One book I’ve been reading lately is Dr. Nicholas Smith’s Don’t Miss: Ideas, Concepts, and Exercises Designed to Increase Accuracy on an Inaccurate Instrument. The instrument mentioned in his title is of course the horn, and Dr. Smith has decades of experience teaching and performing on it, having taught for many years at Wichita State University, and having also performed as Principal Horn in the Wichita Symphony. This book is highly recommend for horn players at any level, and includes discussions, exercises, and observations which can be applied to beginners, professionals, and those in between. One part of this handy method book (of sorts) is Dr. Smith’s “personal observations,” brief sidebars based on his vast experience which are interspersed throughout the book. See the quotes below for some of my favorites. For a more extensive review of Don’t Miss, check out Dr. John Ericson’s post at Horn Matters.
Having taught students for three decades, I have found (as most teachers have) that it is most often not the most talented student who ultimately succeeds, but that student who “plugs away” and is diligent in his or her practice. Certainly, talent must be there, but it is often the student who “wants it more” or has become obsessed with the instrument who succeeds.” (p. 17)
On Loud Playing
Most every conductor will forgive the hornist if he or she can’t play as loudly as requested, so long as it looks like he or she is playing as loud as they can. However, never never play so loud that you can’t play the passage accurately. Conductors may look like they want more volume, but they don’t want missed notes with that volume. (Besides, their big, dramatic motions are mostly a show for the audience – Hey, to them it’s show biz.) (p. 47)
Warming Up On Stage
Never play excerpts from any other work than what you are playing that performance and don’t show off by playing a loud, heroic excerpt which is not on that program. It only points to immaturity and disturbs your colleagues who are also preparing in their own way. (p. 51)