Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Musical Careers in One Household and it Works!

The great joy of traveling to shows, campuses and studios is meeting so many different people in our business.  This blog features Tereasa Payne and Simon Hutchings, a married couple who are very, very busy and successful doublers.  And they are happy too!  No jaded musicians, these!  Here is their story, and you will find within it, some real words to live by.

JMS:  Tereasa, if I recall, we first met at the Kentucky Flute Society Flute Fair in 2009.  I remember being struck by your wonderful playing of a great Schocker piece as well as your fabulous outfit!
TP: Yes Joan, we first met at the Kentucky Flute Society’s Young Artist Competition.  I did play the Shocker “Rain and Shine” and yes, I think I got as many compliments on my outfit as my playing that day!   Well, the Shocker just called for something dramatic, didn’t it???    But… I didn’t win the competition.  I was thrilled with my performance and the audience gave me a standing ovation after the Shocker.  But, I came in Third in the competition.  Such is the way it goes with competitions and auditions… you just do your best and be your own judge.  You certainly can’t be everything for everyone, so you just have to play it the way that makes you happy.  I think that’s my performance motto, “I’ll play it my way, I’ll have fun, some will like it, and some won’t.  But, I always give every performance all the energy and dedication that I can.  I put myself into it.  And, that makes me feel fulfilled and gratified.

JMS: Many would do well to share your attitude!  How is it to be married to a musician, Simon? Do you ever work together?

SRH: I can't imagine being in a marriage with anyone other than a musician. Everyone makes sacrifices for what they value in life, but the time and commitment involved in becoming, and being, a professional's so time consuming, and emotionally challenging - I imagine it's like being married to an athlete. That being said, given that we are both woodwind doublers, with different "primary" instruments, our marriage is perfect (in so many ways!!!) in the sense that we are able to advise and support each other to a greater degree than almost any situation would allow.

JMS: Tereasa:  How would you describe your career today?

TP: My career today can be described in professional terms as “multi-faceted.”  In reality, it’s just insane!  I get to play flute/piccolo in orchestras, as well as flute, clarinet, saxophones, and ethnic flutes with touring Broadway shows, and accompanying world-renowned artists, as well as teaching as an adjunct flute instructor at Bethune-Cookman University and Daytona State College.  A typical month might include Mahler, Mozart, “Wicked,” and The Temptations!  It’s a crazy schedule, and it takes a lot of hours of preparation and practice to keep all those horns in shape.  A list of the instruments that I perform on:  Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Soprano Sax, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, plus the Ethnic Flutes:  Dizi, Quena, Romanian Panpipes, South American Panpipes, Ocarina, Bansuri, Fife, Irish Flute, Pennywhistle, Native American Flute, Recorders, and Shakuhachi.
JMS: How does the scheduling work out for you all?  Do you ever work together, or share instruments?

SRH: We have been known to share/lend instruments on occasion...for instance, we only took one tenor sax to Utah last summer - when I returned to Florida a few weeks earlier than Tereasa, she used my instrument in Utah, and I used hers, which was back in Florida...or, I'll sometimes use Tereasa's piccolo (her Powell is a better instrument than mine) if I have a show that has piccolo on, and she's not using hers. We are able to sub for each other on a fair number of the gigs we do, although the fact that we are hired together on a lot of them means that subbing for each other is often not possible.

JMS:  Tereasa, how do you play all these instruments, and still be an award winning flutist?

TP: I often compare the life of a woodwind doubler to that of a triathlete.  Does the triathlete’s running suffer because he/she practices swimming and biking?  No, the extra effort and training you put into the other sport improves your overall body and mind for all three events.  Has playing the clarinet and saxophone harmed my flute playing?  Quite the opposite, my flute playing has improved because I have to be more away of what I am physically doing to create the flute results that I want.  In addition, the styles that I have learned playing saxophone, like rock and jazz, have broadened both my musicality and my rhythm immensely.
 Everyone always asks how I can manage to play all these instruments at a professional level.  The answer is the same thing I tell my students, “Practice!”  I practice constantly.  A typical day for Simon and I, if we don’t have any concerts, shows, or students, is to get up, start practicing, break for a lunch together, go back to practicing, break for dinner together, than back to practicing.  We take one day off a year, December 26…Christmas.  LOL, well we work on actual Christmas, so we celebrate the holiday on the 26th!  Our “date nights” are usually me giving him flute lessons, and him giving me jazz lessons!  For Christmas he gave me a new soprano saxophone mouthpiece… I am head over heels in love with this guy!
Simon and I both start every day out by warming up on flute.  The muscles just don’t seem to behave correctly if we don’t do flute before playing reeds. Even if we have to leave early in the morning for a gig or teaching, we get up a little earlier to get this flute warm-up in.  It’s that important.  We both play every family of horn every day:  flute, clarinet, one or more saxophones.  The only instruments that do not get this daily treatment are my ethnic flutes.  I try to practice at least one of them each day, and then whichever ones I need to play for gigs in the next few weeks.  
JMS: So, Simon, how did you meet Tereasa?  

