Check out the complete Musical Innovators series here.
This new series profiles people charting interesting new paths in the world of music. Check these folks out—I think that you’ll get inspired by their energy and imagination!
Innovator No. 1 – Hugh Sung
pianist, podcast host, and entrepreneur
I initially discovered Hugh Sung through his podcast A Musical Life. He did an interview with Chattanooga Symphony concertmaster Holly Mulcahy, which I immediately clicked on after it popped up in my Facebook feed.
I was so excited to discover this podcast! This is the exact sort of podcast that I love—it’s focused on the artist and how they approach their craft. Making a podcast like this work requires a lot of skill from the host, and Hugh is masterful. He is a warm and engaging host who seems to know the exact right question to take the conversation to a deeper level. He puts out weekly episodes, and they’re the first thing I click on when they land in my Overcast app.
Hugh does much more than host A Musical Life, however. He co-founded AirTurn, a company that makes Bluetooth foot pedals for “turning pages” on iPads and other tablets. We used this device for our musical this year, and it was immensely useful. The show we were doing required the pianist to play from the conductor score (highly annoying), and If the pianist had actually tried to turn the physical pages, he would have been flipping every 2-3 seconds. Impossible.
AirTurn totally fixed the problem. Using forScore on the iPad and AirTurn, within minutes our pianist was totally comfortable, scribbling cuts, vamps, and notes in forScore and using the “page split” mode in forScore to make the page turns way more manageable. I talked about forScore in a Music Apps presentation I did last fall: here’s the audio clip where I talk about forScore and AirTurn.
Hugh is also the author of From Paper to Pixels, which covers moving from the printed page to digital readers and apps. It’s on my “to-read” list in Evernote. Hugh taught at Curtis for years and is now on the roster of online music and art school Artistworks.
Hugh also recently launched A Musical Life Mastermind, which looks to be a great addition to the world of musical entrepeunership. I just joined and am having a great time. Follow along with Hugh’s various projects on his website, and be sure to check out his great podcast A Musical Life!
Innovator No. 2 – Holly Mulcahy
concertmaster, soloist, blogger
Holly’s path through the world of music is interesting and makes me think about my own career decisions. I first met Holly while we were both playing gigs in Chicago several years ago. She had moved to Chicago with her husband Drew McManus from the Washington, DC area, and she was taking time off after leaving a section violin job to regroup and think about the next step in her violin career.
If you haven’t checked out Holly’s interview with Hugh on A Musical Life, do it now! Listening to Holly describe how she thought through various junctures in her musical career resonates with me. She was able to leave an unfulfilling job that many would consider a marker of “making it” or “success” – in her case a section violin job. After leaving this job, she took some time to think about the direction in which she wanted her musical life to head, and has found fulfillment in a much more creative role as concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony.
Holly is also well-known as a writer. Her blog NeoClassical covers all sorts of topics in the arts like why the timpani player is “smelling” his drums, what to wear and when to clap at the symphony, and even performing at a prison. Holly and I are both part of the Inside The Arts cultural blogging network, and I’ve enjoyed following along with her writing for years.
What makes Holly an innovator to me is how takes what could be considered a “traditional” job in music (performing violin in an orchestral setting) and finds all sorts of creative outlets like performing new concertos, connecting with the community in her leadership role in the orchestra, and writing about the whole process. Check out Holly on her website and her blog NeoClassical.
Innovator No. 3 – David Cutler
author, teacher, entrepreneur
I first met David Cutler online back in 2009 when I interviewed him for Contrabass Conversations. He had recently released his book The Savvy Musician, which focuses on skills for musicians to successfully grow a career in today’s ever-shifting environment. I had just finished my first book Road Warrior Without an Expense Account (a copy of this book is included with my free app), and David was mulling over the same sort of topics as me. How can musicians make a living these days? What does this living look like? Are we trending upward… or downward?
David offers up practical and applicable strategies for musicians to hone their business acumen and find new opportunities. This is the sort of training that all of us need (even if we are in full-time music jobs) but few of us get.
David is running a workshop this summer (June 7-12, 2016) titled The SAVVY Musician in Action at the University of South Carolina. Check out the website for specifics. David has a few free scholarships available. If you’re interested in checking this event out, send me an email (email@example.com) and I’ll put you in touch with David!
Check out the complete Musical Innovators series here.
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