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Earbuds Engaged

Earbuds Engaged

By Ears Engaged
Co-hosts Casey & Alaina speak about life after graduating music school and finding their niche in the classical music world. Born as a side project from their woodwind quartet, Ears Engaged, this podcast includes commentary on their chamber group’s gig experiences in Pittsburgh & interviews with music school graduates who range from full time orchestra members to those pursuing alternate jobs yet still prioritize music making. Follow as they dive into the world of the citizen artist & music teaching artistry in this digital age, all in an attempt to create meaningful music careers.
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Music Therapy with Kennedy Jason
This week we’re featuring Pittsburgh based Music Therapist and singer/songwriter, Kennedy Jason! Kennedy gives us a peek into her daily life as a music therapist, pre and post covid, and walks us through the course load, skills, and process required to become a board certified music therapist. Kennedy talks about her love of working with senior clients, how music is used to treat anxiety and chronic pain, and how she hopes to use music as a way to help clients quit smoking. The theme music for this episode is by Kennedy Jason, titled “I Will Knit You a Sweater.” Check out her music on Spotify: If you have more questions for Kennedy, you can reach her at Website:
January 21, 2021
This time, right now, with you is our time.
In this episode Casey and Alaina have their first opportunity to re-interview a previous guest! Rewinding back to the third episode, guest Edna Jeon mentioned the idea of being in a woodwind quintet that would practice independently, and meet a few times a year in person to perform. After a year of meticulous planning and dedication,  'Our Time Wind Quintet' was formed.  While the 'perform in person' part of the dream has not yet been realized, OTWQ has managed to produce multiple high quality videos, concerts, and artist collaborations. The members of the group (in score order...of course) are: Edna Jeon on Flute, Jordan Pyle on Oboe, Dan Mills on Clarinet, Taryn Lee on Horn, and Keegan Hockett on Bassoon.  "Our Time Wind Quintet specializes in performances that hold space for authentic connection and conversation. Members of the quintet are highly accomplished performers who integrate their collective passions and varied interests to create new ways to hold dialogue through chamber music. Through intentional and purposeful programming, Our Time offers a moment for attendees to reconnect with their simple but profound capacity to listen. The group aspires to share their joyous spirit through performance, educational engagement, and community partnerships. Our Time Wind Quintet holds space to weave together a more supportive humanity." To learn more about OTWQ visit their website  When Alaina and I had everyone on a zoom call it was finally time to answer some very important logistical questions; What sort of mic set up is everyone working with? What is your recording process? What sort of 'hidden' roles do people have? What does OTWQ's future look like? We hope you enjoy listening to the answers of these questions and more!  Show Links: Dan Mills Gratitude Instagram Account: Literary Music Library Concert:  28. Collaboration in Isolation  Our Time Wind Quintet: Youtube Page, Facebook Page, Instagram Page, Website
January 07, 2021
Beginning a Music Career in 2020 with Jamie Sanidad
Seattle based Oboist and Reed Maker, Jamie Sanidad joins us this week to talk about graduating college and entering life as a professional during the pandemic, teaching online, and starting a reed business! Jamie is one of the podcast's first listeners and a former studio mate of Alaina's during their undergraduate studies at Indiana University. Right now Jamie is building her career in Seattle, enjoying being close to her family and making oboists' lives better by providing them with good reeds :) Visit Jamie's oboe reed website: Theme Music by The Maplewaves
December 10, 2020
A Digital Residency; Innovating or Impeding?
