No. 1: Taking Ownership of Your Artistry
In this episode, we discuss the process of developing an artistic identity. Delving into our musical experiences in middle school and high school, we talk about how we went from searching for external approval to coming up with our own artistic visions. Being a young person, especially in the arts, brings on a lot of insecurity, and we each give our perspectives on both living with those insecurities and overcoming them.
No. 4: On Perfectionism
In this episode, we talk about our perfectionist tendencies and how they manifest in our work and everyday life. We discuss the ways in which perfectionism can be helpful and harmful to our work and assert that having an awareness of those tendencies can help us improve our creative processes.
No. 7: What Happens to a Dream Deferred?
In this episode, we talk about the major disappointments we've experienced in our careers and the difficulties that lie ahead. We take the time to mourn our plans while acknowledging that we have no choice but to move forward.
No. 10: Turning Obstacle into Opportunity
In this episode, we talk to our former professor Dr. Cynthia Folio about the life events that shaped her musical career. From growing up in a military family to having a special needs daughter, Dr. Folio’s unique circumstances have greatly influenced her music-making and compositions.
No. 13: Music Under Capitalism
In this episode, we talk to our former professor Dr. Noriko Manabe about her research on the intersection between Capitalism and technology in the music industry. We discuss the limitations that systems impose on the kinds of music that are created and distributed, how the system shape our tastes, and how music is utilized in protests. We are honored to have Dr. Manabe as our teacher and guest.
No. 16: A New Way of Tattooing
In this episode, we talk to tattooist Blacky Rixdorf about his unique story shifting careers from psychiatry to tattooing. We talk about the expanding contemporary tattoo scene and how it is changing the way we think about tattoos.
No. 19: Theatre or Theory?
In this episode, we talk to our former professor Dr. Ted Latham about the factors that influenced his decision to pursue music theory over musical theatre. We address topics such as work/life balance, the importance of collaboration, and our sensitivity to performance environments.
No. 22: Investing in New Skills
In this episode, we talk to our audio engineer Justin Bartlett about his journey into the world of music technology. We reflect on how daunting it can feel to put time and energy into learning an unfamiliar skill and discuss the ways in which we have overcome the barriers to entry when learning to use technology. We conclude that developing new skills is a very humbling experience and the ability to do so is a skill in itself.
No. 25: The Balance Between Career Focus & Exploration
In this episode, we talk to Americorps member and aspiring lawyer Keenen McMurray about the economic barriers involved in law school applications and how a law degree will allow him to help others in the future. We also talk about taking a detour to explore jobs and passions that aren’t necessarily related to our career paths.
No. 28: Dating other Musicians
In this episode, we talk to our good friend and fellow flutist Malinda Voell about the benefits and challenges of dating another musician. We discuss valuing a partner’s opinion, appreciating each other’s art, and the sense of competition that can arise from working in the same field.
No. 31: On Boredom
In this episode, we weigh the positive and negative elements of boredom, contemplating whether it is necessary or something to be avoided. We discuss the fear of boredom, as well as its association with laziness. We also talk about the role that being bored plays in sparking creativity, and how we can create an environment that inspires us to reach past the feeling of boredom.
No. 34: Building a Healthy Relationship with Your Instrument
In this episode, we discuss the ups and downs we’ve experienced in our relationships with the flute. We talk about the guilt associated with not practicing, as well as the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we play our instrument. Even though we feel lost, we are learning to have trust in our own abilities and the tools we’ve been given.
No. 37: Balancing Business & Creativity
In this episode, we continue our discussion with Kristy Drutman about setting boundaries in our creative work. We acknowledge how difficult it can be to say “no” to a project and brainstorm ways to overcome this barrier. We also talk about whether and/or how much to charge, as well as how to maintain artistic integrity while trying to make money. Kristy inspires us to see ourselves as multi-dimensional beings and to value all parts of ourselves as much as we value our creative output.
