In my travels to Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in December, I sat in on a session presented by Christopher Bill, a YouTube artist who recently hit it big with his cover of Pharrell Williams‘ Happy. He agreed to talk with me about his background, how he approached his college education and why he wouldn’t recommend it, and working as a musician in the 21st century.
About Christopher Bill
Chris is an up-and-coming musician based outside of New York City. He has been playing piano since he was 6 years old, trombone since he was 10, and he has been composing/arranging since he was 12.
He has a Bachelor of Music for classical trombone performance at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music in New York. While at the conservatory he studied with critically acclaimed trombonists Weston Sprott (Metropolitan Opera), Denson Paul-Pollard (Metropolitan Opera), John Fedchock (Grammy Nominated Jazz Trombonist), and the absolutely incomparable Timothy Albright.
Chris is best known for his all-trombone arrangements of popular songs. His YouTube Channel has been gaining popularity since the summer of 2012 when he posted his version of Owl City’s “Fireflies” for six trombones. More recently, a cover of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” where Chris uses a looping station to compose the song on the spot went viral in the spring of 2014. His videos have since amassed over 8 million views and a following of over 65,000 subscribers. In April 2014, Chris independently released his first cover album, Breakthrough, followed by his Christmas album, Smiling’s My Favorite.
Since graduating from the Purchase Conservatory, Chris enjoys a busy schedule of performances, clinics, and masterclasses. He is a well known face at festivals such as the American Trombone Workshop and the International Trombone Festival.
For a closer look at how he does what he does, check out this live session from Texas.
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