Sarah Belle Reid – Trumpet Interview

Welcome to the show notes for Episode #99 of The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast. This episode features trumpeter Sarah Belle Reid.

Listen to or download the episode below:

About Sarah Belle Reid

Sarah Belle Reid is a performer-composer who plays trumpet, modular synthesizer, and an ever-growing collection of handcrafted electronic instruments. Her unique musical voice explores the intersections between contemporary classical music, experimental and interactive electronics, visual arts, noise music, and improvisation. Often praised for her ability to transport audience members through vivid sonic adventures, Reid’s sonic palette has been described as ranging from “graceful” and “danceable” all the way to “silk-falling-through-space,” and “pit-full-of-centipedes” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Her debut album for trumpet and interactive electronics, “Underneath and Sonder,” was released on pfMENTUM in October, 2019. In March 2021, she released an electroacoustic EP titled “MASS”, featuring trumpet, voice, electronics, and amplified objects.

When watching Sarah Belle Reid perform live, one quickly notices that her trumpet is also unusual—the blinking lights and colorful wires attached to her horn are part of an electronic sensor-based interface she co-designed, called MIGSI. Reid was inspired to build MIGSI as a way of integrating her passion for technology, trumpet, and improvisation. She has been gaining international recognition for the work since its initial development in 2015: “Reid has greatly extended the possibilities of the humble trumpet into new territory by the application of innovative sensing technology and sound processing.” (Sequenza 21). She frequently performs, leads workshops, and lectures at notable festivals, institutions, and conferences around the world, such as Moogfest, Stanford University, and the International Conference of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME).

Reid’s compositional practice draws influence from trumpeter-improviser Wadada Leo Smith (with whom she worked closely with while attending Calarts) and sound artist/electronic pioneer Pauline Oliveros, for their use of nontraditional notational practices and performance philosophies. In 2013–14, Sarah Belle Reid played trumpet in legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden’s band while pursuing graduate studies at Calarts. Haden asked her to improvise on one of the songs, expressing that he didn’t want to hear the “right” notes or chord changes. Instead, he said, “I want to hear your voice.” This moment deeply impacted Reid, inspiring her to commit to a creative practice focused on embracing her unique voice—and all of its quirky, messy, & vulnerable corners.

In Reid’s improvisations and compositions, musical notation is often experimental and graphical—an invitation to explore a new sonic universe. This spirit for exploration has led her to collaborate with musicians and artists of all genres, including experimental electronic musician David Rosenboom, thereminist Carolina Eyck, and baroque-pop artist Julia Holter. Reid recorded trumpet and electronics on Holter’s 2019 record Aviary, and recently wrapped up an extensive tour throughout North America, Europe, and Australia as a member of her band. Reid’s own compositions have been premiered and performed by a number of renowned musicians, most recently pianist Vicki Ray and trumpeter Nate Wooley, and have received support and recognition from the Association of Canadian Women Composers and SOCAN. In 2017 her composition “Flux” for amplified percussion quartet won the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet’s Next Wave Composer Initiative. 

Reid holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from California Institute of the Arts, with a research focus on the development of new electronic instruments and musical notation systems as interfaces for exploring temporal perception and co-creation. She also has a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts, as well as a Bachelor of Music in trumpet performance from McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. Reid is on faculty at Chapman University (Orange, CA) teaching music technology, as well as Temple University (Philadelphia, PA), where she teaches Physical Computing and Electronic Instrument Design.  


Sarah Belle Reid Links

Podcast Credits

Podcast Transcript

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[0:00:00] John Snell: This is The Other Side of the Bell, episode 99.

Hello and welcome to The Other Side of the Bell, a podcast dedicated to everything trumpet, brought to you by Bob Reeves Brass. We’ll help you take your trumpet playing to the next level.

I’m John Snell, trumpet specialist here at Bob Reeves Brass, and I’ll be your host for this episode.

Joining me today is trumpeter Sara Belle Reid. We’ll get to Sarah’s interview here in a moment after a word from our sponsor and some trumpet news.

This podcast is brought to you by Bob Reeves Brass. Bob and his staff have been serving the brass community since 1968, helping brass musicians set up their equipment properly so that they can make music as easily and effectively as possible. Let us worry about your equipment so you don’t have to, you can put your focus on where it counts.. on the music. Here at bob Reeves Brass, we work closely with you to find a customized solution, whether it be a valve alignment on your instrument, a custom fit mouthpiece, a gap adjustment using the Reeves sleeve system or an alteration to your existing equipment. Our consultations are always free and we work daily with musicians of all calibers and experience levels. We are also proud to carry the Van Laar line of trumpets and flugelhorn is and more recently, the Charley Davis line of trumpets. So if you’re in the market for a new trumpet or flugelhorn, contact us or swing by the shop to play these fine instruments. You can find us online at, email us at info at bob Reeves dot com and be sure to follow us on facebook and twitter under bob Reeves brass.

I would like to welcome all of our new listeners that joined this podcast after our awesome interview last episode with David Krauss and uh one quick plug for his podcast, Speaking Soundly, that he hosts himself. We talked about it last episode and he’s now a number of episodes into the second season now. So, head over his way after you’re done here and check out the Speaking Soundly podcast again, hosted by David Krauss. And if you missed his episode episode 98 you don’t want to miss it, go back in your feed and listen to his episode. It was wonderful having him on here.

A couple of quick news bits that I want to talk about. First things first, coming up March 12th, if you can’t believe this, and I’d love to hear from some of our first podcast listeners, but March 12th 2023 will mark the 10 year anniversary of the posting of our first episode that was with Paul Panichi, a fabulous gentleman and an even more fabulous trumpet player from Sydney Australia. And uh you know, he just happened to be here visiting the shop from Sydney on tour with some artist when Bob had the idea to do the podcast and he drew the short end of the stick or actually no, he was really happy to be on the podcast, very generous with his time. I was the one who drew the short end that stick having to host. But anyway, so I can’t believe it’s been 10 years and so many wonderful guests, so many great interactions with you, the listeners through the different conventions and traveling we’ve done. Uh, so I just want to take a moment to give a huge thank you to all the listeners and all of the guests uh, that have been on this program and let’s go for another 10 years. Um, so March 12th, maybe we’ll do something fun on that day. Maybe we’ll do a surprise live stream or something on Youtube, who knows?

