contact ME

Use the form on the right to send me an email and I will get back to you as soon as possible.



123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789


You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: chamber music

Phish: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Many of you know that I am rather fond of the band Phish.  In fact, this week will mark my 172nd and 173rd shows when I see them in Portsmouth, VA.  They are my favorite chamber ensemble for reasons I could articulate for a few thousand words.  But you're in luck: I won't! Instead, here's a clip from earlier this summer in Chicago.  This song, The Wedge, has been performed over 70 times and every version but two have been about five minutes long.  This one took a random turn and ended up featuring a fantastic section of improv that was completely unexpected.  This is exactly what I love about Phish.


Who Should You Partner With?

Andrew Hitz

"Find like-minded, bright, hard-working people that you think share a core set of values and a core vision of what you are trying to do and where you're trying to go.  That makes it substantially easier to realize whatever that vision may be."


-Kevin Browning, Creative and Business Development Manager for Umprhrey's McGee


If you are a musician looking to form a chamber ensemble, don't simply go for the best players.  Find the best players who also fit the description above and great things will happen.

Chamber groups, whether they be brass quintets, string quartets, jazz trios, barbershop quartets, or rock bands, rarely fail to stick around because the music making isn't good enough.  It is almost always a result of visions not lining up or of people not working equally towards attaining that vision.

This two sentence quote can save you a whole lot of time and money if you start there and then worry about the rest of it.

Intonation is a Social Skill

Andrew Hitz

"Intonation is a social skill."

I posted this quote on my Facebook Page a couple of days ago and it got over 100 likes.  I believe I first heard this said by Rex Martin but I'm not sure.  Playing in tune with others has just as much to do with social skills as it does with the length of your instrument.

We have all played with "that guy" who thinks he has a pretty incredible ear and yet always seems to have trouble playing in tune with others.  Sometimes "that guy" blames others with their words and other times they simply convey their disappointment with those around them through their body language, eye rolls or any of a plethora of non-verbal communications.  No matter how great that player is, no one ever wants to play with "that guy."

You have to be flexible with your intonation always in all situations.  100% of the time.  No exceptions.  You can have a PHD in intonation and if you are "in tune" and the other four members of a quintet are all equally "sharp" you've got a problem.  No audience member would ever hear you as in tune and the others as all sharp.  You are flat.  End of story.

The best set of ears I've ever played with belong to a trumpet player and my former colleague in Boston Brass, Rich Kelley.  I describe him as having "beyond perfect pitch."  He is blessed (cursed?) with the ability to exactly identify whether any note is sharp, flat or in tune and by exactly how much.  Every single time.  I know he is not unique in this regard but he is as good as I've ever seen.

Coincidentally, playing in tune with Rich is easier than with anyone I've ever played with.  And that's not because he tries to steer the intonation ship from the top of an ensemble.  He agrees with Pythagoras on this one and listens down.  It's because he has one goal and one goal only: for the music to sound in tune.  He is incredibly helpful with rehearsing and being able to identify immediately whether a player is sharp or flat in any given chord.  But in the moment, he will do whatever it takes to make a chord sound in tune, which is the only goal any of us should ever have.

A very important part of playing in tune is also playing well with others.

My dog plays well with others and would probably play very in tune. © 2013 Andrew Hitz

Monday YouTube Fix: Time for Three

Andrew Hitz

Time for Three is one of the most original and unique sounding chamber ensembles playing today and I am very lucky to call them dear friends.  They are an inspiration to many of us for both their musical and entrepreneurial contributions to the field of music. Leonard Cohen is one of the greatest American songwriters to ever live.  This is a hauntingly beautiful rendition of his iconic 'Hallelujah.' When the music breathes, it breathes in perfect unison.  If you close your eyes and get lost in the music it is easy to forget that this is not one person making these sounds - it is that together.

Watching their communication is a master class on chamber music.  When people say there's no money in music I point to Time for Three.  Create a program that's this unique, this good, and approached with the same entrepreneurial spirit and you will make money every time.



Monday YouTube Fix: Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Mark O'Connor & Edgar Meyer

Andrew Hitz

I guess this clip is predictably awesome.  I don't care what these four musicians are playing, if they are playing together it is going to be special.  Even 'Hush Little Baby'! As people who are at the absolute top of their profession, all four of these guys are used to being the center of musical attention.  Yet in this clip, each one is both contributing and not even remotely over-stepping their role within the ensemble.  This is unheralded yet imperative quality in any musician.

This is such a simple version of an incredibly simple tune yet there is something very special about it.  Oh to have been in the audience for this performance.