Horn Videos with Professor Patrick Hughes

I just came across this excellent series of videos by Patrick Hughes, Associate Professor of Horn at The University of Texas at Austin, and also a fellow UW-Madison grad.  They are available on the website of the Center for Music Learning at UT-Austin. The link to the videos by Professor Hughes came from another great web resource for horn players, Horn Central.  Horn Central is similar in scope to the University of Iowa Horn Studio web site, with links to virtually every horn related topic out there.

Professor Hughes covers several different issues, including fundamentals such as embouchure, posture, articulation, and breathing, as well as more advanced techniques like vibrato. Most of the videos are set up in the form of an interview, with questions delivered off camera (not sure who the interviewer is). Although Patrick and I were not at UW-Madison at the same time, I definitely picked up on some of Doug Hill’s teaching in his comments.  However, he also has some interesting ideas that I have not heard before, especially regarding tonguing and the use of the air stream. Another great feature is several shorter close-up videos of his embouchure playing in the low, middle, and high range.  Listed below are a few of the comments I remember in particular (paraphrased).

On embouchure and mouthpiece placement: Although the “rule” is 2/3 upper lip and 1/3 lower lip, Professor Hughes has seen almost every variation out there.  In fact he tells his students to find a mouthpiece placement that is “comfortable.”

On articulation: He recommends saying the word “Thomas,” and rarely, if ever, uses the tip of the tongue to articulate.  He also rarely uses a “doo” tongue, preferring instead “tah.” The reason for this is that the “doo” tongue tends to sound like slurring, which is in fact when he uses it – to “fake” a slur.

On the air stream: Practice “spinning” the air on a lower note before ascending to a higher one.  The idea is to have the air already close to the speed it needs to be for the upper note, so that the only real change that has to happen is at the aperture.

Of course, I highly recommend watching all of these videos.  Professor Hughes sounds great on his playing examples, and he has an enthusiastic and logical approach to the horn and music making.  Another great set of videos in this series features Ray Sasaki on trumpet.

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