Also coming up in March is the National Trumpet Competition in Boulder, Colorado. Uh, so you’re not gonna wanna miss that. It’s at the university there. The dates are March 25th to 26th. Bob Reeves Brass will be exhibiting, I will be there as well as Brett Kendall. You know the deal, you’ve heard this a million times now…well, at least 99 times… we’ll be doing valve alignments at the booth and we’ll be doing pre-orders. So you can sign up and secure your slot. Since it’s only two days, we have very limited slots for valve alignments. I will give you the link in a moment for that. We will have, this is really exciting — the next version, the second version of Dan Rosenbooms signature artist model trumpet mouthpiece. Uh, he had the BOOM mouthpiece that we released a couple of years ago and it’s gone through some iteration, some changes and it’s uh, I don’t say it’s a completely different piece, but the new piece is called the Boom Star and that’s going to be debuted at N. T. C. So if you are there, come and try it out and if you’re not there, check out online the information we have about it because really, you know, it’s a trumpet playing and trumpet equipment is a, is an evolution and a journey and each mouthpiece we’ve made for Dan gets increasingly better and I’m really excited about this new one, the BOOM Star. So we will have that at its debut. We will also have some orchestral prototypes. So if that doesn’t perk up some ears, we have some cool new things that Brett and I have been working on in the orchestral field in regards to mouthpieces and you know, Bob has made plenty of orchestral mouthpieces. We have the classical series, we have some in our standard line, you know, the C cups and the B cups that have been used in or orchestras before, but not, not that prevalent. And so we have some new ideas that we’ve been working on and so we will have those prototypes at the booth. Um, other things other than the Reeves, you know, the 350 mouthpieces and all of that stuff, the sleeves, the, the swabs, the lead pipe swabs. Those will all be there. Some of the other brands that will be carrying at our booth. Obviously Van Laar and Charley Davis trumpets will have a good selection of those. Mutes, mutes galore! We need a bigger shop just to carry all the mutes that we have now, uh harmon and straight mutes from Charley Davis, uh Yupon mutes and Okumura mutes from Japan. Ullven mutes, the popular mutes from Sweden, the Rejano practice mute for trumpet. The Clary Woodmutes . Who doesn’t love a good Clary Woodmute. Those things are absolutely beautiful on the shelf and sound beautiful in your horn. And our latest addition to our line of mutes we carry is the TrumCormutes that everyone knows about really popular for all the brass is, but we’re really proud to be able to carry the TrumCor mutes there and we will have a good selection.

Other than that, we will be bringing as many Gard Bags as we can as many as we have in stock. So if you’re looking for a new gig bag, we will have some Gard Bags. There that’s a mouthful! Again, the National Trumpet Competition, Boulder, Colorado, March 25th to 26th. And that magic link that I promised about how you could book in advance your valve alignment and save some money will be at Bob Reeves dot com forward slash N. T. C. That’s N. Is in national T is in trumpet and C. as in competition. So bob Reeves dot com forward slash N. T. C. And if you can’t remember that, go to the show notes for this episode on our blog and we’ll have a link to get you there and if that doesn’t work, email us or call us at the shop.

Alright, that’s all the news I have for this episode. Looking forward to my interview here with a very inspiring young artist, Sarah Belle Reid. Sarah Belle Reid is a performer, composer known for her unique musical voice that blends contemporary classical music, experimental electronics, visual arts, noise music and improvisation. She is highly regarded for her ability to transport audiences through vivid sonic adventures, creating a sonic palette that has been described as ranging from graceful and danceful to silk, falling through space to a pit full of Centipedes. Sarah is also the co designer of MIGSI, an electronic sensor based interface that has gained international recognition and greatly extended the possibilities of the trumpet. She frequently performs, leads workshops and lectures at notable festivals, institutions and conferences around the world. Sarah’s compositional practice draws influence from trumpeter improviser Wadada Leo Smith and sound artist and electronic pioneer Pauline Oliveros. Her work has been premiered and performed by renowned musicians including pianist Vicki ray and trumpeter Nate Wooley. Sarah holds a doctorate of Musical arts from California Institute of the Arts and is currently on faculty at Chapman University and Temple University teaching music technology, physical computing and electronics instrument design. I should also mention she is prolific on social media and is teaching online courses both in electronics and in creativity. So without further ado, here’s my interview with Sarah belle Reed.

I am so excited with today’s guest joining me. Today is Sarah Belle Reid. Sarah, thank you for joining me!

[0:08:58] Sarah Belle Reid: Thank you for inviting me. I’m happy to be here.

[0:09:02] John Snell: Oh, this is, I’m so excited to see where this conversation goes. You do so much. But let’s at least start with the trumpet for a little bit. Um, because correct me if I’m wrong, that’s where you started was trumpet. Your first instrument?

[0:09:14] Sarah Belle Reid: Uh technically piano actually was when I was very, very young. I started three or four and then trumpet came next. And when trump. It was my first really serious passion. And

[0:09:26] John Snell: then so how did that come about? Was it in the school band or were you inspired by someone?

[0:09:32] Sarah Belle Reid: Yeah, I wanted to play as a young piano player. I saw my sister playing in band, she played saxophone and I was jealous and I wanted to play with people and I wanted to play in a band. Even like a school band. You know, I thought that was really cool. Um, and so I just started asking my parents for some kind of band slash orchestra related instrument. I didn’t particularly have my eye on the trumpet, but what ended up happening is my uncle had an old marching band trumpet in his garage and I was seven, so they didn’t know at the time if I was serious about this request. And so they were like, well here have this, try this one out for a while and if it sticks then maybe we can, we’ll talk again in six months or in a year if you still want to play in a band. Um, yeah, and I played that horn for many years and then it fell apart and I got myself my own first trumpet. That was really, it, it was sort of like it found me, you know?

[0:10:39] John Snell: That’s so cool. And so I mean, did you have anyone, you said your sister played saxophone? I mean, did you come from a musical family at all, or did your parents play?

[0:10:48] Sarah Belle Reid: Not professionally, but always very musical in terms of, you know, music as a hobby. Um playing my mom was my first piano teacher when I was really young and my dad plays fiddle. We always had music playing in the kitchen around meal prep time, So very musical, but no one pursuing it professionally other than myself,

[0:11:10] John Snell: You were the first one. And so, so what did that look like? I mean, what did you play through school? Was there a point where you really fell in love with the instrument or with making music? What did that look like?

[0:11:22] Sarah Belle Reid: It’s a good question. Honestly, it’s it’s just always been my kind of my focus of my life I think because I started so young, um I’ve just always played music every day. I did take, I was fortunate enough to be able to take lessons and then I went to, by the time I got to high school I went to a public art school. So that had, they had a really great uh you know, arts focused program where I could do musicals and play in orchestras and jazz ensembles and have music be the center of my high school kind of education, which I think was a big reason why I got really serious, but even before that I, yeah, I just, I’m not sure. I just loved it. You know, it’s just one of those things where a lot of other people have other interests they take to sports or they take to whatever it is. And I just, I was always really happy to stay in and play my trumpet,

[0:12:24] John Snell: playing music. Yeah, make playing and and it’s interesting the language you’re using, playing and making music? Not well I had to practice everyday kind of thing for you. It was a joy to get the instrument out and was a part of your life. So did you have a private instructor during high school or was that, did that come later on?

[0:12:43] Sarah Belle Reid: I did, I played, I worked with an amazing trumpet player named Stanley Rosenzweig, who played, he was principal with the National Ballet Orchestra of Canada for quite a large number of years and I connected with him through the conservatory there. Um actually the story is kind of funny about how I first met him because I was a dancer, I was a ballet dancer with the National Ballet Company um only as a very young kid from like five until about nine or 10 and I was dancing in um I think Swan Lake and I heard or something, I might be wrong about that again, I was very young and I heard the trumpet and there was a beautiful trumpet solo and I got distracted on stage and did not screw up, but kind of almost nearly did um and was really interested in the trumpet and was talking to people afterwards, was like, who’s the trumpet player in the orchestra and how can I, you know? And then I met, I was introduced to him and I was able to start studying with him.

[0:13:44] John Snell: How cool! So you actually in roundabout way and you were blown away by the trumpet on stage as a dancer. That’s so cool!

[0:13:51] Sarah Belle Reid: I was so, I mean he played those lyrical solos so beautifully, it was just breathtaking.

