TJ Ricer

December 17, 2008


Arts Leadership Program Certificate student, T. J. Ricer (low brass) is currently in pursuit of a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in tuba performance and literature at the Eastman School of Music. He holds degrees from the University of Tennessee and Miami University. As a tubist, Ricer has performed with the Cincinnati, Knoxville, Springfield, Lima, Middletown, and Lebanon Symphony Orchestras as well as the Knoxville Wind Symphony and Dave Rivello Jazz Ensemble. In addition, Ricer has played bass trombonewith the Blue Wisp, Streamliners, and Jack Carr Big Bands. He is a founding member of the Po’ Boys Brass Band, which just released its first album on the Black Dog Media Group record label. While not working as a brass player, Ricer holds a certification in group aerobics instruction, has completed a marathon, and fronts a Johnny Cash Tribute band.

Why did you participate in the ALP program?

I am always on the lookout for new ways to make a living in music and the ALP offered training in how to do so. Most often, students are taught how to make music as an art form, but not how to make music profitable. Art is great, but so is eating and having a place to live.

How has your experience in ALP helped your ventures in the professional world?

Networking. My internship with WXXI put me in touch with leaders in many of the arts organizations in Rochester. As a direct result of my internship (and Chris Van Hof’s internship before me), my brass quintet got to do a live radio broadcast with the Canadian Brass last year and, because of our success on that performance, were invited back to perform our own show this year. These types of high-exposure gigs add a certain degree of credibility to our ensemble when we search for more work throughout the community. The “How to Win an Orchestral Audition” class offered insight into the process of auditioning, rather than just working on the excerpts.

Do you think it’s advantageous for today’s musicians to be multi-talented and able to do many things well?

Of course. I believe being diverse means survival. By day I play classical and jazz tuba, bass trombone, euphonium and sing and by night I play bass and sing in a country band, play sousaphone in a funk band, and even march parades now and again. This should also help me to get a University teaching job in the future; diverse professors like Mark Kellogg or Chris Azzara are highly sought after, because they can do the work of several different potential hires.

How has your ALP internship helped you think about your future as a musician?

It was actually interesting to go in and do a desk job that does not bleed over into my personal life. Music can be all encompassing in a life (gigging, practicing, listening, networking, etc.). It gave me a different perspective to just go in and do a job. Also, having watched Chris Van Hof move from the internship into a full time position, it reminded me that opportunity is wherever you look for it.

What does “arts leadership” mean to you and your career?

It means constantly looking for new outlets for music making. As a tubist, even a few years ago opportunities were limited outside of an orchestral career. I continue to try to stay on the cutting edge, performing often with jazz and popular musical ensembles and through commissioning new solo and ensemble works for my instrument. It is a classic case of ‘lead by example’ of which I hope others will take note.