We've got the whole team back for a discussion about our Digital Residency with Weinberg Terrace. What have we learned through our pitfalls and triumphs? What is working and what do we need to work on? With an hour concert expected every month and a handful of Music Moments weekly, the content creation has ramped up our creativity and unity as a chamber group.  Theme music by The Maplewaves 
December 03, 2020
Resilience and Risk: the Iris Music Project with Lauren Latessa
In this episode we are joined by a very inspirational teaching artist, Lauren Latessa. Lauren is the founder of the Iris Music Project whose mission as a 501(c)(3) non-profit is to reimagine residential and healthcare communities as spaces of creative exchange. Through collaboratively designed programming, Iris Music Project provides opportunities for connection and purpose for residents, caregivers, and musicians. Ears Engaged is currently in their training program to help recreate the IMP model at a senior living facility in Pittsburgh (online). Listen to learn more about Lauren, her path to creating the Iris Music Project and their model, and how the pandemic has affected their music making. Get in touch with Lauren through email at: Resources: Being Mortal The Art of Relevance Theme Music: The Cactus Song by The Maplewaves
November 25, 2020
It's so much more than people think! with Simone Silé
In this episode Alaina & Casey interview Simone Silé, Music Librarian to the Orlando Philharmonic. Throughout their conversation they learn about the process of auditioning for the job, the workload, and how the orchestra is being forced to experiment in the current COVID world. As one of the 20% of American orchestras that started their 2020-2021 season, Simone gives insight on how the Orlando Philharmonic is adjusting to meet the needs of their audience and their performers.  Simone's Personal Instagram: @sincerely.sile  Simone's Business Instagram: @peppers.bindery Questions for Simone about becoming a music librarian? email her at Candace's Instagram: @CandaceCanCreate Mozart y Mambo by Sarah Willis Theme Music by The Maplewaves
November 19, 2020
Updates and Resources
We made it to Season Two! Casey and Alaina give a brief update on each member of the Ears Engaged team, share great humanity driven resources they've been thinking about recently, and reveal some details about EE's current online residency with Weinberg Terrace in Pittsburgh. We love hearing from you! Send us an email at or DM us on Instagram @earsengaged. Theme music by The Maplewaves! Resources- Meg Quigley Bassoon Competition: The Imperative of Community Engagement for Musicians "The Art of Relevance" Free Blog, Nina Simon zFestival, Zoe Sorrell's Presentation: Modern Music Entrepreneurship
November 12, 2020
Black Lives Matter
Resources to learn more, sign petitions, and get involved: Good Black News FB Page Black Lives Matter NAACP Color of Change Campaign Zero - data informed platform that presents comprehensive solutions to end police violence in America. Follow all of the above on Instagram plus these accounts for antiracism graphics: @theconsciouskid @theslacktivists @blackandembodied @moemotivate Watch adds on this and following videos on YouTube to help fund raise for Black Lives Matter:
June 10, 2020
Conversations: Peppy Women are Instrument Repair Techs Too with Allison Fong
This week we spoke with instrument repair technician, Allison Fong! Allison is such an inspiration when it comes to fitting into your own mold. After graduating with a double Bachelor's in Oboe Performance and Music Education, she realized she wasn't all that excited to continue either of those paths. During college, Allison worked part time at a music shop where she gradually built her instrument repair skills. She got to see how much of a difference she was able to make in band student's lives everyday while working there. Despite not looking like your average repairman, Allison followed this opportunity to a job that fits perfectly into her current life with her husband in Pittsburgh. We want to hear from you! If you're enjoying the podcast, please leave a rating or review on Apple Podcasts and we’ll give you a shout out in our next episode! Our totally awesome theme music is called "The Cactus Song" by The Maplewaves - check them out on Spotify!
May 25, 2020
Conversations: "The Texas Thing" with Meridith Wright
Have you ever heard about "The Texas Thing" in the music world? It's when you move to Texas and start a music studio as a full time career. Texas has large music programs that make it relatively easy to create a full time job out of private teaching! Co-host Alaina spent a year doing The Texas Thing herself and while she was there she met up with bassoonist Meridith Wright. In this interview, we hear from Meridith about all the ups and downs of teaching full time in San Antonio, Tx. Meridith explains how she got her foot in the door with local schools, becoming an official independent contractor, and the odd weekly schedule she maintains. She shares how teaching has changed over the past few months with schools being closed, and how having an official contract between her and her students (before something like a pandemic) "saved her sweet behind.”   After you listen be sure to check out her website to listen to her play, buy some reeds, or just to sneak a peak at her contract.  Both Meridith and Alaina use mymusicstaff to organize and plan their teaching schedule and recommend it to anyone interested in doing similar work. (not a sponsor). Theme music is "The Cactus Song" by The Maplewaves, find their music on Spotify and follow them on their socials! The Maplewaves Rock! 
