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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Philadelphia Orchestra

The Brass Junkies 80: Jennifer Montone

Andrew Hitz

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Jennifer Montone is one of my favorite horn players in the world. We met each other about 25 years ago as students at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and even then it was obvious she was going to be a superstar.

The visualization she does on stage before big solos with the Philadelphia Orchestra that she describes in this interview will take your breath away. Amazing stuff!

From the show notes:

TBJ80: Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Horn Jennifer Montone on playing, meditating and telling your own story

Jennifer Montone has played with the Philadelphia Orchestra for 11 years. Prior to that, she spent time in the Dallas, St. Louis and New Jersey Symphonies and teaches at both Curtis and Juilliard.

In this fun and lively conversation, we cover:

  • Playing at Tanglewood as a student in the Empire Brass Seminar
  • Lance playing w/Jennifer in Philly (it had such a lasting impact on her)
  • Dealing with pressure
  • Meditation and yoga, the influence of “Soprano on Her Head,” the work of Noa Kageyama and Don Greene
  • Concentrating energy from your Chi
  • Headspace app, Hittleman yoga book, Mt. Fuji meditation, Jack Kornfield, Kripalu website, lava lamp meditation
  • Self-talk/affirmations
  • Playing while 7 1/2 months pregnant
  • Re-evaluating her breath work, via Arnold Jacobs’ concepts and teachings
  • The effect of posture on her approach
  • Taking a positive approach to challenges in music and in life (and passing those concepts on to her students)
  • Giving students permission to make musical decisions, then encouraging them to do so
  • Being a female principal horn player, how things are changing and evolving
  • How she wanted to be a nun up to the age of 14
  • Developing leadership skills, being assertive and confident
  • National Brass Ensemble

You can check out the complete show notes including all of the links mentioned during this episode over at Pedal Note Media.

The Brass Junkies: Matt Vaughn

Andrew Hitz

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Matt Vaughn, Co-Principal Trombone with the Philadelphia Orchestra sits down with me and Lance for a fun and wide-ranging conversation. Matt talks not only about his highly successful career, but about what it is like being a twin, what he listens for in auditions and what it was like to take on the role of Mother Teresa in Air Force Basic Training.

Oh, and he once played a gig at Cedar Point with his pants down. Allegedly.


Matt's Website
Philadelphia Orchestra bio
Book: No More Mr. Nice Guy
Book: The New Toughness Training for Sports
Book: The Inner Game of Tennis
TED Talk: Power Posing

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

The Brass Junkies: Carol Jantsch

Andrew Hitz

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Carol is quite possibly my favorite tuba soloist in the world today and the Principal Tuba of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

She has done all of the work on the technical side of things which enables her artistry to shine through in everything she does. I saw her perform a solo with the Philadelphia Orchestra back in March and it was stunning.

Her story is a fascinating one. She went from the middle of her undergraduate degree to playing in one of the best orchestras in the world.

It was an honor to have her as a guest on The Brass Junkies!

David Oistrakh - Sibelius Violin Concerto: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

The Sibelius Violin Concerto is one of the most intense concertos ever written for the violin.  I personally love how it wastes absolutely no time whatsoever getting down to business.  The soloist is thrust into incredibly technical passages in the first two minutes of the piece! I'm not sure I've ever heard it performed better than by David Oistrakh. Some consider Oistrakh to be the greatest violinist of all time and I don't see how you could have that conversation and not at the very least include him in it.  His playing speaks for itself.

This is a studio recording from 1959 with Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra and it is magical.


Quotes from Carol Jantsch Master Class

Andrew Hitz

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting Carol Jantsch, the tuba player for the Philadelphia Orchestra, for the first time.  She conducted a master class at the annual summer camp of the Monumental Brass in Fulton, MD.  It was an impressive presentation from start to finish that everyone who attended will remember for a long time.

She began the class by playing Patrick Sheridan’s arrangement of the Carnival of Venice with piano accompaniment.  Her performance was effortless and had an elegance that is rarely found in a solo performance by a tuba player.

Next she played the title track from her solo CD, Cascades.  This is an unaccompanied trumpet solo written by Allen Vizzutti which was fantastic.  She certainly got the attention of everyone with her performance.

She spent the remainder of the two hours answering questions and coaching four different students.  The following is a collection of quotes from the class that I found extremely helpful.

  • “When we’re breathing we try to minimize tension.  Tension is the enemy.”

  • “Trick your brain into thinking you have more time to breathe than you do.  Don’t think of it as having only one beat and panicking.”

  • “Use the entire 16th to breathe.  Tell yourself it is a lot of time.”

  • “As low brass players we should be used to taking in more air than we need.”

  • When asked what it takes to win a tuba job with a major symphony orchestra: “A lot of luck.” (Then mentioned hard work and talent.)

  • Concerning how long it took her to memorize her solos: “Not long since I learned them the right way.  I played them slowly, then a little less slowly, then a little less slowly than that, over and over.”

  • “You’re letting the higher notes scare you.  Just relax and blow.”

  • Speaking specifically to female brass players: “Playing a brass instrument takes a lot of air.  But if you end up trying to save air you get fuzzy attacks and missed slurs.”

  • “Did you notice that this section is louder because of the breathing scheme we came up with for the section before?”

  • “When learning double tonguing practice slowly and really emphasize the ka.”

  • Addressing a student working on slurs: “Focus only on the ends of the notes.”

  • “The warm-up/routine part of your practicing should address the weaknesses in your playing daily.”

  • On what she thinks about when playing the first entrance of the Gregson Tuba Concerto: “You’re a very arrogant person and you step into a room and command attention.”

  • When having a kid sing his part: “Use your operatic voice so the people in the back can hear you.  I don’t care about pitch as much as musical inflection.”

  • “When you’re playing, about 10% of what you think is coming out so you have to exaggerate everything.”

  • “If you’re afraid of missing a note you just need to go for it.  Blow through it, throw yourself in there, and there’s a good chance you’ll hit it.”

  • “It’s good to vocalize because it can be hard to get something in your ear without hearing it outside of your body.”

  • “If you’re having trouble with an interval play up to the note and then sing it.  That’s a good way to know if you have it in your ear.”

  • “I play with the metronome on the offbeats because a lot of people ignore it if it’s on the beat.  It turns on your inner metronome.”

  • “When playing legato etudes down an octave you want to go for as relaxed and smooth a sound as possible.”