What I've learned from being a performance major at Carnegie Mellon
Photo of Noah Lauzière, provided by Noah Lauzière
Noah Lauzière, now a sophomore euphonium performance major at Carnegie Mellon University, started his music path playing trombone in his school band at the age of 9. After seeing an older boy from the Boy Scouts of America play the euphonium, Noah picked up the instrument too. Euphonium gradually became his primary instrument, and for six consecutive years he participated in his district band, and played in the Massachusetts all-state band as a senior. Around that time, Noah also achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America, an accomplishment that later earned him generous scholarships in the universities he applied to.

"I was not huge on classical music, or that traditional route", Noah begins. "Getting an orchestra job isn't super feasible as a euphoniumist, so I wanted to go to a university in a city where I could gig." He also wanted to go to a university with an actual campus — for instance, although Noah enjoyed the Eastman School of Music, another amazing music school, but it was just building to building.

A major factor was his studio teacher Lance LaDuke, whom Noah describes as an amazing euphoniumist and in whose career path he was very interested in. "Lance was in the U.S. Air Force Band for maybe seven years, and he then was a part of the Boston Brass quintet", the musician recounts. "He also released a solo album, and is really big into music business and entrepreneurship." Among other reasons for choosing Carnegie Mellon, Noah mentions a former student from Lithuania, a graduate from the Advanced Music Study program, who has great technical skills and is one of the friendliest people he knows.

Carnegie Mellon is famous for its facilities and opportunities, which Noah cherishes. "There are all kinds of people and resources, and cross media experiences", he notes. "I try to take full advantage of the resources, whether it's networking and connections, or facilities." Noah credits the university for his improvement in musicianship and technicality, but it is his musical ideas that have seen most changes — he is now more comfortable arranging, playing as a soloist, and has grown in terms of being open to other genres.

"It is funny, but we recently had a discussion with other students that Carnegie Mellon doesn't exactly prepare undergraduates well [for the future]", Noah smiles. A lot of it depends on what your plans for your future career are — if you want to play in the Pittsburgh symphony, Carnegie Mellon has a lot of professors who are professional musicians in the orchestra, which provides you with great preparation. "I think Carnegie Mellon is able to prepare students, but you have to seek it out", he says. As an example, the musician explains how he wants to learn more about sound recording, mixing, and mastering, which are all offered at the institution, but are elective courses.
Although he had pretty open expectations, Noah talks about some discrepancies between his assumptions and the reality. "As a euphonium major, I am required to play in the wind ensemble", the musician opens up about the large ensemble time. "There are two weeks of rehearsal for the philharmonic, and two weeks of rehearsal for the wind ensemble. At the end of each two weeks, there is a concert. There are also cycles where I'm not assigned to any pieces, because there are six euphonium players. For me this is both good and bad, but I'm disappointed because this is one of my favorite things. Our repertoire is high-level, but it is also the repertoire they know we can throw together in two weeks."

An essential part of most music school application processes is the audition. According to Noah, the expectations for euphonium are a bit lighter, just because it is more niche in terms of the repertoire and the number of players, so he had to prepare a solo with contrasting sections, and two to three appropriate band orchestra excerpts. "It was the February break of my senior year, and I flew with my instrument", Noah laughs at the experience of flying with his instrument. "The audition was in a large classroom with Lance, and he asked, 'What fantastic pieces do I get to enjoy today?', which is something he does a lot in lessons." What Noah really liked about Lance in particular is that the teacher asked about his experience, why he was applying to CMU.

On top of that, Lance noticed something that changed Noah's performance ever since. "I had an air leak, specifically through my nose, and I made a gurgling sound", he remembers, imitating the sound. "Lance was the only studio teacher I auditioned for who caught that and asked about it." Afterward, Noah had a corrective surgery, but the experience with Lance showed him that it wasn't just an audition — it felt like a mock lesson, where Lance was really working with him.

Describing his experience at Carnegie Mellon, Noah talks about the diversity on campus, the opportunities, and the takeaways from it. "College is a big learning experience", he tells me. "A lot of these adult skills [are acquired] here: learning how to get yourself up in the morning, prepare meals, get to and from classes, and do your work." Socially, it can be just as big of a learning experience too. Noah notes that the past few months have been a little tough for him, but he looks at it from a positive perspective. "I have people here who love and support me", the musician states. "We are learning to be adults and mature together."

Discussing his plans for the future, Noah hopes to cover pop or any other genre of music. "I would love to take classical music, which I see as high art and inaccessible to some people, and make that more accessible to an everyday person", he states, comparing classical music to fine wine — you can't hand old-aged wine to someone and expect them to like it. "Grape juice (like pop music) is a great option for kids, but adults might still want some wine", the musician continues. "So maybe you mix it a bit, and everyone's happy."

"When someone hears the Star Wars Imperial March, they know what that is", Noah concludes. "I want to take classical works, mix them with other things, and get people exposed to classical music."
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