Lois Herbine’s musical journey & impactful recital at Boyd Recital Hall

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"After her first piccolo solo, Herbine was told by her band director that she'll make more money if she becomes a piccolo artist as they don't play as much, however, when they do, it's very important." - Copy Editor / Rianna Moses.

Piccolo specialist Lois Herbine uncovers her musical passage with the small sister of the flute while being grateful for the experiences that got her here. The Recording Artist from Philadelphia who went to The New School of Music and currently also uses her talent to teach, performed three piccolo pieces on Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Boyd Recital Hall. When Herbine was young, her school had a band of 100 and a flute section of 27. She struggled to be one of the 27 as it felt like there was no individuality in a crowd of 26 other people. 

“You really couldn’t have a voice in that,” said Herbine. “Neither you could hear yourself, nor be heard and I didn’t know what I was doing. There were so many other sounds going around that I didn’t know if I was playing the right notes.”

However, from being a shy young girl, Herbine’s world changed in the eighth grade when she was offered to be the piccolo player of the band. Her slight knowledge of the piccolo, as her sister played it, pushed her to come out of the flute section and find more of herself through the process. 

“When I started playing the piccolo, I felt like ‘Oh my gosh, I can hear myself’ and I wanted to do more with it,” said Herbine. “People didn’t know me in class and this gave me a voice and a way to express myself.”

After her first piccolo solo, Herbine was told by her band director that she’ll make more money if she becomes a piccolo artist as they don’t play as much, however, when they do, it’s very important.

“We call it 75% sheer boredom and 25% sheer terror,” said Herbine. 

When Herbine was fresh out of college, she did one of her first gigs with the opera company in Philadelphia where she was hired to be a part of the band that marched across the stage. She was the youngest piccolo player and she realized that her band director was right. 

“Because I had a costume on, I made more money,” said Herbine. “There were all different aspects of how much money you would get. The people that were in the pit playing for three hours, didn’t make half as much as I made walking across and playing 32 measures. So it was kind of a real fairy tale beginning.”

From then on, Herbine started freelancing and ended up performing and playing with the Philly Pops and even recorded some NFL films. However, Herbine’s teaching journey started at an even younger age. When she was 16, Herbine taught a few people how to play the flute for $5. Through word of mouth and a whole lot of talent, she ended up having a studio in her house by the time her senior year began and her passion for teaching grew. Herbine performed in the Hollybush Festival Orchestra back in 1987 when Rowan was called Glassboro State College. Rowan University reached out to her as she has not performed on campus since. 

“I’m sure it had something to do with Susanna Loewy,” said Herbine, about a professor from the flute faculty at Rowan. “We have worked together. Even recently, we worked together in the summer.”

At 7:30 p.m., Herbine, along with pianist Stanley Delage, started with a piece that is composed by English composer Mike Mower, which is a fun, jazz, piccolo solo. She then performed her second piece, the Persichetti parable for solo Piccolo. 

“Persichetti is one of the greatest 20th-century composers,” said Herbine. “He composed this piece in 74 at the time that really, there were no piccolo solos.” Herbine also performed a piece that she, along with composer and flutist, Cynthia Folio, worked on. 

“We met together in Philadelphia. We were at a restaurant and the whole historic Philadelphia scene was all around us,” said Herbine. We were thinking, ‘What shall we have this music depict?’ And that’s what we came up with.”

Herbine also held a masterclass that took place after her recital where she heard and gave students from Rowan tips and advice on how to become better at the Piccolo and other similar instruments. 

“If you pick up the piccolo and you scrunch down because it’s so tiny, and you kind of go into your turtle shell, that’s the wrong way for approaching the instrument,” Herbine said. “It’s not an instrument for the timid.” Herbine believes that if there is no confidence, a person can’t be good at playing the piccolo. 

“If you want to learn Piccolo, you need just to be very, very open to trial and error. It’s a tough nut to crack. You need a lot of confidence,” said Herbine. 

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