Friday Review: How to Stop a Horn DVD

The topic for this week’s review is an excellent resource for learning to play stopped horn – How to Stop a Horn – produced by Dr. Randall Faust, Professor of Horn at Western Illinois University. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Faust at the 2011 Midwest Clinic, and he generously passed along this DVD as well as several of his other publications. Along with instructional videos by Douglas Hill, Wendell Rider, and others, this DVD belongs in the library of any serious student or teacher. In this 30 minute “virtual lesson,” Professor Faust covers the topic of stopped horn comprehensively, from a historical as well as practical perspective. The video is divided into several chapters, listed below.

  • How to Stop a Horn
  • Historical Considerations
  • Excerpts from Musical Examples
  • Acoustical Considerations
  • An Introduction to Marvin Howe’s Treatise Stopped Horn
  • Practical Considerations
  • Exercises to Practice with this DVD
  • Fingerings
  • Resistance
  • Muted Horn Applications
  • Transposing Brass Stopping Mute
  • Bibliography

Professor Faust’s commentary is informed by years of experience as a performer and teacher of the horn, and he concisely – but accurately – explains the acoustical phenomena behind hand stopping. All of his lecture material is accompanied by expertly played demonstrations, including musical excerpts by Beethoven and Saint-Saëns (performed on the natural horn, as shown in the above image), and a thorough demonstration of the overtone series. One innovative technique he uses is demonstrating stopped technique on a detachable-bell horn with its bell removed (see image below). The purpose being to show students just how much the bell must actually be closed in order to produce a characteristic stopped horn sound. He also includes several effective exercises for developing and improving stopped horn playing. It’s also worth noting that many of Faust’s musical compositions make extensive use of stopped horn – check them out by visiting www.faustmusic.com. Though I’ve not yet performed any of his music, thanks to Dr. Faust I now have the scores to several of his compositions, and I plan to program them on future recitals. (One idea I’ve been thinking about is a recital of music “for horn players by horn players.” There are several very fine works out there that fit this category, especially by 20th and 21st century composers.)

Be sure to check out this DVD – it’s very well done!  (Read another review of this DVD at HornMatters.com) Having put together my own video resources on stopped horn and other topics, I can say that it is quite time consuming and takes a great deal of work both in the recording and editing process.  Bravo and thank you to Randall Faust for putting together a fine resource.  [All screen images from How to Stop a Horn used by permission.]

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