[0:13:57] John Snell: So were you, I mean, I hate to use labels, but were you like more interested in the classical side of music, orchestral side of music, or were you kind of open to anything at a young age?

[0:14:08] Sarah Belle Reid: I guess I started because I was working with him in particular and he was very um orchestral focussed, Juilliard trained classical orchestral player, that was really where I started as well. Um but musically for myself, and I didn’t really realize this too early on, but I was really interested in kind of everything and I think that shows up now more and what I’m doing, but I was kind of writing folk songs and, and you know, like I was wishing that I could play big band music. I remember every time I’d go see those kinds of concerts, I’d be like, wow, I love that music, but I was really focused in terms of my studies on an orchestral classical path and I love that music too, don’t get me wrong, I just always had a curiosity for kind of a wider range I think of genres.

[0:15:02] John Snell: So the time comes to go to university, was it, was there any doubt that you wanted to go in as a music major?

[0:15:09] Sarah Belle Reid: No, now that was very clear and uh yeah,

[0:15:15] John Snell: Easy, easy choice? And were you freelancing or did you have any kind of thoughts about how you were going to make a career in music at that point?

[0:15:24] Sarah Belle Reid: no, you know, at that point, I hadn’t started those, that definitely came to me though, don’t get me wrong. Um but, you know, people, a lot of people were asking me like, how is this going to pan out or what does this look like, what does life as a trumpet player look like? And I didn’t really have answers to those questions, I think at that point as an 18 year old, I was just really just trusting, like, well, I don’t know, I’m just going to do it and see what happens. And you know, my teachers, my mentors aren’t telling me to run for the hills, so I’m gonna choose to trust them and I’m gonna take the next step and see what that looks like.

[0:16:01] John Snell: So let’s take us through that. So you you went to your undergrad was up in McGill University in Canada?

[0:16:08] Sarah Belle Reid: Yeah, I went to McGill University and I studied with Ed Carroll, who has actually became a very big part of my life. Um Because after I finished my time at McGill with him, he was also teaching and still is teaching at the California Institute of the Arts, which is where I then went to do my graduate studies, which is really where…I credit my time at CalArts as really being like my pivot into a different direction in my music making. But um yeah, so I continued to work with Ed for a couple more years at cal arts and then I continued at CalArts even longer and did my doctorate.

[0:16:51] John Snell: So, and I want to, we had Ed on the podcast and well, I mean, they’re all my favorites. I can’t can’t choose favorites. But what I loved about Ed Carroll’s interview on this podcast was it was so little about trumpet. I mean, we started a little bit and he talked about his time playing in the orchestra and soloing and that just went from there. So what was it like studying with him? I mean, was it similar or, you know, obviously grounded in pedagogy, but, you know, take us through your lessons with him.

[0:17:20] Sarah Belle Reid: You know, I haven’t, so I haven’t had very many trumpet teachers, so I don’t know if I have another really solid point of reference. Obviously I worked with Stanley for a while, Stanley and Ed I think were trained in a similar way, so there’s some crossover there perhaps. But I mean, my memories of working with Ed were a lot of, you know, yeah, definitely. A lot of trumpet, you know, technique and really refining technique and really listening carefully to what is happening as we’re doing it and kind of developing something that I’ve always really appreciated is developing from him, the ability to kind of self assess what is going on in our sound, not to judge and and, you know, beat ourselves up about it, but to kind of be like, hmm, that’s interesting. I, you know, and then instead of just brute force, trying and trying again and hoping that might, it might fix itself. Kind of being able to take a step and be like, okay, what, what is happening, Why is this happening? You know, what about my body is weird or oh, look at that. I’m standing on one ft and I’m like doing some funky thing with my posture or oh, look at that. I’m thinking about eight measures from now. And so I’m, I’m, you know, anxious and not breathing into this phrase, you know, little things like that that are actually huge. That really, um, I think I’m really grateful for them because they prepared me to be able to sort of coach myself through learning music past the point of working with ed. So I think that gives a little, a little idea, like lots of technique, lots of foundations. Um really important stuff, but that also uh really important discussion around just awareness of your musical self and body. Um, and then of course some beautiful memories of just being a musician, you know, discussions around phrasing and uh, coming in and out of sound and making different moments matter and things like that. Um, I always something that I always really appreciated that he would say more in our ensemble work than private lessons was if you really want something to him, I would say now my my word of saying is if you want something to hit, it’s not what he would say. He would say like if you really want something to like land or sound fortissimo or sound present. Don’t just focus on that moment, focus on what you’re doing right before it, you know or take 10 steps back and think about how you’re preparing the listener for that arrival or for that that drop. Drop?

[0:20:14] John Snell: Whatever you wanna call it, right?

[0:20:15] Sarah Belle Reid: You get my point right? And so I thought that was really lovely.

[0:20:18] John Snell: Oh and one thing I just I I can’t let this go by that. One of the things you mentioned early on was about not judging, you know you’re reflecting on what you’re doing but don’t judge yourself. And I mean God I wish I’d learned that years and years ago. I still need to remind myself of that because we’re so quick to criticize ourselves in the practice room. Um So you know you’re just accepting what you just did and not judging it but saying, like you said, and what you know Ed was teaching you, just, what do you need to adjust? What do you need to move forward without being super critical about yourself? That’s… that’s beautiful advice.

So you’ve come to L.A. — how was the move out? Had you been to L. A. before? Is that the first time coming out to the west coast?

[0:20:59] Sarah Belle Reid: I did do a really brief visit a few months before committing to CalArts. It’s just to see what I was getting myself into. But

[0:21:09] John Snell: What was it like coming to L. A. For the first time and being in a huge metropolis and you know center Hollywood and all of that?

[0:21:16] Sarah Belle Reid: It was I mean I was I was born and raised in Toronto so I was familiar with a big city but it’s not too bad. Yeah but it’s a different big city. I mean from Toronto to L. A. It’s a pretty different vibe. Um And I wasn’t really living in L. A. I was living up near CalArts. Anyone anyone who’s familiar with that it’s more the desert and suburbia. So that was actually pretty strange

[0:21:42] John Snell: Right around the corner from the shop! That’s, uh we’re the next exit up the 5 freeway from you!

[0:21:48] Sarah Belle Reid: You’re very familiar. Yeah of course you’re so familiar with that area. Yeah. But CalArts itself was amazing. I mean for me it was it was exactly what I was craving at that point in my life. Even if I wasn’t exactly realizing that it was really what I needed and I’m insanely grateful for the time that I spent there. So

[0:22:10] John Snell: Like you said it was a pivot. So what what was that pivot like I mean, you were playing the trumpet. You’re playing probably the standard literature up to this point. How did you pivot? And where did you go?

