Working in Popular Music: Building Skills, Finding Work, Getting Paid  |  9.12.2019

Working in Popular Music: Building Skills, Finding Work, Getting Paid | 9.12.2019

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welcome everyone I’m standing on this
stage because we are live-streaming this so normally I would be down in front of
you so you’re gonna have to all forgive the fact that we’re kind of formal
tonight but we have this opportunity to have audiences from across the country
join us so welcome if you’re joining us through the livestream my name is
Christine Beamer and I’m the director of career services and music
entrepreneurship for the College of Music and I am so excited to welcome our
alum Christian Hebel to the stage today I don’t know if all of you had a chance
to read his bio but Christian has had a really wonderful multifaceted career
from playing concertmaster on Broadway with Wicked to touring with Barbra
Streisand and George Benson to performing with Rihanna and Carrie
Underwood and a variety of styles and then he’s also been a recording artist
in Hollywood for a ton of movies from Deadpool to the Life of Pi to X-Men and
I’ll let him tell you more about that but just as we welcome him to this stage
so that he can get a sense of who you are can you raise your hand if you are a
string player, awesome. how about wind players? brass players? composers? yeah!
vocalists? any vocalists? awesome who did I– piano? any piano? yes, we’ve got a
pianist, awesome. will you please join me in welcoming to the stage Christian
Hebel. yeah! so I’m gonna stay up here for just
a second while you get to take a seat.
–Ok, do you mind if I sit? It’s a little more comfortable So I was hoping that you would just start us
out by giving us a sense of in your daily life on us a monthly basis what
are the kind of things you do for work? [Christian:] for work my line of work it’s it’s fun
for me because it’s always different week to week and day to day I live
between New York and LA but right the last year has been mostly in Los Angeles
so a day-to-day there or a month in Los Angeles will be six TV shows that I play
on every week and that might be just one session a week or one session every
other week depending on the TV show, different movies every week and never
know kind of what it is until I get in there, so that’s fun. it’s all
sight-reading based that you’ll you know you get the music take it one take maybe
two takes the composer might change a little bit and then you’ll move on. I
tour with several of the artists I play with that are pretty much rock, pop, and
hip hop artists. different artists so when they’re on tour I’ll go with them,
or when they’re in the recording studio record with them. In Los Angeles it’s not
as many commercials or jingles as they do in New York, New York would be a month
there would be a Broadway show so it’s eight shows a week of whatever Broadway
show I’m playing, and the recording commercials or jingles at night or
during the day, and when I’m on tour it’s it’s depending on the artists. I was just
with Barbra Streisand so we had a we had a show in London for 75,000 people in
Hyde Park outside and and Barbara doesn’t tour that much so we have a nine
piece band so we had that show we can have later we had Madison Square Garden
Show, and then four days after that at the United Center in Chicago and that
was– and that was it. And maybe you know
we’ll have a few more concerts with her in two or three months, it all depends on
her or wanting to do it or her schedule if I’m with other artists we might have,
you know, seven– five– five to seven shows a week. if it’s a rock band or if it’s
Beyonce or Rihanna or whoever you know they want to put as many shows as
possible in, but that’s kind of a given– yeah, day to day as a– I call myself a
studio musician sometimes if I’m having that or a tour musician, or a session musician. So it all depends.
–And can you tell us a little bit about how you got
from MSU and college to that life as a studio musician, as a session musician, as a pit musician?
