Nathan Stearns

Age: 30

From: Los Angeles, CA

Instrument: Everything trombone/Low Brass

Job Title: Freelancer and Educator

Favorite Drink: Avery Speedway Stout, Bourbon, Aged Rum, Scotch

"Right now I’m in a nice place where all I’m doing is music. I’m loving it, and this what I wanted. Yes, when I was younger I thought I’m going to be the next Christian Lindberg, I’m gonna solo and all this stuff, but I never put in Christian Lindberg hours. I never had his talent either. But, I’ve found a niche with education, which is something I’m very into and very passionate about. A lot of it too is what gets you going and what excites you. If you like it, and someone is willing to pay you for it, you win life. It’s that simple.

Advice: "You never regret the hours you spend in the practice room. Practice as much as you can, because life really gets in the way sometimes. But, it’s tough to just say one thing, there’s so much. But, one of my big things is to never miss an opportunity to shut the f*** up, just never miss that opportunity to be quiet, listen and learn. Always learn something, because the minute you stop learning and improving you’re done. You also have to be over-prepared, and just do your job. As ensemble players, we really do live for those little moments. When you find it, enjoy it, but in the meantime, be a team player and enjoy the ride. But also ask yourself the hard questions. How much are you willing to give, because whatever you put into it is what you get out of it, and don’t kid yourself. Some people can practice 2 hours a day and win a job with the New York Phil, but those people are very few and far between. Just find what works, and sometimes you’re going to hate it, but I guarantee you will hate it less than working in an office 9-5.

Another piece of advice I get from Laura, is look at how athletes train. I mean, these athletes keep doing these fundamentals, they’ll never stop running, they’ll never stop working out because they’re things people need to do to keep in shape and peak performance. We can learn a lot from these million dollar athletes. We don’t treat ourselves like athletes, but we should. We get too heavily into the artistry of it, and the problem is, it is way too physical, especially for brass players with Mahler, Bruckner, all that. A lot of the musical stuff is already spelled out for you anyways, plus the conductor usually dictates it, but you have to train and be prepared physically. Frankly, I didn’t even start getting good until a) I started practicing like a motherf**ker, but b) doing breathing gym, swimming like a mad man, lung exercises, guided meditation, deep relaxation where you’re very aware of your body, and that worked for me. Eating a certain way too, but people need to find certain things that work for them."

How do you define inspiration? How do you define motivation?: "Inspiration is something, especially for artists, that triggers the creative part of you. Motivation for me is that music is my job, and I want to work, I want to do it, it’s what I know and love, so that’s the motivation I need. There’s a lot of people I know who, for motivation, they need to listen to recordings and things like that, but for me motivation is just simply trying to make my goals happen. Inspiration is the fun, musical part of it, motivation is getting up and doing work. For me, they can be completely separate. Sometimes they go together, like I’ll hear a performance or see a work of art and I’m completely inspired and motivated to go do something. It’s nice when they work together, but most every day they’re very separate. I think, too, that the older you get and the more experience you have, inspiration becomes harder and harder, and it comes from other sources and if that motivates you, awesome. But ultimately motivation for me is just that I’m never satisfied with where I am. I always want to improve. That’s always been how it is for me."

Inspirational quote/Life Mantra: "Praise the progress, but never be satisfied"-Nathan's wife, Laura Goodenkauf

Charity/Cause to raise awareness to: Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, Harmony Project, Patriot Brass Ensemble

Do you feel like inspiration is a vital component to success?: "As a technician, absolutely not. I mean the technical part of can you show up and do your job, I don’t think so really. But, that’s boring and the part of me that was trained as an artist I feel that inspiration is what keeps the creativity going, and for me I write and arrange a little bit, but I’m never motivated to do it because I make no money doing it. But that sort of creativity of wanting to write and arrange comes from what inspires me, sure. But, I think for anything that is more high art has to come from some deeper place where inspiration is born. But, the gigs we end of doing, I don’t need be inspired to play The Stars and Stripes for the 200th time."