[0:22:22] Sarah Belle Reid: Well I would say so I said it was a pivot but I think it was more realistically um 1000 or 2000 little like micro pivots more realistically um that really just began with every single person that I met and interacted with at CalArts and like the thing that they would invite me into. So I have memories early on of, I think this was my first day there. I walked into the hallway and Susie Allen, who was a really wonderful harpist and improviser was leading her large ensemble improvisation ensemble. And that’s something I had never done before. And for reasons that I still don’t know, she saw me walk by and beckoned me to come into the room even though I wasn’t a student, I may have lingered long enough to demonstrate curiosity and she was just like, “Come in, sit join.” And then within five minutes I was sitting in a room of 20 people who I had never met and we were improvising together, which was something I had never done before in my life. So a very big, you know, meaningful moment for me. And there was just dozens of those, you know, I was able to play in Charlie Hayden’s band um when he decided to put it together one more time at CalArts uh to play through one of his records. We did a concert at Red Cat and you know, jazz music of any kind was not something I had ever done before. But I was again walking by with a trumpet on my back. And he saw me and he said, “hey, you play trumpet?” And I was like, “yeah, I do!” And he’s like, “Can you read, can you read charts?” And I’m like, “Sure, yeah.” He’s like, “sit, I need two trumpets.” It was like, okay, you know, And I tried to kind of like, when I realized it was who he was, I had grown up listening, Charlie Hayden and I was like, I can’t do this, This is like a big name, big deal kind of thing. I tried to excuse myself and leave the room and another faculty member literally took me by the shoulders and turned me around and made me do a 180, pushed me back in and was like, you’re going to regret that decision, wow, that was David Roitstein for anybody who knows CalArts folks and I’m so grateful for him for doing that, that little kick in the pants that I needed. So, you know what I mean?

[0:24:48] John Snell: CalArts is known for, you know, really fostering creativity and and stretching the bounds of improvisation and music and all of that. And and but it’s like it seems like such a safe place as a student, you know, the faculty so supportive and doing things like that. That’s that’s… what an amazing experience. Um So when you were mentioning like improvising, we’re not just talking about jazz improvisation, right? You know, free improvisation all across the board?

[0:25:17] Sarah Belle Reid: In fact, for me it was mostly not standard jazz playing over changes, um but more, you know, free improv, whatever you wanna call it, open improvisation, you know? And with Charlie, it was interesting because in his band, eventually he did ask me to start improvising because it was kind of a requirement that anyone who played in his group would take a solo at some point and there were changes and chords and stuff. And I told him I was like, Charlie, I don’t think I can do this. Like, I don’t know this language. I’m not trained in this. And his response was, I’ll leave out some… there were some profanities that he would mix in as ways of really making his point… but you can just basically what his what he said was like, I don’t care at all about the right notes and the changes. I want to hear your voice and just like insert about five extra words in there and you’ll get the full impact. And that was that was a big deal for me, right? To have this jazz legend who I really cared a lot about and respected his music basically to, you know, like to not only say you have to do this, I’m sorry, but you can’t you can’t shy away from this, but also like, the only requirement here in order to do it right, is to be yourself and like, let me hear your voice through this instrument, You know what I mean? It’s a big gift for me at the time and quite a young age to, I mean there’s some of us that get their whole careers that never find their voice, you know, we’re playing what we’re told to play in in a certain way and exactly, I don’t have that freedom, wow, that’s amazing being granted the permission, you know, in a way to just play. I was like, and, and then, and then when I started playing, I was so quiet, he turned to the rest of the band and he was like, alright, if she’s playing quietly, y’all need to like go even quieter to support her and it wasn’t like, hey Sarah, you gotta play up. She’s like, no, if she’s, you know, if she’s doing this, you all need to adjust in order to support her. And it was just a very um, yeah, it was an amazing experience. I eventually got the courage to play more, but, but you know, we all start somewhere,

[0:27:38] John Snell: But the fact that you felt safe there to do it and, and you had faculty and your, you know, your colleagues supporting you, that’s, you know, in, in that kind of environment is amazing. Uh now were you composing at this point? I mean, how did that integrate into your trumpet playing and you’re, you know, you’re performing, when did that come into play?

[0:27:59] Sarah Belle Reid: Yes, and I was secretly composing. Um so what I mean by that is I was sort of like writing music for myself and not telling anyone about it. Um for trumpet, like unaccompanied trumpet and kind of like I said writing folk songs and weird things like that, just making music, but I was definitely not calling myself a composer for a while. Um But I think so, another really important relationship for me at CalArts around that time was with Wadada Leo Smith, another amazing trumpet player and composer and improviser and bandleader and all kinds of things. And I started to work with him uh play, I played in his ensemble and I also studied privately with him and he um there’s too many people, I feel like I’m leaving everyone out. But anyway, he um he really opened my eyes to the idea of composing improvisation um using you know maybe non traditional forms of notation, graphic notation, text, other things like that to notate, you know, the structure of a piece or the structure of an improvisation and to really kind of blend uh something that is composed and something that is spontaneous at the same time. I found that really fascinating. And so that was really where I kind of got my where I started to compose with more intention was through that lens of like okay, well what could it look like if I am composing a piece where there is improvisatory elements as well, if that makes sense. Um And then I don’t know, one thing led to another and I just started doing more of it and it grew from there.

[0:29:46] John Snell: That was the seeds of your career now, which we’ll get into here in a moment. Um I want to spend a little bit more time talking about Wadada, because yeah, we had Dan Rosenboom on the podcast who I know attributes a lot of his improvisation and success to Wadada, and I’d love to have Wadada on the podcas one of these times we’ll have to reach out to him. Um Can you talk..what were the lessons like? Did you have like formal lessons with him or like you said, you played in his groups?

[0:30:15] Sarah Belle Reid: They were probably the, the most fun lessons I’ve ever had.

[0:30:21] John Snell: Yeah. Talk about trumpet at all? Or was it all just kind of higher level improvisation things?

[0:30:27] Sarah Belle Reid: Both. We kind of, so the the one lesson where we talked about trumpet also was one of the lessons that I credit for really changing my life. It was very important lesson for me and what we did was we took two hours to make every possible ugly sound we could come up with on the trumpet and I’m putting ugly and big quotes because up. Until that time if you hear Wadada play, he has so much range in the sound that he plays and some of the sounds that come out of his horn sound like sheet metal being torn apart. Like they are so timbere-ly complex and they’re so dense and they’re like they’re there. Sometimes laser stable and other times they sound like they’re, you can literally hear the sound kind of falling apart, like he’s trying to like, you know, keep it together and there’s just so much there. But up until that point in my life as a trumpet player, it was all about precision — notes have to be centered — resonance has to be, you know, resonant! Anything less than that or a perfect playing or whatever, is a mistake. It’s not a good sound on the trumpet and that was really drilled into me, you know, to a point where if you know this comes back to the judgment thing early on where earlier on in our conversation where if something comes out of your horn, that’s not that you immediately are like — bad incorrect — like fail right? Um And I understand the importance of developing your facility and being able to have accuracy and being able to like play things in time and in tune and and all of that, like I appreciate that very much. But um this exercise of playing all of these ugly sounds made me realize that I was tapping into about 5% of what was possible on the trumpet with those beautiful sounds. And so what I… then what happened was I started to really explore in a, in a serious way. The rest of the horn and I feel like my vocabulary just expanded times, you know, 105 100 like it just really got so much bigger. Um and instead of the immediate reaction to a sound quote unquote bad sound as being like, oh, that’s incorrect or wrong, I started to adopt the mentality of Oh how interesting. That’s curious. That’s not what I expected. I wonder if I can do it again on purpose, You know that split tone or that double buzz or that whatever it is that’s happening. It’s like, okay, cool, that’s a cool sound. I wonder if I can make it happen on purpose and if I can control it and if I can also make it not happen when I don’t want it to happen. Right? So now all of a sudden it’s like a new notch up that I now get to practice and refine as opposed to something that I am hiding from and avoiding and going, oh my God, I can’t believe that double buzz just happened. I hope it doesn’t happen again. Right, Does that make sense?

