In part two of this series we’ll look at the Dufrasne Routine. In the preface to this routine, editor Thomas Bacon writes “In the first part of the Twentieth century, Louis Dufrasne (pronounced: doo-‘fraan) was a highly praised performer, who held major first horn positions in opera and symphony orchestras in Europe and the United States. He was known for his beauty of tone, artistry and impeccable technique.” (p. 2) Dufranse was also a well known teacher, and his students included Philip Farkas and Frank Brouk. Mr. Bacon includes thoughtful comments and suggestions, such as the following.
Greatest benefit will come from playing it through entirely, from first note to last, as a daily workout over a period of time. It can be played through in less than one hour – including appropriate short rests between exercises – but caution is advised when first attempting it. The goal is not just to play it through in less than one hour, but rather to play each exercise beautifully and easily, with rich, full tone (even in soft dynamics), free flowing air, and little physical effort. p. 4
This routine begins with an expanding diatonic pattern beginning on c’, with the indication “Slow and even, without rhythmic impulses. Not soft.” (p. 5) From there it progresses into a thorough workout, emphasizing flexibility based primarily on the harmonic series. Generally, the exercises begin either open or on the 123 valve combination on the F horn, and work downward or upward respectively through the harmonic series. The final two exercises provide a framework for practicing all major and minor arpeggios. To be able to play this routine proficiently at the suggested tempos would certainly require a thorough command of the instrument, as well as considerable endurance. Although it is not indicated, the routine could easily be adapted to include work on the B-flat horn (harmonics and regular fingerings), as well as varying articulations (almost all of the exercises are slurred). I’ve played through the routine a few times, and I really like a lot of the material in it, particularly the opening exercise. It works great as a rewarm-up pattern.
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