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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Category: The Brass Junkies

The Brass Junkies 82: Geoffrey Pilkington

Andrew Hitz

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Geoff Pilkington is one of the best horn players in the world and I am lucky to call him a dear friend. I'd been wanting to make this interview happen for a long time and finally we made the schedules work!

This one ended up being a little different than the rest. We talked about his entire career but also ended up doing a deep dive into playing the Long Call from Wagner's Siegfried. Hearing about his experience performing it as a part of the Ring Cycle here in DC a couple of years ago was fascinating.

From the show notes:

TBJ82: Geoffrey Pilkington, Principal Horn for the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra on yoga, humility and the Long Call

Geoffrey Pilkington, Principal Horn for the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra joins Andrew & Lance to talk about working with Don Greene, dealing with the effects of a pinched nerve and gives us a great behind-the-scenes look at what goes into preparing for and playing the Ring Cycle.

In this fun and lively conversation, we cover:

  • His main gigs (Principal horn for National Opera in DC, and Assistant Principal in Harrisburg PA Symphony)
  • Studying at Juilliard
  • How his practice habits have changed
  • Super final round (1st time) was Geoff and Phil Munds, Maestro, “Neither were the next Dale Clevenger”
  • Super final round (2nd time) with WeiPing Chou, Maestro, “Don’t miss any notes”
  • Working with Don Greene on audition prep
  • His parents were amateur musicians and his Dad's request to a 5th grade Geoff, “Pick anything you want except saxophone or French horn”
  • How to explain why the horn is difficult to people who know nothing about music
  • How to explain why the horn is difficult to people who DO know about music
  • The importance of humility for a horn player
  • Playing the Ring Cycle, especially the Sigfried Long Call
  • Playing with a pinched nerve in his neck and shoulder
  • Adversity training with Don Greene, some dude doing “The Worm”
  • Using swimming as a way to warm up and prepare physically and mentally
  • Using Bikram Yoga and meditation to prepare for The Ring
  • The importance of visualization in audition or performance preparation
  • Why focus is like a muscle, you can work on developing it

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 81: Matthew Murchison

Andrew Hitz

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Matthew Murchison, excuse me, DOCTOR Matthew Murchison, is one of the most creative people playing the euphonium professionally today. He is an incredible euphonium and tuba player, a composer, arranger, deep thinker, knucklehead and a dear friend of mine. Oh man did we laugh during this one...

From the show notes:

TBJ81: Matthew Murchison, Sexiest Euphonium Player in West Virginia on playing, writing and charting your own course in music

Composer, tuba and euphonium soloist and all-around fellow knucklehead Matthew Murchison joins Andrew & Lance to discuss his bands Mainspring and the Matthew Murchison Mutiny, studies with Brian Bowman and being yourself as an artist.

In this fun and lively conversation, we cover:

  • Being the Sexiest Euphonium Player in West Virginia
  • That he is, in fact, a Doctor
  • Teaching at Marshall University
  • Former Solo Euphonium with River City Brass
  • Workin’ on (p)stuff
  • Breaking a spring
  • His method book for teaching euphonium players to play tuba
  • Studies with Brian Bowman in undergrad
  • His band Mainspring: (flute, euphonium and rhythm section)
  • Composing and arranging
  • No preconceived notion of what euphonium music should be to regular audiences which is a huge opportunity
  • Expanding his writing to include electronics
  • Chewy
  • Being yourself as an artist
  • Who is doing interesting stuff right now (Demondrae Thurmon, Ben Pierce, Fernando Deddos)
  • Whether competitions help or hurt young players
  • Asking for feedback after competitions

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 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 79: Adam Frey

Andrew Hitz

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Adam Frey is a phenomenal euphonium player and runs the International Euphonium Tuba Conference every year in Atlanta. Lance and I have known Adam for a very long time, especially Lance, so we had a good time with this one.

From the show notes:

Adam Frey has had a great career as a soloist, publisher, teacher and major proponent of the euphonium and has endured Lance's hump-busting for over twenty years.