[0:33:43] John Snell: Yeah, totally. And it actually brings up something uh I saw on your, I think it was on your Instagram on your social media the other day. I think you were talking in the more of the electronic context in this post, but basically how much time we spend practicing and and not playing, you know, like you’re in a sandbox and it’s like we’re playing an instrument, It’s supposed to be fun and exploratory and and you know, if we take some of that into the practice room, but if we integrate that into our performing uh in our daily lives, like it makes things fun, you know? But at the core essence, yeah, we’re playing an instrument we’re making noise and I loved that about that post. And um so yeah, I definitely understand what you’re talking about where, you know, instead of fearing what’s going to come out of the bell, like let’s dive into it.

[0:34:33] Sarah Belle Reid: Let’s figure it out and make the target, like figure out how to get there and also get their 20 different ways because now now you’re not tiptoeing around and like hoping it’s gonna work because it won’t, if you’re tiptoeing around and hoping it’s gonna work, it’s not probably going to work when it really matters. But if you’re like, okay now I own this weird technique, like now I now I can do this just as well as I can play whatever whatever your best note is. Talk about like that feeling of confidence is just of knowing your instrument is so much more present. So the thing with Wadada, I I told you the story about charlie and him saying, I just want you to hear your voice or I just want to hear your voice to me that was permission to um kind of just play to play my instrument and like be myself through the trumpet and then this thing with, we gotta, we were literally contorting our lips in weird ways to be like what weird sound can we get out of this? It sounded awful, it was terrible, but it was so good at the same time. And that really granted me, I felt like a huge amount of permission to kind of sound bad in the pursuit of, you know, building my vocabulary, but I wasn’t good at sounding bad. I think a lot of people aren’t good at sounding bad, like you don’t want to hear yourself screw up, so you practice what you’re good at, right? It’s a really common thing um as opposed to practicing the things you’re actually kind of bad at, but you kind of have to sound quote unquote bad for a while.

[0:36:20] John Snell: It’s funny, it’s funny you bring that up because here in here in Hollywood, in the studios, you know, a lot of times, the brass musicians have to go in and record for cartoons or you know, there’s a school band on stage that they have to, you know, they’re the ones recording the music because they can’t have a bunch of actors playing at a middle school band or something like that. And for some of the players, it’s hard to do because they’ve spent their whole lives playing in tune and on the beat and perfect. And uh again, not that all of us are gonna end up in the Hollywood studios to play on a cartoon, but but those skills are good to have, and like you said, having that kind of command over your instrument where you can get the double buzz, you know, what causes it? Would, you know, if you do want to audition for the Chicago symphony and uh you know, perfection is important, you know what not to do because you’ve experimented all over the map. So those, those skills really doesn’t matter how you’re playing the instrument, it’s just comes down to command of the instrument.

So this gets into like kind of a gray area…so you’re at CalArts, uh you start pivoting into these new worlds of sounds and using the instrument. Um how do you turn that into a career? Like, I mean, where did that take you? And did you even think about it, or were you just creating?

[0:37:34] Sarah Belle Reid: A little bit of both? I think. So at first, when I was in doing my graduate studies at CalArts, I was just deep in what I refer to as sponge mode. I was just like absorbing everything, taking it all in saying yes to everything just like doing as much as I could do. And it was a very prolific and exhausting and amazing couple of years. Uh but you know, it resulted in having a lot of cool opportunities that started to emerge, some gigs, I did some freelancing stuff. Um you know, some teaching opportunities uh right out of grad school, I ended up working, I took a full time job and in a like a day job doing instructional design for an online education company that focused in the arts. So I was helping to produce courses online courses about everything from, you know, music theory to um instrument design or kind of audio coding or synthesis or music technology related topics. Um And that was sort of my immediate work right out of school. Um But I knew that that wasn’t really my final destination, my career, my final career. So at the whole time I was just, you know, making as much music as possible, playing as many shows as I could and um yeah, kind of trying to it’s a pretty common story, right? Work the day job and you hustle as much as you can and evenings and weekends and try to get it together

[0:39:17] John Snell: and what is, So what did your freelancing look like? I mean, were you playing your own music? Were you playing in other people’s groups or a little bit of everything

[0:39:24] Sarah Belle Reid: At first. Yeah, it was always a little bit of everything. Well, to be honest at first it was mostly other people’s music. I was just doing, you know, playing new music, kind of contemporary music gigs as a trumpet player for hire, so come play this person’s new piece or you know, whatever it might be. Um but I do remember there was, I made a very conscious decision at some point, I don’t exactly remember when I did this, like, what year it was time right now, because of the last couple of years is a big question mark for me, but I do remember there was a moment when I, I kind of realized that I was happiest playing my own music and or improvising with others that was really where I was feeling the most fulfilled as a player, um and playing music by living people. So, music that was written or is still being written, like, that just got me really, really excited. So I decided that I was really going to focus on that moving forward, and that was the kind of work I wanted to do, it’s not that I, you know, wouldn’t still take the occasional freelance trumpet gig, but I really wanted to start exclusively doing stuff that was, like, someone asking me to do something me as in Sarah, the trumpet player and not just a trumpet player, Does that make sense? I was an artist, not a sidelineer, and there’s and again, like, that kind of work is very challenging and to be that kind of chameleon and be able to show up for whatever is being thrown at you and just lay it down, I respect the people who do that so much I really do, but yeah, for me, I could just tell that my heart wasn’t really in it and there was something more and different for me to be doing. And that was more about original music making for me.

[0:41:24] John Snell: And when did electronics start creeping in in terms of your trumpet and your exploration and music? Did that start at CalArts?

[0:41:33] Sarah Belle Reid: Yeah, it happened early on very early on at CalArts. I took an audio programming class um about a language called chuck, which is basically a real time code. It’s a coding language where you can, you know, type code in real time and it will produce sound, basically. And uh, I took that just because I was in sponge mode and I thought, why the heck not? You know, let’s do something really weird. Um, and the, that led into a class called interface design, where you actually design your own musical instrument or musical interface. Um, and as a trumpet player, I was really interested in the possibility of merging electronics onto my trumpet. And so I found some research that had been done by some folks at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, where they had developed a optical sensing system for the valve casing of the trumpet, where you, you basically attached these optical sensors onto the valve casing of the trumpet and it can tell whether your valves are pressed down and how far they are pressed down and all of that kind of stuff. And I, there were some problems with the, I mean it was great research and they had done this initial proof of concept and it worked and it was really cool, but they, they had never really figured out a musical application for it. And they were all really busy researchers who had moved on to other projects. So I contacted them and said, hey, can I kind of pick this up and play with this idea? And they were like, yeah, you have our blessing, go for it, you know? So I adapted the design and I added a few extra things like some um pressure sensors around the left hand, so that when you’re holding the trumpet, it can also detect, you know, how hard you’re holding or whether or not you’re applying any pressure on the third valve slide or the first valve slide. Um and then also an accelerometer which can detect motion and tilt of the horn in space. And I built this thing as part of my, it turned into kind of my like capstone project of my degree. It ballooned, let’s just say that it started off as a research project and I was like, wait, I’m going to do that. I’m actually gonna do this, This is really cool. And it turned into something called MIGSI, which I then which stands for the minimally invasive gesture sensing interface. Um, trumpet. And uh, it was like in a very big way of really defining um project for my for what? Everything that was to come next. Um because now I wasn’t playing just trumpet and I also was not playing just electronics. I was playing this new kind of hybrid voice where everything you do on the trumpet, it has an impact on the electronics. You know what I mean? It’s because they’re linked, like you press a valve which you have to do to play a note, but now, all of a sudden it has an extra uh impact on the electronic side. Like it might trigger another sound or it might change some processing or something. You have to kind of think about it as a whole new instrument. Does that make sense?

