86 – Touring Broadway Shows with Garrett Hack

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In today’s episode, I’m joined by Garrett Hack, who is a freelance touring Broadway musician. We discuss how to deal with playing repetitive and demanding music, keeping your chops up on the road, and some interesting and surprising accessories you’ll need if you want to play in this line of work.

Show Notes

Garrett Hack was inspired to become a musician on Broadway as a child when his parents took him to see the musical The Producers. As a child, Hack took piano lessons and later played clarinet in high school. Despite some push-back from his teachers, he decided to start doubling on the saxophone after he turned sixteen.

“You guys sound so much more lush, rich, and full than your numbers would suggest.” 

  • This is a comment that is frequently made by people who attend his current show, which has 14 musicians in the pit orchestra.

Life as a Doubler

  • As a doubler, Hack describes the negative reactions he hears from some people about his choice to pursue playing so many instruments versus focusing on just one.
  • Hack discusses the instruments he plays regularly for shows, including the Irish flute!

Logistics of Doubling on Broadway

  • Getting paid on Broadway is based on the number of instruments a musician plays in each show. Hack discusses union pay standards for Broadway musicians.
  • Hack lays out a couple scenarios that can happen when traveling to rehearsals and performances on a plane versus in a car.
  • Being on the road has its own unique challenges. Hack addresses some of the ways he manages touring for extended periods of time.

“A solid routine will make or break a tour.”

  • Making time to practice every day is important for keeping yourself accountable on the road.
  • Hack makes time to keep in touch with people back home while out on the road.
  • Collaborations and exchanging lessons with other touring musicians is something Hack does to stay musically engaged while on tour.

“I’ll pick something to focus on to make it better than the day before. You’re only doing one of two things: you’re either getting better or getting worse. I choose to focus on getting better.” 

  • Staying engaged while playing the same music over and over can be difficult while on tour. However, Hack focuses on making one small element of the show better each night in order to keep things fresh.

Travel Tips:

Hack’s advice for getting involved on Broadway is to start playing the instruments involved in the shows you want to play and practice a lot! Look at the people who are doing the things you want to do and find a way you can get on a similar career path.

Lightning Round Questions: 

If I were to walk over to your music stand right now, what would I find?
What piece of music or album changed your life irreversibly?
If you could play any instrument other than the clarinet, which would it be and why?
  • Savanna – Chinese-Oboe-Trumpet
If you could go back in time to meet any musician who would it be and why?
While we are back in time, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
  • Learn saxophone sooner!
What is the best advice you ever received and who gave it to you?
  • John, a friend of mine gave me the advice during a lull in my employment, “if you don’t like it – play better!”
What is one book you think everyone should read?

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