options!

I really enjoyed this interview for The Brass Junkies Podcast. Phil gives practically a step-by-step rundown of how to succeed in the music business. The information he shares in this episode is invaluable to anyone trying to make it (or make it a little further!) in the music business.

Good stuf..

Links:

Personal site
Hart School bio
Publications
Washington Symphonic Brass
Lessons From a Streetwise Professor

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 for Pedal Note Media