–Absolutely so while I was I did undergraduate here at Michigan
State I grew up in Plymouth which was kind of between Ann Arbor and Detroit,
Plymouth Michigan, and for me when I was in high school I was taking classes in
Ann Arbor at University of Michigan or downtown Detroit so for me getting away
from home was coming to Michigan State cuz it was like two hours away I knew I
didn’t want to go right from high school to New York or LA but I knew in my heart
you know I wanted to spend time for sure in New York, so coming here was a great
opportunity just for me to get an education and learn to be a classical
musician, but then also while I was here taking having jazz combo and taking jazz
lessons and really getting into the non classical scene. So that’s for me what
Michigan State allowed me to do, is see the other realms of music, and the other
genres of music that I was really passionate about and wasn’t sure that
there was a career in that, but knew I wanted to try to make it in that. And for
me as a classical violinist there there weren’t the role models that I was
looking at in the real world doing what– doing what I wanted to do
which was I wanted to be on stage, I wanted to
improvise, I wanted to play, you know, rock I wanted to play jazz, I want to play all
different styles and there was no one there were no violinists that I could
look to to see that. There was the best classical soloists there was the best,
you know, jazz saxophonist, trumpets you know every other instrument in those
genres but not a violinist who is doing all of that. so that was kind of
something I had to create on my own. While I was here I was studying with a
number of jazz faculty, as well as my classical private violin instructor, and
doing Orchestra and all the you know the core curriculum classes, but in in
overtime, you know, I was in the practice room shedding bluegrass solos, or
saxophone, you know and trumpet licks and solos of artists you know that I
looked up to, so I was doing that in addition and trying to still see what–
what– which way I wanted to go still knowing at that point I added Nashville
to the mix to where maybe you know I was– I was–I saw these Fiddler’s and bands on
stage and touring around, not that I enjoyed listening to country music but I
was like oh there’s a violinist who’s on stage with the you know a singer and and
improvising. So was Nashville, New York, and LA I knew between those three I
wanted to go after school. And while I was here I got a job in Lansing Symphony
the second chair violin as associate concertmaster, and it allowed me to see
that that wasn’t a career I really wanted to do, like you know– one of my
aspirations was maybe being a major Symphony Orchestra. And I knew what it
was gonna take learning excerpts, I was gonna take for the auditions, I had
friends that were in the orchestra’s and Lansing gave me a full-time
position there gave me a kind of a view and a feeling that you know, I didn’t
want to do this the rest of my life, playing a symphony, I want to make my own
path and be more creative musically. So that was a great opportunity. The second
opportunity from that was any of the Broadway shows, or rock bands, or singers
that came to town if they needed a violinist they would
ask the concert master and the concert master didn’t want to take those jobs
because he was strictly a classical player. So they would offer to me and
that’s that’s how I started getting these, you know, Broadway shows and
sitting in the pit which was new to me and playing on stage with a singer and
you know a five piece band of which they– their violinist couldn’t make it and I was you
know reading charts and improvising and and I loved it. And I was making
connections also with those music directors, and those performers, and those
singers, that were saying, “oh you need to you know, you need to get to New York.”
they were all saying that, nothing LA based. So I was like yeah I’ve got to get
to New York and I’ve got to do this. and it was also opening my eye to like me
realizing I’m good at this. I’m good at improvising, I’m good at playing
different styles, and that really set in motion my passion for wanting to be
diverse and playing all those different genres. And I’d always had the dream of
playing on Broadway, I always had the dream of playing in movies and TV shows.
so getting to New York I was like, this is gonna be my goal, like getting a
Broadway show. So I used grad school to get out there, and it really helped– it
wasn’t just me going there and trying to make it on my own and you know having–
having to get some other job to make it as a musician right off the bat. I went
for the schooling and to get my grads– and knew I had a two-year program, and during
that time I was actively following up on the connections I made of those tours
that came through to the Wharton Center when I was playing with them, or on this
stage or the auditorium, wherever. And it was it was leading to me going and being
able to sit in with them or watch them work or sit in a Broadway Pit, or sit
in the club and watch you know these these bands really do real-life work. So
that was amazing and that started me getting more work while I was in grad
school and it– I really kind of crossed over to where I
was doing both who are– when I got out of school I was already working in the
scene which, was which was great and I loved it. But that was– yeah, getting to New
York and then I– then I slowly started doing both New York and LA where I go
back and forth and do studio recording in in LA during the week and then I’d
play Broadway shows when I’d be in New York over the weekends. –Great thanks.
I want to open it up to the questions you all have because we are
live-streaming this I know that none of us need this mic; we’re all musicians we
project well, but because the livestream audience won’t be able to hear us if you
have a question just raise your hand and I’ll bring the mic to you. So anyone have
a question? [Audience Member] Hi Christian, so for everybody in the
audience Christian and I were talking before I have some students here in a music– a
form of a music business class that I teach here at MSU, and actually today one
of the things that we talked about at some length, because it’s early in the
course, we’re figuring out a little bit about what it means to take our training
as classical musicians, and you have that as well of course, and somehow in a
self-managed way, right, turn that into something that we can make money doing.
And for you as you’ve– as you’ve wonderfully described, that is this
really awesome amazing career doing more commercial style music, or music that
appears– all this kind of stuff. And it may be something where you use your
training all the time, but you’re not really playing quote-unquote classical
music all the time anymore, right? So I was just wondering, for you, what the
experience was like of you growing up and learning a really craft full job of
playing classical music, but then kind of moving into doing something where you
now– you play your violin like constantly but you still look out at other people
who do classical music in a more traditional way, right? So what does that
journey been like for you to turn your training as a classical musician
and all this craft that you have into something a little bit different that
you now make a living doing, and did you ever feel like you were abandoning
your training? Did you ever feel like you were had to give anything up in order to
do this and how did you kind of avoid having to go through that? [Christian] Yeah that’s a
great question. So so it was coming from as you know from anyone coming from the
classical world, it is changing and doing something non classical sometimes is
looked differently on. Same way for jazz musicians. Jazz musicians, you know,
playing outside that genre is a lot of times, you know, called
“selling out” or you know it’s different it’s it’s a different concept. We don’t
come in the classical world we don’t come from a community that’s very eager
to want you to do other genres. So the classical training is obviously what
gave me my technical ability, How I learned I couldn’t do what I’m doing now
without the classical training, that being said I do– like you said, I do look
at you know for the classical colleagues that are that are soloing or playing and
orchestras with great honor that they’re doing that, and I respect that so much.
