Martina Smith – Horn Teacher

French Horn
Curtis Institute of Music
Classical

horn lesson, french hornI am currently a student at the Curtis Institute of Music, studying under Jeffrey Lang and Jennifer Montone. I studied with Jeffrey Lang at Temple University where I received my Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance. I am a freelancer in the Philadelphia area and play with various chamber groups and orchestras. I have played with Symphony in C and was a substitute player in the Curtis Symphony Orchestra while I was a student at Temple University. I have worked and taught at the Philadelphia International Music Festival the past two summers as their Assistant Orchestra Director, chamber coach, and private practice coach. I have also attended other summer festivals such as the Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar, Imani Woodwind Quintet Music Festival, Curtis Summerfest, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute’s Horn Workshop. While in high school I was the principal horn of the All-City Philadelphia Orchestra’s Italy tour.

What are your personal goals as a musician?
I believe that music is very powerful. It is good for the mind, body, and soul. If I can improve how I play and perform, then I can help so many more people with the power of music. I want to help as many people as I can through my playing, and to spread that knowledge and ability to others, which is why teaching music is so important to me.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
There will be times when you work on a particular concept or technique for what might be a long time, and one day it will just finally work. For me, those “milestone moments” relate to my own confidence levels. Specifically, I remember struggling with my high range for so so long, and finally, I was starting to get high notes to speak in the etudes my teacher was assigning me. Those high notes did not speak, or at least did not speak as well, if I was feeling embarrassed or was lacking in confidence. Once I can convince myself to actually believe in myself and just have a “go for it” attitude, I experience much more success.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
My teachers have always taught me to have fun with what we do in music! They lead by example, and I try to do the same in my own teaching.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
Every day is some sort of a challenge for me when I’m practicing and performing! That’s what the fun of learning an instrument is, overcoming challenges and having fun while doing it. For me, growing in how I learn to play my instrument relates to how I grow as a person, and the challenges I face just being a person relate to my challenges while learning how to play my instrument better. 

What is your biggest musical achievement?
A big musical achievement for me was being accepted into five music conservatories for their graduate programs. That semester of auditions was exhausting, exciting, exhilarating, and an extremely beneficial learning experience that I will remember and be thankful for forever.

Favorite thing about teaching?
I love teaching for so many different reasons. I’ve worked with many teachers in different settings, and have always been inspired by the ones that gave so much for their students. One of my favorite things about teaching is how inspired I get by my students! Seeing how much my students want to improve makes me want to work and practice harder.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
The process of learning anything is difficult and there might be times you think about quitting. Don’t quit. Music doesn’t have to be everything you do in life, but you will be so much happier now and later on in life if you stick with it.