An Interview with Ms. Louise Baranger

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Ms. Louise teaches brass at Music Maker Workshops on Wednesday, Friday & Saturdays

They call you the Trumpet Diva, how did that name come about?

It was sort of a gag amongst female musicians in L.A.  My dear friend, Christy Belicki (now a successful trombonist in Germany) was Posaune (German for trombone) Diva and I became Trumpet Diva.

Why the trumpet?

In the 4th grade I started band. My best friend's brother had played trumpet, so she had one, and I decided to play it too. When I started playing it I knew the trumpet was for me. It just felt right!

Can you tell us a bit about your musical journey?

I kind of came from a show biz family. My Grandfather wrote Broadway shows for the Shuberts.  He moved to Hollywood where he wrote screenplays for films and some lyrics for TV show themes. My Grandmother studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NY and appeared in TV commercials

A Picture with My Brass Teacher Harlod "Pappy" Mitchel in 1973.
A Picture with My Brass Teacher Harlod "Pappy" Mitchel in 1973.

I was lucky to grow up in southern CA where the local trumpet teacher was Harold "Pappy" Mitchell, former first trumpet at the MGM studios. He played in films like The Jazz Singer (the first talkie), The Wizard of Oz, and Gone With the Wind. What an inspiration he was!
As I grew up I also studied with his successor at MGM, Uan Rasey who was truly a guru. It's difficult to describe Uan, but he made me feel as if there was nothing I couldn't do if I tried hard enough (my parents also instilled this in me).
Another great influence was Bobby Shew, arguably one of the world's finest jazz players and educators. Bobby took me under his wing when I was about 16 taught me about life, music, and how to survive in the music business.

After leaving Saddleback College to study and pursue a career in L.A., I landed in an all-girl band called "Maiden Voyage". At the same time I was playing in many other bands, making my way into the music business. One night Harry James' manager walked into a club where I was playing and the next day he called me to go on the road with Harry's band. In those days if you played with a famous band like Harry's, you are assured a career. After Harry passed away in 1983, I went to Las Vegas to play a show at the Union Plaza Hotel, then came back to L.A. where I embarked on an incredibly busy music career playing with the who's who of the business.

I was lucky to be the first woman in numerous musical situations including live performance and recording.

You've had many television credits and appearances over the years, what is your favorite memory?

A picture after a performance with Barry Manilow.
A picture after a performance with Barry Manilow.
Probably the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Growing up it was always my dream to be on that show. Johnny's bandleader Doc Severinsen later became a friend, as did his second in command, Tommy Newsom, who wrote arrangements for my symphony orchestra pops show and my first album.
I also loved doing a TV special with Barry Manilow called Big Fun on Swing Street. The guests were Gerry Mulligan, Stanley Clarke, Carmen McRea, Diane Shuur and Kid Creole. I was dressed up like Marilyn Monroe. Fun stuff!

What was something interesting about playing on Broadway?

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I got to sub on a number of shows, which is always nerve racking because you have to go in and play it perfectly with no rehearsal. My first show was the original production of Les Miserables. What the audience doesn't know is that the musicians on Broadway can sub out 50% of their shows so, in a long running show like Les Mis, the orchestra can often be primarily made up of subs.
When I subbed on Carousel, Audra McDonald personally welcomed me. She was so nice!
The first time I subbed on 42nd St., Tom Wopat helped me find my way out of the theater when he spotted me trying to find the exit. We had a nice chat. 
One last anecdote. I won't mention any names, but one Broadway trumpet player suggested that if I would meet him at a local bar, he would have me sub on his show. I obviously never did play that particular show. That topic is for another day....

To play at Carnegie Hall is a musician's dream, what was the best part about performing there?

Coming from L.A., I dreamed of playing at Carnegie Hall. Wow! Such a big deal! Then I found out that, to New York players, Carnegie Hall is really just another venue. Still, I played there a few times and it always felt so amazing to be on that hallowed stage where so many legends performed. Plus the acoustics are amazing!

What's the most challenging aspect of being a professional trumpet player?

At first, I had the challenge of being accepted as a woman playing a traditional male instrument. I tried to just play the best I could, and not stand out too much. In almost every band I was the only woman, so I figured out how to be "one of the guys", but still keep the respect of the men around me. It was like walking a tightrope.
I have spent a lifetime having people ask me things like, "You play the trumpet, but what do you do for a living?", or "Can women really play the trumpet?", or "You must know so and so [some girl musician in some faraway place]" as if all female musicians know each other!
I guess my challenges have been slightly different than those of a male player.
That being said, most of the guys I've worked with have been professional and respectful, and I've worked with some amazing players and made some fabulous friends over the years.

