Carnegie Mellon University
April 30, 2015

Musician and Life Coach

Lance LaDuke

When Lance LaDuke was studying music as a euphonium player, his college advisor was emphatic — he needed to have an education degree, because there weren't many performance opportunities on euphonium (picture a baby tuba with a higher, sweeter sound).

LaDuke would go on to graduate and prove him wrong, performing in the nation's top ensembles, traveling the world, and being in charge of his own career.

He teaches at Carnegie Mellon University in a role as varied as his life — as an artist lecturer in euphonium, leading music business classes, advising freshman, and coordinating special and creative projects.

"I built a career doing things I'm not supposed to do," LaDuke said.

LaDuke won a job with the Air Force Band in Washington D.C., largely considered one of the best performing opportunities for a euphonium player. But after seven years, he was antsy. 

He left D.C. and landed back in the Midwest, where he started playing with Pittsburgh's River City Brass Band, one of the country's few full-time brass bands. He would later audition for the Boston Brass — who needed him to learn trombone in six months — and win the job. 

LaDuke spent seven years with the Boston Brass, before he got tired of life on the road. He missed seeing his kids, and settled back in Pittsburgh, where he started teaching at CMU.

"My mission morphed. It was 100% crystal clear — I wanted to help musicians help themselves," LaDuke said.

Denis Colwell, head of the School of Music, saw LaDuke's experience as a way to help students.

LaDuke works with all incoming freshman, encouraging them to pursue their ideas — no matter how off-beat.

"His influence on students is as an information giver, a role model, a sounding board, a cheerleader, and permission giver," Colwell said.

LaDuke's students have gone on to start local indie bands, brass bands, and manage their own careers.

Henry Attaway (A'14) worked with LaDuke at CMU as a euphonium teacher, and, as he says, "life coach."

"When Lance first opened my eyes to a world beyond the traditional career path of a euphonium player, he was clear to articulate that success would be the result of many cumulative experiences," Attaway said.

Attaway is now the co-founder, director of development, and euphonium player for the Brass Roots, a Pittsburgh-based brass band. He's also the director and faculty member of the Fredericksburg Brass Institute, a performing artist for XO Brass, and an intern at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, working in donor relations. 

"Lance's influence came from the values of open-mindedness that he instilled in me when we first met," Attaway said.

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