[0:44:54] John Snell: Yeah, and it’s blowing my mind!

[0:44:56] Sarah Belle Reid: If people want to learn more about. There’s a lot of stuff about MIGSI on my website, um including videos, kind of demoing it and explaining how it works and showing the design. So, there’s a lot there, if people are curious.

[0:45:08] John Snell: Yeah, like, I mean, it literally opens up whole new worlds of expression, which is, I mean, I have a hard enough time getting through Charlier number two, you know, which is my own problem, but like, it’s like, just as a creative like to have that many, you know the fact that how Yeah, like you said how, just how you’re squeezing with the left hand and that intensity that you may not even consciously think about what you’re using because of your natural emotion is now triggering something in the electronics, which is, oh my gosh!

[0:45:36] Sarah Belle Reid: Exactly, yeah! And I was particularly interested in those kind of inherent gestures, those things that you don’t do because I don’t, I didn’t want to design an instrument where all of a sudden now you need to squeeze your left hand and like introduce all of this tension into your playing and like extra things to think about. I was very aware of. You know what I, this idea of bandwidth, like musical bandwidth, cognitive bandwidth, like playing trumpet takes enough effort and concentration as it is. I don’t want to add a whole bunch of buttons and switches and things to extra things to be just be distracted by. Right? So the question then became, well, how can we leverage what you have to do any ways to play the instrument and turn that use that data in some musical way? And it’s still a question that I’m asking, like I’m still kind of exploring it. But it led me to many years of of really interesting research.

[0:46:32] John Snell: And so when we’re, what year did you create the MIGSI.

[0:46:37] Sarah Belle Reid: I started in 2014 and I also want to say just a little shout out to my co creator of whose name is Ryan Gaston, definitely was not a solo project. I was able to share this idea with him. And he got really excited. He’s a former trumpet player as well. And so we worked on it together, um 2015 would have been kind of the debut of the first prototype, um and then it just kept evolving from there and it’s been, yeah,

[0:47:10] John Snell: It’s not even 10 years yet, so you don’t even know what the potential is?

[0:47:14] Sarah Belle Reid: Different things, it’s all very new.

[0:47:17] John Snell: That’s that’s that’s incredible. And it’s kind of not to transition, but you talk a lot about the creative process and in fact you have coaching classes and mentorship that you do for creating and performing. I mean, can you talk a little bit about what you went through because you know, doing it’s, I think it’s funny that we always label people and we always say, oh that’s different. And so we kind of people that don’t go the normal paths tend to be shoved to the outside, yet all of our idols, you know, Miles Davis and Beethoven and Bach are all people that did something new. Um like what did you go through in your schooling and also in your life in terms, you know, to be able to do something different uh and have the confidence to do it?

[0:48:03] Sarah Belle Reid: That’s a very, that’s a good question.

[0:48:05] John Snell: I know we could probably write a book about that or you could…

[0:48:10] Sarah Belle Reid: You know, the first thing, I don’t feel like I want to say is just to acknowledge that it wasn’t um that it was hard, you know, like, it was a challenging thing to first recognize in myself that this thing I had been studying for so many years was maybe not actually my biggest passion and I don’t mean trumpet, I mean, like being an orchestral trumpet player, you know, that first was a hard pill for me to swallow, I was like, kind of felt like a failure, I’m gonna be honest, you know, because I had signed up for this, I studied the literature and practiced and I was doing it like, I was pulling it off, but there’s a difference between doing it and, and like going into your studio or your practice room every day and just be like, heck, yeah, I cannot wait to do this, like, I am so excited for whatever the next thing is that I’m going to do, and I didn’t have that and I, I kind of sat with it for a number of years, but then luckily I had enough of the other kind of experience where you are just really lit up and you’re like, this is like, your whole body is vibrating and you’re like, holy crap, this is it. I had enough of those, it only only takes one, I’m gonna be honest. I had one performance where um I had that feeling on stage and what I and then I was like, okay, well, now that I know that’s there, like, I, I need to find that again, you know what I mean? I feel like I would be doing myself a disservice to not figure out how I can live the most of my life, in that state of feeling that revved up about being creative, you know what I mean? And for me, so that meant letting go of a lot of things and which I realized they, the other thing is, it felt a lot more permanent at the time, it felt like I was burning bridges and closing doors, but I wasn’t, I was just saying, hey, I’m gonna go explore over here and and do this thing, but like, I’m still in great, you know, like I still talk and get along with all of those people and my colleagues and everything, it’s not like I was cut out or something, but it kind of feels in a way, like you will be, I’m saying that because my mind at the time was like, people are gonna judge me and like what if it doesn’t work? Like what if I try to do my own thing and then it fails and everyone’s like laughing at me and being like, well you wasted five years, you should have been practicing, you know, like, there’s just so much mind trash that can come into play and I think it’s important to acknowledge that that I definitely did experience that. Um but but when you keep, when you do it anyway, um it’s, it can really work out, you know, and for me, I’ve been able to build myself a career as a musician that I I honestly love, like, there are hard days and days where I’m like, I’ve got to go like rehearse this again or whatever, I’m tired, I’d rather just take a nap or something, but that’s normal. But the vast majority of of days I’m like, really energized and excited by the collaborations that I get to do and the music that I get to play and um yeah, I don’t know, I’m really great. I think I lost the thread on your question a little, that’s fine, and that’s

[0:51:29] John Snell: Yeah, yeah, I was gonna say, and now you’re in the position to coach other creative people go, that are going through the same things, like, I mean, I feel it here, I don’t even play professionally anymore, and I just, the thought of doing something like you’re doing that’s new, or, and, you know, uh with the electronics, like, makes me just a little bit nervous inside, but it’s like, it’s also exciting. Um and uh and the fact that you’re doing it is so awesome, and like I said, and not only are you doing it, but you’re also giving back to the community and coaching people to do it as well. Um can you talk a little bit about, can you give us the explain-it-like-I’m-five of electronics, because I know you have, like beginner courses, you have advanced courses, you have all kinds of things that you do. Um So if someone who’s never doesn’t know what a patch chord is, can you explain how to get started in that?

