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20 Questions with Ryan Beach
Ryan Beach is Principal Trumpet of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and host of the “That’s Not Spit, It’s Condensation!” podcast. Ryan won first prize at the 2012 Ellsworth Smith International Trumpet Solo Competition, and previously held the position of Principal Trumpet with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. After earning a bachelor of music degree from Oklahoma City University with Michael Anderson, he received his master of music degree at Northwestern University, studying with Barbara Butler, Charles Geyer, and Chris Martin. As an orchestral musician, Beach has played with the Indianapolis, St. Louis and Tucson symphony, among others. As a soloist, Beach won both the solo and orchestral excerpts division at the 2011 ITG Conference, only the second performer to do so in ITG history.
- What was your first instrument and how old were you when you started?
My first instrument was the violin. I started in fourth grade and was terrible. In fifth grade, we got to choose a band instrument. I wanted to play saxophone, because I could actually make a sound. My mom encouraged me to try trumpet because many of my family members played trumpet, and the rest is history.
- Could you describe what would be your perfect day?
As much as I would love to quote Miss Congeniality here, my perfect day would be pretty lazy. A day off of practice, some deadlifting, and maybe burgers and a few beers at a restaurant with my family sounds pretty great.
- Most memorable performance?
I have a strong memory of playing the suite from Der Rosenkavalier. There are a few beautiful, soft solos for the trumpet, and one of them didn’t go as well as I wanted it to. I resolved to give as much as I had to the rest of the performance to “make up for it”. After the concert was finished, I remember sitting in my chair for a minute or two without moving much. I was completely spent. I gave what I had in that moment.
- Significant teachers/mentors in your life?
Everyone of my mentors have had a different impact. My first trumpet teacher, Denny Schneider, instilled a love for the trumpet that I still have. My undergraduate teacher, Michael Anderson, taught me how to function as a musician in the world and to put my music making above all else. My graduate teacher, Barbara Butler, taught me how to understand the trumpet, and that there is almost always a solution to a problem I’m facing. In my professional career, Karen Cubides has been a huge influence for helping me grow in my career and as a person. Beyond that, my parents and friends have played a big role in the support and encouragement I need each day.
- Something you’ve been meaning to try, but just haven’t gotten around to it?
A year or so ago, I was talking to my wife about running a 5K. I’m big into powerlifting, so exercise is a part of my life. But running isn’t super pleasant for me. Maybe someday.
- Favorite symphony?
There’s the obvious answers of Mahler 2, Bruckner 4, or Brahms 2. I’m gonna go with Shostakovich 10. I enjoy performing and listening to that piece.
- When was the last time you cried, and why?
For me recently, there are two types of cry. I shed a few tears not too long ago thinking about how fortunate I feel to be living the life I am. It’s not the life I had pictured when I was 18, and I’m thankful to God that He didn’t give me that life. A full on meltdown happened a few months ago while reading “Every Good Endeavor” by Tim Keller.
- If money was no object, what would you buy?
A studio space. Working from home is tough.
- One thing most people don’t know about you?
It’s becoming more known, but I’m a Christian. Something very few people know might be I spend a lot of time up in my head. I have to constantly work to remain present with the people I’m with.
- Opera or ballet?
- First job?
Principal trumpet with the Indianapolis Symphony. I have a lot of loan debt and very supportive parents.
- Favorite sports team?
I’m not much of a sports person anymore, but in high school I was a big Chicago Cubs fan.
- If you could invite one person to dinner tonight, who would it be?
I could give a serious answer, like my church pastor, or a silly answer, like Chris Pratt. He seems like he’d be fun to hang out with.
- Coffee or Tea?
Coffee right now. I’ve gotten more into afternoon decafs.
- Favorite book?
I mean, wow. There’s a book called “Chase the Lion” by Mark Batterson that was pretty influential for me as someone who dreams big. “All Marketers Tell Lies” by Seth Godin was really helpful for understanding how to communicate those dreams. “Side by Side” by Wiff Rudd was helpful for taking great personal development concepts and applying it to building a strong music community.
- Favorite movie?
One brother, Adam. He’s 9 years older than me. He’s married, so I have a sister-in-law too, named Emily.
- Favorite piece to play?
I don’t really have one favorite piece to play. I enjoy the challenge of trying to play whatever I’m playing at the highest level possible for me at that time.
- Least favorite piece to play?
There are some modern pieces I’ve played that were muted for the whole piece. It might be a cool effect, but it’s not so much of a joy to play.
- Dogs or cats?