No. 40: Building a Unique Career
In this episode, we continue our conversation with Mimi Stillman about exploring careers in music. She tells us about the beginnings of Dolce Suono Ensemble, and we share our hopes for interdisciplinary artistic careers. We discuss all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running an arts organization, and how our experiences serving as program assistants for DSE have helped us in running this podcast.
No. 43: The Struggle Bus
In this episode, we talk to piccolo player of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Erica Peel about the wonders of playing and teaching piccolo. We discuss the underappreciated beauty of the piccolo, and how we have grown to love it and treat it as its own instrument. In the process, Erica shares the struggles she has faced as both a performer and teacher, and we agree that being open and honest about these struggles is beneficial for ourselves, our colleagues, and our students.
No. 46: What is the Purpose of Making Music?
In this episode, we talk to cellist Arlen Hlusko about the power of music and the power of social media. We discuss the value of having an online presence and how to maintain authenticity in a digital space. We also share stories of how music and art can be a healing force for both the people creating and experiencing them. In the end, we conclude that the positive impact that our platforms and art can bring to this world--no matter how small--is worth all of the effort we put in.
No 49: Addressing Injustice in Classical Music
In this episode, we talk to cellist, educator, and activist Sasha Ono about changing the culture of classical music. Sasha tells us about her group, Lotus Chamber Music Collective, and how they tackle important issues such as racism and injustice through the lense of classical music in their programming, concert discussions, and book club. She also shares her personal journey constructing a new, healthier relationship with classical music, expressing the importance of teaching younger generations of musicians to do the same.
No. 52: Life Lessons Through Music
In this episode, we continue our conversation with John Littlejohn about his unique career path as both a musician and a pastor. He tells us that in both of these professions, the end goal is to teach people about life and help others succeed. We also discuss the importance of finding motivations beyond wanting validation, as well as holding the people in your life accountable and having them do the same for you.
No. 55: Coffee & Community
In this episode, we talk to small business owner Frankie McDonald about his journey from working in the corporate world to founding Boonton Coffee Company. He shares his philosophy of community-building and creating a low-stress work environment, as well as some fun community stories! We discuss the benefits and struggles of being your own boss, and Frankie gives us his best advice on making it work.
No. 58: The Joy of Quitting
In this episode, we continue our conversation with Noa Kageyama about his decision to quit music. He describes how much lighter everything felt for him, as the work towards mastery would have never ended. We also discuss deconstructing the rigid structures of the music world and embracing making music for fun, both for professionals and amateurs.
No. 2: Curating Beauty in Your Life
Can aesthetics and function coexist? From the impact of a cluttered Social Media space to how we fill our physical spaces, we address the idea of curation and assert that everything we consume and create should have beauty and intent.
No. 5: Maximizing Creativity
In this episode, we give our perspectives on the concept of creativity, thinking about it as a skill that can be practiced rather than a character trait that only some people possess. We cover topics such as developing creative thought-patterns, training yourself to act on creative ideas, and utilizing creativity to problem-solve.
No. 8: Breaking the Boundaries of Music Education
In this episode, we chat with Ashwin Suseendran about the ins and outs of music education. We discuss achieving a state where music-making and teaching become second nature, which we call “stream of consciousness.” We also address the importance of diversity, accessibility, and flexibility in music curriculums.
No. 11: Finding Creativity in Animal Rescue
In this episode, we talk to foster parent and pet sitter Mônica da Costa about utilizing creativity in our interactions with animals. We discuss our personal experiences with animal rescue and how caring for animals has enriched our lives.
No. 14: The Socially-Conscious Musician
In this episode, we have a conversation with Dr. Tanya Kalmanovitch about forging an artistic path that is socially and politically aware. In response to the paralyzing realization that we are complicit in an industry that perpetuates racism and classism, Dr. Kalmanovitch challenges us to imagine a better way by asking a simple question: “What If?”
