Crushing Classical

Crushing Classical podcast is an ongoing series of provocative interviews with musicians who are pioneering a new path in the classical music genre. I dig into musician's lives who have made an often risky move towards forging a unique path and creating a different kind of music career for themselves. This is particularly challenging in a field where the conventional approach is seeking employment in an orchestra. Join me and learn how others are redefining a thriving classical music career.
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Crushing Classical





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Now displaying: 2017

Crushing Classical: Redefining A Thriving Music Career

May 29, 2017

On this episode I interviewed Anni Hochhalter and Garrett Hudson of the woodwind quintet WindSync. If you ever considered a career as a chamber musician of your OWN group, going on tours and creating unique concerts, you're in the right place. Listen to this episode to hear the full report from two musicians who have been doing it for the bulk of their professional music careers. This is certainly a challenging yet rewarding style of classical music career. On this episode Anni and Garret get into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to create a chamber music group and build a career out of it.


Don't forget to order music from! 10% off using the code: CRUSH


May 28, 2017

On today's FIRESIDE CHAT, Eileen and I dive into personal branding, what it means, and what it can mean for classical musicians. Certainly in your life you have developed opinions about various topics and experiences you have had through your career. You may have even become an expert on something related- or not related- to your instrument. What is more than likely is that you have something to say other than through musical phrases on your instrument. And that's a whole other side of the coin that MOST musicians have not considered when building their career.

On this chat we talked about:


  • Personal branding for musicians: SO much more than ‘tooting your own horn’ on social media
  • Reframing how you think of Facebook… take it from an annoying time-waster to an informative, educational, and useful tool
  • And HOW you can USE it to BUILD your online persona, who you are, essentially YOUR BRAND… and why starting this as soon as possible is of utmost importance.

And so much more. Join us for this important chat!


Thank you to my sponsor Ficks Music- use the code CRUSH for 10% off your order:
May 21, 2017

Ever wonder why some people have all the luck? And some people always have shit happening to them... they never seem to catch a break, they never get what they want. There's a trick to this... and it has to do your choices and what you tell yourself about your current circumstances. I saw it big time in my own life- especially during this talk! This is a conversation was pretty real... digging into my own unconscious spending behavior at the beginning of my career that shaped the way I thought about what was possible for me financially in my life... interesting, huh? We talked about other examples too that we see in the world of musicians... Kinda crazy... check it out and see what you get for yourself.


Thank you to Ficks Music for providing the hosting for the show! Check them out for high quality sheet music shipped to you quickly at affordable prices!  Use the code CRUSH for 10% off your order:


May 18, 2017

On this episode I had Peter Askim, bass player, composer, and conductor. I had him on the show to hear all about the festival for string players that he created, which he calls The “anti-festival”. On the show he explains all about what makes his festival unique.

We talked about his mission and reason for creating the festival, and we talked about moneyWhat it’s like to make money as a musician who composes, performs, and conducts, and his approach with musicians and the fees associated with attending this festival.

The Next Festival is definitely a festival that considers musicians in that time when they're JUST finishing school and heading out into the real world... that time when you just need time to process the stuff you've learned in school and have some time to figure out what you'll do next. I really think that this festival is so supportive for that time in a musicians' life.


To find out more about the festival to attend or donate, go to:


Thank you to Crushing Classical's sponsor Ficks Music for providing the hosting for the show! If you're looking for a great selection of quality sheet music at affordable prices, check out

For 10% off use the code CRUSH


May 14, 2017

This week’s Fireside Chat is about LIMITS - where they come from and why they exist. You'll be amazed by how and where they show up - and they put a ceiling on what is possible for you in your life and music career.


Here's what's in store for you on this episode:


- How the path to what you truly want has historically been limited (and why)


- How the simple act of choosing a career in classical music opens up a can of worms (hint: unsolicited advice from people around you can make or break your choice!)


- The traps you're falling into right now (unknowingly in most cases) and how it slows your momentum and keeps you stuck


- How this exact topic personally prevented me from seeing alternatives in my own education (and how it prevents YOU from standing up for yourself when it comes to your education)


- A shocking idea for orchestras that will boggle your mind (and will likely be rejected by most of you)

This was a great chat! I can't wait for you to hear it.