But just know that that I’m comfortable not doing that right now. The
classical training, as far as where it’s gotten me now, is that it’s– it’s I’ve had
to use that to kind of be creative in both an entrepreneurial and kind of
money-making ability at different times, because in between a Broadway show or in
between tours early on, I would have to come up with concepts to make money or
make it in New York City that were not non-musical jobs. I mean there were times
where I was bartending but for one instance it was like literally with
friends forming a quartet and for the sole basis of– this was early on with
like Spotify and streaming services to create that niche of wedding– wedding
music for that that was not live quartet. So we formed this quartet we were doing
a lot of high-end weddings and parties in New York City, but at the same time
going to different halls and recording strictly music that would usually be
asked or considered for weddings. And sure enough, that was you know, at the
time it was like the top streaming and downloaded from iTunes or Spotify
so people were, unfortunately, you know, as we knew they were using recordings at
some weddings around the world but they were using ours and we were getting
revenue streams out of it. So it’s kind of you know it was very creative at the
time, now you look and there’s, you know, tons of it. But at that time– and even
using what we were using like at the time I was playing with Billy Joel, so we
used that in the in the bio and someone else was with–
it wasn’t– I think it was Placido Domingo or Jose– you know, one of the hopper
singers at the time, so we were getting all these different attention brought to
it from the classical world, the pop world, and the rock world, just from people
like, oh this is a this is a string quartet that you know plays for famous
people. And what we thought worked because people were using that, and at
the same time locally in the New York and Connecticut and New Jersey we were
getting weddings that if we were not working, we could take. So that was using
our classical background even though none of us at the time we’re really
working in the classical world we use that to you know to to make some income
at the time. Now there’s even more diverse ways you can– you can do that
with social media and with sponsorships you know I’ve learned that with with
social medias different just musical companies alone, with violin case
companies or microphone companies that that will give you product and will have
you use product just to share while you’re on tour or on Instagram and
they’ll, you know either pay you money, or they’ll give you you know all the
product you want. So it’s really interesting that there’s that there’s
other realms out there that we’re not really– you know, I wasn’t taught about in
school and have had to figure that out. I don’t know if that answers your question. Another question? Yes? [Audience Member] So you touched upon like how like when you were like in that big concert like orchestra or so, you were given those
opportunities to do these outside of classical like gigs and stuff like that
because the person running it wasn’t like very apt with it and didn’t want to
like give up any people for that, but like, since you’re interested they like
directed it towards you on that do you think it’s more important for like
directors to be more open so everyone gets those kinds of opportunities? So
like, would it be like better for students to know all their available
options rather than just just like not be aware of everything because it’s not
told to them, or like not like, given or shown as like an opportunity it should have?
— [Christian] That’s a great question. So what I I thoroughly agree it’s a personal choice
because I you know as much as I love playing all genres and if there’s a– if I
find out a new genre you know South American music, or African music, like I
literally want to listen to it as much as I can and try to emulate it, whether I
can you know master is another possibility but that’s– that’s in me. I
want to be able to play every different genre on the violin. But I’ve– you know,
worked with a lot of people that it’s it’s not for them it’s it’s not that
they wouldn’t be able to do it but it’s just it’s not something they would enjoy.
So to answer your question I– I don’t think it’s necessary for every musician
or someone in the music community to to be diverse… do I think it’s helpful?
Absolutely. You know it’s helpful in getting work it’s it’s helpful in
opening up your community of musicians and friends, it’s oh it’s opening up the
possibility of work ten years later that you can call on these people and, you
know, that absolutely. But I don’t think it’s necessary because there’s a lot of–
you know, there’s a lot of classical string players that it’s just not for
them, they would never enjoy it. They wouldn’t be good at it necessarily and
it would in order to you know master use it in their everyday
life we don’t– it wouldn’t have the time to do that you know because they’re
they want to be a chamber musician or they want to be a in a symphony. So in
that kind of respect it would it would take away from what their goal is, but at
the same time I think it’s I think it’s an invaluable thing that, you know, if
it’s something in you and you– you see that you could follow that, absolutely.
You know, I’m just a big proponent on leaving options wide open and being
diverse and that even if you have a path to being in a Symphony Orchestra
why not be diverse, if you can, so you have these other avenues to go on. But
it’s it is it’s not necessarily for for every person. There was a time of my life
where I thought oh every musician you need to be able to play every genre and
appreciate every genre, I don’t I don’t think that’s true anymore.