No. 17: Fake it ‘til You Make it
In this episode, we talk to our former professor Dr. Michael Klein about navigating his career as a young theorist and pianist. Through a series of fun anecdotes, he teaches us the value of improvising your next step, whether it be on or offstage.
No. 20: Practice Practice Practice
In this episode, we speak with Susanna Klein, creator of the Practizma Practice Journal about the psychology of practice and bringing creativity into the practice room.
No. 23: Touring, Recording, & Rehearsal Dynamics
In this episode, we talk to our friend Sam Nebyu about his experiences as a touring solo violinist and recording artist. Sam reminisces about the highs and lows of constant travel and the beginnings of his very first album, Music by Composers of African Descent.
No. 26: Artists Shouldn’t Have to be Broke
In this episode, we speak with Dr. Evan Kassof about his work as a labor organizer, particularly as president of the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA). We dive into the inequalities present in higher education, as well as the affects of financial insecurity on our abilities to teach, create art, and help others.
No. 29: The Importance of Vulnerability
In this episode, we talk to Elizabeth Rowe (principal flutist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) about the importance of being compassionate towards ourselves and others, especially in a field of work that is often isolating and competitive. We open up about some of our struggles and insecurities, asserting that being vulnerable is crucial to overcoming loneliness. We also discuss finding motivation to constantly improve, and how difficult it is to separate observation from judgement when evaluating oneself.
No. 32: Creative Self-Sufficiency
In this episode, we talk to composer/violinist/YouTuber Michael Shingo Crawford about his various skills, and how they allow him to have artistic control over his projects. We discuss the benefits and challenges of working as an individual versus in a team, emphasizing how collaborating with others can affect a creative vision. Finally, we share our experiences with monetizing our hobbies and developing a work/life balance when working for ourselves.
No. 35: Performing & Teaching New Music
In this episode, we talk to percussionist and music educator Joe Bergen about the importance of exploring and expanding the new music repertoire. Joe walks us through his journey in forming Mantra Percussion, a group that both performs and provides students with opportunities to enter the world of new music. We also share our experiences with being exposed to contemporary music at a young age and how that exposure diversified our understanding of music.
No. 38: Music Behind the Scenes
In this episode, we deconstruct the notion that classical music is always sophisticated and put-together with Steinway Artist Mark Livshits. We have a candid conversation about his experiences with ADHD, performance injuries, and loneliness in classical music. Despite these struggles, we also share fun and hilarious stories of the joys of being a musician.
No. 41: Embracing Discomfort
In this episode, we talk to flutist Susan Palma-Nidel about her experiences playing in Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and her more recent endeavors performing and recording world music. We discuss the internal and external push-and-pull that is required for music-making, concluding that we should embrace discomfort as a means for growth and satisfaction.
No. 44: Letting Go of Your Inner People-Pleaser
In this episode, we continue our conversation with Erica Peel about learning to trust ourselves. We discuss our tendencies to become obsessive in our practice and go too far in any direction, asserting that taking things to the extreme is often a result of our need to impress others. We also acknowledge that life isn’t as clean-cut as we would like it to be, and that it’s okay to feel like a mess. At the end of the day, all we can do is find a sincere reason to be doing what we’re doing and put ourselves out there.
No. 47: A Multi-Hyphen Career
In this episode, we talk to multi-hyphenate Grayson Villanueva about his freelance career and pursuing multiple passions. We share our struggles with the societal expectation that we stick to one thing and discuss the benefits of having a variety of interests. Grayson also shares his strategies for being your own boss, including tips on how to stay motivated, manage your time, and take care of your wellbeing.
No. 50: Exploring Interdisciplinary Art
In this episode, we talk to percussionist Gloria Yehilevsky about the value of interdisciplinary art. We discuss the benefits and challenges of working with people of other disciplines, as well as what it takes to manage ourselves and our teams. We also share our personal experiences coming up with ideas for and completing interdisciplinary projects.