May 18, 2020
Instrument Demonstrations
One evening Casey was asked to introduce her bassoon to kids online for a class that was the following afternoon! Have you been in this situation? Do you know what you would play? What would you say to someone who has never seen your instrument before? How would you keep the attention of twenty toddlers? It's common to be asked to demonstrate your instrument for a class or whenever you're playing in public, often with little notice or planning time! It seems simple to talk about something that is such a big part of our lives! However, when you've been shredding in the practice room it can be hard to know how to take advantage of an engaging and personal teaching moment with your audience. You'll want to be prepared to engage any and all ages! Casey and Alaina discuss their silly experiences with giving instrument intros, the importance of being ready to do them, and the importance of making them interactive. You are more than a human Google, you're there to provide an experience beyond reciting facts. Be a good ambassador for classical music and for your instrument. Show them how relatable classical musicians are and invite the audience into your world. Try not to forget how cool it is that we get to play these things! Share with the audience, and let them know who you are as a person. All of that will help connect them further into what you do and the music you chose to play for them. In preparation for this episode, we read two chapters from Eric Booth's "The Music Teaching Artist's Bible." Both chapters were from Part IV: The Fundamentals of Working in Education Settings- Chapter 15, "Truth and Dare in Education Programs" Chapter 16, "How to Succeed in School Environments" We'd love for you to join our challenge and record a video of you introducing your instrument! Tag us in your video or send it in a message on Instagram @earsengaged or email us at We want to hear from you! If you're enjoying the podcast, please leave a rating or review! Our goal is to get 5 reviews by June. Everyone who leaves a review gets a shout out!  WindSync website: Peter and the Wolf: Links to Live Video Demos on WindSync's Facebook Page:  WindSync Intro Video and Clarinet Demo WindSync Flute and Oboe Demo WindSync Horn and Bassoon Demo Kid Demos and Rhythms: Theme music by: The Maplewaves
May 11, 2020
Conversations: Staying Positive Through the Audition Process with Natalie Beckenbaugh
In the orchestral audition world the competition is fierce, every plane ticket is a gamble, and rejection is heard more often than not. Yet there are still many steadfast musicians who hear a call from within to play in a symphony, and spend years auditioning in attempt to answer it.  In today's episode Alaina and Casey interview oboist Natalie Beckenbaugh; a fellow Carnegie Mellon University alum and dear friend who is in the thick of her audition season in life. Natalie talks about moving back to her hometown in Dunwoody, GA. after graduating with her Master in Music in Oboe Performance, her various musical day jobs, what the audition process has been like for her, what she has learned so far, and how long she is willing to pursue this job of a lifetime.  Theme music by: The Maplewaves
May 04, 2020
Conversations: Taylor Reutman on Falling Back in Love with Music
Casey and Alaina talk with another Indiana University alum and friend, Taylor Reutman! Taylor double majored in oboe performance and German while at IU, but after graduating he took a much needed break from music to explore his second major. Taylor's been traveling the world as a flight attendant with United for the past four years. It wasn't until recently that he was able to enjoy playing the oboe again. We discuss life with a varying schedule as a flight attendant, school experiences and studying abroad, falling out of and back in love with music, and the excited new chapter of Taylor's journey with music making!  Listen to Taylor's podcast 'Under the Horror Dome' here:  Theme Music: "The Cactus Song" by The Maplewaves We are not including this link just because we have to for copyright purposes, we are including this link so you can go listen to the entire song because it's a good song! Casey's husband wrote and played it with his band. His band has a bunch of original music that you can check out. We think that's pretty cool.
April 27, 2020
Conversations: Life as a Cruise Ship Musician with Khelsey Zarraga
When graduation is approaching, most music students feel anxious about how they are going to get paid to perform classical music. Today we offer a unique alternative to symphonic auditions; playing chamber music for a cruise line! This program was created out of a collaboration between New York City’s Lincoln Center and Holland America Line. *Spoiler* a program our guest loved so much she plans on going back for another 4 months! In this episode we talk with violinist, Khelsey Zarraga (Alaina's 4-year-roommate while at Indiana University!) about all the nitty gritty details of life as a Lincoln Center Stage Artist in their resident ensemble onboard. These realities include traveling the world, maintaining artistic integrity, programing, and the different sort of audience engagement skills that are needed. By the end we learn about the sacrifices it takes, but also what sort of life changing rewards it has to offer.  Theme Music: "The Cactus Song" by The Maplewaves We are not including this link because we have to in order to not get sued, we are including this link so you can go listen to the entire song because it's a good song! Casey's husband wrote and played it with his band. His band has a bunch of original music that you can check out. We think that's pretty cool. 
April 20, 2020
Pondering the Purpose of Musicians
Woah! Purpose is such a big topic, what did we get ourselves into!? Casey and Alaina discuss the idea of an essential job and how musicians relate to that. They share their individual paths that lead them to choosing a career in music and what helped them stay on that path. They also discuss how being out of school has allowed them to fall back in love with music and find their purpose as musicians. At the end, we describe how the definition of art can be expanded into an action and how to encourage everyday people to use it as a way to confirm their individuality. 