He is also the mastermind behind both the fantastic International Euphonium-Tuba (IET) Festival and euphonium.com. He currently teaches at the University of North Georgia.

In this fun and lively conversation, we cover:

  • Euphonium jokes
  • How Adam and Lance met in the Brass Band of Battle Creek
  • Tales of the Badger (dearly departed mega friend, Chris Matten)
  • Meeting James Gourlay
  • Teaching at the University of North Georgia
  • Playing in Macau
  • IET Festival, 15th anniversary in the summer of 2018
  • How he started the festival and how it is organized
  • The importance of good coffee when running a festival
  • Being an ambassador of the euphonium and the Ambassador of Euphonium
  • Fernando Deddos, David Childs, and other influential current players
  • Creating opportunities and the importance of collaboration
  • Working with Patricio Cosentino, Scott Hartman, and Jeff Nelsen
  • Having good ideas vs. having good ideas and acting on them
  • Starting and running euphonium.com

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 78: Chip Crotts

Andrew Hitz

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What an incredibly inspiring story Chip has! Talk about stepping up when facing some unspeakable adversity. This is one of the most uplifting and motivational episodes thanks to Chip being so open about his fight against Bells Palsy.

If I ever have to face something like that, I hope I have half the grace and courage that Chip has shown the world. We were honored to have him join us.

From the show notes:

TBJ78: Chip Crotts on playing trumpet with Ray Charles, prosthetic robot arms for musicians and his comeback from Bells Palsy

Chip Crotts has played trumpet with an incredible array of stars, from Natalie Cole to Maynard Ferguson and has been involved with building an innovative program from the ground up at Georgia Tech.

In this episode, we cover:

  • The integration of music and technology at Georgia Tech
  • Building the undergraduate degree from the ground up
  • The development of a prosthetic robotic hand and arm to allow folks to play piano of drums
  • Playing with Ray Charles and Maynard Ferguson (and an amazing array of other artists)
  • “You never know when your shot’s gonna come, so you have to be ready”
  • Natalie Cole, the Tuscaloosa Horns (T-Horns)
  • Lance’s water pipes freezing and bursting mid-show, FUN!
  • Working with Santa Clara Vanguard
  • Dealing with Bells Palsy which paralyzed the left side of his face, and his documentation of the recovery process on video at his Facebook page

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 77: Deanna Swoboda

Andrew Hitz

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Deanna is a dear friend and one of my favorite tuba players in the world. She is also an incredible force in the music business. Both Lance and I have known her for a very long time and we were really happy she could join us on The Brass Junkies.

From the show notes:

TBJ77: Tubist Deanna Swoboda on her gig at ASU, Brass Rap and the difference between entertainment and art

Deanna Swoboda has been a longtime friend and colleague to both Andrew & Lance and has had a great career as a performer, teacher and leader from her days with Dallas Brass to her current gig at Arizona State University.

In this episode, we cover:

  • The value of studying music at the college level
  • Her gig at ASU
  • Her five years with the Dallas Brass
  • The difference in approach between playing in the Dallas Brass and the Western Michigan University brass quintet
  • Working with trumpeter Scott Thornburg
  • The difference between entertainment and art
  • Dan Perantoni “When the phone rings, are you ready?”
  • Deanna’s Wonderland
  • Brass Rap
  • Band Blastoff!
  • Tuba Tex How the West Was Fun (a project Lance participated in and forgot for 15 years. He's old.)
  • Eastman tubas
  • Eastman Company Tuba Euphonium Workshop in the summer of 2018

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 76: Doug Rosenthal

Andrew Hitz

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Doug Rosenthal is a phenomenal trombone player for the Washington National Opera and one hell of an awesome human. Love this guy! What a great interview we had with him while he was in Chicago playing Bass Trumpet on the Lyric Opera's Ring Cycle.

From the show notes:

Washington National Opera/Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra trombonist Doug Rosenthal joins Andrew & Lance in a conversation ranging from the bass trumpet to dealing with the Valsalva maneuver and his experiences as an openly gay brass player.