A big thank you to Ficks Music for providing the hosting for the show! Use the code CRUSH to receive 10% off your order:


May 8, 2017

On today's episode I had Katie Wyatt, Executive Director and founder of a very successful program called Kidznotes, a youth orchestra program based on the famous El Sistema program of Venezuela. On the chat I got to hear all about her career path and how she ended up going from the audition path to running her own nonprofit. Some things we talked about on the show:

- How Katie’s path toward an orchestra job shifted and she found herself on a totally different kind of career path
- How organizing events around world events that had an impact on her and planted a seed on what is possible for her career
- How a trip to Venezuela for a youth orchestra trip created the foundation for a different kind of priority for her career
- How she started a very successful El Sistema program locally in North Carolina called Kidznotes (yes, the same El Sistema program that LA Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel has made famous!) 
- Her experience with making that career goal change from orchestra audition focused to starting and growing a nonprofit organization
- She gives Information and advice about starting an El Sistema program in your area if this sounds like something you’d want to do!
- How her teacher reacted to her leaving the orchestra audition path- it was definitely a surprising AND INSPIRING answer.
Thank you to Ficks Music for providing the hosting for the show!
May 7, 2017

On today's Fireside Chat we had Sheree Allison, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters/Boys & Girls Club in Miramichi, an eastern Canadian community of 32,000 people. Sheree has done amazing work within her own nonprofit to take it from nearly shutting its doors and closing shop to a thriving nonprofit, doubling its annual budget in just over 2 years.

Why does this matter to classical musicians? Well for one, when you work for a nonprofit (which is nearly every orchestra), how they're doing financially directly affects your income. So it matters a lot. Here are some key points from the chat:

- How to know if the orchestra you're working for (or want to work for) is at risk financially - which could lead to strikes and lockouts as the worse case scenario (or pay cuts and pay freezes in the meantime)
- The one question every orchestra should be asking themselves in order to get to the root of the problems, financial or otherwise
- How to know if an orchestra's management is failing (and what to do about it)
- The significance of an orchestra's mission statement and why should it matter to you
- How to declare yourself a catalyst for change in your own orchestra if it really matters to you.
I know that you'll get a lot out of this episode, because I certainly did! It was very enlightening!
If you enjoy this episode and are enjoying Crushing Classical, please write a review on iTunes!

A big thank you to Ficks Music for providing the hosting for the show! Use the code CRUSH to receive 10% off your order:

Apr 30, 2017

HOW can you take care of yourself FIRST AND FOREMOST when navigating things like CAREER MOVES or when you run into inevitable money problems? What are some common beliefs or RULES that people follow that they COULD BE BREAKING to make things better for them? Tune in and hear this conversation on exploring what it was like for us when we either did or did not break the rules. 

A big thank you to Ficks Music for providing the hosting for the show! Use the code CRUSH to receive 10% off your order:

Apr 28, 2017

On today's episode I interviewed Jessie Montgomery, violinist of the Catalyst Quartet and composer. We talked about her unique career as a composer, member of a string quartet, and all that she has done to design her unique career as a chamber musician and composer in New York City. It was fascinating to hear about her early influences- a child of artists, she was bound to have a career that was outside the box. It is interesting to hear about her influences and the teaching she was exposed to throughout her education that helped mold and shape the career she has created now. From studying with a teacher who developed a way to teach children how to improvise, to working in program called Community Music Works where she played and taught and had to work on all the administrative things, she created a unique skill set that enabled her to run her own string quartet. 

To learn more about Jessie and her work: 


Thank you to Ficks Music for providing the hosting for the show: 

Apr 23, 2017

The funny thing about JUST STARTING is nothing is in place for you... YET. It's up to you to do it all. You can't just show up and start working like you would at any job. This is a big challenge in creating your own career, and we talked about it on today's episode. We also talked about *conversation*- the importance of TALKING to people in the age of emails, texts and social media.


Thank you to Ficks Music for providing the hosting for the show:


Apr 19, 2017

On this episode I had Jeremy Preston, a friend and fabulous violinist who I know from the North Carolina Symphony. Jeremy's story is interesting, because at the point he realized he wanted something else in his life, he decided to leave his tenured job and move where he wanted to live without a new job in place. He took the leap; and with strategy and a priority to live where he wanted with people that he loved, he created a new career with that as the foundation. I think it's an inspiring story for musicians to hear how he did it, and know that as a musician, you really can create the LIFE you want.

Apr 16, 2017

Did you read that title right? Yes, you did. Did you think the only musicians who made six-figures were top tier orchestra players? Think again... Ken Preuss, former trombone player, middle school chorus director and musical theater aficionado who I went to Indiana with went on to create a six-figure business out of grad school. When I heard this, I HAD to have him on the show. Listen now to hear WHAT he did and HOW he created it! 

Apr 14, 2017

Horn player Andrew Sehmann came back on the show to tell us the direction he wants to take his career. Andrew had been grappling with whether or not he wanted to go in the direction of teaching at the university level and freelancing, auditioning for jobs in an orchestra, or soloing. Right now he's doing a little bit of everything and on the last Hot Seat realized that doing a little of everything wasn't going to get him exactly what he wanted. Check out today's episode where he reveals what he truly wants- I was really surprised by this chat, it was very enlightening!

