Broad proves practice can get you to Carnegie Hall

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Emily Broad spends hours each week honing her snare drum skills — and that practice paid off with an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall.

A freshman at Marist College, Broad spends at least an hour a day practicing the snare drum, and her extra work caught the eye of Marist Music Program Director Arthur Himmelberger.

He was so impressed, she said, that he invited her to play with his Colonie, N.Y.-based concert band and the Veterans Day performance at Carnegie Hall in November.

“Performing at Carnegie Hall among so many incredible musicians was the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Broad, “and I'm grateful to have been chosen for this honor. So it's true when people say ‘How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.’ Had I not been practicing, I may have never gotten this opportunity.”

Broad said she wasn’t all that worried that she was playing at Carnegie Hall until she was standing on the stage, looking into the seats.

“It was surreal,” recalled Broad, “and a wave of emotions passed over me that I can't even really put into words. It was incredible.”

Broad, a Shelton High graduate who played snare drum in the school’s marching band her junior and senior years, said she has always had an interest in music. When she was younger, she said, she would sit at a piano and figure out simple tunes by ear.

“I actually started as a clarinet player in the SHS band, playing drums on the side,” said Broad. “I switched to full-time percussion later in high school.”

Broad said she was a music major at the Regional Center for the Arts magnet high school in Trumbull and took piano lessons for a few years before high school.

“Percussion-wise, I'm primarily focused on drum set and marching snare,” said Broad, adding that she currently plays marching snare at Marist. “I also played drum set in the pit orchestra for the SHS spring musical for two years. In a concert band setting, I play a wide variety of percussion instruments. My favorites are snare, which I played at Carnegie Hall, and timpani.”

Broad said Marist offers students a practice room just for percussionists, where she tries to spend at least an hour a day bettering her performance skills.

"During my practice sessions, I spend a lot of time on simple technique-building exercises which I can use in more difficult pieces,” said Broad. “I was actually ‘discovered’ by Arthur Himmelberger while I was in that room. I was practicing a solo snare piece and he heard me, and I guess he was impressed.”

Broad said while she is not planning a full-time career in music, she wants to stay involved in some way throughout her life.

“While I'm in college, I want to get involved in as many musical activities as I possibly can, and hopefully take on some leadership roles in the band,” said Broad. “After college, I want to instruct a high school drumline or possibly even a local drum corps. I'm also into composing music.”

For her senior Capstone project, Broad said she wrote Shelton High School's fight song, which is now played at all football games and pep rallies. And her composition goal is to write an entire marching band show that can be performed.

“Music has always been a part of my life, but I started getting very serious about it once I was in high school, thanks to the SHS band," said Broad. “The more time I spent with the band, the more I wanted to dedicate myself to music. I will carry this dedication to music with me throughout my entire life.”