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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

The Brass Junkies 108: Jim Nova

Andrew Hitz

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TBJ108: Jim "Don't call me BB" Nova on writing, driving and April Fooling

Good friend of the podcast Jim Nova joined us for a second go around on TBJ108. Oh man did we laugh!

Jim is one of the most creative people with a full-time playing gig that you’ll ever meet. That’s for good reason! It takes an awful lot of work to be able to maintain the ability to play at the level of the Pittsburgh Symphony. So to have that much creative energy left over to do all the things Jim has is pretty remarkable.

And his Star Wars stuff is AMAZING!

How streaming service Idagio has changed my listening habits

Andrew Hitz

I recently signed up for a classical-only streaming service called Idagio. In the three weeks since I signed up I have listened to more classical music than any stretch since high school and it has been amazing.

Perhaps my favorite thing about it is the discovery. They have a listing of “Featured New Releases” that is prominently displayed in both the app and desktop versions. I have listened to no less than 10 recordings that have been released within the last month.

Discovery on Spotify is a disaster. I would find myself clicking on thumbnails of album covers to blow them up in order to squint and see what soloists were on a recording or who the conductor was. Not only does Idagio make it easy to discover brand new recordings, the entire thing is searchable by soloist, ensemble, conductor, composer, etc. This fact shouldn’t be impressive but compared to the current offerings of Spotify and Apple Music this is quite a revelation in how easy it is to use.


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I’m going to start a new series of blog posts here sharing what I’m listening to. I always appreciate it when other musicians share what they are digging as it gives me lots of ideas of what to listen to myself.

#NowPlaying: Shostakovich: String Quartet Nos. 5, 7 & Piano Quintet - Elisabeth Leonskaja, Artemis Quartet

There is just something about Shostakovich string quartets that get me all worked up. We did a phenomenal arrangement of his String Quartet No. 8 arranged by JD Shaw when I was in Boston Brass. It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever performed.

This recording is really something. It just came out earlier this month. For a group that has had 100% turnover within the last few years they sure sound like they have been playing together for a very long time.

I love string players who can play with the weight and aggression of brass players (when called for!) and I love brass players who can play with the lightness and phrasing of string players. Artemis Quartet certainly attacks this String Quartet No. 5.

Good stuff!

The Brass Junkies 107: Christoper Bill

Andrew Hitz

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TBJ107: Christopher Bill, trombonist, singer, and multi-instrumentalist and internet sensation!

We did this one right in my office! He is one of the creative forces of the next generation. He can play. He can tell a story. He is one hell of an entrepreneur. He is the real deal.

One lesson I’ve learned from him is to just keep producing no matter what. You have to always be creating and sharing what you’ve created if you want to cut through the noise in today’s music business. And he most certainly has!

You can check out the complete show notes including all links mentioned during TBJ107 over at Pedal Note Media.

The Brass Junkies 106: Jim Pandolfi

Andrew Hitz

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TBJ106: Jim Pandolfi legendary trumpeter Jim Pandolfi has one of the most amazing stories in music. Or most places.

Jim Pandolfi is a legend! Just an unbelievable story of triumph and kicking all available ass. Jim is legally blind and asked the Metropolitan Opera to not hold that against him. They gave him a fair shot and the rest is history.

Jim and I used to hang out way too much in New York City back in the day and never did anything productive. We take a trip down memory lane and also take a deep dive on brass pedagogy. Really good stuff!

The Brass Junkies 105: Seth Horner

Andrew Hitz

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TBJ105: Seth Horner, tubist of the North Carolina Symphony talking to himself, studying with David Fedderly and his box of mouthpieces

Seth is really great friend and as nice a person as you’ll find in the music business. He has had one hell of a career so far! I really liked this conversation and especially about making fun of his box of mouthpieces!

You can check out the complete show notes including all links mentioned during TBJ105 over at Pedal Note Media.

The Brass Junkies 104: Joe Lovinsky

Andrew Hitz

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I think my good friend Joe Lovinsky has had the most fascinating life of any guest we’ve interviewed for The Brass Junkies. And that’s really saying something!

He has been homeless, a sniper in the Marines, a member of the Pershing’s Own Army Band, a cage fighter… It sounds like I’m making this up but it’s all true! Seriously, you need to listen to this one.

You can check out the complete show notes including all links mentioned during TBJ104 over at Pedal Note Media.

The Brass Junkies 103: Mary Bowden of Shenandoah Conservatory

Andrew Hitz

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TBJ103: Mary Bowden on her new upcoming album, Seraph Brass and the importance of networking

My soon-t0-be colleague at Shenandoah Conservatory joined us for her second appearance on The Brass Junkies. Mary is awesome. We could talk to her for hours.

You can check out the complete show notes including all links mentioned during TBJ103 over at Pedal Note Media.

The Brass Junkies 102: Joe Jackson

Andrew Hitz

For episode 102 of The Brass Junkies we were joined by the former leader of the Airmen of Note, Joe Jackson. In addition to being one of the best trombone players in the world, Joe is also a prolific arranger.

He talked with us about leaving the University of North Texas in order to tour the world with the Maynard Ferguson Band, playing in the Airmen of Note for 20 years and producing the award-winning Jazz Heritage Series that was heard on 112 radio stations around the world. The dude has done everything!

I’ve gotten to play a number of gigs with Joe here in the DC area and he is just a treat to play with. Ears for days!

Get the full show notes and links to everywhere you can find this episode of The Brass Junkies here.

Godin: The top 5%

Andrew Hitz

The approach is to pick the right set to be part of. Not, “top 5% of all surgeons,” but perhaps, “top 5% of thoracic surgeons in Minnesota.” Be specific. Find your niche and fill it.

—Seth Godin

You can find a great truth bomb from Seth Godin here.

A great kick in the pants to start the new year and a great read to focus our efforts regardless of whether the calendar just flipped or not.

A+ stuff from Seth as usual.

The Brass Junkies 100: Sam Pilafian

Andrew Hitz

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TBJ100: The legendary Sam Pilafian on Empire Brass, Leonard Bernstein and life-threatening pedagogy

We made it to 100 episodes which is completely insane! An ENORMOUS thank you to everyone who has listened, become a Patreon patron, shared an episode with a friend, posted about it on social media or any of 100 other ways people have supported us in this crazy journey. THANK YOU!

I don’t even know where to begin when talking about this interview with my mentor, Sam Pilafian. As you will hear, I met Sam when I was only 12 and he has been an huge influence on me in more ways than I could ever articulate.

This episode starts out with some lighthearted banter about a couple of times that I poked the bear as one of his let’s just call it “precocious” young students back in the day! But this conversation gets really serious really quickly right after that.

Sam has just come out the other side of a battle for his life with an aggressive form of cancer. His story is hard to even believe. There are tears (and lots of them) in this episode. Some sad ones and some happy ones. There’s also lots of camaraderie between three humans who have been through a whole hell of a lot together, both personally and professionally.

I will always cherish this conversation, even though I’ve had thousands with Sam. This one made me awfully thankful to be alive and to be making music for a living.

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