20 Questions with Zach Collins - Houghton Horns

20 Questions with Zach Collins

This month features Mr. Zach Collins, Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. You’ll recognize Zach from his debut in our TMEA/ATSSB Tuba etudes this year! Zach is a member of the Eastern Standard Trio, principal tuba with the Altoona Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Texas Chamber Orchestra, and the Texas Wind Symphony among many others. He can be heard in several motion picture soundtracks, including Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, X-Men 3, Bobby, Next, Rocky Balboa, and Live Free or Die Hard. Mr. Collins also performed with the band Korn on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Zach holds degrees from Texas Christian University and the University of Southern California. He is a Miraphone performing artist and performs on the Miraphone Elektra F Tuba.

  1. What was your first instrument and how old were you when you started?


I took piano lessons when I was a kid, maybe 10-11? I started band on tuba in sixth grade. In fact, we signed up for band at the end of fifth grade and I had all summer to think about the fact that I was going to be a tuba player. I asked my mom to call the band director to have me switched to another instrument. Thankfully he said, “give it a try for a couple weeks. If you hate it, we’ll find you another instrument.”

  1. Could you describe your perfect day?


A day that includes running or hiking trails with my family and ends with chocolate pecan pie.

  1. Most memorable performance?


Performing Verdi Requiem in Berlin on September 11, 2001. We rehearsed that morning, went back to the hotel before the performance. I watched all of the events of the day happen, live, on CNN Europe. We almost didn’t play the concert since half of the festival orchestra were American or Canadian. We performed for a packed house and when we ended the audience just stood in silence as the orchestra and choir exited. 

A second, and much less serious, performance was playing on the Tonight Show with the band Korn. On cimbasso. With taiko drums. And musical saw. It sounds weirder every time I tell the story.

  1. Significant  teachers/mentors in your life?


Gale Rask, Richard Murrow, Jim Self, Tommy Johnson, Norm Pearson, and Doug Tornquist. Each and every one of them contributed something important to my life and career.

  1. Something you’ve been meaning to try, but just haven’t gotten around to it?


I would love to run an ultramarathon. I have run a couple marathons, but finding the time to train for an ultra with four kids is not easy.

  1. Favorite symphony?


Mahler 3

  1. When was the last time you cried, and why?


I’m not a crier, but this summer my oldest son was in a very scary accident. In the end, everything turned out OK, but there were a few hours where things were a bit upside down.

  1. If money was no object, what would you buy?


A home near mountain trails.

  1. One thing most people don’t know about you?


I am an avid sourdough baker, and have been since before the pandemic.

  1. Opera or ballet?



  1. First job?


Dishwasher at Charlie’s Chicken in Fort Worth. I constantly smelled like a combination of bleach and fried food.

  1. Favorite sports team?


TCU Football/Baseball/Basketball and Texas Rangers

  1. If you could invite one person to dinner tonight, who would it be?


Leonardo da Vinci

  1. Coffee or Tea?


Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee from Commonplace Coffee.

  1. Favorite book?


This constantly changes, but I’ll give a recommendation that is very appropriate for 2020: Station Eleven. 

  1. Favorite movie?


Lord of the Rings. Yes, yes, I know they are books (and I have read them!). I thought these movies were so well crafted in every aspect.

  1. Siblings?


I have one brother, who is a social worker in Austin, TX.

  1. Favorite piece to play?


Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra – I feel like every time the tuba plays it is contributing something important.

  1. Least favorite piece to play?


As a tuba player, it has to be New World Symphony, right?

  1. Dogs or cats?


How about hermit crabs?

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