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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Andrew Hitz

The Brass Junkies 70: Listener's Choice: Where Andrew & Lance share stories related to questions submitted by YOU!

Andrew Hitz

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We are always trying new things at Pedal Note Media (after all, if you're not, what the hell is the fun in that?) So this is a new episode format where we answer a couple of questions from the audience. If this gets a good response, we will do more of these episodes in the future!

From the show notes:

This is the first in what may become a recurring episode type (depending on whether you nice folks like the format.) We get lots of questions on a variety of topics and thought we'd try answering some of them.

In this episode, we talk about our early influences and share stories from our formative years. We close out the episode explaining how we ended up in music school and will be unpacking the process of college applications/auditions for the next installment of the "Listener's Choice."

Let us know what you think!

The Brass Junkies: Rex Richardson

Andrew Hitz

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Lance and I had a blast interviewing our good friend Rex Richardson for the latest episode of The Brass Junkies podcast.  Rex is one of the best trumpet players in the world and has one of the most interesting careers in the music business today.  He has played in more countries than any other musician I know.

We asked him about how he became so proficient at both jazz and classical music, about his travels are the world, and made a lot of fun of him for being a trumpet player.  You should be warned that we laugh an awful lot.

Thank you, Rex, for joining us!

Victor Barranco Joins The Brass Junkies

Andrew Hitz

The latest episode of The Brass Junkies podcast features a hilarious interview with trombonist Victor Barranco of the US Army Blues.  He talks about the fascinating path he took from growing up in North Pole, Alaska to ending up in Washington, DC playing in one of the premier bands in the world.

He also speaks about how he became handy around the house (as in having his house featured on home improvement websites.)  Why is this important? It turns out he used the exact same growth mentality to teach himself how to play jazz and then just a few years later he was the lead trombone in the One O'Clock Band at UNT.  He speaks about how it is all about how you approach things.

Lance and I couldn't believe how much we laughed during this episode and how inspiring it was.  He will make you go practice and have you in stitches talking about being the only Puerto Rican family growing up in North Pole.

Subscribe to The Brass Junkies via iTunes

Victor Barranco Joins The Brass Junkies

My Interview with Seth Haines about a Career in Music

Andrew Hitz

Seth Haines of the great resource, The Musician's Guide to Hustling, was kind enough to interview me on my career to this point.  We discussed a variety of subjects including:

  • How I got the job with Boston Brass
  • How I proactively planned for my career after Boston Brass
  • Keys to freelancing
  • How Lance LaDuke and I came to create Pedal Note Media
  • All of my current projects including working with The Mockingbird Foundation
  • And a lot more!

Seth has a good thing going over there and it was great to chat with him about making a career in music.  You can check out the interview here.

Andrew Hitz & Lance LaDuke: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Here is the presentation that I did with my Pedal Note Media partner, Lance LaDuke, at the 2015 Army Tuba-Euphonium Workshop at Fort Myer in Arlington, VA.  A big thank you to all of those from the Army Band who were not only involved with hosting the workshop but also with archiving all of the sessions for everyone to enjoy after the fact.

Our session was titled "Low Brass 101: It's Just Business" and discussed things that you can do today to help take your career to the next level.  As we stated at the beginning of the presentation, it really has nothing to do with low brass specific stuff.  We discussed things like networking, marketing, targeting specific customers, and many other business concepts.

We hope you enjoy!

Brass Recording Project Outtake: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

This moment from the recently completed Brass Recording Project session is just too funny not to share. (Check back here soon for a full rundown of four of the most fun days of any of our careers.)

One of the tunes we recorded for the premiere Brass Recording Project album was Henry Fillmore's "Circus Bee" march.  After we got it in the can, Lance LaDuke (trombone, euphonium, all-around jackass) lost his mind and started doing a one man band version of the march.  I've already said too much.

Enjoy! And follow the Brass Recording Project on Facebook.  Cheers!

The Next Chapter

Andrew Hitz

After over 13 years as the tuba player with Boston Brass, I am officially stepping down on January 1st to pursue other opportunities.  At some point, you realize that your present situation is a part of your past and not a part of your future.  This realization is a very liberating moment and enables the fear of change to be overtaken by its necessity. In my time with the quintet, I have performed in over 40 states and over 30 countries on 4 continents.  It's really incredible when I stop and think about it.  The places I've seen, the people I've met, the food I've eaten, the halls I've played will take a lifetime to sort through the memories.

I have put many things on the back burner during my time on the road and I am very excited for them to step to the forefront.  I have multiple business ventures that will be unveiled shortly and there is a long list of things my wife and I have not been able to do as a result of my schedule.  I just can't put these things off any longer.  Lance LaDuke is also stepping down from Boston Brass.  He and I will be partnering on a number of business fronts moving forward which we are very excited about.

I'm thrilled to announce that I will remain an Educational Ambassador for Jupiter Band Instruments.  My solo playing and teaching engagements have taken in off in the last few years and I hope to continue that momentum.  I am eager for the next chapter.

