Just started my second year teaching private horn lessons at Lake Zurich High School. It's great to teach in a consolidated school district where the band directors have high standards for their students.
Starting the year with a quote by moi!
This week was the seventh week of the Northwest Suburbs Summer Horn Workshop, and the five horn players in the class had the opportunity to listen to Neil Kimel's beautiful playing and expert advice. Neil's advice has helped me grow so much, so I was thrilled to give these students the opportunity to learn from him!
It is week six of the Northwest Suburbs Summer Horn Workshop at Lake Zurich High School. We've been learning how to read bass clef for low horn passages, learning excerpts from symphonies by Brahms & Shostakovich, learning new musical terms, and spending a lot of time rehearsing a horn quartet. Next week we will be visited by Neil Kimel!
You can hear Jessica on Chicago Jazz Philharmonic's second album: Sketches of Spain [Revisited].
I'm excited to share that I am the new private horn instructor for the Lake Zurich school district! It's a constant struggle to find a lot of horn students in one area, and so far
it looks like I'll have a large studio of 10-15 young players whose band directors are incredibly supportive. I start teaching next week and I can't wait. You can read more about my private lesson policies by clicking on the new "Private Lessons" tab at the top of the page.
This fall is an exciting few months for me with some new challenges. On October 11 and 12th I'll be performing Rite of Spring with the Illinois Symphony, and in November I'll be performing with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra for the first time (not to be confused with Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.)
Speaking of CJP, please check out Orbert Davis' new kickstarter campaign! Chicago Jazz Philharmonic accomplished so many incredible things last year: a gorgeous collaboration on "Havana Blue" with the River North Dancers and our premiere performance at Symphony Center. Please help us reach our fundraising goal so we can hit the recording studio in November! Check out the kickstarter campaign HERE.
In November I will be featured as a soloist with the Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra. The performance will take place on Sunday, November 24th at 3PM, and the program will feature me on Richard Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 1. The orchestra will also be performing Beethoven's 7th Symphony. I hope to see you there!
My blog has been a lonely place this winter. But it's a new season and some updates are in order!
In April I became the new assistant principal/utility horn for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. It was one of those auditions in a series of tries and misses where everything finally seemed to click. I’ll begin playing with them this fall and I’m excited to perform Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony for the first time! Many people have asked me if I'll be moving to Springfield. The ISO is not a full-time commitment so I'll still be living and making music in Chicago.
This month marks a milestone for the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. We’ll be performing in Symphony Center for the first time on Friday, May 24th! It's such a joy to work with someone as innovative, talented, and kind as Orbert Davis. Click the banner below for more information!
I’m incredibly excited to say that this fall I’ll be performing Richard Strauss’ first horn concerto with the Midwest Philharmonic Orchestra. As soon as I have information on the specific date and time I’ll be sure to post it here. I've had wonderful experiences teaching horn and piano at the Midwest Conservatory of Music, and this past weekend I performed Schumann's Third Symphony with the MPO.
The YOURS Project site I work for is located in the Logan Square neighborhood, and I’m very excited that we’ll be launching our program at Ames Middle School this month. We’ll have somewhere around forty to fifty brand new students who will play an instrument for the first time in their lives. I get to teach with a versatile staff of musicians from all different kinds of backgrounds (who are also very talented at charades, which I learned at our holiday party.)
My winter project.
On Sunday, February 24th at 7PM I’ll be hosting the first recital of the YOURS Faculty Chamber Series. It will be a chamber recital comprised of new music composed by my friends and colleagues in Chicago. I’m thrilled to be performing works by Eric Malmquist, Luke Gullickson, Tom Madeja, and Ayriole Frost. This recital will also be the premiere performance of my quintet, Windswept. I’m excited to bring so many talented musicians together to contribute to a music project that is so vital to the children and neighborhoods of Chicago. The recital will be given at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, a beautiful church where I gave my Alzheimer's Benefit recital this past August.
Beautiful Presser Hall at IWU
When you are starting your career, people like to give you lots of advice. And when you are starting a career in a business as nebulous as the music business, you become an eager sponge for any and all words of wisdom. Lately the message that keeps coming through to me from new colleagues and professors from my past is: stay positive.
Some days this is easier than others, but it seems to me that positive thinking seems to grow upon itself. Positive thinking gives you a rosier outlook, and visualizing your success can be as important as all the time you spend in the practice room.
I've often heard that there are many great musicians out there but not many of them are great at auditioning. What divides the pros from the amateurs? I've heard many professionals affirm that mental preparation is the key to winning.
In Don Greene's book "Audition Success" he writes about how he worked with Olympic divers in preparation for their auditions. Sports psychology is amazingly similar to music psychology, and I like to tell my students that musicians are athletes too. A former champion diver himself, Don Greene helped a diver who had injured herself and had no time to physically prepare for her Olympic trials. Through weeks of mental preparation that included meditation and methodically visualizing each dive movement by movement, she performed spectacularly.
I know almost all musicians can agree that they've played their best in the warm-up room and then blown the audition. I felt like I was the queen of terrible auditions sometimes. To counteract this I would perform mock auditions for my friends and rehearse the music relentlessly: singing through it, listening to it over and over again, running it backwards and forwards with different articulations, working with a metronome, etc.
When I was still struggling with performance anxiety, I took a lesson with Bill Barnewitz, and he completely blew my mind with his perspective on auditioning. "Why shouldn't you enjoy it?" he asked me. "You get to perform some of the most beautiful music ever written." I had been so caught up in my fear of auditioning that this sounded shocking to my ears.
It wasn't until I was pursuing my masters at the University of Michigan that things really started to click. Constant practice and thorough preparation are necessary to be competitive, but visualization made me feel like I could play even better than my best while under pressure.
I pictured myself playing through the excerpts and meditated before falling asleep a few nights prior to the audition. I reflected on how each note of each phrase would feel against my lips and how the sound would fill the hall. Once in the audition room, I already knew what was going to happen. Not only did I feel confident, I felt at peace. I actually enjoyed the audition and didn't waste any mental space with negative thoughts.
Can this kind of positive thinking in preparation for one small performance be applied to a whole career? Sometimes when we are caught up in living gig to gig we can forget to dream big.
I recently visited Illinois Wesleyan University to perform on their New Music Cafe series. I performed an incredible chamber work for violin, viola, string bass, oboe, horn, and marimba written by the Brazilian composer Marcos Lucas. It was such a joy to feel at home at my alma mater again. Visiting Bloomington, Illinois also put some things into perspective for me. When I think about how small my view of the world was when I was a student at IWU, it feels like it has been much more than three years since I graduated. So much can happen in just a few years time. Some things never change though- I'm still filled with positive energy whenever I visit Presser Hall.
I can say that I am simply a young musician who is thankful for the present and eagerly anticipating the future.
Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite authors and I just adore her use of words.
“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy's fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure--your perfection--is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.” -Elizabeth Gilbert