Interview with Bugles Media
Updated: Jul 8, 2019
I was recently interviewed for the Bugles Media. Check it out here!
Ginny Coleman: In the two years since you graduated from NYU, you’ve worked in a wide variety of roles throughout the music business, from playing to coordinating to teaching. Is there one job you’ve held in particular that you believe helped to jump-start your career?
Kate Amrine: I can think of three transformative experiences that I feel really pushed my career forwards. When I first started school at NYU, I was working for Jeremy Pelt and I quickly became much more organized and inspired. However, it wasn’t until I went to Europe as his Tour Manager that I felt like things were beginning for me. It was a great experience that showed me what can happen when you really work hard, play well, and have your own vision. I felt the same way when I was working for John Rojak because I was at another transitioning time – this time approaching the end of my undergrad. Both experiences were enlightening because they expanded my view of what it really means to be a successful musician and how I want to be. Since I graduated, I have been teaching private lessons to non-music majors at NYU and it has been an incredible experience to work with intelligent students with different backgrounds and career paths. Seeing how I can make music relevant, fun, and transformative for them continues to make me stronger as both an educator and a musician.
GC: Here at Bugles Media, we are firm believers that a diverse set of skills is necessary for success in the musical world, and judging by your impressive resume, it’s clear that you think the same way. Was there a point in your career where that realization occurred to you, or were innovation and flexibility always part your plan?
KA: My parents own their own business so I have always grown up knowing that it pays to be diverse and more opportunities are available that way. I played in jazz bands and orchestras growing up and started playing in musicals and a rock band because I heard they needed trumpet and someone recommended me. Since coming to NYC, I have been fortunate to have some very diverse playing experiences. I’ve played with rock bands, salsa bands, hip hop brass bands, a DJ at a rave, wedding bands, cabaret gigs with aerialists, and more – all because I said yes and because I wanted to play. I never wanted to be passed over for something because I couldn’t swing or hang in that style of music. Having a diverse schedule certainly keeps things interesting and I’ve had so much fun. After being in the city and freelancing for a couple years, I still firmly believe that being flexible stylistically and musically is the best way to be working as much as possible.
GC: I see you’ve done a lot of work on the administrative side of music. When did you realize you had strengths in this side of the business?
KA: I actually worked for my parents when I was younger so I knew at an early age that this was also one of my strengths. My brother (who is in business school actually) and I grew up filing and sorting forms as well as reconciling the monthly bank statement – which was always double-checked by the accountant of course! When I came to NYU, I had a series of part time jobs where I became more organized and skilled at managing different people and tasks. It wasn’t until a friend asked me to hire the pit orchestra for a run of West Side Story that I got into contracting and realized I like that side of things as well.
GC: It seems that much of your success ties in to your ability to play in a large variety of settings, from orchestral to chamber to musical theatre. How do you tailor your practice sessions to meet the needs of each gig?
KA: In terms of tailoring my practice session for each gig, I honestly think more about how much time I have than what I have to do for each gig. Sometimes if I only have an hour or two then it is usually more important to work on fundamentals (sound, articulation, style, etc) than to play through the music on the same day before the gig. If I am playing a show or something with a lot of lead playing then I will warm up with those things in mind and play some excerpts in those styles to get my ears and playing in that mindset. I have definitely been in positions where I have to practice orchestral excerpts, something like A Chorus Line, and music for a rock/funk gig. There usually isn’t enough time in the day or enough chops to do all of those things as much and hard as I may need to so I have to be selective. Sometimes I will listen to something on the train or sing my part instead of playing through everything. The other things I try and live by are always keeping things fresh so for example, I try and play my piccolo trumpet frequently, even if I don’t have a gig on it for a while – and the same goes for major pieces that I may encounter every so often. Similarly, once I know I will have to do something next month or whenever, I start preparing as early as I can because I may get busy and run out of time closer to the gig.
GC: You have a good amount of pit experience! Is there anything in particular that drew you to musical theatre, and are there any shows that you hope to have the opportunity to perform?
KA: I love musicals! It is fun to be a part of something so big and Broadway is so classic – everyone can relate to it and share an experience of it. Shows that I would love to perform are: A Chorus Line, Book of Mormon, In the Heights, Legally Blonde, Something Rotten, Gypsy, On the Town, and Ragtime (technically I have already played it but it was a new orchestration). There are also a lot of classics such as 42nd Street and My Fair Lady that I would love to play as well.
GC: A lot of musicians talk about having a moment of “arrival”, where they feel like they’ve made it in the music business. Do you believe in that line of thinking, or have you had any moments like this?
KA: I have had tiny moments like this where I am playing a great gig with great people and I know this is exactly where I want to be – exactly what I want to be doing. In terms of a greater arrival point in the scene, I don’t believe in that line of thinking. I know I am continuing to get better and I am always looking towards the next thing – always reevaluating what I can contribute and what I have to say. I don’t ever want to feel like I have arrived. I always want to continue to create and make an impact.
GC: Do you have any big projects in the works?
KA: I just redid my website (kateamrine.com) and throughout the summer I am planning on adding some new recordings, videos, and pictures. After publishing my brass arrangements, I plan on revising some of my current ones and writing more – hopefully to publish those and a teaching/duet book in the future as well.
GC: On one last fun note, do you have any hobbies or passions outside of your music career?
KA: I actually double majored in trumpet and Psychology so human behavior is always one of my interests, and I like reading books in that area. I also love cooking!