Episode 70. How musicians and pilots are similar, with Randy Waldman

Randy WaldmanWhen you go on tour with Frank Sinatra at age 21, it’s hard to be intimidated—so it’s no surprise Randy Waldman jumped into the exciting world of helicopters with both feet. In this episode he shares his unique aviation journey, from model airplanes to owning a Mooney to setting a speed record in a Bell OH-58. As one of LA’s most experienced studio musicians and an active helicopter CFI, Randy talks about the similarities between music and flying, including how pilots can develop feel, whether having a career plan B makes sense, and how to use all your senses. In the Ready to Copy segment, Randy shares the most challenging part of flying in LA, his favorite turbine helicopter, and the most underrated jazz musician.  


  • Catching the aviation bug: “When I would do sessions, I would always have some written test prep book up on the piano… if I had four bars or more off, I’d be reading a question.”
  • Why instructing is rewarding: “Everybody’s bound to do the wrong thing at some point… so you just have to be really, really on your toes.”
  • Advice for airplane pilots flying helicopters: “It’s a completely different skillset. Don’t get frustrated—it’s like starting over.”
  • Why he can’t teach music: “Hearing a wrong note or a bad rhythm is like nails on a chalkboard… I don’t want to hear bad music—ever.”
  • Using all your senses when you fly: “I would hold up a tuning program on my phone and say, ‘look, this is an F#.’ Don’t look at the gauge; make an input.”
  • Should you have a plan B in aviation and music? “If you’re really passionate about something and that’s all you want to do, I don’t think you should even think about a plan B.”
  • Playing with Frank Sinatra: “It was musically one of the greatest experiences anybody could ever have… we never rehearsed with Frank, so the first time I saw him was at Madison Square Garden.”

Show links

Listen on your favorite app:

Listen online:

Sign up for Special Offers

Stay up to date on new arrivals, email exclusives, and more.