Saxophonist, Woodwind Doubler, Florist, and Cat Trainer. Meet Robinson’s Remedies Endorser Emily Pecoraro!
From Broadway pit orchestras and touring Broadway productions, to the tenor and alto sax soloist with Motown legends, saxophonist, and woodwind doubler Emily Pecoraro is known for her work in divergent ventures across the musical spectrum. Emily is also the Project Director for WIJO Mentors, the Women in Jazz Organization’s collegiate mentorship program. Robinson’s Remedies is thrilled to welcome Emily Pecoraro to our endorser family!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EARLY YEARS. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH WOODWINDS?
I’ve always been interested in playing many members of the woodwind family. It’s such a great way to engage with different types of instrument voices and colors. I grew up playing clarinet and saxophone in tandem, adding flute to the party when I was in high school, and for much of my young musical life, I studied with a musician who was himself a doubler. He really drilled into my head how to compartmentalize my approach to playing these different horns: “Fix your embouchure, your chin is too flat for this, you’re playing the saxophone like a clarinet player… No, your voicing is too open for this, you’re playing the clarinet like a saxophone player…” Things like that. It was a great way to make me practice thinking like a flute player when I’m holding a flute, like a clarinet player when I’m holding a clarinet, and so on.
I went to Ithaca College for my undergrad, where I studied Music Education with a classical clarinet concentration. While I was there I continued my saxophone and Jazz studies as well. My Masters degree is from The Boston Conservatory, where I studied Multiple Woodwind Performance. This degree basically functioned as a triple major, as I had to audition into and participate in each of the flute, clarinet, and saxophone studios, and required two gauntlet recitals on all three instrument families. That was really my opportunity to cut my teeth as a woodwind specialist, and I am so grateful for my time there. (I also picked up my other artistic outlet/side hustle there, working as a florist! I began at a shop there in Back Bay and have since worked in florists all over Brooklyn, and freelanced as a florist all over New York. I made flowers for the TV show “Broad City”, and have made arrangements delivered to Jimmy Fallon, Yoko Ono, and a handful of other big names. It’s a funny other life that I lead sometimes! You can check out my floral designs on social media with the hashtag #FlowerByEmPec.) Boston as a musical city is where I feel like I really came into my own as a Creative as well, in and around the avant-garde, Free improvised, and Third Stream communities.
After I finished grad school, I went on the road for a few years with a few different touring productions of Broadway shows, before settling into the City full time in 2015. Once I got here, I began studying with Lawrence Feldman, who has been truly my biggest influence to date. I usually refer to him as ‘Grad School Pt. II’. He completely got me whipped into shape as a saxophone player and a professional doubler, and I am so grateful to him for everything.
YOU RESIDE IN NEW YORK. WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE BEFORE THE QUARANTINE AND WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING SINCE?
Oh boy, remember life before last year?? I can’t wait for things to resume normal, and I feel like we’re safely approaching the home stretch. Before everything shut down last year I was so fortunate to be active in a bunch of different facets of musical life in New York City. I freelance in and around the Broadway community and the Jazz community and play the lead alto book in the New York horn section for The Temptations and The Four Tops, backing up the living Motown legends Otis Williams and Duke Fakir. I also played the alto/tenor book in The Temptations Review, before its featured Tempts alum Dennis Edwards passed away in 2018.
I also have had an active life as an educator and an administrator: In addition to my private teaching studio, I am the Project Director for the Women in Jazz Organization’s collegiate mentorship program, WIJO Mentors. We’re just beginning a big fundraising campaign to support and foster the growth of the program, you can check out more info at wearewijo.org/mentors! And for the last 5 years, I’ve run an experimental chamber music concert series called The Variousound Sessions, which had a monthly residency at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn leading up to the shutdown. I actually heard someone refer to the shutdown as “The Great Pause” and I like the vibe of that a lot, so let’s call it that instead.
Throughout The Great Pause, I’ve been doing a bunch of remote recording work for other folks’ projects and albums. But the biggest project I’ve been up to is co-running a remote ensemble called the Quarantined Woodwind Ensemble. We’ve been at it since last March, and the ensemble is made up of a rotating cast of friends and colleagues from the Broadway and Jazz communities. My co-conspirator Tyler Burchfield and I trade off arranging tunes for videos we produce (with a few guest arrangers peppered in), and over the last year we’ve put out 13 videos (working on the 14th) and we’ve included a roster of about 125 folks. And the list isn’t nearly exhausted! New York is amazing that way. In addition to these videos, I’ve been virtually working with my private teaching studio basically full time — I have 23 students, ranging in age from 6 to 46!
YOU’VE BEEN USING LIP RENEW FOR SOME TIME NOW. AS A WOODWIND PLAYER, WHAT BENEFITS HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED?
I’ve used Lip Renew many times in the past and I’ve found it to be a great help for lip care and lip recovery. I’ve found it to be especially helpful after long strenuous gigs, particularly ones that require me to play a lot of alto or clarinet as well as delicate nuanced flute. A lot of saxophone and clarinet playing can really give your lips a beating. If you have to also be playing any member of the flute family, which requires you to have sensitivity and control in your chops, I find that the lip renew is a great wait to maintain lip comfort and lip moisture. I use it before and after gigs and whenever I think of it (I keep a tube in my purse when I’m running around), and I never suffer from chapped lips or any other discomfort from playing (or a super dry Winter, even!).
YOU HAVE BEEN TESTING OUR NEW PRODUCT, ROBINSON’S REMEDIES REED RENEW. TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE.
I’ve been using Reed Renew for the last year or so and have found it to be a crucial part of my reed care routine, keeping my reeds properly hydrated and moisturized while extending their longevity. I started using it during the last run of the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes, in which I’ve been a chair holder in the orchestra for the last two seasons. During that season, I personally play up to 4 shows a day, so I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to test the Reed Renew out, and it absolutely delivered. I know everyone has their own reed maintenance process and we all love to complain, but in my experience, this was a very helpful tool. It’s a thin oil that comes in a small brush-on bottle, so it’s easy to stick in your reed bag or in one of your horn cases. And the oil it’s made of is thin enough that I’m not worried about clogging the cane, but it definitely helps lock moisture into the reed. It makes my reeds feel more reliable, too — I know that even if a horn has been sitting cold during a long dialogue scene the reed won’t have dried out too much and I can more easily pick it up and play comfortably. It’s a great product, really!
YOU HAVE TWO CATS WHO ARE TOILET TRAINED! HOW ON EARTH DID YOU ACCOMPLISH THAT?
This is hands down the most interesting fact about me and my proudest accomplishment by far. Do you know who is kind of credited with pioneering this method? Charles Mingus! Seriously. Google “Mingus CAT-alog” and you will not be disappointed. I’ve got two five-year-old sibling kitties, Ralph and Beatrice, both of whom are toilet trained. We used a kit called The Litter Kwitter, which I got at Petco. The whole process took me and my now-husband about 2 months, which we did one year over a slow Winter where we didn’t have a ton of gigs and we knew we could both be home to be consistent with training them. It’s hilarious and I’m so proud of them.