Katy Ambrose


Post C-section horn playing

Katy AmbroseComment

Dec. 21, 2016

I am now ten days post-op and itching to play – however the doctors have advised to wait a month before playing horn. I'm wondering what to do in the meantime and considering my mouthpiece only options. I posted on a few different fb sites and have gotten a couple great suggestions including:

-Holding matchsticks in the corners of my mouthpiece to strengthen embouchure

-Start on the horn slowly whenever it feels right for your body

-Mouthpiece visualizer exercises

-P.E.T.E. exercises

-Just enjoy the time off!

(I had to look up the PETE and I'm a little bit wary because it seems like I could probably just use something around the house that I already have but I ordered one nonetheless and will try it out this weekend!)

The strangest thing about taking this much time off is the skin on my lips, it's both gummy and flaky and feels very thin. It actually feels kind of like mochi, Japanese rice paper that you can wrap around little scoops of ice cream...yum! Weird.

I'm going to try a few of these ideas this afternoon – stay tuned!

First Doctoral Recital

Katy AmbroseComment

Okay, well I didn't keep the internet updated with my conducting endeavors but the world is probably better off.  I continue to be terrified but genuinely had a lot of fun conducting the Temple Wind Symphony for my final exam.  I actually found myself wishing that I had more time with the group!

This semester has been challenging so far.  I am finding that it is slightly more difficult to manage my courseload.  I am really enjoying my doctoral analysis seminar, but it's more work than I anticipated.  Each week we are expected to submit full analyses of two concertos.  Yowza.  One movement takes me several hours!!!  Guess I'd better learn how to get quicker at analysis or else I may drown under a mountain of manuscript paper.

The good news?  I got my first DMA recital out of the way on January 21st and I am pleased with how it went.  I missed a lot more notes than in rehearsals, but I think it's because I was taking risks and overall I'm very happy with the musical product I put out.  The most exciting part was that I got my feet wet in the world of arranging.  (Wet, as in damp not soaked.)  I definitely bit off more than I could chew when I decided to arrange the Hindemith Horn Concerto for horn and wind ensemble.  Thank goodness for my good friend, Tom Oltarzewski, without whom the whole project would have collapsed and I wouldn't have slept for a week.  Did you know that you can't learn how to use Sibelius in a day?  Lesson learned.

Tom is a fantastic composer and he took my basic ideas and went to town.  The arrangement that resulted is pretty fantastic, I am hoping to continue to work on it and apply for grants to get it published.  Fingers crossed.

The other pieces on the recital were Schubert's Auf dem Strom, Peter Maxwell Davies Sea Eagle and Jean-Michel Damase's Berceuse.  I really had a ton of fun preparing this recital, my approach was holistic and included more mental practicing than I've ever done before.  Because of my busy schedule I couldn't have as much face time as I'm used to in preparation for the performance.  I did yoga every day for three weeks prior, and spent the majority of my horn-to-face time on fundamentals of tone production and rehearsing the chamber pieces.  But I was constantly listening to recordings.  At my desk at work, on the subway, walking home, etc.  It was a very distinct type of listening, too.  I guess "active listening" is the best descriptor.  I could sort of watch the music go by in my brain as I listened, almost like I was memorizing the music but without that being the goal.  I am excited to incorporate this new style of preparation into my routine.  It was the most fun I've ever had performing, probably because I felt so autonomous over the process.

Fingers crossed that I get faster at analysis!

Advanced Conducting, aka "Deep End of the Pool: 101"

Katy Ambrose

One of the requirements of my degree is an advanced level conducting class.  My previous conducting experience could hardly qualify me to be anything beyond “advanced-beginner” or on an especially good day, “intermediate”.  Clearly I would be challenged and was initially quite intimidated by the idea of getting on the podium in front of my peers.  Three months later how do I feel?




Stay tuned as I prep for my final project of conducting the Wind Symphony on December 8…