When I Knew: I Wanted To Be A Musician As told to Justin Benavidez
After a particularly fruitless practice session, I still wonder if I want to be a musician!
I have always loved music and I guess I can thank my grandmother for that. She had every Boston Pops/Reader’s Digest boxed album set produced, and I was listening to all kinds of music from the time I was single-digits old. She also had a nice baby grand piano that she encouraged me to bang away at- literally. I never learned to play piano properly, but I could nail all the one-finger and knuckle-only based tunes.
Texas, in those days, didn’t start kids in band or choir (there was no orchestra at all!) until seventh grade. I had wanted to play bassoon (don’t ask) but I was told I had to start on clarinet, and there were already 60 (!) beginning clarinets. When the band director suggested tuba and it was discovered that tubas were provided by the school free of charge, my destiny was sealed.
I was incredibly lucky to have had a high school band director who insisted on the very highest levels of playing, and we were challenged by some of the greatest pieces of music ever composed. Not only classics of the concert band literature, but excellent transcriptions of orchestral works as well. My only problem with high school in Texas was I also played football. It was soon clear I would have to choose one or the other.
Because of the excellence of my high school band and the fact that I weighed 135 lbs dripping wet my freshman year, my decision was easy. I wanted to be a musician and perform music that engaged and thrilled me, and I soon became addicted to the high that came when all my hard work was appreciated by an audience.
Karl Hovey, a native Texan, graduated from Irving High School in 1976. Following graduation he enlisted in the Navy as a tuba and electric bass instrumentalist for fleet bands in Charleston, S.C. and San Francisco. With GI Bill in hand, Karl enrolled at the University of North Texas, earning Bachelor and Masters degrees in tuba performance, studying with Donald Little. Karl also won scholarships to attend the prestigious Aspen School of Music where he studied with Abe Torchinsky and performed with the Aspen Festival and Chamber orchestras. Karl then became Principal Tuba of the Shreveport Symphony, and also tuba professor at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Karl continued to develop his musical skills, including four years of study with David Fedderly, and received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Catholic University of America in 2008. He was a featured soloist, clinician, and adjudicator at the 2008 International Tuba and Euphonium Conference in Cincinnati.
From 1992 to 2013 Karl was a member of the United States Navy Band, where he was Principal Tuba and Section Leader. An avid proponent of chamber music, Karl appeared with each of the Band’s brass chamber groups, including such memorable events as a Meet The Press television program with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and First Lady Laura Bush, and a performance in St. Petersburg celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Russian Navy. A former member of the Navy Brass Quintet, he can be heard on their first and only CD recording, the Navy Band Chamber Music Ensembles.
Karl can be heard in a solo performance of Rossini’s Largo al Factotum on the Navy Band’s website: http://www.navyband.navy.mil/Sounds.shtml
After teaching at the college level for a few years now, it has become apparent to me just how much I took growing up in a musical household for granted. Not all musicians are fortunate enough to have had a support system from home, and I am extremely grateful that I had a family who understood the dedication that it required to pursue a life in music. All of my siblings are gifted musically, and both of my parents as well (both vocal and instrumental). My earliest memories as a child are of my father playing his trombone and euphonium in the living room, and pestering him to listen to our collection of band/orchestra LPs and cassettes one more time. Yes, I guess we still had these in the early 80s. Does that make me officially old?!
I guess that I knew from a young age that music was what made me “tick,” and evoked a certain emotion within that made me feel complete as a person. I was always listening to music growing up, and had a desire to make it at the highest level I possibly could from a very young age.
Ben Pierce was my private teacher in high school, and he had a huge impact on my desire to attempt the euphonium-tuba “doubling act” and enter into college as a music performance major. I am so fortunate to have studied with some of the best teachers in this business. Each one had and continues to have a deep impact on me as a musician and person, and each of them continue to give us all reasons why we strive “to be a musician.” Velvet Brown taught me so much about the art of musicianship and is the sole person that turned my ignition switch on to someday make it; Steven Mead drove me to expect nothing but the best from myself at all times, especially while under pressure; Mel Culbertson made me think outside of the box in terms of life and what the tuba could accomplish; Mr. P taught me endless lessons about the ins-and-outs of our business and helped me put my puzzle pieces into play; Mike Dunn gave me endless opportunities to succeed; and Warren Deck challenged me to be a complete musician digging into the detail of every note while consistently remaining accountable to the music at hand. To me, being a musician is about sharing our life experiences with others through the notes on the page. I am forever grateful to have many wonderful friends and family that encourage me to do this on a daily basis.
Dr. Aaron Tindall is assistant professor of tuba and euphonium at the Ithaca College School of Music. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Tuba Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a Master of Music degree in Euphonium Performance with Distinction from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, UK, and a Bachelor of Music Performance degree on both the euphonium and tuba from The Pennsylvania State University. He has additional doctoral studies at Indiana University.
Aaron has been a prize winner of many competitions (solo & chamber) across the world. He is a two-time finalist in the prestigious Concert Artist Guild Competition. Released to great critical acclaim, his solo tuba CD Songs of Ascent was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Instrumental Soloist category. He can also be heard on Velvet Brown’s solo disc Simply Velvet and the Eufonix quartet albums End Game and Brink.
Aaron is a Buffet Group USA Inc. tuba/euphonium artist and clinician performing on Besson euphoniums and Melton/Meinl Weston tubas.
I have been playing music since I was a little kid, whether I wanted to or not. My mom pushed my brother and me from a very young age. I was playing piano when I was six and I remember many instances of sitting at the keyboard, crying [laughs]. Mostly because I was frustrated, because I wanted to be better and I just kept practicing. When you are young you keep trying to play faster and faster, so I tried to play Für Elise at quarter note=200 or something ridiculous! Stupid stuff like that.
Because of the piano, music was already a part of my life, and then I added a second instrument. I started going to Interlochen as a nine year old for summer camp. That was just my favorite place on earth, so I kept going back for five summers and by this time I was playing tuba. My best friend from camp and I both learned about the year-round school, the Arts Academy, and we immediately wanted to sign up. I knew I wanted to go. From high school on, there was no question that music was what I was going to do. I think Interlochen had a big part in the shaping of my career because I just love that place so much. It’s the first place where I really felt a part of something. The community was so nurturing and fostering. Being around other kids my age who were serious and passionate about something- it just felt right. It felt like home to me. Being there made it simple that music was what it was going to be.
Carol Jantsch was appointed Principal Tuba of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2006 as the first female tuba player in a major symphony orchestra. She won this position while a senior at the University of Michigan, from which she earned her Bachelor of Music degree with highest honors. Carol also studied at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy.
Carol’s numerous awards and honors include first prize in four international solo tuba competitions, an appearance on NPR’s “From The Top,” and a solo performance in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. In 2009 she released her first solo recording, Cascades, featuring music of Piazzolla, Shostakovich, Milhaud, Penderecki, Khachaturian, and more. Carol has given master classes in Europe, Asia, and North America, and is currently on faculties of the Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Temple University. She joined the Yale School of Music faculty in the fall of 2012.