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The mindset of a musician with Mary Forrester

Read other articles in the Good Vibes series here.

            What’s that sound? A warm brassy tenor with a striking jazzy undertone, capturing the looks of anyone nearby. That’s a trombone, of course.

            Although she makes it sound easy, Mary Forrester, an accomplished trombone student, reveals the hard work needed to climb the musical ladder.

            Starting her musical journey in sixth grade, Forrester talks about the unique nature of the trombone and the process of choosing it as her primary instrument.

            “My dad and my sister both played trombone, so I wanted to play it too. I like that it’s very versatile, and it has a nice warm sound,” Forrester said.

            Following in her dad and sister’s footsteps, she discussed the distinct musical challenges that trombonists learn to overcome.

            “It’s definitely one of the most unique instruments. All of the other brass instruments utilize valves, whereas the trombone uses a slide,” Forrester said.

            Because of the slide, musicians who play it have to be more melodically-precise and careful than other instrumentalists.

            “Your pitch needs to be more developed. You need to be exactly precise and be able to hear yourself well because minor pitch inconsistencies can throw off the entire trombone section,” Forrester said.

            Since sixth grade, Forrester has participated in GMEA District and All-State Bands, Reinhardt Honor Band, marching band, and Jazz ensembles. A 2023 graduate of PHS, Forrester will attend Kennesaw State University to major in science. She will continue to participate in musical ensembles and further develop her craft. With a background in musical education, Forrester noted the advantages that being a musician provides her in the sciences.

            “Most musicians have a drive and willingness to work hard. The sciences are known to be very challenging to do well in, but my drive will help me to succeed,” she said.

            Although music is challenging in a variety of ways, one of the most difficult aspects of music is the mental. Whether performing an audition or practicing every day warm-ups, musicians have to learn to retain a good mentality and attitude. Because of this, Forrester offers an inside look at the process of preparing for an audition.

            “One of the most unrecognized and important parts of an audition is your mindset. You have to make sure you stay calm,” Forrester said.

            Additionally, she noted experience auditioning as an important factor when it comes to preparing for an important audition.

            “For me, it was the experience that helped me. If I could do it before, I can do it again,” Forrester said.

            And of course, consistent practice is a key component in performance or audition success.

            “I’m very meticulous when it comes to getting my pieces ready. The week before an audition, I’ll play them over and over again,” Forrester said.

What makes a good musician?

“A lot of music is multitasking. Musicians have to be able to pay attention to technicality, air control, pitch and more all at the same time,” she said.

            Another factor that separates top-tier musicians is their drive and ambition to succeed. Forrester believes that although some people are naturally talented,” everyone has the capability to be good at music if they are willing to put in the work.

            “For some people, it is easier to pick up. But for everyone, you have to work hard to be great,” Forrester said.

            Forrester said her musical education has improved her high school experience.

            “I was really shy, especially when I started marching band, but I made a bunch of friends right away, and it was overall a very positive environment.”

            Reflecting back on her musical journey, Forrester offered key advice for musicians who want to be top-tier.

            “If you really enjoy it, stick with it. However, you need to be willing to work to get to the next level.”

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