Spotlight Series: Tracy Friedlander

This month’s spotlight is shining on horn player, writer and podcaster Tracy Friedlander-creator of the podcast Crushing Classical.  Here, she talks about her own path of discovery towards her ideal career, growing up in Chicago (we played in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra together!), the No. 1 Secret of Success she has learned from interviewing hundreds of people in creative fields, and the one piece of advice she would give to an incoming college freshman.


TFTL: What made you decide to start a podcast?

TF: At a career crossroads myself, I realized I didn’t feel like I had any options besides getting back on the audition track. I started looking around for myself at what people were doing and thought “gee, maybe I should start a podcast”! Once I started I could see that there were so many musicians creating unique careers that had interesting and inspiring stories to share.

TFTL: Do you have a morning ritual or routine? Can you share some of it?

TF: I ALWAYS start my day with a cup of yerba mate. Every morning I get up and do a sort of reflection/meditation, and review what I have coming up for the day… usually I do some writing, and always drink tea while doing it!

TFTL: What’s been your biggest overall takeaway after having interviewed so many different musicians?

TF: That the best quality you can possibly have is self awareness. When you are in tune with what you really want in your life, it helps you make better decisions when moving toward a career. Tactically this looks like really reflecting about what you want for your LIFE – do you love travel? Do you have a particular place in mind where you want to live? Do you want a family? The people I’ve interviewed seem to have a strong sense of what works for THEM – and they’ve been able to create a career custom to who they are. That’s what I hope people are able to see through my interviews and reflect on what it means for their own purpose.

TFTL: What is the best part about your career?  

TF: Conversations. I enjoy having meaningful conversations with people about creating music and art they love. It inspires me to do the same thing. I also love that I’ve built a platform in which I can share my ideas and other people’s stories – and hopefully by doing it keep inspiring people to do things they love.

TFTL: Practicing: Love it or Hate it?

TF: I guess I have a love/hate relationship with practicing… I’ve gone through times where I hated practicing those SAME excerpts again for another audition. Now I look at practice as a way to stay in shape, like a workout. And I’m learning new things, like learning to improvise. It’s fun to challenge myself to learn new skills.

TFTL: Who were some of your role models as a young musician?

TF: I really looked up to the Chicago Symphony horns. I grew up outside of Chicago and theirs were my first recordings of classical music I ever listened to.

TFTL: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a professional musician?

TF: I think by the time I was a 14 or so – once I was playing in youth orchestra I was hooked. It was so much fun, I could barely imagine you could get paid for doing something so incredible.


TFTL: What do you think it takes to “make it” in today’s classical music world?  

TF: I think it depends on what your definition of “make it” is – and you need to really define what that is for yourself. Personally, I think you’ve made it when you don’t have to rely solely on being chosen by someone else to do what you love. So, in order for that to be the case, it’s your job to CREATE something that you can call your own. Then, regardless of if you audition or not, you have something that is yours. That’s when you’ve made it in my eyes.

TFTL: What is your favorite thing about going to a classical music concert these days?

TF: I like to go to a classical concert if it’s one of my favorite symphonies or a piano concerto, but mostly my favorite concerts to go to now are more unique, outside of the box concerts.

TFTL: What advice would you give to an 18-year old freshman at a music conservatory?

TF: Get OUT of the music school and EXPLORE your university. I don’t care about required classes or any of that. Find out what you are interested in. Study a diverse range of things while you can. Also – study abroad! There’s no better time to live in another country and learn about a new culture and learn a new language than when you’re young. There are fabulous teachers all over the world, especially in Europe. Go find out what that’s like!

TFTL: If you could have dinner with any classical musician, dead or alive, who would you choose, and what would you ask them about?

TF: Without a doubt, Leonard Bernstein. I would want to talk to him about how he would suggest musicians can continue his legacy, and what he would do personally if he were in his prime today with the internet and social media.

TFTL: Quickies: Tea or Coffee?  NYC or Maine?  Summer or Winter?  Yoga or Crossfit?

TF: Tea every day, but coffee for a treat. NYC. SUMMER! Crossfit (actually, weight training to be specific!)

TFTL: Where can people find you? 

TF: I’m on Facebook and Instagram @crushingclassical.

You can also find my writing on

For the Podcast: Tune in to Crushing Classical on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, iHeart Radio, Android App, YouTube, Spotify or Stitcher

A new episode of Crushing Classical comes out every two weeks. You can subscribe HERE by going into itunes, and you’ll get the newest episode delivered to your app of choice each time a new episode launches! I have loved every one of her episodes.  She always has incredibly inspiring guests, and I love hearing their stories about how they have shaped their own unique career.


Thank you so much, Tracy! 

One Comment on “Spotlight Series: Tracy Friedlander

  1. Thank you for the feature! Love this blog! 🙂

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