Apr 9, 2017

On today's Fireside Chat we discussed inner workings of the orchestra. After a discussion with Eileen about how I really didn't know much about how an orchestra business is run (yeah, it's still a business!) and admitting that what I know NOW is vastly more than I knew going into this business, we discussed what it means to take responsibility for what it is and what it isn't, and what musicians can DO if there are things they see that they don't like in the day to day orchestra business doings. I'd say from a musician perspective, the overarching attitude is *shrug* "there's not a lot I can do!"... a sort of "I just work here" attitude. Which can feel frustrating for musicians at times. So what CAN musicians do? This is what we talked about today.

Apr 7, 2017

Everyone knows that classical musicians can have trouble from time to time with money... on today's episode I talked with Jeremiah Johnson, who on his own path to becoming a professional musician ran into money problems and student loan debt. At a certain point he decided to step up and learn how to get it fixed... and simultaneously discovered a real need for money talk among his fellow musicians. This ended up becoming a big part of his career. It was a great talk money with Jeremiah and it's high time all musicians start paying attention to this all-important issue that everyone has to face!

Episode brought to you by:


Apr 2, 2017

Staying in the place of "I don't know" doesn't work... listen and find out why, and more insights on choosing a path, creating your own thing and what it takes. In this Fireside Chat, Eileen brings up some points about interacting with other people and conversations and how that leads to bigger and better things.

Mar 31, 2017

As a musician you may relate to being super busy doing a ton of different things and pulled in a lot of different directions. Today's Hot Seat guest has this going on in his career- Andrew Sehmann, Master's student and freelancer on horn, plays in a woodwind quintet and freelances all over South Carolina and Georgia. Today we dive in with him on his career goals and what he really wants along with some strategy on how to get it.

Mar 28, 2017

Besides symphony orchestras and church gigs here and there, how many people are CREATING JOBS for classical musicians? Not many- but CMH Label Group in Los Angeles has created a series of projects that they named Vitamin String Quartet. This project started with a tribute album to Led Zeppelin and continued with many more tribute albums and eventually expanded to sheet music sales. These two guys have even more great ideas coming down the pike, and I got to hear all about how this project got started on today's podcast.

Crushing Classical brought to you by


Mar 26, 2017

Fireside Chat #3 is here! On this episode we get right down to it- the attitudes that exist in classical music and what is needed to evolve classical and cause real change. Also we dive into the nitty gritty of the story behind a real side-hustle that we did recently. All the details are on this episode!

Mar 19, 2017

On this second Fireside Chat, Eileen and I begin the conversation about money. Specifically, we start to talk about how I wasn't always living in reality when making career decisions regarding money, and later in the talk, Eileen tells us about the five subject areas where people spend their money, and what that means for you as a musician and an income creator.

Mar 19, 2017

Musicians with the tenacity and determination to do things THEIR WAY... Kev Marcus and Will B. of Black Violin come on Crushing Classical and share the story of their unique career path like no other- classical music to hip hop.

Black Violin is on tour NOW! Their next performances are in Charlotte, NC on 3/21/17 at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and in Durham, NC on 3/23/17. Check out their website for more details!


Mar 17, 2017

On this FIRST EPISODE of the HOT SEAT series, Eileen dives in with two musicians on their career goals. Hear Eileen's take on the next steps for these two musicians with big plans.

Rocky's vlog:


Mar 12, 2017

Welcome to the NEW series- Fireside Chats- where my new partner at Crushing Classical, musician turned business person Eileen Gordon and I sit down and talk about a whole bunch of stuff about building your career. We dive into the concept of being STRATEGIC when navigating your music career... and what that ACTUALLY means with examples from my life! I can tell you- many "ah-ha" moments happened in this conversation for me. Being strategic in the way she talks about could be the missing link in the actions you are taking toward your goals... Are you being strategic?

Mar 8, 2017

I've heard of musicians switching their careers to something else pretty often but it's not too common to hear about someone who becomes a comedian. It takes a special talent and skill to be able to be funny on the spot in front of people sitting there waiting to laugh! On this episode Mary tells lots of funny stories about her Klezmer band gigs and what it was like to be on the Conan O'Brien show. Mary mistakenly thought that I spend a lot of time editing- which I don't. These are "real, raw interviews" which means what is said goes on the show! So that led to some hysterical moments. Mary has a new comedy album out now, available on iTunes and called Pig Woman, and her next appearances will be in Grand Rapids, MI at the LaughFest on March 18th and 19th


Feb 24, 2017

Do you ever wonder how musicians feel when they leave their assumed path to an orchestra job? Sometimes you might think that this could be a bittersweet decision. After all, mostly a classically trained musician will be thinking of a job in an orchestra as the IT thing to do. I asked Peter Seymour about this, bassist and co-founder of the cool, hip group Project Trio, made up of flute, bass, and cello, and I just loved his answer! These three friends who met at music school decided to create their OWN impact on the music world, and boy have they EVER. The positivity of Peter just exudes through this conversation- he is one of the most inspiring musicians out there. Have a listen!

Also from the show, the links to what we talked about: Project Trio's website and their new upcoming program called The Studio. More information about that in the link below:

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