Working for Inspiration

“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”

-Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


If your playing, teaching or conducting is ever lacking inspiration (which happens to us all from time to time) the best thing to do it is work your way out of it.  As Tchaikovsky alluded to many years ago, the most inspired people I’ve worked with in my career were also the hardest workers.

Izabella giving me that look like "You really need to practice again?"

Izabella giving me that look like “You really need to practice again?”


Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, quote

Leonidas Kavakos – Sibelius Violin Concerto: Monday YouTube Fix

I had the privilege of seeing Leonidas Kavakos, Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax perform an all-Brahms concert at Tanglewood earlier this month.  While I have been seeing Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax perform for over two decades this was only the second time I had seen Leonidas Kavakos in concert.  Last year, my wife and I were treated to him playing the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Mariss Jansons at the Kennedy Center.  We both instantly fell in love with his playing.

This week’s clip his him performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in Tokyo with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev.  His phrasing is just stunning.

Oh, and by the way, Gergiev is conducting with a toothpick.  No, seriously.


Leave a comment

Filed under Monday YouTube Fix

Pablo Casals: Monday YouTube Fix

Pablo Casals was one of the true master teachers.  This is a 10 minute clip from a master class he gave at UC Berkley in 1960.  He is working with a student on the opening line of the Brahms Cello Sonata No. 1.  He was a teacher of few words who spoke volumes.


Leave a comment

Filed under Monday YouTube Fix

Phish: Monday YouTube Fix

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.



Leave a comment

Filed under Monday YouTube Fix

Who Should You Partner With?

“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.

1 Comment

Filed under Chamber Music, Music Business

The Most Marketable Commodity in the Music Business

“I always wanted to play something different than the way most trumpet players played.”

-Miles Davis

The single most marketable commodity in the music business is originality.

Sand Beach at Acadia National Park
© 2014 Andrew Hitz

Leave a comment

Filed under Music Business, quote

Are You Taking Enough Risks?

“People with a low tolerance for risk, whose behavior is guided by fear, have a low propensity for success.”

-Keith Ferrazzi from Never Eat Alone

Whether trying to become a band director or start a new chamber ensemble, the music business, like every other business, generally rewards those who take risks. And taking risks involves getting out of your comfort zone.

Are you taking enough risks today to succeed?

The sunsetting over Sebec Lake in Maine.
© 2014 Andrew Hitz

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Music Business, quote

Abandon All Hope For A Better Past

When performing, you must abandon all hope for a better past. Never focus on a previous note or phrase. Instead, always focus on the story you are telling in that very moment.


Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiration, Performance Tips

Leonard Bernstein & Vienna Philharmonic – Mahler 1: Monday YouTube Fix

I don’t know about you, but my Monday could sure use a video of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic doing Mahler’s First Symphony.

This is simply breathtaking stuff. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Monday YouTube Fix

New York Philharmonic in North Korea: Monday YouTube Fix

I just stumbled onto this video of the New York Philharmonic’s historic trip to North Korea.  This is a video of George Gershwin’s “An American In Paris” from their concert at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre on February 26, 2008 conducted by Lorin Maazel.

Not only is this one of the most famous orchestral concerts from the last half century, but the orchestra sounds phenomenal.  Especially the brass! Joe Alessi, Alan Baer, Phil Smith and Philip Myers as well as the entire rest of the brass sections just sound fantastic.  Alan’s tuba solo from this version of “An American In Paris” is spot on.




Leave a comment

Filed under Monday YouTube Fix