Thoughts on Teaching and Playing the Horn

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Brief Reviews: Quality Tones App and The Big Book of Sight Reading Duets

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February 8, 2016 • Repertoire, Reviews, Teaching, Technology

Today’s brief reviews will consider two new products for brass players: Quality Tones – an app for iOS and Android devices – and The Big Book of Sight Reading Duets, from Mountain Peak Music. Both provide a creative, fresh approach to learning fundamental musical skills. Quality Tones was designed by Spencer Park, a member of… Read More ›

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Brief Reviews: Quality Tones App and The Big Book of Sight Reading Duets

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Today’s brief reviews will consider two new products for brass players: Quality Tones – an app for iOS and Android devices – and The Big Book of Sight Reading Duets, from Mountain Peak Music. Both provide a creative, fresh approach to learning fundamental musical skills. Quality Tones was designed by Spencer Park, a member of… Read More ›

Area Horn News »

Semester Preview: Fall 2015 Edition

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After posting a final update on the 47th International Horn Symposium, I decided to take a little break from blogging to focus on my preparations for the fall semester. The break turned out to be a little longer than expected, but I’m back now with my traditional semester preview. As always, a new academic year… Read More ›

Biographical »

Old Photos: An Early Embouchure Change

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Going through a box of old photos recently, I came across a few pictures showing my embouchure setup from my early high school days. These photos were taken during the summer of 1996, and beginning that fall I made a pretty big adjustment to my mouthpiece placement. In the long run it was definitely the… Read More ›

Chamber Music »

Horn Symposium Update No. 1

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After traveling to Los Angeles yesterday, today was my first full day at the 47th International Horn Symposium, hosted by Andrew Bain and Annie Bosler at the Colburn School. I plan to post daily updates to this website, and while these can’t provide a complete picture, hopefully they will at least give a general sense… Read More ›

Embouchure »

Video: Lip Trill and Range Development Exercise by Douglas Hill

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Here’s a short video demonstration of a great exercise for working on lip trills and range development. The exercise can be found in two publications by Douglas Hill, Warm-ups and Maintenance Sessions for the Horn Player, and High Range for the Horn Player. Both books are highly recommended, and I have used them regularly for… Read More ›

Ensembles »

Upcoming Performance: University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Horn Ensemble

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[This post is the second in a series related to events at the upcoming 47th International Horn Symposium. You can read the first one here.] The 47th International Horn Symposium is less than two months away, and I’m very excited to attend what promises to be a huge event. The lineup of artists, presenters, and… Read More ›

Equipment »

Summary Comments: Spun vs. Hand Hammered Bells

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Thanks to everyone who participated in my poll on spun vs. hand hammered bells. Though hardly a scientific study, it was really interesting (and fun!) to view the results and read the comments left on the page. The voting was pretty close, with Bell No. 2 being preferred by 56% of listeners, and Bell No…. Read More ›

Etudes »

Coming Soon from Mountain Peak Music: Solo Duet Training for Horns

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In my Semester Preview, I mentioned a new book project for Mountain Peak Music. Work on the publication has been going well, with an anticipated release in 2015. The title is Solo Duet Training for Horns, and it will consist of duo adaptations of several standard solo works for the horn. David Vining, owner of… Read More ›

Film Scores »

Horn Symposium Update No. 3

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Day 3: Another exciting day at the 47th International Horn Symposium! Here’s what I attended during the morning and early afternoon. Lecture – Contemporary Solos for Low Horn (Robert Stonestreet) A fascinating presentation focused on little known works which feature the horn’s low register. I knew a few of the works mentioned, but discovered some… Read More ›

General Information »

Job Listings Page Update

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Check out the Job Listings page for information on several upcoming auditions, including positions in the New York Philharmonic, U.S. Marine Band, and Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.

Health »

Musician, Heal Thyself: Canker Sores

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Canker sores: these minor annoyances can become an issue for brass players, and over the years I’ve dealt with my fair share of them.  First, the disclaimer: I am not a physician, and the following material is based purely on my own experience.  It is not meant to be medical advice – when in doubt… Read More ›

Historical »

A Treasury of Horns!

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I had the opportunity last week to speak with Craig Pratt, a longtime member of the Shreveport Symphony’s horn section, about his extensive collection of rare and interesting horns. Craig was generous enough to let me photograph some of these instruments, and offered very knowledgable comments about their history and design. His collection is surely… Read More ›

Instruments »

A New Toy

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Near the end of last semester I purchased a new toy — a natural horn. It’s a great little instrument, and perfect for my needs, which mainly involve demonstrations for students and general noodling around. The horn was created by removing the valve section from an old York single F horn, and the work was… Read More ›

Opera »

IHS 45 Report

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I returned yesterday from the 45th International Horn Symposium, hosted by Professor Dan Phillips at the University of Memphis.  First, hearty congratulations and a huge thank you to Professor Phillips and his students for putting on a fantastic symposium this year! Though there are similarities among all events of this type, each has its own… Read More ›

Orchestral Playing »

Semester Preview, Part 2: Orchestral Bucket List, Horn Conferences, Book Projects, and More!!

