Meet the Musicians: From Prodigies (or not) to Pros


The musicians of the New York Philharmonic were kids once too!


How does a kid who just wants to play baseball make the transition to creating beautiful music?


Musicians from many different sections of the New York Philharmonic share how they became involved in music as kids and how their careers have progressed since then. They also have some helpful advice, such as

• Break down pieces you’re learning into small, reachable goals.

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The musicians of the New York Philharmonic were kids once too!


How does a kid who just wants to play baseball make the transition to creating beautiful music?


Musicians from many different sections of the New York Philharmonic share how they became involved in music as kids and how their careers have progressed since then. They also have some helpful advice, such as

• Break down pieces you’re learning into small, reachable goals.

• Play it as beautifully as you can, even if it’s just a scale.

• Make up words to go with the melody you’re studying to learn it faster.

With exclusive interviews, helpful hints, and a kid-friendly approach, this book is an all-access guide to the world of classical music.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Meet the Musicians: From Prodigy (or Not) to Pro by Amy Nathan likely profiles just about any instrumentalist a young person might aspire to be, from cellists Carter Brey and Hai-Ye Ni to trumpet player Philip Smith to pianist Harriet Wingreen, all members of the New York Philharmonic, but whose stories speak to orchestra members everywhere. Each of the 15 brief biographies begins with bulleted facts: the age at which they began playing their instruments, pets, favorite books and activities, etc. Opening childhood photos of the subjects make each seem approachable: Sheryl Staples plays her violin on the stage of the Lawrence Welk Show (accompanied by her sister and mother); Jerry Ashby, a French horn player, swings a bat at music camp. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This book tackles an often boring topic for students and teens by making it more personal and relaxed. It uses biographical interviews with members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, covering their instruments; practice schedules; musical experience and training as children, teens, and adults in college; why they chose the instrument they did; and what they love about their instruments like the piano, cello, violin, viola, and French horn. Each musician/instrument section includes a very brief introduction of each instrument, covering its sounds, techniques for playing, and use in an orchestra, along with the quotes, information, and photos from the musicians. The love and appreciation of classical and orchestral music comes across clearly and simply for a teen audience. An alphabetical organization by instrument or musician would be very helpful instead of the haphazardly arranged sections and the lack of an index. It is not an essential public library purchase but a nice addition to a music and arts collection where an accessible, conversational, and light introduction to classical instruments and orchestra is needed, either for middle and high school curriculum or teen community interest in this topic. It is a more important purchase for school libraries that have music classes, bands, or orchestras as part of their curriculum or extracurricular activities. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P J S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Henry Holt, 160p.; Glossary. Photos. Charts. Biblio., Ages 12 to 18.
—Karen Sykeny
Children's Literature
It is not easy for children to focus on one thing and devote most of their free time to practicing and honing a particular skill. It is also not wise for children to focus on just one thing in their life. Childhood is the ideal time to try new things and to discover what their passion in life may be. For many of the musicians who play in the New York Philharmonic they discovered what instruments they most enjoyed playing when they were very young, but most of them also learned other instruments and enjoyed sports and other hobbies as well. But it was during childhood, and especially during their teen years, that they developed the talent and passion that would earn them their positions in the Philharmonic. Nathan has compiled brief biographies of some of the principal musicians in the Philharmonic and focuses on when and how they discovered the instruments that they would devote the rest of their lives to playing. While each biography emphasizes the time and devotion required to become a great musician, each musician takes care to point out that it is equally important to have other pastimes away from music. Each brief biography includes pictures of the musician as well as descriptions of the instrument they play, tips for practicing, and hints for what to watch for when attending a concert. 2006, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 7 to 12.
—Danielle Williams
School Library Journal
Gr 5-10-This collection of interviews with 15 musicians in the New York Philharmonic presents an in-depth look at what it takes to become a professional musician. Each biographical sketch acquaints readers with the personality of the performer and shows that these talented people are well rounded with interests that include sports and other hobbies. The focus throughout is on how they chose their instruments and became proficient enough to become part of this world-renowned orchestra. Many of them did not select their instrument until they were in their teens, and several began on a different instrument from the one that ultimately became their career choice. Three boxed sections accompany each interview, offering insight into the workings of the instrument, practice tips, and "concert watch," in which readers are advised about things to look for during a performance. Mediocre-quality black-and-white snapshots are scattered throughout. A final chapter on teamwork sheds light on the idiosyncrasies of playing in an orchestra. This title will appeal to a select audience, but it offers valuable information and encouragement to those for whom music performance holds appeal.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nathan worked hard at making this compendium as lively and as compelling as possible. Fifteen current members of the New York Philharmonic each get a chapter, beginning with a childhood photograph, a list of fan-magazine facts-pets as a child, age when they began studying their instrument, where they grew up-with other sidebars highlighting the pros and cons of their instrument, practice tips and what to look for at live concerts. There's nothing dry or rote about this at all, and the narrative truly engages readers. Some of these musicians were gifted almost from birth; others discovered their talent and interest relatively late. Some came from several generations of musicians; others bemused their families (and sometimes themselves) with their passion. Each loves their own instrument best: cellos, violins, percussion, piano, wind instruments. They are male and female, of various ethnicities, and Nathan makes each and every one stand out as unique, even delightful, individuals. An excellent introduction to the real lives of those who play classical music. (glossary, resources, acknowledgments, index) (Collective biography. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805077438
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 3/7/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Meet the Musicians