There’s genres of music that I would– I don’t enjoy listening to, but I see the
benefits and I can pick out intricacies and you know technicality of a musician
or things within the music, but I don’t necessarily think you have to love
listening to it or appreciate– so that was things that changed within me, the
same way of like ‘does everyone have to be diverse?’ I don’t necessarily think so,
but it– it’s a huge plus. I think in the world that we’re living in now how
musics going with social media and with everything that the music’s
taking on in the world, you can’t you know, it can only help you to be diverse
and dabble in different genres I think. [Pointing To Audience Member] yeah [Audience Member] So when you’re thinking about like New York as like a recording city or Nashville or LA or wherever it happens
to be it’s a recording scene you say yes is just like a place in which you can
there are a lot of those studios in a lot of places where people will go to
find those jobs do you generally find that that’s the same group of people who
are who have those jobs does that rotate a lot are there new people who break
into those markets if not are there niche more yeah niche markets outside of
those cities where you can go to find that type of work okay so so within
those cities just between LA and Nashville and in New York say for this
for the session musicians in LA for the movies there is a core I would say 90
musicians in LA even you know the the the Union there has thousands and people
that are even more that aren’t in the Union but of the core musicians that are
playing these movies and TV shows 90 maybe 95 musicians and will get whether
it’s a an 80 piece Orchestra for the call or a 10 piece ensemble or a 20
piece ensemble it’s from those core players there’s another maybe hundreds
that are on call shall I say for the cup for the contract the contractor is the
person that’s calling for the sessions in LA or for the for the commercials
it’s different in New York and Nashville and in LA there’s a contractor that’s
that the composer works with hiring those musicians and that’s kind of the
core it’s it’s it’s tough to break in and it used to be to where there were
just under 300 core musicians playing when they have more studios you
mentioned also like in New York where the studios are the studios themselves
are being closed down just for a lack of
work in New York and LA unfortunately when I got to LA when I started working
there in 2006 the two biggest studios that we would work at are no longer
there the Paramount and Tadeo and now there’s three big sound stages as
opposed to five and then you also still have Capitol Records and east-west sound
and United kind of for more pop music and rock and hip-hop but it’s it’s
scaled down to where the recording is going outside of LA beats it’s gone
non-union and it’s gone to London Vancouver Seattle and then Eastern
Europe so that core of when I first started it’s gone even smaller New York
even even more so that the big studios have closed down unfortunately and the
Broadway show musicians where it used to be a core of you know several hundred is
closed down too because each theater is using less and less musicians and their
Broadway shows so that’s a you know a really downside for us to our wicked is
the last of the that was the last of the you know twenty seven piece Orchestra
musicians we’re used to have thirty to forty most of the old old-time my fair
lady in Oklahoma was all thirty to forty piece orchestration so wicked being
twenty-seven now if we could close and something else went in there it would be
fifteen musicians and it’s just you know they’re the producers are going smaller
and smaller and and putting the musicians away too so the audience
doesn’t see them literally like pits are covered now to where you used to see the
musicians heads so as far as far as that you know the older musicians are holding
jobs and the jobs are dwindling down to where the pool is getting smaller and
smaller Nashville is actually kind of expanding in that way but they’re moving
a lot of recording their nan country as well so it’s more than just country
bluegrass but um yeah it’s a lot of home studios and think so that is that answer
your question on that okay I like them Mike traveling around thanks
for being here you guys yes hi so you’ve managed to accomplish your
original goal which was to perform on stage and to maybe be a recording artist
and I feel like you’re really living the dream which is amazing but do you still
have goals for yourself that you’d like to accomplish yet are there things in
your life that you feel like you’ve musically have not had the opportunity
to do and so what are they yeah thanks for asking that it’s I still do
I always from starting at Michigan State I I had these I made these goals because
I knew if I have goals I’m going to accomplish them all right you know being
kind of trying to be confident in that level as opposed to if I have goals I’m
gonna try my best to accomplish them so it was it was the playa movies TV
playing in Broadway and going on stage those were the first ones going onstage
and touring with with you know my rock icons that I that I grew up idolizing
that was a dream I I added on later and that that was something I realized oh
I’ve always wanted to do doing that things that I haven’t accomplished yet
for sure is I’ve always wanted to to headline shows myself to where other
artists have given me you know I’ve opened for them they’ve given me
intermission kind of thing like the the singer Josh Groban was on tour with four
years in his band he let me go he’d T take a break during the show and leave
and introduce me and I’d you know play rock covers or play original stuff I did
or wrote or jazz that you know just totally diverse things and I loved that
in my I was always like one day I want to do that and have like somebody opened
for me I haven’t done that yet that’s don’t I still see before I get too old I
could do that the other is is to put out an album of my songwriting which I just
finished a few months ago not vile I mean it’s it’s like lyrics and songs and
it’s of with different different singers singers that I’ve worked with in the
past and wanted to work with again a different producer on every track and
