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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Jan 25, 2019

In this episode, I speak to Nick Plattoff, Associate Principal Trombone of the San Francisco Symphony since 2016.  He and I talk about the audition process and how he went about to prepare for his SFS audition, how audition day was like, and how he prepared to step in to his new life as a professional musician in one of America’s top orchestras. 

We cover:

  • His path, growing up with parents that fostered a culturally rich environment for their children
  • Why he says music is a form of love
  • How he came to choose the trombone and what was his motivation to keep playing
  • The influence on summer camp in his decision to become a musician
  • How he decided to put his multiple musical interests on hold while working on his trombone skills, and how that paid off
  • What New World Symphony brought him, outside of the practice room and stage
  • How deciding to focus solely on the audition process was crucial
  • His audition plan and how he prepared for the audition





Nick’s website:

San Francisco Symphony – about Nick:

San Francisco Symphony – Profile of Nick Platoff:


YouTube Channel:






In April 2016, Nicholas Platoff was appointed the Associate Principal Trombone of the San Francisco Symphony by Michael Tilson Thomas.

He has been recognized in both national and international competitions, as winner of the Aspen Music Festival and School Brass and Percussion Concerto Competition, National Brass Symposium Trombone Excerpt Competition and United States Coast Guard Band Young Artist Competition. In September 2015, he was the only American to advance to the second round of the ARD competition in Munich.

Prior to joining the SFS, Platoff spent two years as a fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami. He earned his Bachelors of Music degree with Brass Department Honors, majoring in Trombone Performance and Music Theory from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. He is also a proud alumnus of New Haven’s Neighborhood Music School. His teachers include Michael Mulcahy, Per Brevig, Christopher Davis, Peter Ellefson, Terrence Fay, Randall Hawes, Timothy Higgins, and Douglas Wright.

Platoff's experience in artistic planning dates back to high school, when he co-produced a day-long music festival in his backyard to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In college, he founded the Players’ Operation Chamber Orchestra and served as its conductor and artistic director, presenting concerts that featured student soloists and premiered student compositions. During his time with the New World Symphony, he produced and curated “MIXTAPE,” the first-ever concert of the New Audience Fellow Initiative, which offered a multi-genre program to a standing room audience.

He is also a committed educator and works weekly as the low brass section coach for the award-winning SFS Youth Orchestra. He was a co-founder of the Miami Brass Festival, a day-long clinic for young brass players. His trombone students have been accepted to many of the top music programs in the country, including the Manhattan School of Music and San Francisco Conservatory, as well as the Interlochen Arts Academy and Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

During the summers, Platoff has performed at the Verbier Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Britten-Pears Programme, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he was the Per Brevig Trombone Fellow. In the summer of 2017, he performed at Festival Mozaic, the Lakes Area Music Festival, and Burning Man.


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Most sincere thank you to composer Jim Stephenson who graciously provided the show’s musical theme!  Concerto #1 for Trumpet and Chamber Orchestra – Movement 2: Allegro con Brio, performed by Jeffrey Work, trumpet, and the Lake Forest Symphony, conducted by Jim Stephenson.

Also a HUGE thank you to my fantastic producer, Bella Kelly!