No. 53: Exploring Musical Genres
In this episode, we have a very special guest who wishes to remain anonymous. Our guest has a background in classical violin and music technology, and he writes music that fuses classical harmony with modern sounds. We discuss the importance of listening to and taking influence from all genres of music, concluding that having a hierarchy of musical genres only detracts from the realm of possibilities in creating music.
No. 56: Musicians Helping Musicians
In this episode, we talk to violist Eddy Malave about the various aspects of his career, from teaching Alexander technique and the Suzuki method to subbing on Broadway, and how these pieces have shifted during the pandemic. Eddy gets real with us about his struggles during this difficult year, and he tells us about his work with Unison Orchestra - which is aimed at educating musicians on remote recording and helping musicians find remote recording work. We conclude that the music industry would be a lot stronger if we continue to search for ways to lift each other up.
No. 59: Arts & Academia
In this episode, we talk to returning guest Evan Kassof about the problems and value of academia, as well as the role of academia in the arts. He shares his experiences obtaining 6 degrees and the expenses that come with attending University, building on his ideas from our discussion in No. 26: Artists Shouldn't Have to be Broke.
No. 3: Being an Artist in 2020
In this episode, we talk about what it means to be an artist during the Black Lives Matter Movement and COVID-19. We tackle current topics, addressing whether art can be separated from politics and how the ways we create and distribute art are changing during quarantine.
No. 6: Growing Pains
In this episode, we have a candid conversation with Connor Frost about some of our past musical experiences. We discuss performance anxiety and how allowing yourself to be “bad” at your craft leads to the ability to create “good” content.
No. 9: Deconstructing the Creative Mind
In this episode, we talk to John Fulton about his creative inspirations and his experience living with ADD. We discuss the ways in which our society stifles creativity, diving into the pressure to assimilate and the notion that creativity cannot be cultivated.
No. 12: Lessons to Unlearn
In this episode, we talk to Yibiao Wang about shedding our labels and seeing past the conventions set by music schools and conservatories. We assert that the act of unlearning is just as important and powerful as the process of learning itself.
No. 15: Social Dynamics in Music School
In this episode, we talk with Julian Loida about the social challenges that arise as a side-effect of music school. We reflect on our own experiences dealing with drama and the difficulties of having our musical lives be intertwined with our personal lives.
No. 18: It's Not Easy Being Green
In this episode, we speak with Shiv Goel and Jack Osmond, who have founded a non-profit committed to helping people shop consciously. The four of us discuss the ways in which we have incorporated sustainability into our own lives while acknowledging that we cannot beat climate change without systemic change. In order to save this planet, industries and individuals alike must be compassionate, persistent, and of course, creative.
No. 21: Stop Being Nice, Start Being Kind
In this episode, we discuss the difference between being “nice” and being “kind” to the people around us. We reflect on the times we have hurt and been hurt by others, drawing the conclusion that people are often too consumed by their own problems to realize the harm they have caused. We assert that the act of imagining what others might be going through is crucial for both minimizing the harm we do and not taking negative situations personally.
No. 24: Starting a Band
In this episode, we talk to Jeff and Jacob from the band Riverview about their experiences making music while working/studying full time. We also learn a lot about the pop punk genre and the music scene in Arkansas.
No. 27: Becoming a Music Teacher
In this episode, we talk to Garrett Dexter about his journey to becoming a professional music educator. Garrett provides insight on the ways in which the field of Music Ed has evolved over the years, as well as the direction it is headed in now. We also discuss our fears of not being “qualified” to teach and what it means to be a great music teacher.
No. 30: Building Meaningful Connections
In this episode, we continue our conversation about vulnerability and connection with Elizabeth Rowe. She tells us about her journey to becoming a coach for young creatives, and how rewarding it has been to help people realize their potential. We also talk about our passions outside of music, coming to the conclusion that sometimes our outside interests can have profound impacts on our career, but they are valuable even if they don’t. Finally, we confront the hierarchies present in our field of work and how important it is to create communities that extend beyond these boundaries.