very very current and very placeable for like TV or movies because I’ve you know
I’m seeing that’s another whole genre that I didn’t didn’t know much about at
school or even through my career is the sync ability of songs like once you
write them and if you write them correctly for movies or TV they’re
placed in the in the movie or TV and it’s you know very Luke really lucrative
to get payment for that plus residuals when they’re going so that’s mainly what
this album is there’s some violent aspects in it that you know don’t even
sound like violin or it’s so phased out or Pizza Cod or whatever but it’s mostly
lyric driven hip-hop rock and pop stuff so that was something I didn’t whether
whether it ever gets out you know that’s I’m still working on but those are the
two goals get it kind of be on stage doing my own thing which is separate
from that playing violent and then also the songs getting the songs out so yeah
thanks for asking that we had a question come in on the live stream which was do
you given how much you juggle between different genres how do you make
decisions on what to take and how do you juggle it all how do you find about oh
that’s really interesting so so how do I choose what to take so early on early on
when I would get jobs I would I would say yes and be so eager and excited and
just like yes I can do it I would get to the point where if it was something that
I didn’t really know how to do I remember at Michigan State in a jazz
combo and it was Andrew spate was that it was the professor at the time and it
was Branford Marsalis was here as visiting
jazz artist starting and I was taking lessons from him and it was it was the
he had asked like what string instruments other than a violin you play
and I was the only violinist in the jazz program we’re not programmed but taking
the jazz classes and I said I could play mandolin a little bit he said well do
you play banjo I said I can learn he goes good learn it you know putting it
together Dixieland combo so I literally went to elderly music and got a tenor
banjo and like shedded and learned and taught myself how to play the chords to
where we had a Dixieland combo that you know would play at the hotels around
town and again we were making money and that was also and also learning from the
professor and me saying yes so it was it was in New York and LA – I would say yes
– jobs not necessarily jobs that I didn’t know how to do but if I didn’t
know how to get there like I would be in New York and I got called to do a movie
in LA and they just said you know are you available these three weeks and it
was about three weeks off three weeks away and I said yes absolutely I didn’t
say oh I’m in New York you know they just gave me the studio info said where
to go and it was a it was a Star Trek returns it was like John Williams music
but hit there was a co-writer and and I got there I got there I stayed with a
friend I got from the airport to his place and you know just like made it
happen and if I would have thought too much about it I would have been like oh
wait where this is in LA I’m in New York and there would have been like okay
thank you you know they wouldn’t have like I I you know had to think ahead now
I’m a little more picky and choosey about what work it is just because I
have two young sons I have a one-year-old a three-year-old
I’m not going between New York and LA as much trying not to it all taking less
tours and just taking my time on saying yes to things even this this morning got
asked to like Elton John just finished up his last tour he’s retiring just
finished up in California and they this show popped up at the Greek Theatre it’s
a small venue and I got asked you know what I play with him next month and
instead of saying yes absolutely you know I had to say oh can I put it on
hold I’ll get back to you you know that’s nothing that I wouldn’t have done
that ten years ago you know I would jump that I’d be like absolutely but now it’s
kind of shifted to where instead of saying yes to everything I’m saying you
know let me let you know and figuring out what that week looks like what that
schedule looks like and then honestly seeing if there’s a better job that
comes along I might I might have a movie call that’s two weeks and if I was
playing with Elton you know I wouldn’t be able to do that movie because some
movies you have to do every single day others you can you can sell out so
that’s an interesting it’s an interesting question because it is
really tough to juggle it and choose which jobs to take it could be an artist
I’ve always wanted to work with but it you know if it’s a six-month tour right
now in my life I’m going to say no you know because I don’t want to take it
I’ve done the six month tours and loved it but it’s like right now it’s not the
right place for me so yeah it’s depending on where you are in your music
career you’re gonna be different about choosing work and where it takes you and
where you know you guys are at a place where you know let it take you anywhere
in the world wherever you know whether it’s a tour or whether it’s moving to a
certain city these you need to find that initiative that genre whether it’s New
York or LA or whatever but that’ll change I think for everybody good
question though hi hello so I had a quit my first
question was going to be about location but after what you’ve said I’ve kind of
changed it because it was initially going to be what would you do if you
couldn’t have gone to one of the three cities that you’ve listed but now since
you’ve said that you know even jobs they are dwindling and that it’s a smaller
pool and they’re going for less musicians and the people that would have
the jobs have them now already you know what I mean like the the older guard
what everyone call it um so and I think a lot of us are here also because we
identify mostly as like just classical musicians and I want to see what all of
our other options are and it might be a little disheartening to hear that all of
our other options are going also you know like all of our other like pop
options or whatever that you want to call them you know it’s like the same
across the board so I guess my question is do you see any trends in the industry
of like where it’s going that’s not necessarily like what you’re doing now
and the only thing that I could like think of maybe is like something with