Can you describe your teaching style?

Giving a HS master class.
Giving a HS master class.
From day one I treat students as if they can learn the fine details of music. I expose them to theory and the language of music while they learn to play the trumpet. I remember having so many questions a young player, and I want to answer all of those questions for my students, even before they know what to ask. 
I think music is taught in most schools at a glacial pace, which underestimates the learning ability of students. The cool thing about private lessons is that each student can move at their own comfortable pace. I do push my students a bit, but I also remind them that music should never feel like a burden. It is to be loved and enjoyed, not dreaded, so I make sure each student feels positive about their individual learning experience.  
Every week I make recordings of each student's assignments so they can have that to listen to. This is a really valuable learning tool.
I also give them listening assignments. There are so many fantastic performances on YouTube, and I believe that listening is one of the most important (and often ignored) tools for learning any instrument.

What's your favorite thing about now living in AZ?

Louise on a webshow.  Keeping connected Coast to Coast through technology.
Louise on a webshow. Keeping connected Coast to Coast through technology.
First and foremost, after living on the East Coast for years, I feel as if I'm home, culturally speaking. 
Playing with the Arizona Opera has been a blast. I sometimes get typecast as a "jazz" or "commercial" player, but have studied classical trumpet on and off for years and really love playing in orchestras. 
I'm also meeting many new friends, something I always enjoy. 

What would you say to a beginning trumpet player?

This is a super fun, but challenging, instrument to play. We make music on a piece of metal pipe. That's a really special skill. The world of trumpet players is like a club. We hang out together and have huge get-togethers like the International Trumpet Guild Conference. Even here in Phoenix there is a "trumpet hang" that occurs once or twice a year. If you travel anywhere in the world and call a local trumpet player out of the blue, you will have an instant friend and usually be invited to dinner! 
Even if you don't become a professional, which most students don't, learning to play the trumpet will take you on a wonderful musical journey.

Any unique opportunities you've been presented only because you're a professional musician?

Condiucting in Argentina
Condiucting in Argentina

I've been paid to see the world, play music in interesting places, and played for two sitting Presidents. Hanging out in the NY Yankees dugout before performing the National Anthem was pretty cool too! What more could I ask?

In the Recording Studio with Marvin Stamm
In the Recording Studio with Marvin Stamm
NY Philharmonic-First-Trumpet Bill Vacchiano in 1990
NY Philharmonic-First-Trumpet Bill Vacchiano in 1990
With Don Braden in 2018
With Don Braden in 2018
Lew Soloff 
Blood Sweat and Tears Legend at the Cutting Room in NYC 
2014
Lew Soloff Blood Sweat and Tears Legend at the Cutting Room in NYC 2014

Aside from performing with many of the greats, I've met and rubbed elbows with some really fun people like Milton Berle, George Burns and Frank Sinatra, Jr (who became a very close friend). I've been paid to see the world, play music in interesting places, and played for two sitting Presidents. Hanging out in the NY Yankees dugout before performing the National Anthem was pretty cool too! What more could I ask?

What is a fun fact about you?

My Favorite horn,
The Cornophone
My Favorite horn, The Cornophone
I'm a collector of art and antique brass instruments. 
I'm also a pretty good softball player! Actress Helen Hunt was the second baseman for a team I played on in L.A.
I once wrote and produced a jazz cooking show called Jazz Cooks

Any last words of wisdom?

NYC - The Little Concerts Chamber Orchestra
NYC - The Little Concerts Chamber Orchestra
The arts in general are under appreciated. Support them, love them and embrace them. Any great society is defined by its arts and artists. So many people say to me, "You're so lucky to do something you love". I tell them they're right, but they could also do something artistic if they want to. There's a great quote from the book The Artists Way that poses the question, 'How old will I be by the time I learn to play the piano?' The answer is: The same age as if I didn't learn to play the piano.

Interested in taking lessons with Ms. Louise?

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Give us a call at 480-706-1224 to find out her availability.

Email us at: lessons@mmwaz.com

Lessons located at Music Maker Workshops

Upcoming Gigs?

She'll be performing:

Aug 26-28 as the Featured musician at the Prescott Jazz Summit  https://prescottjazzsummit.net/

 

The Nash Jazz Club, Phoenix "Wine & Jazz, The Ultimate Pairing" on

Oct 9th, Nov 13th &  Dec. 11

TheNash.org Wine-jazz.com