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new interview w a student from the Hartt Preparatory Academy

Earlier this year, I was fortunate to be interviewed by Oslo, a student of the Hartt Preparatory Academy in Hartford, Connecticut as part of a class project on musicians and diverse careers. It was so fun speaking with him and I really appreciated the thoughtful questions. Check it out and let me know what you think! 

OS: Question 1: Based on your Bio, you have supported female Brass players and composers in many different ways. What encouraged or inspired you to do this? KA: Personally throughout my career thus far, I have occasionally faced discrimination and have been treated differently for being a female brass player. This ranges from seemingly harmless (yet annoying) comments about my lungs or lips and how I could possibly play the trumpet as a woman, to more serious and potentially disrupting things like not being hired for a gig because I am a woman. Since I have had a good number of these experiences, I feel all the more responsible to do something about it in my own teaching and activities as a performer. Female composers have been in a similar position for a while with not being recognized and promoted as well so when I decided to focus on having my album be all music by women composers it was with this in mind – that only with these kinds of gestures and awareness will things start to change and what was previously looked at as different and abnormal can be accepted and become the new normal. OS: Question 2- You have a youtube channel where you share things like instrument products and pieces that you play on the trumpet. I am Curious to ask, what is your target audience? What are your goals or intentions are for the channel? KA: For my YouTube channel and my instagram – where I started a #TrumpetTipsTuesday series – it actually completely varies. Originally I was aiming for just trumpet players and other freelancers but I’ve found some of my recordings and speaking videos end up reaching composers and others in music who aren’t necessarily brass players. For example, I did a Facebook Live on Freelancing in NYC and I later did one on Composing and both seemed to attract a wide range of people beyond just brass players or instrumentalists. I definitely want to continue to grow my YouTube channel but personally it is much easier and more pleasurable to interact with people / fans on Instagram or Facebook. I see YouTube as a slightly more professional and curated space for my recordings while instagram and Facebook allow for more personal interaction and relationships. OS: Question 3- You seem to mostly work in the NY area, what do you find so special about NY to work in that area? Is it the environment? Is there more inspiration there? KA: I love NYC! I grew up coming here many times a year and I’ve known I wanted to be here for a while. It just seems like there are so many things happening musically, across many different genres and playing situations and so many musicians I want to connect with and work with. The environment can be a bit intense sometimes but overall I really like it and feel it really gels well with my hardworking Type A personality. I definitely think there is incredible inspiration in NYC and not just musically. It feels like a place where everywhere you go from the coffee shop to in an Uber you are confronted with people working their butts off to get to where they want to be. NYC has its own way of keeping me in check though. Some days you are on top of the world and everything is going your way but then your train is delayed or you play a rough gig and NYC reminds me what’s up. OS: Question 4- Which ensemble you have performed in has been most interesting or influential to you and why? KA: I’m going to pick two. First, playing with A Far Cry for Matt Aucoin’s opera “Crossing” as a part of the BAM Next Wave Festival was an incredible experience. Until that point, I hadn’t worked on such difficult contemporary music with such fantastic musicians and it completely blew my mind how enjoyable it was. We were all so intensely focused  and the experience was unbelievably musically satisfying. The second one was when I performed the musical Ragtime in concert on Ellis Island with many Broadway singers and musicians. The concert took place in the main Registry room where immigrants would enter to be evaluated and screened into this country. To perform a musical about immigrants and the power of the American dream at a time when this country needs these reminders most, was truly incredible. Check out some of the videos here OS: Question 5- You are part of Brass Chicks, it says that “We aim to celebrate and promote the work of female brass players through interviews, news, and guest posts from fellow members of the Brass Chicks community.” Do you think this blog has helped accomplish this? Do you think there are any other ways this blog has helped female brass players? KA: I do think we are continuing to accomplish this yes. At this point, I believe we have conducted over 15 interviews and our weekly Five Things Friday series has been running since July 2017. We also have several things in the works to expand the format of the blog and add more opportunities for guests posts. We do get a handful of messages after particularly inspiring posts – people thanking us for the work we have been doing and letting us know how much it means to be in contact with the Brass Chicks community. Personally, I know that with Brass Chicks my goals are to continue to create the sort of community that I wish I had growing up as a female brass player. OS: Question 6- This is a weird question but I’m just curious, what was that rustling sound in that Ojos Claros piece by Tomás Olano? KA: Great question! It is actually a very close mic on my fingers pressing down the valves in a rhythm specified by the composer. I did the same sort of things in Jinhee Han’s piece “Yaygara” for my album.

OS: Final Question- You have recently started to write your own music. What goes into creating an original piece for you? Do they reflect your current mood or an event that happened in your life? What’s your process? KA: Recently most of my music inspired by moods or personal experiences. I usually sit with an emotion or idea for a while and think about the overall structure of the piece. – then when I go to write it it is usually figured out in my head a bit beforehand. I took a lesson with trumpeter and composer Peter Evans, and he suggested I factor in improvisation in my writing more so I’ve been thinking about that as well as writing in cells rather than set measures.

Follow up Questions-

OS: 1. Many people say you have to be fully committed to study and play music, Do you agree with this?

KA: I think you do have to be fully committed to study and play music – if that is what you are trying to do full time as a career. I think there is nothing wrong with having a day job – either in something else or as a band teacher etc and pursuing performance as a fun activity in a group with friends or practicing on your own. But to be a freelance musician or composer I do think it is necessary to be fully committed. I had heard from several people growing up that if there is something else that you love more than music, then you should do that. Being a musician can be a tough way to make a living, yet extremely rewarding. The closer to 100% you are in terms of dedication to the craft and your path then the easier that will be. I do think that the idea of being fully committed to study and play can have different levels. One can be very hardworking in the practice room either playing or composing, but not want that to be their full time career. Similarly, there are probably many full time musicians and composers who also have other interests and only pursue a certain level of intensity with the commitment to study and play music.

OS: 2. Are there other composers that you take inspiration from to compose your own pieces? Is there a certain composer that you look to?

KA: Since I’m still getting more and more into composition, I feel inspired by many composers – especially the composers of new music that I am directly involved in, as with my album and other projects. Looking back, I love the music of Stravinsky, Sondheim, and Gershwin. I think it also depends on the piece – for each of the things I am writing I try and imagine who does that kind of thing really well – whether it is my lyrical piece “As I Am” or my more improvised / gestural piece “Anx” – and then mimic the style of the composers I picked who are great at that style.

OS: 3. Which do you find yourself enjoying more, Composing, Teaching, or Performing and why?

KA: I definitely love performing the most, especially chamber music and some recent solo stuff. I love playing in an orchestra and creating a project with a large group of people – as I did with Ragtime and A Far Cry – the two playing experiences I mentioned earlier. I do love teaching though – especially when it relates to helping my students become more confident and happier people/ musicians through playing trumpet.

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