In the center of a black-and-white photo, a boy wearing a three-cornered hat playing a violin looks unfavorably towards an slightly out-of-focus blonde girl playing the flute to his right.

The 3 Most Difficult Musical Instruments

Which instrument is the most difficult to play? Whether music is your profession or a hobby from your childhood, chances are likely that you’ve participated in this age-old debate. Or at the very least, you’ve given it some thought. Usually, it’s a mild-mannered discussion; but I’ve seen things get heated. Some of the talking points may have included: Brass instruments require a lot of air to play a rather small number of notes. The slightest change in temperature can wreak havoc on woodwind instruments. Percussionists must have rock-steady hands; any hint of shaking can … Continue Reading

Child with head in hands. Short, dirty blonde hair with a white shirt. Sitting in brown patio chair outside.

What to Do When You’re Not Perfect

Mistakes… Have you ever made one? In front of other people? Did it prompt you to start thinking negatively? Did it influence deeper fears and concerns? Me too. So what to do when that happens? How do we manage the multitude of thoughts and feelings that swim through our heads? First: Breathe. This seems to be the opinion of basically every teacher, doctor, psychologist, performer, or athlete I’ve ever heard discuss mental stress. Deep, purposeful breathing helps us regulate our heart-rate and oxygen levels, both of which are crucial for our minds to function optimally. Before I … Continue Reading

Blonde woman wearing brown hat looking left, thinking. She has rings on her second and fourth fingers. Trees are behind her.

Minding Mindfulness

Tina the Trombonist lives in Big City, USA. She just got her Masters in Music from the Big City Conservatory this year. She joined the Big City Local of the American Federation of Musicians (the Musicians’ Union), and she has started to build her career as a freelance musician. Times are hard, the field is competitive, and let’s face it– her student loans aren’t going to pay for themselves. So you can imagine how thrilled Tina is when she receives the following email from Corinne the Contractor: Tina, I need a trombonist for a wedding … Continue Reading

View from stage left of the Kennedy Center Opera House orchestra pit. To the left is the audience, to the right is the red and gold silk curtain. Down the middle, there are music stands and stand lights leading to a red wall.

Pit Poetry and Prose

When I tell folks that I’m a member of a pit orchestra, they are often intrigued. What’s it like to play music down there? Can you see what’s happening onstage? How often do you perform? So, I thought it would be worthwhile to go in depth about what it’s like in the depths of the Kennedy Center’s theaters, where we perform opera, ballet, musical theater, and any other staged performances that call for live music. First, here are some basics that I’ve learned so far in my first three and a half seasons. During an opera, … Continue Reading

Ballerina leaps into male ballet dancer's arms in front of large company onstage during a performance.

Dollars and Sense

“I’d like to go, but tickets are just too expensive.” This has been expressed to me on numerous occasions since I began with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. At first, I was inclined as a newcomer to take their word for it. My responses were something like, “Yeah, that’s a shame.” Or even worse, “Oh really? I’m so sorry.” But as I explored the DC/Metro Area, this complaint started to seem unreasonable. And it eventually made me wonder: How does a Friday evening at the Kennedy Center Opera House differ in … Continue Reading

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