Alicia tells us about the inspiration behind her “Clappy Hour” series, life during COVID, and Lip Renew Recovery!
New York trumpeter Alicia Rau, originally from Iowa, is a distinguished artist in the world of jazz, rock, pop, and original music. Rau is a prominent trumpeter, vocalist, and composer, making a notable stance in the New York music scene.
Alicia recently created a series called Clappy Hour and the School Song Project, inspired by the effects of the pandemic. Regular Clappy Hour performances are presented weekly to cheer on our Frontline Workers, to support our Essential Workers, and to encourage anyone who needs it during this challenging time.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EARLY YEARS. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE TRUMPET?
I started on the piano in my toddler years, running to our piano to try to play whatever I’d hear on the TV. So, in 1st grade, I started taking piano lessons, which later turned into accompanying the school choir, accompanying the church choir, and presently teaching dozens of piano students. In 5th grade (age 10), we could join the band, and I had my eyes set on that shiny trumpet. Marching band and pep band are big in Iowa, and by the time I reached 6th grade, I was allowed to leave my classroom early every day to join the high school marching band practice.
My interest was inspired by a contemporary college band my sisters were in, including two super-hip trumpet players. In reality, I think the real reason I chose the trumpet was because I’m the youngest of six girls. It wasn’t too often that my voice was heard among all those ladies … but put some air through a trumpet, and I finally had a voice. I could go out on the hill on our Iowa farm, blast across the cornfields, and really be heard!
YOU RESIDE IN NEW YORK. WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE BEFORE THE QUARANTINE AND HOW HAVE YOU BEEN DEALING WITH THE LOCKDOWN?
Before the quarantine, I was happily juggling many musical hats. I taught private piano and trumpet lessons to students in my home studio. I was the coordinator for an in-school beginning band program, in charge of 130 band kids and a staff of 6. And I performed 4 to 5 gigs a week, ranging from leading my own jazz trio to cover bands, classical church gigs, jazz big band jobs, and touring with the Denis Leary Band.
Once the pandemic hit, the gigs came to a halt, so that was a big adjustment. This void of performances helped fuel the creation of Clappy Hour (a daily live stream performance to encourage our frontline workers) as well as The School Song Project (inspiring 50+ schools with a YouTube performance of each school’s fight song). Additionally, I’ve assisted with online recording projects across the world, which has been a nice perk of creativity.
Thankfully my private lessons have continued and even soared higher, as I now have a 4-camera setup for online trumpet and piano lessons with students from NY to CT, VT, IA, CA, and beyond. I’ve presented online recitals, so my students can celebrate their musical efforts with supportive audiences from all parts of the US. I miss the in-person gigs and lessons, but the advancement of online projects and adjustments due to quarantine can really bring out a new creative process in a person. We just have to keep thinking out of the box!
WE’VE BEEN ENJOYING YOUR BEAUTIFUL “CLAPPY HOUR” PERFORMANCES. TELL US ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS SERIES.
Clappy Hour started in late March 2020, when NYC would roar each evening with claps, cheers, banging of pots and pans, and car horns during the 7 pm shift changeover of our frontline workers. I thought, “Hey, that trumpet gave me a voice as a young kid, lemme put that voice to use!” So, for 60 days in a row, I prepared and presented a different tune each day to play live at 7 pm, on my roof, out a window, and in spots across the city — traveling to each spot by bike. I never missed a day. I also live-streamed each Clappy Hour so that people across the world could partake in the cheering, get a break in their quarantine day, or find a moment of inspiration when we needed it more than ever.
After 60 days straight, I still present a Clappy Hour weekly. I’m reaching my 100th performance this month! Weekly videos can be viewed on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/alicia.rau as well as YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/Aliciarau.
YOU’RE ONE OF OUR EARLIEST ENDORSERS! TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH LIP RENEW AND OUR RECOVERY STICK.
I’m a big fan, especially of the Recovery Stick – I have one in each of my trumpet bags (different horns for different gigs), plus one in my overnight travel bag and one next to my teaching studio. I love the stuff – basically, it’s yummy PLUS; it works when I start to feel chapped after a long night of playing.
The Lip Renew is pure gold, for those moments when my chops are stiff and swollen from playing nonstop in LOUD bands. If my chops take a beating, Lip Renew calms them right away and reduces swelling overnight. I will use both products on the road, on gigs, after a long show, before heading to bed.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ONCE LIFE GETS BACK TO NORMAL?
While I have adjusted well to our current virtual reality, I look forward to making music IN PERSON! No more adjusting the beat due to the zoom delay, no more struggling with wifi issues while playing a blues scale with a student, no more recording a tune with a band from a laptop computer, no more giving up a gig because I don’t feel safe performing with a crowd of people. How about some in-person live music!
Well, that, plus good ol’ hugs and unmasked smiles with friends in crowded places.