chamber music just because similarly for what you said like there
is a need for wedding quartets so y’all made one and did it and it was just a
small elite group of friends and you found your way that way and I’m
wondering if the same kind of thing would apply to your current ordeal do
you know what I mean like recording and all of that yeah I mean and in just me
saying about the the studio scene in it the commercial scene kind of dwindling
down I mean we’ve before that we saw it in the classical community we sat in the
orchestra’s you know that other than in Europe like where our orchestras are
kind of dwindling and the ones that are there are shorter seasons which is
really sad so it is like you said I mean it’s it’s sad that it’s across the board
as far as trends I mean the way the music scene now is working it’s it’s
really changing like every five six months to where even you know we’re
fighting for legislation and Congress you know we just
got something past we’re getting for songwriters inside men and people on
albums you know it’s like we’re trying to gain things back but it’s really
tough the trends of where it’s going I the one positive thing is that I think
there’s for content creation it’s kind of the Wild West right now and taking
advantage of that you know it’s it’s where that’s gonna go they kept hop and
pop community has really gotten that down and homeschool producers that are
that are you know able to do stuff in their home studio and get that out fast
are really you know gaining traction but small ensembles I think like you said I
think small ensemble is always gonna be a positive and in a money-making
situation no matter what city you’re in if you can really if you’re a great
ensemble you know how to market yourself if you have a gimmick that’s even better
you know if it’s if it’s not you know gimmick I mean mixed ensemble or just
different you know it throw up the percussionist and upright bass in with
you know you know any kind of thing and really have some you know right for some
grants for new music or young composers you know get that involved you can do
that from anywhere now you don’t be in a big city you I think I think there’s
endless amounts to get your content out there with social media now that
ensembles are classical ensembles or quartets still aren’t doing you know
that that is the future like you said I think there is a wave that’ll bring kind
of small ensembles you know quote-unquote classical or contemporary
back in but yeah it yeah it’s it’s it’s it’s a the changing music community is
really it’s tough everywhere everywhere in the world other than where it’s
government-sanctioned like in Europe you know orth like the government gives
money the arts we definitely don’t do that in this country yeah it’s like it’s a bittersweet
there’s there’s new things out there but there’s also old things that are
dwindling but yeah there’s another question over here
oh hi my first question was uh between like live music doing stuff with film
and doing stuff one more time sorry sorry uh like between doing like live
music stuff for film and stuff in the studio for music will be your favorite
between live studio music in the studio and their film and film yeah yeah the
film and studio music I love my my favorite thing is is live and being on
stage and that can that’s in any realm I’ll usually a play you know classical
concerts with a symphony like soloing some symphony in the world like once a
year I’ll do like a few concerts with them I love that I love improvising with
with Papa rock artists I think I much prefer that personally but then there’s
not a day in the studio that I’m not exhilarated just because it’s new it’s
new music being put in front of me and putting that down and that’s and that’s
something more I can have my family and friends like go and see does that make
sense because I’ve I’ve done shows that I wish my family and friends could have
seen that I played live somewhere in the world and they just can’t and it’s not
recorded but it’s funny I can have I can say oh go to the movies you know this
weekend and see this movie you can hear me playing on but yeah there’s a for me
there’s a there’s a thrill to all those there’s a real thrill the studio
missions of musicianship and and that wasn’t something I had at Michigan State
until moving moving to New York I had some some recording gigs in Detroit that
I’d go to to play for like some small artists there
but never really had the thrill of like the studio scene where the lights all
the lights cut out and you just it’s dark and you’re watching the movie on
the big screen and you’re and that composers that you know let’s let’s
crescendo right to that place where everything blows up or where the kiss
comes you know we want it to be sweet yeah it’s uh yeah it’s really neat
sometimes I do get teary it’s kind of fun like I think oh my gosh I’m doing
this like I can’t believe it um this one’s a little unrelated as far as I
with the album that you are creating for sync to sync you said you like learned a
lot where would you say you learned a lot or like if this if it was more in
the industry like with some of the key things that you learn um how did I learn
to do to get to that place to do that album you saw just will to because you
say that you like specifically kind of made it for a sync licensing oh yeah how
I learned that was that was through experiences as a musician and being you
know seeing how the guys the engineers and the producers in the control room
worked the moments I could go in the control room and you know watch the
engineers work and then also just seeing the trends of TV and film and all these
streaming services now putting out tons more TV
excuse me TV shows than we’ve ever had content out there and seeing what kind
of music they were using it’s got a lot more to electronic and like I was saying
home studio guys that are doing it on synths but just songs that would fit in
that’s how that’s how I learned that and then to you know be a producer on all
the tracks along with like a tried-and-true producer that I had for
the tracks it was just learning from them the same thing so we’re I know if I
ever or if I do put that I should be confident about it when I do put it out
I know the next one’s gonna be easier and I’ve learned that much more from it
