Josh Straub classical piano

Branching out as a classical pianist – Josh Straub


When you are trained as a classical pianist, what different routes can you take to set yourself apart as an entrepreneur? In this podcast, Josh talks about his journey through classical music, and his work today. Josh received his doctorate in piano, and currently he works not only as a curriculum developer, but also as a teacher of group piano. His other passion includes composition for film. In this episode, we chat not only about his career but the restraints of studying classical piano at the university level and the needs to have a variety of skills as a musician.


Dr. Joshua Straub is currently a resident of Austin, TX where he enjoys a multifaceted musical career. Active at many state, regional, national, and international conferences, he has presented at numerous conferences worldwide. As an extension of his interest in the potential impact of music education, he co-wrote a paper with cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Kirsten Smayda and Dr. Ruby Chou which was the result of a ten-week group piano course for older adults aiming to scientifically test the ability for music to impact the brain. Joshua also founded Kraft group piano lessons, a program  providing group piano lessons in a casual, relaxed environment, along with… beer! 

Recently, Josh began composing and producing music and his collaborations with adventure photographer Ryan Deboodt have been featured by National Geographic, the Smithsonian website, and reached over a million people and one was recently selected for the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York City in October, 2019. In addition to his commitment to the traditional Western canon, Joshua also frequently performs and commissions works by living composers while also enjoying many popular genres. He has performed in cover bands and in the pit for musicals.  

Joshua is an active member of MTNA and CMS, and is a former faculty member at Concordia University Texas and The University of Texas at Austin. 

performing in NYC
Ross Martin, Guitarist

Life in New York City as a Performing Musician – Ross Martin


What does it take to make it as a performing musician in New York City? Ross shares his journey from college in Texas to living in Colorado and then New York City. He’s maintained a career during all of these years as a performing artist, working with other musicians in festivals and other performance venues.

Ross shares with us his current projects during the COVID shutdown, his tips for practicing, and what it takes to establish yourself in a large city such as New York. If you’ve ever wondered how you could make a living performing the music that you love, this is the podcast episode to listen to!


Guitarist Ross Martin has performed in concert halls, honky-tonks, theaters, rock clubs, living rooms, on festival stages, television programs and everywhere in between. He grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, TX, with brief stints in East Tennessee, attended the University of North Texas, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies, then headed west. After ten years in the front range area of Colorado, he relocated to the east coast and has lived in Brooklyn, NY for the past ten years. 

His musical path has covered as much territory as his physical one. Reflecting his love of diverse genres like jazz, bluegrass, country, folk, experimental, and classical music, Ross has always felt at home with fellow musicians who seek to reconcile, through their music, the incredible wealth of styles available to listeners in this global and digital age. He has toured and performed with a wide range of artists including Matt Flinner, Darol Anger, Tony Furtado, Jacob Jolliff, Ron Miles, Mollie O’Brien, The Motet, Caroline Herring, Dwele, Sonya Kitchell, and many others.

Ross, along with bassist Eric Thorin, has been a member of the Matt Flinner Trio for the past eleven years. Known in acoustic circles for his groundbreaking mandolin work, Matt developed a unique concept for the group: All three band members write a tune each day while on tour and perform it that evening. After several tours, they picked twelve of their favorite tunes and recorded them. The result was “Music du Jour” which was released on Compass Records in April, 2009.  Since then, the Trio has produced two more recordings of Music du Jour compositions: “Winter Harvest” (2012) and “Traveling Roots” (2016).

Music education plays an important role in Ross’ professional life. He maintains a private guitar studio and is a sought-after instructor at workshops and music camps.  He’s been on the staff at Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Camp, Rockygrass Academy, Montana Fiddle Camp, and Great Lakes Music Camp, among others, and regularly facilitates clinics at educational institutions across the United States.  

Ross’ solo album, “Volley”, features his original compositions and electric guitar playing. He also recently released a duo recording with acoustic guitarist Grant Gordy titled “Year of the Dog”. He performs frequently throughout the New York City area, and tours nationally and internationally with various projects. 

Ross Martin is a guitarist and composer based in Brooklyn, NY. He performs and records regularly, both as a solo artist and collaborator, with Grant Gordy, Matt Flinner, Ron Miles, Darol Anger, and many others from the roots music and jazz worlds. Currently, Ross can be heard subbing on Broadway in the Tony Award®-winning musical Hadestown. He is also a dedicated instructor; he teaches at Bluegrass and roots music camps all over the US, and maintains an active guitar studio. More information is available at 

More information can be found at:  

gigging in music

Gigging with a band – Mat Maxwell


Are you looking to get started gigging with a band? Have you always dreamed about being on the road, touring with other musicians? What do you have to do to get yourself hired, especially if you are a new musician in a new city? Mat has all of the answer for you! As a touring musician himself, he has not only made a career from himself performing and touring, but he’s also writing a book to help young musicians. He speaks on the importance of diversifying in learning new skills, as well as the good old fashioned advice of being nice and showing up on time.

In this time of COVID, Mat also shares with us what he is doing as a musician during the shutdown. He shares about transiting to smaller performance venues and what projects he’s working on now.