Thanks to everyone for your support and stay tuned here for what's next.  To quote my favorite band from Vermont:

"This has all been wonderful, but now I'm on way."




Lessons Learned from The Savvy Musician in ACTION Retreat

Andrew Hitz

Last week at the University of South Carolina, David Cutler (author of The Savvy Musician) hosted a life changing retreat for everyone who attended.  It was titled "The Savvy Musician in ACTION Retreat" and featured 57 participants (or arts entrepreneurs as they were called) from 21 different states and Canada.  The participants ranged from undergrads to full-time professionals working in every aspect of the arts.  The faculty consisted of five Thought Leaders (of which I was one) from around the US as well as a number of amazing professors from USC. The retreat, as with so many great things in life, is hard to summarize.  In a nutshell, 57 people split up into 10 teams and had to come up with an arts based business model that would both provide impact and be sustainable.  They had basically two days to figure out everything including a name, a logo, where funding was coming from, their target customer base, a comprehensive marketing and social media strategy, and how to pitch this idea to three actual business leaders from Columbia, SC.

Some of the teams were working until 5:00 am the last night in order to finish their presentations which they began setting up at 8:00 in the hall! It was an intense atmosphere for both the teachers and the participants.  I left more energized about my future than I've been since I was a kindergartener dreaming of becoming an astronaut.

What an amazing experience! Thank you to all who were there.  I learned so much from all of you.  I had one student there from George Mason, Andrew Dougherty, who told me he will try to convince the entire studio to come down next year.  I sure hope they do.

I could do a dozen posts (and still might!) just on the things I learned from fellow thought leaders Justin Kantor (of Le Poisson Rouge), Jon Ostrow (of CyberPR), Lance LaDuke (of Boston Brass) and David Cutler.  But one of the coolest parts of the 4 days was when each of the arts entrepreneurs got up in front of everyone and said one thing they had learned over the course of the four days.  Here is a sampling of quotes from that decompression session.  There are so many nuggets of inspiration and motivation in here that I don't even know where to begin.


  • Make your goals bigger and the steps to get there smaller.
  • Find somebody that knows more than you and just ask them.
  • Be willing to pivot instead of hanging on with your claws until you die.
  • Doing things perfectly is not nearly as important as getting things done.
  • Don't be afraid to pivot and make a change.
  • Good leaders need to know what it's like to be a follower.
  • Trust your team. They can do great things.
  • Dream big and don't apologize for it.
  • Life begins outside your comfort zone.
  • Knowing and understanding are two different things.
  • Choose to go all in.
  • Don't let your idea for a project get in the way of letting something become what it needs to become.
  • I was reminded of the power of small.
  • It's OK to ask for help.
  • Having a sense of humor when things blow up in your face is a good thing.
  • There's no shame in passing something off to someone who can do it better.
  • There's an incredible amount of power in diversity.
  • Attempted humor is a great stress relief.
  • It is a value to be able to improvise well.
  • Focus.
  • The more energy you put into life, the more you get out of life.

New Year's Resolution: More YouTube

Andrew Hitz

It is that time of year that most of us make New Year's resolutions.  Whether it be joining a gym and going only 5 times or dieting for only a couple of weeks, we frequently don't even come close to realizing our goals.  So this year I've decided to make a productive resolution that is also fun: I'm going to spend at least one hour a week watching great music on YouTube.  It's that simple.  The amount of amazing performances which are at the fingertips of anyone with an internet connection today is simply stunning.  The fact that I have not been taking full advantage of this mind-boggling resource is silly.

2011 saw the introduction of the online music streaming service Spotify to the United States.  Spotify inspired me to listen to more music this past year than I had in recent memory.  It is a wonderful service and makes doing my research (for the tuba in my head) incredibly easy.  It even inspired a very cool listening project that I'm doing with the George Mason Tuba/Euphonium studio called the Studio Listening Lab.

Spotify has inspired me to bring my research to the next level.  So I've decided that 2012 will be the Year of YouTube for me.  There is something to be said for watching the best musicians in the world do what they do right before your very eyes.

Below are two clips from a jam session that I never knew even happened.  Two of my favorite bass players are Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and George Porter Jr. (of The Meters).  These guys are two of my bass clef heroes and without YouTube I wouldn't even know that the two bands shared a stage in 2006 with the two of them trading solos! Not only did I learn of it's existence but I got to watch it! After two short clips I felt inspired and energized.

So here's to my 2012 being the Year of YouTube!



What Do You Fear Musically?

Andrew Hitz

Each of us fears something musically.  When you show up to sight-read a freelance gig what do you scan the book most hoping not to see? High notes? Large interval jumps? Exposed soft playing? Mixed meters? Clefs? Key Signatures? Identify your biggest fear musically and attack it head on in the practice room until that very fear becomes one of your biggest assets. Excelling at something most find difficult is your best opportunity to make a name for yourself in a very crowded field.