In Her Own Words: Musician First Class Ally Albrecht

Musician First Class Ally Albrecht joined the Navy Band in 2021 as a trumpet instrumentalist in the Commodores jazz ensemble. She earned a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies from the University of North Texas in 2014 and a Master of Music in jazz arts from the Manhattan School of Music in 2017. Albrecht played jazz trumpet in the Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas and has also performed with the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra, the Jim Widner Big Band, Maria Schneider, and Wycliff Gordon, as well as her own quintet, which released their first album, Journeys Ahead, in 2016. She was the second-place winner in the jazz division of the 2017 National Trumpet Competition. Prior to her time in the Navy, she served in the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West at Travis Air Force Base, California.

Tell us a little about your musical background/when you started playing the trumpet (or other instruments)?

I come from a musical family, so I grew up hearing my dad, grandpa and uncle perform, but I didn’t start trumpet until I was in the sixth grade. When filling out interest forms for band, I put my preferences as percussion (like every middle school kid) and trombone, but unbeknownst to me, my grandpa had already bought me a trumpet that he found at a yard sale. It was meant to be because I fell in love with it right away!

When/how did you decide to pursue music professionally?

I got serious about being a jazz musician midway through high school. I was fortunate that my high school, Webster Groves High School in St. Louis, Missouri, had a top-notch band program and I was able to network with industry leaders through clinics, masterclasses, and camps. We had the opportunity to work with world-class artists regularly, and even travel to New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco, which gave me a good idea of professional expectations from a young age. This led me to pursue an undergrad degree in jazz studies at the University of North Texas, which solidified my decision to be a full-time jazz musician, and ultimately join the military. 

Have you faced any unique challenges as a woman in a professional military organization?

The military is a much more regulated workspace than the freelance world, so I feel like I’ve faced fewer challenges than I did before joining. I know this wasn’t always the case, but the military has taken some great strides over the last decade or two and I’m proud to work for an organization that values professionalism and equality.

What are some of the highlights from your military career thus far?

There have been so many amazing moments so far, from traveling the country on national tours to major music conferences, and even performances for the President, but one memory that really stands out was from my first summer in the Air Force. I had only been in the band for a few months, and we were set to perform with the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl for their Fourth of July shows. We show up to the first rehearsal, and I’m already absolutely star-struck, when Thomas Wilkins announces we’ll begin with “Bugler’s Holiday.” We all just assumed the LA Phil trumpet section would perform as the soloists, but we were then told we were going to be featured. So fresh out of music school and basic training, suddenly I’m center stage at the Hollywood Bowl playing to a crowd of 18,000 as a featured soloist with the LA Phil. That’s a memory I’ll never forget!

What advice have you received along the way by a trusted friend or mentor that you would want to share with younger musicians who might be considering a career in a military musical organization?

I feel like students wait for the “perfect” opportunity to start taking auditions – maybe that’s waiting until they’ve got their degree or feel musically ready, but the truth is, you’ll never truly feel ready. Go ahead and put yourself out there and start getting the experience now! The worst that could happen is you don’t advance past the first round or get selected for the job, but you’ll learn so much through the process and be better prepared for the next one.

How do you think your time in your school band program helped shaped you to become the musician you are today?

The fantastic experiences I had in middle and high school band are the foundation that set me up for success in college, and ultimately a career in military music. I wouldn’t be here today without the incredible band directors I had along the way. I would love to say “thank you” to Mr. Cole, Mr. Williams, Mrs. Stillwell, Mr. Dorries and Mr. Harris for the impact they made on my life and their dedication to teaching.

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