SRH: We met in grad school at Arizona State University, where we both were doing our Masters degrees. I stayed on for my Doctorate, while Tereasa moved to Boston to attend Boston University. It wasn't until about 5 years later, when Tereasa returned to Phoenix, that we started dating, and married.
JMS: Did you plan this career, or did it evolve?
TP: Did I grow-up dreaming of being an insane workaholic woodwind doubler?  No, I didn’t.  My dream growing up was to be an orchestral flutist.  After grad school, I started playing my first orchestra job.  It was then that I decided I wanted to do more.  That was precisely the time that Simon and I started dating.  He got me on a show, “Meet Me in St Louis” that he was playing.  The music was fun, the theater people were wonderful, and I felt like I had found a special place that I never knew existed.  The book was flute and clarinet.  Since it was mostly flute, only a little clarinet and the music director (who, by the way, is now a well-known Broadway tour conductor!) knew that a flutist-doubler was a difficult thing to find, so he decided to hire a straight flutist… me.  Well, that made my goal in life perfectly clear… I must become the world’s first (first in my young mind, anyway) flutist-doubler!  So, I bought a clarinet and started learning.  Luckily, I had a live-in teacher since Simon and I were married shortly after that life-altering show!  He then bought me a saxophone for my birthday, and a new career was born!
It’s been crazy-hard work, which I have never minded.  It takes every waking moment to practice, learn styles that they don’t teach you in orchestral-flutist world, and to find reeds (flutists, we are SO LUCKY not to have reeds or spit-valves!)  I didn’t mind all the hours and the hard work.  What was tough to handle was the criticism.  I heard from so many flutists, “What are you doing, playing reeds?  You’ll ruin your flute embouchure.”  Now, I was always a tenacious child (stubborn, says my mom…).  But, I took these negative assumptions as a challenge.  I WOULD become a flutist doubler.  Thankfully, I had a husband, a mom, and an incredibly wonderful flute teacher, Marianne Gedigian, who supported me whole-heartedly.  They always encouraged me, and believed in me.  Between their support, my stubbornness, and a whole lot of practice, I am now a successful, working, incredibly happy and fulfilled flutist-doubler.

JMS: Simon: what is your biggest musical influence?  Person or event?

Oh wow...that one's impossible to answer in a few sentences. I like to think my musical influences are pretty varied, and the type of professional situations I find myself in basically demand that I'm well aquainted with a very diverse collection of musical styles. My main teachers throughout my education certainly shaped my musical sensibilities to the largest degree (James Rae, Hale Hambleton, and Joseph
Wytko.) In terms of working towards my particular musical goals, there are three people I have found particularly inspiring, however...firstly, one of the Teaching Assistants at ASU when I first arrived there (I'll spare his blushes) was very accomplished musically, and had an incredible work ethic that I very much admired....secondly, taking lessons with Dan Higgins and Sal Lozano (both woodwind players in Los Angeles) proved extremely inspiring from the perspective of experiencing musicians performing on multiple instruments to such an incredibly high degree of proficiency. Hearing them play was a very powerful moment for me.
JMS: Where did you go to school, Simon?  Did you feel school prepared you for your career, or did your career evolve over time?

SRH: Trinity College of Music, London, and Arizona State University. I have nothing but positive memories of my education. There are certainly things I would have done differently had I known from the outset the particular direction I would choose in music. That's not a fault of my teachers, or the educational institutions I attended - just a case of hindsight is 20/20. I feel that to a very large extent that my education did prepare me well for my career. I feel very strongly that you're never going to learn all the things you need to succeed in any career (much less a career in music) from one teacher, at one school. It is vital for students to put themselves in as many different situations as possible, that will allow them to learn and grow, musically (and in other ways,) whether that means attending different schools, studying with many teachers, or playing with many other musicians....the process of assimilating what they feel is positive about a situation/lesson/teacher and rejecting the negatives, is the best way to learn music, in my opinion.

JMS: One last question: how have you both avoided becoming jaded?

Our musical lives are so varied, and we get to perform with so many different and wonderful musicians (famous or otherwise) that I think it would be impossible to become jaded. It's true, not every gig we play is musical nirvana, but that's okay...that's not a realistic expectation of a career in music. The simple truth is that we are making a living doing something we absolutely love to do, and that's good enough for me!


  1. Love it, just had to brag, thats my cousin and her husband. They are both soo talented :)

  2. They are both amazing! I've studied flute with Tereasa and clarinet with Simon. There's so much to learn from these two.