From Prodigies (or not) to Pros
By Nathan, Amy

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Copyright © 2006 Nathan, Amy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 080507743X

"When I'm on stage, I think I'm the luckiest person in the world, having such a good time doing what I love to do," says Cynthia Phelps. She's a musician and a member of the New York Philharmonic, one of the best orchestras in the world. So is the musician standing next to her in this photo: Carter Brey. They're holding the instruments they play. She plays viola, a string instrument that's like a violin, only a little bigger. He plays an even larger string instrument: a cello.

They're both in their best concert clothes, ready to make beautiful music for the hundreds of people who will be in the audience at the concert hall where the orchestra plays in New York City. Sometimes, millions of people all across the country can also listen to their concerts. That's because several times a year, New York Philharmonic concerts are broadcast live on radio and TV stations around the country, and on the Internet, too.

The path that Cynthia and Carter took to end up in this orchestra started when they were kids. In this book, you'll meet Carter and Cynthia as kids. You'll also meet 13 other "kids" who grew up to be Philharmonic musicians. They tell how they got started in music. You might be surprised to find out that many were definitely not super musicians right from the start. Several took quite awhile to discover which instruments they wanted to play. They started with one kind of instrument, didn't like it, and switched to another. A few switched several times before finding just the right instrument for them.

Another surprise: Some of these musicians didn't like to practice as children and didn't spend much time doing it at first. They were busy with so many other things they liked to do. However, there came a time when something magical clicked between them and their instruments. Sometimes it was the beauty of a special piece of music that did the trick. Others were inspired by a terrific teacher or a great group of kids. Practicing no longer seemed like a chore. Instead, it was something they wanted to do so they could make wonderful music. Even so, all those other experiences they had as kids -- swimming, dancing, reading, sailing, skating, drawing, hiking, horseback riding -- played a part in helping them become the great musicians they are today.

In the following pages, these musicians also share practice strategies that helped them master their instruments. Plus, they tell what to do on days when you absolutely don't want to practice. After all, they had days like that as youngsters. In addition, they fill you in on the good and bad points of their instruments, and explain what they love about music. Cynthia notes, "Ever since I was a kid, I've loved to perform. It's like giving a gift of something beautiful to help other people feel good."

Although the musicians in this book play with the New York Philharmonic, their experiences are similar to those of performers in other orchestras. The Resource Guide at the end of the book lists ways to find out about other orchestras.
Copyright 2006 Amy Nathan
This text is from an uncorrected proof


Excerpted from Meet the Musicians by Nathan, Amy Copyright © 2006 by Nathan, Amy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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  • Posted February 2, 2009

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    As a child did you ever hear your mother call 'Time to come inside and practice?' You were having a great time playing outdoors, doing really fun things with your friends, and now you have sit inside on a piano bench and play those durn scales. Or, as a parent have you been frustrated because your offspring won't take time to practice when you're paying good money for flute, violin or tuba lessons? Most of us have been in one of those situations or both. Now Amy Nathan, author of 'The Young Musician's survival Guide,' gives us her latest book which proves we're not alone. 'Meet the Musicians' is an upbeat, informative, up-close-and-personal look at 15 professional musicians all members of the New York Philharmonic. Many of them didn't like to practice when they were kids any more than we did. As adults and accomplished, disciplined musicians they offer excellent practice tips for both parents and children as well as sharing the paths they took to being part of a world class symphony orchestra. Beginning with Carter Brey, Cello and concluding with John Deak, Bass we find photos of these musicians as children, their favorite childhood activities, their educational backgrounds, the inside scoop on particular instruments, how they came to be members of the New York Philharmonic and brief biographical sketches. Young readers will easily relate to these musicians on many different levels. Violist Cynthia Phelps said, 'When I'm on stage, I think I'm the luckiest person in the world, having such a good time doing what I love to do.' She speaks for the musicians represented here, and perhaps for the musicians of tomorrow. Also included in 'Meet the Musicians' is a helpful glossary and list of resources for those who wish to further pursue an interest in music. - Gail Cooke

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