[0:52:24] Sarah Belle Reid: Yeah, well there are so many ways to get started in the world of electronic music. Um I couldn’t possibly offer them all to you right now. But what I can say is my personal um belief on one of the best ways to get into electronic music is through sound synthesis, which is learning, you know, how to create sound through using electronic circuits of some kind. Um and there are, you know, my method of choice is using modular synthesizers which are basically electronic instruments that are made up of, you know, a whole bunch of individual pieces, which are called modules. And each piece has a primary musical function. Like some, some are going to produce tones. Others are going to allow you to shape or color those tones right? Like putting a mute in your bell, you’ve now filtered and shaped and colored the tone. Others are going to allow you to move the tone, like pressing valves on your trumpet, play different pitches, play different patterns and so on. But each of these modules has its own kind of dedicated purpose. And the reason why we have all of the colorful patch cables that you probably see in pictures is because you connect them together. So you say, oh, I’m gonna send this tone into this, this filter. This like wah wah mute style filter and all of a sudden it sounds different. Okay, now I’m going to take this keyboard and I’m going to connect it into this tone so I can play a scale, right? And you’re basically just using these like lego building blocks to design any sound that you want. The reason why I think it’s such a good starting point is because it’s like you’re you’re learning, you know, it’s like you’re looking under the hood in terms of sound design and you’re seeing how, how it all works, like all the individual little pieces and how they connect together. So you can go anywhere from there. You know, you can choose any instrument to then go to any synthesizer, you could go digital, you could go analog. Like it doesn’t really matter at that point because you’ve got that kind of foundation. Does that make sense? Did I do an okay job? Okay. And I do have just if it’s okay for me to to share something, I do have a free um a free introductory course that people could take in this exact topic, um that’s called your first modular synth patch and it uses a free software program that you can download and run on your computer. So you don’t need special gear, you can, you know, learn the basics, try it out, make some sound and just explore that way of working and see if you like

[0:55:21] John Snell: it. Yeah, I was going to bring that up for you and so that’s awesome. We’ll make sure we have your website and all that stuff in the show notes and because it’s a wonderful resource and you have all your projects. And you know, we could talk for six hours here about all the projects you’ve done…Um can you talk a little bit about your recent one with David Rosenboom?

[0:55:44] Sarah Belle Reid: That was yeah, so David and I um wanted to collaborate on something for years and just kept not finding the time as is so uh easy to do. Um and then over the pandemic, we were on opposite coasts and we we just started to kind of correspond a little bit here and there by over email and we would start to maybe send each other a little idea here and their musical idea and we where we both got really, really interested in thinking about and talking about what creativity and co creation could look like um in this like isolated state that we were living in. This was deep in the pandemic. You know, how can we be creative and collaborative and how can we co create something when we are not physically in the same place. Lots of people came up with great ideas with, you know, streaming online and all kinds of things like that. Um but then we also were both obsessed with time and like talking about time travel and temporal perception and all kinds of super nerdy stuff like that. David and I have many, many very long conversations about this kind of thing. So then we started just to ask ourselves, well, what could co creation and co presence be like if it’s not only, you know, displaced physically. So we’re not in the same place, but what if we’re also not in the same time? How can we co create across time? Using our ability to listen imaginatively and to listen deeply and creatively in a way that’s like, well, my collaborator in the future might do this or, you know, I don’t know, I’m going to piece this thing together in a way where um you know, I’m doing something now in my studio and it might connect to a thread or an idea that emerges six months from now. And that kind of became the the core of the creative idea. So we worked this way kind of a synchronously for close to a year, um recording in our individual studios, passing ideas back and forth, compositing things together. Um and then eventually we had this huge uh kind of collection of what we were referring to as sonic correspondences, like letters back and forth that were just all took place in the sound, Oh cool, because we didn’t talk about any of it. Like we didn’t plan. we didn’t say, okay, this week we’ll do, we’ll be in a major okay, this I need I need you to play something slower next time. We didn’t do any of that. We just made sound and corresponded back and forth in that way. And that became the album.

[0:58:41] John Snell: That’s that’s awesome. You have a lot of your projects, if not all of them on your website that people can click through and some of them have videos, some of them have descriptions. Um can you tell us a little bit about what you have in the works now? Any projects that you’re working on currently that we can look forward to?

[0:59:00] Sarah Belle Reid: Yes, there are so many. My brain just did that thing where it’s like, what do I choose? Yeah, there’s two big ones I’ll share to one that will happen definitely this year, which is 2023 1 that will probably happen in the future, but it’s so important to me. I really want to talk about it. Um the first one is a rerelease of uh, so I made an ep last year called Mass or two years ago actually, which was for trumpet voice. Um and a whole bunch of uh kind of sampled instruments and synthesizer and sam sampled household objects, things like cookie trays and alarm clocks and all kinds of things like that. It was called Mass and I released it independently as a three track ep. And this year, I’m re releasing it on, in a physical format for the first time, which I’m really excited about. Um it will be released on vinyl and on cassette, and I’m also adding two additional tracks as a to kind of flesh it out into a full length album. Um, so that’s really exciting. And I don’t have an exact timeline, as in terms of when it will be uh released,

[1:00:18] John Snell: even more, even more impetus for people to follow you on social media. Yeah. Check out your website, all of that stuff, or when it’s going to drop or hit or whatever word you want to use. And what about that? You said that the other project, you’re not sure, But

[1:00:33] Sarah Belle Reid: Yes, well, thank you for. Okay, so the other thing is, I’m I am composing an electroacoustic opera. This is just something that I love to talk about, every opportunity I get it is by far the biggest creative project I’ve ever undertaken. Um It started toward the end of my doctorate at CalArts, and which was a handful of years ago, and now I’m still working on it, but I’ve committed to 2023 being the year that I finish it, um, which is another reason why I’m saying it, because folks, if you want to get something done, declare it publicly,

[1:01:09] John Snell: it works.

[1:01:10] Sarah Belle Reid: It really works. Um, so, it’s a very experimental uh opera for a chamber ensemble and lots of electronics and for vocalists and um, and it’s about time? It’s about a temporal anomaly that happens. That causes timelines to kind of fold upon one another and get tangled. And we we follow a disjunctive story or narrative of these different cosmic caretakers who are all there to kind of try to grapple with this, this like temporal anomaly that’s happened and they are there to kind of repair our memories and our dreams and our our various timelines really excited and there’s a lot of trumpet and a lot of all kinds of things.

[1:02:02] John Snell: So is there trumpet part on that performing that?

[1:02:08] Sarah Belle Reid: Yeah, the trumpet part, I’m, I’m mad at myself right now because it’s really hard,

[1:02:14] John Snell: So, and we’re running out of time here, so, and I’ll make sure we plug all your websites and stuff, make sure people, if people don’t know about you, they can find out about you. And I highly recommend, I, like I said starting off this, I I check your instagram every morning and it’s always inspiring whether it’s trumpet or not, just the sounds and your creative process and stuff that you put on there out in the open for everyone is so awesome. Um, but I do have a few short questions before we wrap here, first of all. Um, so getting back to trumpet, you obviously can’t ignore the trumpet even though you’re composing and coaching and all that stuff? What is your daily routine look like on the trumpet? Do you have one, you go through the fundamentals, What do you do?

[1:02:52] Sarah Belle Reid: It really depends, I’ll be honest with you, it really depends on what I’m doing. Um If I am like right now, for example, I’m preparing for a show on the East Coast next week. Um so my practice time, which is a lot more limited these days than it was when I was in school, I’ll say that, which is great advice, use that college time to practice, it doesn’t get any easier time. I, you know, I’m really focused on, you know, playing what I need to be able to play in order to do this show and like one of the things that I do a lot in my practice routine is I will pull out um specific things that are relevant to the pieces I’m playing, whether they’re of my own composition or other people’s, if I’m, if I’m playing at some other people’s music and I’ll just create exercises out of them, you know? So if I’m playing a piece where I know I’m going to need to, you know, there’s like some tricky rapid passage or whatever, I’ll take that. And instead of doing something like a uh like a clerk or something like that, I will just turn that into an exercise and play that and up and down in every, in every key instead that way I’m I’m doing the finger exercises and the flow exercises, but I’m also learning the piece that I need to play for a week from now. Um so that really helps me. Um Yeah, it really depends. I’m sorry, I don’t have a particular, I I kind of had to let go of my um perfect routine. That was another big thing that I really had to like come to terms with was this perfect kind of multi our routine where five minutes of this and 10 minutes of that and everything gets rotated through and rotate the horns and all of that. Like it was beautiful while I could do it. But then I started touring and And just play like I just couldn’t do it anymore. So you have to get really good at using 10 minutes of quiet long tones too. Get yourself focused and well, and I think I was gonna say, yeah, it’s a, it’s a great answer because yeah, we want like that nugget of like, well I need to do Arbans, page 28 you know, do that every day and like latch onto it. But it’s really, you need to do what you need to do to for whatever performance you have or whatever time you have and you get out of that ideal of like, yeah, I have this hour and a half routine.