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Here’s Part 2 of my semester preview, with some more brief descriptions of what will be happening in Spring 2015 and beyond (Part 1 is located here). Orchestral Performances: This spring I’ll have the opportunity to perform on three major orchestral works I’ve never played before: Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No…. Read More ›

Performing »

A Recital Practice Plan

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So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! As this semester draws to a close, I’m gearing up for several performances in December and during the spring. These include: recruiting concerts and a recital with… Read More ›

Philosphical »

Book Review: Notes of Hope

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One summertime activity I really enjoy is catching up on my reading list, which consists of a variety of books; some purely for pleasure – the Riverworld Series by Philip José Farmer and The Bourne Legacy by Eric Van Lusbader – and others for professional purposes. Notes of Hope, the topic for today’s brief review,… Read More ›

Physical Issues »

Thoughts on Lip Balms: Comment on Horn Matters Article

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Over at Horn Matters, John Ericson is wrapping up a great 14-week online course on horn pedagogy, and one of this week’s topics is lip care and lip balm. Dr. Ericson has invited comments on this issue, but rather than take up too much space on his site I thought it would be best to… Read More ›

Practicing »

Back to Basics: One Month with the Standley Routine

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At the beginning of September I decided to take a break from my regular warm-up and maintenance routine – Douglas Hill’s Warm-ups and Maintenance Sessions for the Horn Player – and began working on the Standley Routine. Going in, I decided to commit to it for one month before making any long term decisions. If… Read More ›

Random »

Friday Potpourri

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An assortment of news, websites, gear, and other items of interest from around the horn world. Just Sayin’: A new (and free)  smartphone app which allows you to “post any combination of voice, text, photos and video to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.”  Definitely some possibilities here for musicians. Horn Playing from the Inside Out:… Read More ›

Recordings »

Recording Review: Table for Three

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Table for Three is a brand new recording from Summit Records featuring three very prominent figures in the world of brass playing – John Ericson (horn), Douglas Yeo (bass trombone), and Deanna Swoboda (tuba). All three are members of the brass faculty at Arizona State University, with distinguished careers as performers and educators. The album… Read More ›

Reference »

Review: Good Vibrations: Masterclasses for Brass Players, by Randy Gardner

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Good Vibrations: Masterclasses for Brass Players is the title of a new book by Randy Gardner, Professor of Horn and Chair of the Winds and Brass Department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. I have been meaning to write a review for the past several weeks, but as there are already some great ones out there… Read More ›

Repair »

Horn DIY: Changing Mute Corks

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Here’s another entry in the “Horn DIY” series, changing mute corks.  My go-to straight mute is Ion Balu’s “Red Mahogany” model.  Over time the corks that came with the mute have worn and even started to break apart in a few places (see below). If you look closely at the top of the corks you… Read More ›

Repertoire »

Notes on a Commission: Gary Schocker’s In Arkadia for Horn and Harp

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In my Summer Plans post last week I mentioned the upcoming premiere of In Arkadia, a new work for horn and harp by Gary Schocker. Harpist Jaymee Haefner and I recently had our first rehearsal for the performance, which is scheduled for August 3 at the 47th International Horn Symposium in Los Angeles, CA. After… Read More ›

Reviews »

Etudes in Review: 30 Etudes for Stopped Horn, by Robert Ward

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I picked up this great collection of stopped horn studies at the IHS Symposium in Los Angeles, but have just now gotten around to writing up a review. Author Robert Ward is well-known in the horn world, through his long tenure with the San Francisco Symphony as well as a growing number of compositions with… Read More ›

Solos »

60 Years of Strauss 1 Recordings!

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**See the end of this post for supplementary information. This is a project I have wanted to put together for some time, and have been slowly plugging away at it over the last few weeks. Inspired by this video of the opening chords of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, I thought it would be fun to… Read More ›

Teaching »

Five Years of Horn World

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Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of Horn World. Looking back at my first post from June 2010, I still feel very much the same about the goals and overall direction of the site. As a way to recap and reflect, here are some of the reasons I began blogging (taken from that first post), with… Read More ›

Technique »

Developing Rhythm

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Kyle Hayes, editor of the International Horn Society’s Horn Zone and a graduate student in Switzerland, recently wrote in with the following question. Have you written anything on your blog with advice/aids in developing rock-solid timing?…Timing as in accuracy in rhythm, subdivision, and the like. Basically seeing the music and having the subdivision just happen… Read More ›

Technology »

Public Service Announcement: Private Lesson Scams

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Every semester I receive at least a few phishing emails – scams masquerading as legitimate requests to set up private lessons. Although the details of each email scam vary a bit, they all go something like this: Re: Private lessons for my daughter Hi, I want some private lessons for my daughter,Mary. Mary is a… Read More ›

Uncategorized »

High School Recruiting Trip FAQ

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As part of a busy month of performances, the members of Black Bayou Brass (resident faculty brass trio at ULM) presented a series of concerts at several high schools in southern Louisiana. The concerts went well, and our audiences were very eager and attentive. There are some strong instrumental music programs in that part of… Read More ›

Warm-ups and Routines »

Long Tones: A Love/Hate Relationship

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This semester I added long tones back into my practice routine, and I’ve noticed some positive results over the past several weeks. To clarify, I normally play long tones in my warm-up routine, but it’s been a few years since I did any additional long tone work during the day. In graduate school I practiced… Read More ›

Websites and Blogs »

Five Reasons to Join the International Horn Society

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For several years I’ve had the privilege of serving as an area representative for the International Horn Society, with one of my duties being to encourage and promote membership in the organization. Recently I received some information regarding the number of IHS members in each state here in the U.S., and the bottom line is… Read More ›

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