Chris Smith – ep. 24

Chris Smith

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This episode of “Winning the Job” features Chris Smith. Chris recently won the principal trumpet position with the San Diego Symphony. While most of these episodes feature two musicians, Chris’ episode features just him. That is because Chris had so many thoughts about not only his audition, but auditions in general. All in all, we talked for close to an hour, and it was all really amazing stuff. Here are some key points that I thought were important from his episode:


  • Have a plan

In the episode Chris talks about his specific plan of attack for each audition he takes. Over the course of time, he has found a system that works for him, and he trusts that system to allow him to represent himself well in the audition.

  • Embrace the process

Chris’ journey to San Diego was a long one. He started in the President’s Own Marine Band, and has held a number of jobs in between. He has been in the finals for many jobs and not won them. In the episode, Chris talks about how he may not have chosen the path that his life ended up taking, but he knows that through the process, each audition made him a better player, musician, and person. Embracing the process was key for Chris to know that he would eventually get to where he wanted to go.

  • Know what you’re getting yourself into

Towards the end of the episode, Chris gives advice to younger musicians just starting out in the audition circuit. His advice is very clear: the audition circuit is a tough place to be. The longer it lasts, the harder it is to stay on it. If you believe you can do it, and have put in the work necessary to give yourself a fighting chance.. great! But if you’re not willing to do the work, or the road has been too long and too hard.. that’s ok too. Knowing exactly where you are at in your journey and how much work you are willing to put in is paramount to being able to persevere.


On his Facebook, Chris has put together some incredibly thorough resources on developing great practice habits. He and I seem to be on a similar path in which we are trying to develop a system of practice where you are able to make observable progress on the trumpet. Here are all five of the articles he published. Although they are lengthy, they are very much worth the time to read and digest the information in them. Make sure to read all of them, don’t skip ahead.

Feed-The-Beast – The article is Chris’ approach to daily maintenance on the trumpet.

BUZZER-BEATER – This article is a look on how to use a timer in your practice in a very effective way.

CONTROL-FREAK1 – This article is about how to change our thinking about how to control variables in practice in order to better understand our playing.

MOMMY-ARE-WE-THERE-YET – This article is about how to find a starting tempo when learning music, and then how to progress methodically to the goal tempo in a way that we can manage.

PLUS-ONE – This article is an overall look of what was covered in the previous 4 articles, and then where to go from there, covered in a question and answer type format.

I mentioned this at the end of the episode, but I’m thinking about doing an episode where I take questions from my listeners and then get together with Chris and answer them together. If you’re interested in that, send me a message! You can find links to my social media sites at the top and bottom of my website.

Here’s a Spotify playlist of stuff Chris enjoys listening to

Chris Smith – ep. 24

Until next time,



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