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Danielle Kuhlmann

Danielle Kuhlman

Danielle Kuhlmann grew up in the little slice of paradise known as Seattle, WA.

She came from a musical family (think: Messiah sing-alongs at the family Christmas dinner...) and started early, studying Suzuki violin at age 3. After an "incident" where she threw her violin on the floor and embarrassed her mother in front of everyone, she switched to studying piano (an instrument she couldn't lift and throw on the floor). She took up the flute at age 9, and began singing at age 10. After voicing her fears that she would never make it into the top Seattle Youth Symphony due to the overabundance of flute players, the teacher suggest taking up the horn because "nobody plays it." The rest is history.

Danielle had a natural talent for the horn, even though she didn't understand the whole "when you're playing a C, it's really an F" thing (she has since figured it out). She practiced relentlessly and after high school, moved to New York City to study with Jerome Ashby at the Juilliard School. After 4 exciting years, she moved on to Houston to study with William VerMeulen at Rice University, where she played as a regular extra with the Houston Symphony. 

She returned to New York to work as a freelancer, playing everything from orchestral, chamber, contemporary, and pop/broadway music. But soon after her move, the 2008 financial crash took place, and work in New York for young freelancers (and just about everybody else) dried up. During this bittersweet oasis of free time, Danielle co-founded the all-female pop Horn experience Genghis Barbie, after a bolt of inspiration at one of the girls' bachelorette parties. In addition, she did a lot of collage art and jewelry-making, eventually landing her in a Jewelry Design program at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. After studying for 1 year, she realized that playing horn was the most important thing in her creative life, and left the program to fully pursue a career in music. 

Since then, the Barbies have taken off, and each of their personal careers along with it. Danielle enjoys traveling the world playing music, having performed in symphony orchestras and chamber music concerts throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, Colorado Symphony, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. An avid interpreter of new music, she is Principal Horn of the American Composers Orchestra, and performs regularly with Metropolis Ensemble and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). She has been a featured soloist with the Seattle and Manila Symphony Orchestras, Novus NY at Trinity Wall Street, and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, where she is also Principal Horn.

Devoted to philanthropic work, she has spent three summers (and will return again this year!) in the Philippines volunteering for the group Cultures in Harmony, a New York based NGO that promotes cultural diplomacy through music. The group works with both professional and student-level musicians as well as indigenous tribal youth. In January of 2011, she volunteered in Kabul, Afghanistan, teaching music at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. 

In the summer of 2014, Danielle moved her homebase back to Seattle, where she was fortunate to perform Wager's Ring Cycle (4 times!). She has played regularly as a substitute with the Seattle Symphony and Opera. In 2014 she won a horn section position with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.  In her "spare time," Ms. Kuhlmann still makes jewelry, gardens, writes arrangements for Genghis Barbie, and sings in the Brooklyn-based rock band Tatters & Rags.

My Kit

  • Two Amato water keys. 
  • Two JoyKeys, one on my 3rd Bb slide and one on my main slide. 
  • The bell flares are standard 180k- pink and the clear lacquered one as well. 
  • Valve Oil: Hetman Piston 11 (everywhere!)
  • Mutes: 3 lovely Ion Balu mutes, including the Limited Edition Genghis Barbie Edition, a vintage Tiger Stripe, and a pink Princess Mute, 
  • Case: Cardo Case - Hemingway's Dream style
  • Mouthpiece: Moosewood B16 cup with M4 rim in gold plating

Must Haves

  • A mechanical pencil
  • Chapstick! (Badger Balm Unscented) I'm addicted. 
  • My Camelbak self-filtering water bottle (a lifesaver!)
  • COFFEE (black!)

Something Worth Learning

  • The full range of the horn: registers, dynamics, articulations, tone colors, effects, etc. Your creativity should never be hindered by what you can or can't achieve on the instrument!
  • What the harmonic series is and the physics of brass instruments. I mean... duh! Know your "fundamentals!" ;)

Favorite Things

  • Chapstick! (Oh, wait....)
  • Cooking elaborate breakfast scrambles
  • Traveling with Genghis Barbie
  • Teaching!
  • Doing my taxes (HAHA JUST KIDDING!!)

Practice Inspiration

  • All of my incredible teachers and mentors: Dale and Alice Clevenger, Mark Robbins, Jerome Ashby, Phil Myers, and William VerMeulen. Yeah, I've studied with a few great ones... :)
  • My incredible colleagues in Genghis Barbie. They constantly amaze me.


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