Currently, in his 6th season with the Washington National Opera/Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Doug was actually speaking to us from Chicago, where he was playing bass trumpet with The Lyric Opera. He explains how he manages to schedule both gigs, how he got started at Northwestern and a variety of other topics, including:

  • Starting on euphonium
  • Going to Bremen Germany to get a bass trumpet
  • Playing with The New World Symphony
  • Playing the full Ring Cycle
  • His blog, "Inside the Arts"
  • His challenges overcoming issues the Valsalva maneuver
  • Being an openly gay brass player
  • #thouhgtsandprayers for Jens

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 75: Listener's Choice 2: Auditioning for College

Andrew Hitz

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In this special Listener's Choice episode, Lance and I talk about the ins and outs of auditioning for college as a brass player. This is the second time we've tried this format. Let us know what you think! In terms of structure, we decided to tackle the:

10 Top Brass College Audition Questions

  1. Researching schools and teachers
  2. What repertoire to prepare?
  3. Should you take a lesson with the teacher?
  4. # of schools to apply to?
  5. Is it okay to send a tape or video?
  6. What should you wear/how should you act?
  7. How to overcome nerves/what to expect on the day of/in the room?
  8. How to follow up
  9. How to ask for more $
  10. How to decide

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 74: Bill Pritchard of Amplituba and Mercury Orkestar

Andrew Hitz

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Bill Pritchard is a bad, bad man. He is a good friend and one hell of a creative force within the brass world today. I love how he is always moving his art forward, not just trying to "master" what he can already do. We can all learn a lot from him.

Our conversation with him for TBJ74 was great and inspiring which is good timing coming at the end of the year. You'll dig it!

From the Show Notes:

Amplituba and Mercury Orkestar tubist Bill Pritchard joins Andrew & Lance to discuss Bill's amazingly diverse career and his exploration into the ins and outs of combining electronics with brass playing. In addition to his amazing music-making, Bill teaches at five (5!) colleges, plays all over Atlanta with tons of groups and gives us a step by step tour of his electronic rig/setup.

Some of the topics we cover include:

  • The challenges of giving Skype lessons
  • His use of technology in lessons
  • What to do if the chaps are at the cleaners (don't ask)
  • The simplest setup to start messing with electronics (mic, cable, digital effects/multi-effects unit, into a keyboard or bass amp)
  • Why delay and chorus effects are a good place to start
  • How to get started with looping pedals
  • How he sets up his musical improvs
  • His influences, from Reggie Watts to Matt Owen and David Wolf from Drums & Tuba
  • How David Vining and Jan Kagarice helping him overcome challenges
  • Playing w/a drummer and a theremin at an Invent Room Pop gig and creating Amplituba
  • Blow into the small end

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 73: Weston Sprott, Trombonist for the Metropolitan Opera

Andrew Hitz

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This was one of my favorite episodes we've ever done of The Brass Junkies. Weston Sprott, Acting Principal Trombone of the Metropolitan Opera, is as thoughtful a human being as you will ever find. We talked about his incredible career and also went into the diversity issues still facing the industry today. A lot of food for thought.

And the story of him running into one of his heroes, Wynton Marsalis, on the streets of New York City and what went down is worth the whole download!

From the show notes:

TBJ73: Trombonist Weston Sprott on Performing with the Metropolitan Opera, the Diversity Issues Facing the Industry and Running Into One of His Heroes on the Streets of New York

Weston Sprott is the Acting Principal Trombone of the Metropolitan Opera and has appeared with major orchestras all over the world.

In this episode, we cover:

  • His gig
  • What the best subs have in common
  • Coming up in TX
  • Teaching
  • Best student characteristics- “They do what I tell them to do”
  • The acidic, dry and awesome John Rojak
  • His website and resources
  • Diversity issues in classical music
  • Meeting Wynton Marsalis
  • The McGurk Effect
  • The Sphinx Organization

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