No. 33: Revolutionizing the Education System
In this episode, we talk to composer/saxophonist/music educator Miguel Bolivar about his experiences building successful music programs in public schools. We discuss the bureaucratic and logistical obstacles that teachers face, as well as the breakthroughs and accomplishments that make those struggles worth it. Finally, we cover the role of technology and innovation in improving the education system for both teachers and students.
No. 36: Finding Your Inner Activist
In this episode, we talk to Kristy Drutman, founder of the Brown Girl Green podcast and media series, about the power and responsibility that comes with having influence. We discuss finding our personal roles in movements that we care about, as well overcoming imposter syndrome and learning to be open and honest with our communities. We also highlight the importance of setting personal and ethical boundaries so as not to lose sight of our original intentions.
No. 39: Intellectual & Artistic Fulfillment
In this episode, we talk to our flute teacher and mentor Mimi Stillman about having a lifelong relationship with music. She tells us about her experiences studying at the Curtis Institute of Music as a young flutist, as well as her time studying history at the University of Pennsylvania. We share our thoughts on going to a university versus conservatory and how having knowledge of other subjects influences our musicianship. We also discuss the difficulties of maintaining a practice routine and finding the joy in practicing for yourself.
No. 42: Mindfulness in Music
In this episode, we talk to bassist and member of the Kansas City Symphony, Caleb Quillen about the psychological impacts of the orchestral audition process. We discuss the financial and emotional insecurities that many musicians face in addition to the pressures of the audition and assert the importance of mindfulness both in the practice room and the audition room. Caleb leaves us with some food for thought on the symbiotic relationship between understanding ourselves and understanding music.
No. 45: Art as Therapy
In this episode, we talk to singer/songwriter Meghan Pulles about finding empowerment through music-making. She tells us about her journey from classical opera singer to emo-positive artist, and the tough questions she had to ask herself along the way. We also discuss the therapeutic nature of both creating art for ourselves and connecting with others through art, asserting the importance of making the arts accessible to everyone.
No. 48: Fostering Creativity for Kids
In this episode, we talk to husband, father, children’s book author, and early childhood educator Christopher Singleton about the impact of parents and teachers on the trajectory of a child’s life. Chris tells us about his new book, “Chris & Frankie: Intro to Our Ebony & Ivory Keys,” which introduces the piano to young readers through a pair of relatable characters. He shares his journey and inspirations for becoming an author, and how he was able to make the book come to life with the tools at his disposal.
No. 51: Music Without Constraints
In this episode, we talk to violinist and pastor John Adidam Littlejohn about the boxes we put ourselves in when making music or thinking about our careers. John shares his journey learning the violin without a private teacher, describing the freedom of not being told what was difficult or easy, as well as the freedom of not being constrained by a single genre. John brings these ideas into his own playing and teaching, showing us that our musical careers can also be free.
No. 54: Money & Music
In this episode, we open up about the realities of making a living in the music industry. Coming from the perspective of young (recently graduated) professionals, we discuss how we've navigated finding work opportunities, negotiating our pay, and gotten creative with the digital space. We also talk about the idea of having multiple streams of income and share the non-musical and music-adjacent ways that we make money.
No. 57: Being Honest with Yourself
In this episode, we talk to Dr. Noa Kageyama about his journey from violinist to performance psychologist. He describes his early success with music, which led him to summer festivals, competitions, and conservatory, and shares the moment he realized that he did not want to become a professional musician. Noa’s story gives us great insight on how to be honest with ourselves about our true desires, motivations, and tendencies.
No. 60: She Quit.
In this episode, Bailey, Serena, Justin, Andrew, and Bell discuss identity, practice routines, and the importance of letting go. Bailey shares a secret, Serena announces her departure, and the gang relishes their last moments together before their worlds change for good.