but there’s just I I’ve always been a believer that there’s so much to learn
in every environment you’re in with music and outside of music whether
you’re on up you know I’m on a plane on the way here it’s like if I want it you
know you sit back and you’re gonna learn from the people around you like
what things you do like what things you don’t like you know it’s that kind of
thing which we all can do if we want to but we don’t but in this specifically in
the music world and in our jobs and on our lessons in the concerts we see it’s
like learning from that and plusses and minuses you know I’m a huge critic tour
I can’t I really can’t go to a classical concert like a whole concert anymore I
go to like first half or second half I just I you know it’s things that I want
to do musically differently or things that I you know I’m nitpicky but you can
do that in in everything you know and you don’t have to always see the
positive in things you can see the negative and learn from that in your own
you know listen to your own music back it’s just always learning and always
being of service to other people as well it’s like if it’s you can if there’s a
professor that you’ve heard about or a class that you’ve heard about that
you’re not a part of you know to ask to be to sit in or be a part of it or ask
if you can assist in some project that’s going on you can learn from all that I’m
I’m a huge believer in that and you get opportunities out of it too we probably
have time for one or two more questions okay hello hi I just have a quick question
that just asked what were some challenges that you overcame I know a
lot of a lot of the artists or just musicians that we know they got to where
they are because of certain failures quote-unquote or just things that didn’t
necessarily go their way but ultimately brought them to where they were now so
whatever it be what were some challenges that you overcame that we’re monumental
to where you are now in life that’s great a big challenge in moving to New
York and realizing the the music scenes that I wanted to be a part of and the
jobs I wanted to be a part of realizing that they were a much much older crowd
musicians were much older that was a huge thing to overcome kind of
personally because I was like I didn’t feel I felt to fit in there but also
from them you know kind of judging me that I was young and therefore an
experience and therefore shouldn’t be there like in the Broadway community you
know at the time I was the youngest concert master I think that you know
definitely on Broadway at that time and people had said before that even like
they were literally you know 50 60 70 s like guys in in the pits like that was
their whole life and a lot of them did look down on me that before they even
heard my playing it was just like oh he’s he’s this young kid you know he
shouldn’t be here that was a huge obstacle to overcome that I’m older now
so I haven’t felt that in in Los Angeles so much you know because there’s there’s
guys younger than me now that I’m like hey you’re too young to be here no I’m
not I’m just kidding but um but that was a that was big for me because it was
like oh maybe I shouldn’t maybe I should not be in New York right now
maybe I’m too you know and I was and a lot of the big names jazz clubs I was
going to you know it’s though the legends with their band there’s all you
know old guys I’ve since you know now I’ll go to the club’s that it’s like the
young struggling jazz guys that are great you know it’s like all the people
right out of school playing but it was that was a big hurdle
for me to overcome kind of thinking and even even the guys that didn’t judge me
I was I was putting that on them like oh I think they’re looking at me
differently because I’m a kid right you know right from right from Michigan
right from undergraduate that was a big hurdle for me to overcome and also every
kind of at first when I was trying to break into all the different genres it
was the same kind of thing where they have their community they have their set
amount of players and their variants you know they they are threatened by new
musicians because like we were saying you know the community’s getting smaller
so each of those whether it’s bluegrass or whether it’s jazz in New York it’s
you’re you’re always the new guys always looked at as competition and I it’s
that’s the same if not more now in the in a lot of these cities so that was
that was really hard for me to overcome too you know you just have to you have
to get past it and you know just play like hell and and show them how you can
you know what kind of musician you are and and gain their respect and then
they’re like oh you know okay you can be here but it’s tough it’s tough to have
that put on you and it’s not something musical does that make sense like it’s
not you going in there and being like oh my gosh I don’t know if I can play this
as well as them it’s not that it’s going in there and being ready everything’s
ready you’re ready to perform and then you have this other you know it’s like
all the performance anxieties that we have that’s just an added thing of like
having someone else’s judgment on you if there’s there’s there’s always something
to overcome in performance that we don’t think about and that helped it helps
with nerves for me at least it makes me nervous that I’m like okay I’m gonna do
better I’m gonna try to do better but um yeah I think that’s the big it was a big
hurdle to overcome anybody have one last question it
doesn’t have to be profound yes so you’ve mentioned a couple times your
interaction now on social media and I myself have recently seen how that is
kind of developed and how musicians are taking advantage of that platform
but what have you learned from being a musician that’s already been established
and been playing with major people of how we can maybe younger students can
help to take advantage of social media it’s funny the biggest thing and I’ve
said this before in lectures and master classes with social media at least right
now the trend I use it differently than like you’re saying someone someone new
breaking into the scene I’ll use it to promote even though I haven’t I haven’t
I think it’s like four weeks I haven’t done anything but usually I’m good at