April 13, 2020
Conversations: It’s Ok to Change Your Mind with Morgan Deal
After graduating with a Bachelors of Music, a Masters of Arts and Teaching, and a license to teach choral music to k-12 our guest, Morgan Deal, found herself not wanting to pursue a career as a music teacher after all. As a childhood friend of cohost Casey, Morgan was invited to share the impact music has made in her life (including her love for 20th century music), her future aspirations, and the balancing act between music as a career and music as a hobby. 
April 06, 2020
Covid Income Effects | Tax Season | Staying Inspired
Alaina and Casey test their virtual recording skills and discuss various ways Ears Engaged has been effected by the Corona virus restrictions. 
March 30, 2020
Experiences: Playing in an Airport
The team meets again to discuss the details of their latest gig on March 6th at the Pittsburgh International Airport. *Notice: As of March 13th, 2020 The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council & The Pittsburgh International Airport decided to pause this performance series in an attempt to prioritize the safety and security of both passengers & performers*
March 16, 2020
Our First Grant Application
Casey and Alaina discuss applying for their first grant! This milestone lead to looking forward at more long term goals for Ears Engaged, especially when considering how expensive it is to be involved in classical music. They talk about being part of both a local and digital community and how those communities can benefit each other on a regular basis. This will hopefully help support the efforts of Ears Engaged to fulfill their mission of bringing classical music to everyday spaces and people. 
March 02, 2020
Experiences: Open Mic Night
In this episode, the full Ears Engaged team gets together to share our experience performing at a local open mic night, something we've never done before - especially as classical musicians! We give you an insight into how we felt, how the audience felt, and why we think more classical musicians should try putting themselves and their music in this setting. Nearing the end of the episode, we get into a great discussion about what qualifies as a gig you should be paid for versus a gig you benefit from in other ways, the future of Ears Engaged, and dealing with the realities of how new graduates make money. 
February 17, 2020
Chapter Study: Engaging The Concert Audience (Ch.6)
Alaina & Casey talk through chapter 6 of David Wallace's book, "Engaging the Concert Audience: A Musician's Guide to Interactive Performance".  This chapter is about the 10 common pitfalls to avoid when executing an interactive performance. They share anecdotes about the pitfalls they have personally fallen into and discuss ways they could have been avoided. 
February 03, 2020
Conversations: CJ Corbett
Meet fellow member of the Ears Engaged team, CJ Corbett! CJ shares memorable moments from his recently completed student teaching experience, talks about switching between performance and music education majors during college, what drew him to teaching artistry, and shares advice from past teachers.
January 20, 2020
2020 Goal Setting
In this episode Casey & Alaina invite you to be a fly on the wall during one of their business meetings. In this meeting, very clearly held at Casey’s house because of the bird chirping in the background (he wanted to be in the conversation so badly), they discuss various goals for Ears Engaged going into 2020. Our Final Outline is as Follows: 1. Performing gigs: (a) 4 new scripts    (b) 4 new/different venues  (c) 12 performances (one a month as a goal but let it happen organically as well)   (d) Record 2 shows from previous year with a ‘studio audience’ 2. Teaching: (a) Host a workshop, 'Woodwind Day' 3. Entrepreneurship Projects: (a) Create contracts for internal use and external use  (b) Podcast enhancement (Schedule interviews, map arch for chapter studies, figure out transcriptions)
January 06, 2020
Portfolio Careers
Alaina and Casey discuss what it means to have a portfolio career, do a deep dive into projects that led to creating Ears Engaged, and share what's included in their portfolios as musicians.
December 23, 2019
Conversations: Edna Jeon
In this episode Casey & Alaina sit down with former CMU colleague, Edna Jeon, who is currently playing 3rd flute/piccolo in the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Edna shares stories about her life after graduation, adjusting to island life on aloha time, and goals she has set for the future (including performing interactive concerts!). 
December 09, 2019
Chapter Study: The Music Teaching Artist's Bible (Ch.1)
In this episode Alaina and Casey talk through chapter 1 of Eric Booth's The Music Teaching Artist's Bible titled  "What is a Teaching Artist?". They discuss their key take aways including: Art vs. Entertainment, what you teach is who you are, and how teaching artistry goes against standard practices in music. At the end they read through some of their favorite definitions other teaching artists have created to define this practice.
November 25, 2019
Pilot: Searching for Success
In this podcast co-hosts Casey & Alaina speak about life after music school, finding your niche in the music world, and making ends meet. Follow them as they figure out how to find success and how others are doing the same. This first episode features a conversation about their values as musicians, teaching artistry, and making your own opportunities.
November 11, 2019