Kopprasch Project Continued, No. 11

Here’s your weekly Kopprasch.

This particular etude is quite unusual in that it doesn’t really seem to fit with the progression of the rest of the collection.  Many editions in fact suggest that this study be postponed until later, usually in Book 2.  However, in the interest of thoroughness I decided to go ahead and record this one.  Unfortunately, none of the previous studies – with the exception of No. 5 – really prepare the student to tackle this one, which is devoted almost entirely to lip trills.  My suggestion for students is to wait until your trills are more or less developed before working on No. 11.  Otherwise the whole thing can become quite frustrating.  Although there are probably lots of possible tempos for No. 11, I settled somewhere around quarter note = 80.  This may be on the slow side, but it gave me enough time to start each trill and get to the following eighth note while staying in time.

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Trills are often tough for many hornists because we come to them relatively late, and only have a vague idea of the mechanism involved. What a trill is, is the movement from one overtone to an adjacent overtone and back. To me, this is the 2nd most basic unit of horn technique (the first is just producing a steady tone) and should part of every horn player’s daily routine from the beginning. I go into this in detail in my upcoming book “A Systematic Approach to Horn Technique”, but the way to start with trills or anything else is to find the easiest “version” of it, which (to me) is not the usual overtones 8 to 9 (written C5 to D5) but rather 5 to 6 (E4 to G4). Start 5 to 6 on the F horn, take it down through all “horns” (= fingerings). Spend some time every day on adjacent overtone movement. Think of it as a “shape”, which can move up and down. Learn your overtone numbers! Try some lower ones (OTS 2-3 or 3-4) as well. Lower ones are wide and somewhat clumsy; higher ones are close and more strenuous. It’s all the same process, and it’s good to be able to make this basic movement at different speeds in various ranges. The traditional trill (8 to 9) should be started using the C horn (F:13) – i.e. on middle G. Gradually go up through all higher “horns.” If you have a piece with a trill in it and you’re not quite there yet, trill anyway – just trill slower. Being in control is more important than speed. Speed comes with experience and continued refinement of the movement.

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