like what I’m doing or where I’m performing having a picture with the
artist or video like on stage or showing the John the venue and that’s kind of to
support the fans of mine on social media that’s what they want to see but but as
a new up-and-coming this crazy trend of practicing and just doing licks is like
a huge gaining of followers a lot of people I’ve told and they’ve you know
they get thousands of followers literally it’s like you go the hashtag
hundred days of practice or I need anything to do with that and there’s
there’s people that can’t play an instrument at all on there you know
playing through and there’s there’s people that are playing beautifully and
but the number of you know just at the right hashtag putting on there and
consistency that’s the thing of putting out content consistently it doesn’t have
to be anything amazing or profound I think you’ll get to that point as a good
musician you know you’ll hone it and do it but it’s just getting stuff out there
and for whatever reason that’s gaining followers now like thousands and
thousands of followers so and it you know the trend of like professors now at
different you know conservatories are doing that and and and but just yeah I
think do it what’s your instrument yeah I mean literally you go you’re like put
hashtag trumpet had to take 100 days challenge or something something about
practicing hundred days of practicing or just
and you’ll see all you know it’s crazy from all over the world and just know
when you see that all of them are putting in those same hashtags and
looking to see other content so that’s where you come into play
and tonight going home and literally playing like you know 20 seconds of
something and then editing it and you know however you want and putting it out
there and see what happens with it was with hashtags and then a week later go
back and take those hashtags off put different ones and you’ll see yeah
that’s I mean that’s the whole thing of social media now of like changing
hashtags which they allow you to do and you get a whole new followers on there
so that’s where like you know what I mean as up-and-coming I would totally
because whatever wherever social media is going right now this is it’s still
kind of the beginning of what this is gonna be and you know Instagram right
now is like staying you know so you want to have a lot of followers on there and
then you know yeah and it helps with whether you’re on tour or whether you
want to sell up Cee or you know any anything you want to do it’s it’s kind
of interesting it’s kind of the Wild West right now
yeah and it’s really yeah it’s really interesting to me with classical
musicians and jazz musicians what they’re what’s gaining followers right
now but that’s it just put content on there yeah tonight do it tonight look I’ll be
watching well well I’ll go back and practice and write well tag you any last
thoughts of if you had to go back and do it again is there any advice you would
give to students about something you wish you’d done more in college or
something that was really a piece of advice you’d like to leave us with
that’s great I uh I mean it’s so great being back in Michigan say cuz I someone
asked when’s the last time you were here I said when I graduated like I haven’t
been back since so it’s it’s great to be back here I got so much from and I’m not
just saying it because I’m here because I say it wherever I lecture from but my
undergraduate as opposed to my graduate school in New York City it was I learned
a lot I made a community of friends that I still stay in touch with a few of them
that are all around the world the musicians that I’m friends were from
the school we you know are still helping each other promote our own projects and
seeing what we’re in the same city we’re still seeing of things I think the
biggest advice that I would say even more is to take advantage of what’s here
before you leave you know it’s it’s stepping out into the real world is a
huge change and a glorious change and when you you know figure out what you
want to do what you want to pursue but there’s so many resources here to take
advantage of that once you step into that real world you don’t have as much
there’s gonna be you know there’s the connection to alumni thing in in helping
you out in that regard but you have professors here like ask questions like
these kind of things go to even if it’s not something in your wheelhouse of your
job you know if you’re not if you’re not into jazz music and you’re not in the
jazz program here but there’s some master of jazz coming in and doing a
master class like go to it go to it cuz like I said you just observe and you
learn from it you he might say something about moving to New York and a helpful
hint that you know is gonna help you it not you can you can use it in so many
advantages so I so I did take advantage of that when I was here but I would have
done it much more with the with the theater school I would have done more I
would have gone to more events over there of master classes that came in I
did one and it was amazing but I would have gone to more of visiting artists
here the visiting artists I would have gone to more
yeah and just experience as much as you can hear outside of that you know you
have that the tunnel vision of what dream what career you want to do but but
do everything on the periphery while you’re here kind of ties into the
diversity thing like I’m a big I’m a big proponent of that even if you’re not
gonna go in that direction but just take grains of wisdom from from different
visiting artists from different master classes from different professors do as
much as you can when you’re here cuz it’s a great place I think that’s a good
place to end if you are interested in talking about breaking into a new city
and obstacles and strategies particularly with LA and New York but
other places too tomorrow 12:40 upstairs in the conference room and there will be
free lunch if you tell me you’re coming so you should tell me you’re coming if
you have other questions you wanted to ask something but you felt intimidated
by asking it in front of everyone we’ll stick around for a little bit please
feel free to come up say hi make those connections and let’s thank Cristian for
spending an evening with us you

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