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.
“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.
“I always wanted to play something different than the way most trumpet players played.”
The single most marketable commodity in the music business is originality.
Sand Beach at Acadia National Park
© 2014 Andrew Hitz
“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
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.
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!
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.
On my Facebook page recently, I posted the following quote:
“Playing soft with the same intensity as loud is difficult to master.”
I think it’s a great quote that puts a spotlight on the importance of playing softly. But as usual, one of my mentors, Rex Martin, came in and put it in even better words. The comment he left on that status was priceless:
“Not particularly difficult at all, but pretty time consuming.”
Reminds me of the JJ Johnson quote from one of last month’s Monday YouTube Fix’s about taking shortcuts when learning an instrument. Spoiler Alert: JJ couldn’t find any.
Okay this is awesome! My friend Andy Bove, who I interviewed for my book, “A Band Director’s Guide to Everything Tuba: A Collection of Interviews with the Experts“, put together one of the most impressive low brass ensembles every formed for this video.
So what did he decide to record with this collection of low brass players? The theme to Game of Thrones, of course! Seriously, you have to hear this. It got well over 100,000 views almost overnight and is already at over 200,000 and rising. It will rattle your windows. Continue reading
“I can only draw what I see.”
And we can only play what we can hear.