It’s time for practice at David Smith’s house.
What You Need To Know
“I feel so lucky because many people might dread to go into work, but it doesn’t feel like work to me,” said Smith. “So it’s nice to get paid to do what I love to do.”
When he prepares for an upcoming performance, he thinks of his mother, a nurse practitioner who has touched a human brain.
No one’s life is on the line in his line of work.
That’s his grounding.
Smith shares a home with fellow musician Natalie Hoe, who is English-born, Hong Kong-raised and California and Texas educated.
Hoe is the principal clarinet player for the Florida Orchestra.
Together they analyze their upcoming works and help one another practice.
“It’s nice to have someone to keep me on my toes,” Hoe said. “And to help me improve as a musician.”
Now, if horns in a song pump up your enjoyment, Smith may have the explanation.
“When you see us in the orchestra, we play the beautiful sentimental melodies, and we get those big heroic moments to bring the hero home," he said, smiling. "We get the love themes with the wife and the romantic interests. We get it all."
And with the French horn, he really earns it.
First it’s bundled up, but super long.
“If you were to unwrap this — literally pull it apart, unwrap it and straighten it out,” Smith said, pointing to the horn, “this would be 12 feet, 4 inches of tubing.”
Second, it points backwards because it was originally a hunting tool.
“This used to be called a ‘cor de chas’,” Smith explained, and the bell pointed backward to alert hunters behind the horn blower.
To mitigate this, Smith uses his hand to direct sound.
"We have to bounce it off the back wall and then out into the audience,” he said.
All this plus checking constantly for any collected condensation in the tubes to keep the sound perfect.
And when he takes a break from his work, he does it with Hoe and their two Australian Shepherds.
And yes, they are so remarkable, so well-trained and well-behaved that their accessories are part of a dog sponsorship — I mean they have their own Instagram page.
(It's a house of superlatives.)
Walking down the street, these musical phenoms blend in with the rest of the mortals in their St. Pete neighborhood.
But if you walk past their house during their practice time, then you will know the talent that plays there.