Although Monday’s post was the last Kopprasch video upload for a while, I thought it might be nice to follow up with a few thoughts on the whole thing. Overall I’m very glad I did this project, and I think I achieved most of the goals I set at the beginning. Looking back at my very first “Kopprasch Project” post, here are the reasons I set out to do this.
1. Pretty much everyone who has played the horn for more than a few years has at least heard of the Kopprasch etudes, and they often (along with other standard etude collections) form a core repertory of materials for horn study.
2. Practicing Kopprasch can be beneficial for players of varying abilities. Whether it’s working on tone production and consistency, or perfecting transposition skills, I think Kopprasch holds an important place in the repertoire for students, amateurs, and professionals.
3. As a teacher, I wanted to provide a resource for my students and others so that they could at least hear one interpretation of these etudes, and use these recordings as a jumping off point for their own creative practicing.
4. Although there are several recordings online of Kopprasch etudes, to my knowledge no one has yet recorded all of Book 1 or Book 2 on video.
I stand by these reasons, and I do plan to return to the project at some point and record book 2. When I set out to record these studies, I had no idea how many people, if any, would view the videos or even care about them. One of the greatest strengths of the internet is also a major shortcoming – with the sheer amount of data floating around out there it’s easy for things to get buried or surface for a microsecond and then disappear. As the project continued I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was gaining a small but loyal following, and over time I started to receive comments (mostly positive) about the collection of videos. My favorite moment in the whole process was definitely finding out that I’d been awarded a Golden Clam award from HornMatters – this helped give me the inspiration to see the project through to the end of Book 1.
However, my summary of this project would not be complete without attempting to address some of the less positive comments directed toward it. By and large the horn playing community is very friendly, and I’m sure the majority of the “suggestions” I received were given in the spirit of constructive criticism. In any event, I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and proceed from there. One of the comments basically said I “missed too many notes.” Well, I will say that some of the recordings are better than others, though none of them are perfect. I tried to maintain as high a quality of playing as I possibly could for each recording, but as in life there were some good days and some less than good days. For me, it was important to try to keep recording each week (or every other week in some cases) even when I didn’t really feel like it, or when I knew that there were some issues that weren’t completely worked out yet. I’m a firm believer in learning as a cyclic process, so my response to that comment would simply be “I’ll do better next time.” I approach the Kopprasch etudes with my students as works in progress, which we can and should revisit often during our careers. Each time I play or teach Kopprasch I try to get something new out of it, so they never become boring to play or teach. I would also stress that these videos were not recorded in a professional audio studio, and were not spliced or edited (except to raise some of the sound levels and add intro credits). In many ways the collection is a video diary of 8 months in my horn playing life. For me it’s really fun to go back and look at some of the older videos when I was trying out some different horns – there are actually three different horns represented in the series – a Yamaha 667v, a Hoyer G10, and an Englebert Schmid ES1.
Another comment suggested that I take longer between each recording to better perfect the etude – say 2 to 3 weeks between etudes instead of 1 to 2 weeks. I think that is a fine suggestion, and perhaps for the second half of the project I’ll do that. One of my reasons for setting the somewhat arbitrary goal of an etude a week was to give myself a deadline or goal to work towards. For me, I could easily stretch that 2 or 3 weeks into a month or more, thus dragging out the project longer than I intended. The 1 week deadline really pushed me to become more efficient in my practicing, as with the other things I was working on I only had about 15-20 minutes each day to devote to Kopprasch.
All in all, I am satisfied with the project so far, and I think the ultimate goal of the endeavor – reacquainting myself with the Kopprasch etudes and becoming a better teacher and player – was achieved. In the end, if you don’t agree with the playing in the videos or find them less than inspiring, simply use them as an example of how not to play Kopprasch. At least they will have served some kind of purpose if used in this fashion.
To close out this post I want to say a big thank you to all of my subscribers on YouTube, and to encourage all the horn players out there to consider a project of this kind. It’s a great way to work through a series of etudes, not to mention a lot of fun! Perhaps one day we can have a horn etude channel on YouTube, complete with recordings of all the standards like Reynolds, Schuller, Barboteu, Mueller, etc.