Posted by: Katie | April 19, 2012

Music across the U.S.

Emily has been one of my closest friends from elementary school through high school. In 5th grade, we joined the band and continued to be a part of the band (eventually marching band and pep band at sports games); Emily played the french horn and her passion for music is clear. Most of my other friends continued onto college to pursue music degrees, but their paths took them elswhere. Emily stuck with it all through her years at Eastman School of music, which brought many challenges that she overcame. Currently, she is involved in a graduate program in Southern California.

1. What were some of difficulties you faced in New York and California? What are some similarities/differences of these issues?

The main difficulty I’ve faced in both places is being so far from home.  When you’re in the same place as your friends and family, it is so easy to communicate and get together.  When you live over 2,000 miles away, the communication lines aren’t always clear.  I’ve lost a few friends because of it and it makes me sad to think about that.  Having to pack up my life and leave my support system at the age of 18 was tremendously difficult, but I’ve managed to come out of it alive so far!

 2. What life lessons have you learned from living in both states?

I think the biggest life lesson I have learned so far is to be true to myself!  When I lived in Rochester, New York, I met people from all over the country (something new to me since I had only ever known people from Wisconsin).  Everyone came from different cultural and musical backgrounds and it would have been easy to sway towards their attitudes about school and music which were different than mine, but I was strong and stuck to my guns.  Now that I’m in Los Angeles, I’m seeing the hectic hustle and bustle of daily life in a big city and again realizing how important it is to have goals and keep my nose to the grind.

3. What have been your favorite aspects of each location?

My favorite part of living in Rochester was the change of seasons.  Not only does the weather change, but the other students changed with it!  We would start out with the end of a beautiful Summer and quickly transition into Fall, when everyone got serious about practicing and studying.  Then the world would slowly morph into Winter and you would see less and less of your friends as you saw more and more of the inside of a practice room.  Winter was the hardest part.  Then when Spring rolled around, we would basically ditch our instruments and run around outside, releasing all the tension that had been building for three or four long months.

Currently my favorite aspect of living in Los Angeles is the networking that I’m doing here.  The reason I chose to come out to LA was to be in a location where I could make career connections and I’m starting to do a lot of that.  The more people you get to know, the more big names they’ll introduce you to.  That’s how you get your foot in the door of the freelance music industry.

4. What are some challenges that go along with earning your music degree and how do you handle them?

I’ve been fortunate to have not run into too many challenges while getting my music degrees, but there have been some rough patches.  I’ve had three semi-serious lip injuries to this day.  Each new injury was so scary to me because if it had become serious, I would have had to give up my dream of being a professional horn player.  That’s where my support system came in — they talked me through the hard times and said that even if it didn’t work out, I would make it out okay.  Another challenge I have faced is the feeling of burn-out.  I think all musicians experience this at some point or another.  When I haven’t had a gig in over a month, I wonder if it’s even worth trying anymore, but the something great comes along and I am musically and spiritually renewed.

5. What made you decide on playing the french horn?

I actually started out playing the saxophone (for about two weeks) because both of my older brothers played it.  My mom let me try it out and I started taking lessons but I was really horrible at it.  My mom tried to convince me to play horn and initially I was stubborn about it, but when the elementary school band teacher said he didn’t want to teach it because it was “too hard,” I immediately changed my mind.  I HAD to play the horn just to prove him wrong.

6. Who are your biggest musical influences and why?

When I think about my musical influences, I tend to think of the people or groups who have overcome huge obstacles to achieve their goals.  How powerful must music be to keep drawing people back to it, even in the face of a career-ending disability or event?  Beethoven is one influence — the guy was DEAF, for crying out loud.  He couldn’t stop writing, though.  And his music is some of the greatest music in existence.

Another influence is actually not a musician at all — it’s Dr. Seuss.  Did you know that his first book was rejected by twenty-seven different publishing houses?  He didn’t let that stop him.  I have to remind myself of that from time to time.

7. Do you have any favorite pieces to play?

My favorite pieces to play are from orchestral literature.  I absolutely adore Brahms’ 4th Symphony.  Not only is it a great piece, it brings back good memories of different times that I’ve played it and with different horn sections.  I also love to play Mahler because his music tells stories and describes emotions that can’t be told with words.

 8. Do you have any videos that you’d like to share?

Here’s a favorite video of mine: The pure joy in this kid’s actions make me so happy and give me motivation that people DO actually still care about music.

This is also a must-see (non-musical): I watch this when I’m feeling unmotivated or unworthy.  It picks me up and keeps me going.

9. What do you most want to achieve in the future of your music career?

My biggest goal right now is to win a job in an orchestra.  My overall goal for being a musician is being the type of musician that people want to work with.  It’s not just about how well you can play your instrument, it’s also about how interesting you are as a person.  You have to find the right balance of friendliness and professionalism.


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