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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: David Cutler

The Brass Junkies: David Cutler & JD Shaw

Andrew Hitz

Listen via


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."


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 Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Joey Santillo

The Brass Junkies: JD Shaw

Andrew Hitz

Listen via


I hate to say nice things about him because he's one of my best friends but JD Shaw is simply one of the best horn players and teachers in the world. He is currently Associate Professor of Horn at the University of South Carolina and is my former colleague from Boston Brass.

JD talks about a new quartet that I'm in with him (along with Lance LaDuke and David Cutler) called Cones and Tones and about what it's like writing for horn, euphonium, tuba and piano. He also shares some fascinating insights into how the market for chamber music is changing and lists some of his favorite chamber groups.

And there are a couple of old Boston Brass war stories as well!

Please don't tell him I called him one of the best players and teachers in the world. I will deny it.


JD's bio at the University of South Carolina
Buy some of JD's arrangements at Potenza Music

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Austin Boyer of FredBrass.

David Cutler: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

David Cutler is a dear friend and a creative genius.  I hope he doesn't read this because it will go to his head but he is one of those people who seems to always being thinking a couple of steps ahead on the creative front.

Here is his version of "Oh Christmas Tree" for prepared piano which he performed many times when he joined Boston Brass every year for the expanded Christmas lineup.  I always looked forward to his solo performances during every gig.  You never quite know what he is going to come up with.


Have Your Dreams Been Educated Out of You?

Andrew Hitz

"All kids dream big. They want to be super famous, super meaningful, super powerful superheroes...But as we mature, these grand fantasies are typically educated out of us."
-David Cutler, Author of The Savvy Musician

The above quote is from a really great blog post by my good friend David Cutler over at It is must read.

He points out that people's dreams either grow or shrink over time and that it's usually the latter. It is his contention that this is not good.

As David points out in his excellent post, you should never let the system educate your dreams out of you. Every single person in this business who you look up to started by dreaming big and never changed that fact.

Perfect Advice on Starting Any Arts Initiative in One Sentence

Andrew Hitz

"You need to know what you know and you don't know and how to partner with people with different strengths." -David Cutler (The Savvy Musician)

You will never read a sentence that sums up how to proceed on any new business venture better than that one above.  When starting any kind of an arts initiative, don't simply go for the most talented players, dancers, singers, or actors. Read the above sentence until you have it memorized and then go from there.

Trust me.  You'll thank Dr. Cutler later if you do.

(This quote was from the fabulous 2013 Savvy Musician In Action Retreat at the University of South Carolina.)


The Power of Doing

Andrew Hitz

"You don't learn something when you hear about it.  You learn something when you do it or teach it." - David Cutler (Author of "The Savvy Musician")

These wise words came from my good friend and colleague, Dr. David Cutler, at the beginning of The Savvy Musician In ACTION Retreat back in June.  As another school year begins, these are great words for all teachers to remember, from elementary school to college.  I know I can occasionally fall into the trap of telling my students all about something at great length rather than giving them simply a general idea and then making them try it themselves.

Students learn a little bit about a new concept by listening to an expert speak about it.  But they learn a lot more about it by actually doing it.  That includes succeeding and failing.  The power of our students doing the very skill we as teachers are trying to impart is simply priceless.

And the second half of the above  quote is why all students, no matter what level they are, should be teaching someone something about what they are trying to master.  It's amazing how well you have to know a subject in order to explain it to someone else in a succinct, understandable manner.  I started teaching private lessons when I was a senior in high school.  The experience I had teaching those three students (4th, 8th and 10th graders) was invaluable to my development as a musician.

The power of doing (and teaching) is simply priceless.

The Savvy Musician

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.

Monday YouTube Fix: Sam Pilafian, Harry Watters, David Cutler + Dan Hostetler

Andrew Hitz

Happy Holidays everyone! This is some footage from a Boston Brass rehearsal a few years ago.  Sam Pilafian and Harry Watters, two of the best brass players in the world, formed a jazz combo along with their rhythm section friends David Cutler on piano and Dan Hostetler on drums. They played a combo tune as a change of pace during one of our Christmas big band shows.  They came up with the tune and started rehearsing it on the spot.

Watching such amazing musicians work so cohesively at the drop of a hat is truly amazing.  Such groove, lyricism and storytelling.

Happy Holidays and enjoy!