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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Lance LaDuke

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 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.'"

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 Your support is greatly appreciated!

Last but not least, we are now on Instagram! Follow us at TODAY!

Produced by Joey Santillo

The Brass Junkies: David Cutler & JD Shaw

Andrew Hitz

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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: 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.


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 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

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


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:


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.


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


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!


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.


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: JD Shaw

Andrew Hitz

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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.

Lance LaDuke Discusses How He Prepared for his Successful US Air Force Band Audition

Andrew Hitz

A few years ago Boston Brass came to where I teach, George Mason, to rehearse for a few days before our season started. After a performance for the school. my former Boston Brass colleague Lance LaDuke took the time to come to the lesson of one of my graduate euphonium players.

My student began questioning Lance about how he went about winning a job with the United States Air Force Band in Washington DC. Within a few minutes I realized that the content was gold and started recording.

Lance goes into great detail about his successful audition preparations. Talk about a guy with a plan that he executed over and over again over time.

This is a master class on sight reading, goal setting, time management, practice technique, and many, many more things.

This is a must listen for anyone preparing for any professional audition on any instrument.  After listening to his preparation process, it is easy to see why he won.

Below are the quotes that stood out to me for one reason or another, although there are far too many to include all of the good ones.

  • "I personally don't like playing out of the Barbara Payne book because I like to see the band parts. I assume that when I show up they're going to make me play off of a regular part."
  • "There were going to be things that were out of my control. Everything that was in my control I was going to prepare for."
  • "Every day, 7 days a week, my job from 9 pm to 3 am was getting ready."
  • "I was intense from 9 until 3 but it wasn't all horn on the face time. So whenever my face would get tired I would do score study."
  • "If you're not in tune and in time, you're not going to win."
  • "It's way harder to get a gig than to keep a gig."
  • "You've got to be fearless."
  • "On one hand, you have to play like your life depends on getting the gig. And on the other hand, you have to play like you don't care if you get the gig."
  • "You have a bigger advantage because you're (in DC.) You can drive over and listen to these bands."
  • "I always pushed sight reading to last. When I was completely shot and tired and wanted to go to bed, that's when I did sight reading."
  • "The rules for me for sight reading were I wasn't allowed to stop and when in doubt play the rhythms."
  • "If I knew the key and knew the roadmap, all I'd focus on were the rhythms and following the shape of the line."
  • "If you are sight reading and do the stutter thing, I'm faced with a question: Is this guy doing this because he's uncomfortable with the piece or because his time sucks?"
  • "I was strong as an ox. I could play all day."
  • "Make sure you can play swing style. Make sure you can play funk and make sure you can play rock."
  • "If you can't play popular styles it's nice that you can play marches, but it isn't just about the marches. You have to be able to sound credible on all that stuff."
  • "Basically I just learned how my body reacts under pressure, how my mind reacts under pressure, and how do I prepare for that."
  • "I had 18 different ways to chill myself out if I got stressed."
  • "I did 50 successful auditions (in my mind) before the actual audition."
  • "My favorite book at the time on performance anxiety was 'Notes from the Green Room'."
  • "What are your triggers and how does your body react?"
  • "Who in the industry do I know that I can go talk to?"
  • "Make sure you're at every minute of the Army Band Tuba Conference because it's free."
  • "Tell them 'I'm a broke college student. Are you giving any master classes in the area?'"
  • "The warm-up to me is part mental and part physical."
  • "Maybe they won't notice? They're gonna notice. If you noticed it's got to be fixed."
  • "Even if it sounds better but I use force, that's not a solution."
  • "How loudly can I play with control? How softly can I play with control? And you don't know at which point a note spreads until you spread the note."
  • "My teacher at Akron had a picture of a hand grenade up on his door and a sign that said 'Just because it's loud doesn't mean anybody wants to hear it.'"
  • "They are going to put sight reading in front of you until you fail."
  • "How I play in Boston Brass is different than how I play in a brass band which is different than how I play in a large concert band."
  • "If I was playing with the clarinets I would try to play with the clarinets."
  • "I played like I like to play and if they liked that that's good for me. And if they didn't like that that's good information for me."
  • "There was nothing that surprised me (on audition day.) There was not a single thing I wasn't prepared to deal with."

These are all great quotes but the real reason Lance won was his quote at 43:13 which you just have to listen to for yourself.  It sums the whole thing up.

Thank you, Lance!

The Radio Test

Andrew Hitz

I recently sat in on a wonderful master class by Lance LaDuke on practicing and goal setting. He had one suggestion for the students at the University of Georgia that I thought I would pass along. It works for any age or ability level.

Turn on the radio to any song you know well and sing along. (Note: If you can't sing it, you can't play it!) Then turn the volume all the way down and keep singing. When you turn the volume back up check the following:

  1. Were you able to hold the pitch?
  2. Were you able to follow the correct form of the song?
  3. Did you keep good time?

This is a great and simple exercise that tests a whole lot of things. And the best part is that it's away from the horn so no part of the brain will be occupied by "horn operating."

Thanks, Lance!