Mat Maxwell is an american musician with over a decade of studio and international touring experience. Having performed alongside some of music’s biggest names, he has developed a reputation for being a go-to player in the industry. Mat is a multi-instrumentalist with a breadth of knowledge in many genres. Bass is his primary but he is also a deft guitarist and pianist. When not touring or in a session he enjoys education and consulting – sharing his experience and knowledge gained over many years in the industry.
Where to find Mat:

  • The book that Mat is writing is called “Hired Musician: Getting and Keeping Gigs.” It’s a modern survival guide for side musicians. Covering money, psychology, misconceptions, do’s and don’ts, stories…

career in music
Dr. Artina McCain, Dr. Martin McCain

Collaborating in music & career consultation


Are you interested in learning about collaborating in music? Are you looking for ways to receive consultation in your music career? This dynamic duo – Artina and Martina, are making a splash in the music world not only as first class performers and teachers, but also as career consultants in the arts. Tune in to listen to their journey and their tips for starting a career in music, including the art of networking, diversifying skills, and learning new skills. Artina speaks about the importance of career wellness, and how they balance professional and married life. Martin shares his tips on getting out there and working with performing groups of all types. You’re not going to want to miss this vibrant episode!

In this episode, we also talk about inclusion in music, and specifically where to find music written by black composers & women composers. Here are the links to access the resources that we mentioned:

Piano Music by William Chapman Nyayo

Music by Errollyn Wallen

Composer Diversity Database compiled by Rob Deemer.

The McCain Duo

Known for their fusion classical, jazz and gospel programming, the McCain Duo (Artina and Martin) present concerts of rhythmic intensity and colorful artistry. Their marriage and collaboration of bass trombone and piano creates a dynamic pairing providing repertoire of wide versatility and variety for the concert venue.

The McCain Duo has multifaceted careers as engaging performers and educators. Their mission is to commission new works by emerging contemporary composers. They received two Global Music Awards medals for their CDs Shades and Trombone Czar: The Extended Version. The duo performs throughout Asia: Mahidol University, Chinese University of Hong Kong and Radio Television Hong Kong as well as notable North American festivals, concert series and universities. Highlights include performances at the Gateways Music Festival in NY, American Trombone Workshop in VA and The Great American Brass Band Festival in KY. Their concerts and recordings have been broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today, CKWR Toronto and KMFA Classical Austin. 

In addition to their performing careers, they have a thriving mission to help the next generation of budding musicians through their weekly social media series “Elevate with the McCain Duo. They are active board members for multiple nonprofit organizations including Austin Chamber Music Center and PRIZM Ensemble dedicated to building diverse communities through chamber music education, youth development, and performance.

Dr. Artina McCain is Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Piano Studies at the University of Memphis. Dr. Martin McCain is Artist/Teacher of Trombone and Professor of Music at Texas State University. Together, the McCains serve on the faculties of the Austin Chamber Music Festival and the PRIZM Ensemble International Chamber Music Festival. For more information, please visit and follow @mccainduo. 

career in opera
Emily Pulley

Breaking through to a career in opera – Emily Pulley.


Are you looking to create a career in opera? In this 1st Episode of The Performer’s Path Podcast, we chat with Emily Pulley, who spent 12 years singing roles at the Metropolitan Opera. In this episode, Emily reveals how she became an opera singer and her journey from university graduate to the stage. She reveals life lessons that has helped her create a career on stage as a singer & her hope for music performances & human connections after COVID.

You never know…you NEVER know….I still have the letter I wrote to myself the night of the Met auditions, and it was a letter about gratitude and how I needed to try to keep reminding myself that I need to be grateful ….The minute I no longer have joy in what I’m doing, I need to find something else to do.

Emily – describing a career in opera


Originally from College Station, Texas, Emily has spent nearly three decades performing with prestigious opera companies and symphonies across the country and around the world. She is a veteran of almost 200 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, with roles ranging from Marguerite in Faust to Gerhilde in Die Walküre to Valencienne in The Merry Widow. While still sought after for soprano roles, her successful foray into mezzo-soprano and musical theatre repertoire continues, with critically-acclaimed performances of the title role in Carmen, Mrs. De Rocher in Dead Man Walking, Desirée Armfeldt in A Little Night Music, and Miss Julie in Show Boat. After having portrayed Beggar Woman in two productions of Sweeney Todd, she will make her debut as Mrs. Lovett next spring. Emily graduated summa cum laude from WTAMU and received her Master of Music degree from UNT. She received a President’s Citation from UNT in 2008 and was named a Distinguished Alumni of WTAMU in 2014, serving on faculty there the following year as Artist-in-Residence in Voice and Opera. When not busy performing, Emily works as a teacher, adjudicator, and a vocal and dramatic coach for universities and young artist programs across the country and in Europe. She made her professional directorial debut this past fall with La bohème for Opera Ithaca and Symphony of the Mountains. Most recently, she was the stand-by for Renée Fleming as Margaret Johnson in a national tour of The Light in the Piazza at Los Angeles Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.