[1:05:02] John Snell: That’s wonderful advice, um who inspires you artistically on the instruments electronically. Um where do you get your inspiration from?

[1:05:35] Sarah Belle Reid: So many people, we have another hour? I get that question. I mean I’m a big, you know, I’m I’m hugely inspired by Pauline Oliveros who’s an early electronic music pioneer um on the synthesizer, on a tape music. Um She had a really incredible philosophy and practice later on in her life called deep listening, which has impacted me in more ways than I think I will ever understand just about the way that you listen to yourself and the world around you and sound and all possible sounds in the universe. I think that uh you know, thinking about that stuff and studying um some of pauline Oliveros is writing has made me a much better musician doesn’t really have much to do with being a trumpet player per se, but being a musician and a a person with ears and a voice and a creative spirit. It has been incredibly impactful.

[1:06:40] John Snell: Awesome. And I mean normally I ask about equipment and I know folks listen to this, can’t see the video, you have keyboards and guitars and all kinds of stuff behind you at least since, since it’s a trumpet podcast — what do you what do you use for your trumpet?

[1:06:54] Sarah Belle Reid: Yeah, my trumpets are all over there. So they’re out of frame. Um you know, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I have the horns that I’m playing the most these days. Um I have a Yamaha Xeno uh C trumpet and b-flat trumpet that I got back when I was in, you know at McGill. Um they were actually my first kind of serious pro horns and I, you know, I hate to say it. I don’t know if it’s a really fun answer, but I’ve never been that interested in in like gear, which is really crazy because I’m surrounded, I’m literally surrounded by electronic gear, but I found something that worked for me and I didn’t really change it up very much. The exception to that is I have a um the one horn that I bought kind of, I think about four years ago was a new uh flugelhorn that I’m obsessed with. I just think it’s fantastic and it’s an Adams. Um four valve quarter tone flugelhorn and yeah, it’s great and it’s got like a matte finish to the, you know, instead of a shiny lacquer and it’s a red copper horn. So it’s really nice and dark and it has a, a silver nickel flair. So it’s just like beautiful, has a lot of like uh resonance and articulation but is one of the warmest sounding horns. And then the quarter tone valve, I personally find like perfect. It just works really well for everything that I want a quarter tone trumpet too. I wish every trumpet always had a quarter to involve personally

[1:08:34] John Snell: so we can arrange that if you want. We can talk later about that. Okay,

[1:08:38] Sarah Belle Reid: well, you know, I’m very interested. I am every time I talk about this I think to myself you know I might I really am interested in maybe a new b-flat. And it’s not because I don’t like my b-fklat. It’s just because I’ve literally never, I got the one that I got when I was like 19 and it’s just the horn I’ve had you know and I wonder…

[1:08:56] John Snell: They’re workhorses. They played, they played well.

[1:08:58] Sarah Belle Reid: Yeah I love I love my Yamaha horns.

[1:09:01] John Snell: This hour has flown by talk about temporal shifts and like I swear we just started talking 30 seconds ago and I hope we can do this again. Um you know do a follow up in at some point or even like a live Q. And A. In your busy schedule. So we’ll talk about that. Um So is your website. Where else can folks find you? What’s the best way to contact you or find out what’s going on? Is it the website or social media?

[1:09:26] Sarah Belle Reid: Yeah. Anything I’m Sarah Belle Reid everywhere. So Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, my website. That’s it. Yeah.

[1:09:35] John Snell: Okayand we’ll have links to all of those. So if people are on the treadmill or driving they can just click a link eventually and get to get to find you. Absolutely wonderful Sarah. I hope we can meet in person sometime. Please come by the shop if you’re ever out in L. A. or visiting CalArts. We would love to have you out here. Before we go though — if I could leave you with one question, if you could leave our listeners with one piece of advice that you would consider your best piece of advice, what would it be?

[1:10:07] Sarah Belle Reid: I would say if there is a thing that you know, lights you up and makes you excited, even if it is not the thing that other people are doing or that your teachers are asking you to do, sorry, all the teachers out there or what you think the industry wants you to do. I would say to do it, you know, because if you are creating music from a place of genuine joy and excitement for what you’re doing, even if it’s never been done before. And even if, you know, people might find it weird right now or new or whatever you’re worried about. I promise that if you do that and you’re creating from that place, it will speak to the right people, audiences will be able to feel your energy, they’ll feel your passion for it. You will make better music as a result and you’ll be happier. Win win, win, win, win. So do it. Just follow whatever it is that that speaks to you and that lights you up. Don’t question it. Even if it seems weird, it’s coming from you for a reason.

[1:11:21] John Snell: That’s awesome and you’re you’re walking the walk. Wonderful advice and absolutely an honor to have you on here. Sarah, thank you so much.

[1:11:28] Sarah Belle Reid: Thank you

[1:11:31] John Snell: A huge thank you to Sarah for spending that time to share her experiences and stories. I mean she’s so inspiring and I really, really, I don’t just mean this… really check out her social media, especially her Instagram page where she’s posting all the time, her experimentations, her advice, her different projects and things. She also has a Patreon, I know where she does all kinds of cool pieces and interactions with her Patreons. So we’ll make sure we have links to all that in the show notes and really excited to see, you know where Sarah goes in the future because she’s already been so prolific in creating so many, breaking so many boundaries in terms of how we think of not just the trumpet, but electronics and music as a whole. So it’s really an honor to have her on this podcast and share uh some trumpet stuff, but then also some cool other things we don’t normally talk about on this podcast. So again, thank you to Sarah. If you want to learn more about Sarah, you can go to her website at Uh you can also find her on all the social medias and Youtube’s and things like that. Again, we’ll have links to all of those places on the show notes for this episode.

Well, I can’t believe it, Episode 99 is in the can uh growing up 99 was my favorite number. And so it meant a lot to have someone so special and cool, like Sarah, on episode 99. So I can’t wait for next episode. We’ll hit the century mark episode 100 with New York trumpet player, Tony Kadleck. So you’re not gonna wanna miss that. So, hit that subscribe button, hit that five star review button, hit that email button to send me an email to tell me how well I’m doing or how bad I’m doing. Or how about some constructive criticism instead. Uh and of course, if you have any guests that you would like to hear on here, you know, we try to do, we’re getting back to one episode a month. So there’s only so many trumpet players we can get to in a year, but you know, based on who suggest whom, how many, you know, we have a tally sheet and we try to reach out to who you want to hear the most on this podcast. So send those emails in john j-o-h-n at bobreeves dot com with any concerns, questions, compliments, guests, uh coffee tips, Anything! I’d love to hear from my listeners. Thank you for listening Until next time…let’s go out and make some music!

Author Preston Shepard

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