Crystal Metric

At what age did you start playing the tuba? Did you learn another instrument first?

I started playing tuba at age 12. Before that I played the flute, started in 5th grade

Why did you choose the tuba?

I didn’t! The band director requested more low brass and I volunteered to switch to french horn. She took one look at me, one of the tallest kids in school, and said I couldn’t start on the french horn but I could do a year of tuba and switch – it was love at first blat and I never looked back.  (well, until I found out about horn rips, and then I was sort of bummed…, but I got over it because low notes are my favorite!)

How long have you played with the PSO?

I can’t remember if I started in 2008 or 2009, but I haven’t missed a season since.

Where do you live?

Newport, NH

Do you play with any other groups?

I am not a permanent fixture in any group but PSO, but I serve as a ringer for a few ensembles (community bands, quintets, the NH Phil). I sub in whenever there’s a need just about anywhere, though. Sometimes I play “3rd trombone” in pit orchestras – meaning I play the part on euphonium or tuba when they can’t find a 3rd trombonist. 

What do you like about playing with a symphony orchestra?

The music selection can’t be beat, and the timbres I get to hear. Even though I usually end up sitting and waiting for more than half of every piece I’m in, I spend that time thoroughly enjoying listening to the rest of the ensemble. I often brag I have the best seat in hall. 

I love my part in the orchestra – I am almost always playing the very lowest notes, so I get to feel very powerful and essential, even if I’m just playing long tones. 

How do you spend your time outside of the PSO?

I’m a first-year middle school music teacher, so I spend a good amount of time grading, lesson planning, and practicing singing and brushing up on band instruments like clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, and percussion I’ve been married for a year, we just had our first child three weeks ago, so…  feeding my son and wishing I could sleep more

I love consuming sci-fi/fantasy media, organizing data in spreadsheets, playing board games (there are more options than Monopoly or Clue! We have over a hundred!), snuggling my son, leisurely walks with my two beautiful rescue mutts, and singing ABBA for my scarlet macaw’s entertainment. 

I have been a stage-manager for a few theater productions and have found that to be immensely rewarding – my favorite was probably 9 to 5

What is your favorite piece of music to play on the tuba?

Oystein Baadsvik composed a beautiful solo piece called “Ordner Sig”, which translates to “It’ll be alright.” During the first months of the pandemic I spent a lot of time working on it because it gave me hope.

BUT if you’re looking for orchestral, as I expect you should: My favorites are

Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique – it features this Gregorian chant called the Dies Irae, and getting to perform that was genuinely a lifelong dream! Chances are, if you’ve ever seen a horror film, you’ve heard the chant, it’s ominous and powerful.

Mussourgski’s Night on Bald Mountain – I grew up watching Fantasia Richard Strauss Death and Transfiguration  – just a glorious tone poem Peter Grimes Four Sea Interludes  – It’s an example of a shockingly simple but essential tuba part that I always always think of when people ask why anyone would play the tuba if you’re just going to sit around most of the time – at one point I’m just playing whole notes imitating a church bell and it is so satisfying to perform I’d happily do it again a hundred times. 

Stravinsky’s Firebird – just an amazing piece of music

A few years ago we performed American in Paris – there’s a real honest-to-gosh tuba solo I was privileged enough to perform, so that was exceptionally rewarding.

Sleigh Ride –  No matter how many winter concerts we have, I am always always ready to play this piece again. 

Sorry, I cannot pick! You are welcome to grab whatever suits you. There’s a reason I’ve been driving 2 hours a week for over ten years to play in an orchestra! 

Tell me about your musical education.

My grandmother started teaching me piano when I was in third grade, but I quit after a year. Then I wanted to join band in fifth grade (probably wanted to play the trumpet or trombone but I honestly can’t remember), and my grandmother insisted I learn the flute.

It wasn’t a great fit for me personality-wise, so when I had the chance to switch to anything else, I jumped at it – band was awesome and I loved it (I had already decided to become a music teacher at that point!), but I did not have any interest in sitting in the front row and playing high notes.

I was, to be perfectly honest, a pretty terrible tuba player until I attended UNH’s SYMS (music camp) at age 15 – before that I hadn’t really heard what tubas were supposed to sound like. After music camp, I became truly obsessed with practicing. My love for that music camp meant when it was time for college, I really only had interest in attending UNH, where I majored in music education. 

(this paragraph is about mental illness so you can skip it if you’re looking for more light-hearted, but I don’t personally mind talking about it so it’s up to you and the tone you’re looking for) Life hit some bumpy patches my senior year of college, and I wound up taking a one year leave of absence due to major Depression. To be honest, the PSO was the only thing that kept me moving during my darkest times. My “one year” stretched into 10 because, guess what!? It can take a long time to recover, and then there’s the reality of expenses that pile up. I worked a bunch of interesting non-musical jobs – worked on a food service database and then I actually worked in manufacturing for seven years! Return to school wasn’t financially viable until 2019, and I finally graduated with my Bachelor degree in May 2020 – definitely one of my proudest moments was hitting that submit button on my final assignment. 

Any recognition or accolades you want to share?

Not that I can think of! 

Anything else of note you want to tell me? 

Might be of interest that I have mild Tourette syndrome- it’s not uncommon for me to startle everyone in rehearsal at least once per concert cycle with an exceptionally loud “hiccup.” I’m not actually sure how many people know I have TS vs how many think I just make weird noises on purpose.