Thursday Review: Instructional Videos for Horn

Since our spring break begins tomorrow, I’m posting this week’s review a day early. I’ll be taking the next week off from blogging, but will resume after the break.

Today we’ll look at an assortment of instructional videos for horn, one collection from YouTube, and another from the website Banddirector.com. With thousands of horn-related videos out there, why choose these for discussion here? One reason is that because of the sheer number of videos online, it can be difficult sometimes to separate the credible sources from the not-so-credible ones. In the case of these videos, they all come from reliable sources – professional players and university professors. Another reason, related to the first one, is that all of these videos have been produced by fellow UW-Madison alumni. They’re well done, and backed up by lots of playing and teaching experience.

The first set of videos is found on the YouTube Channel UNCWindEnsemble, and covers a variety of important topics. Although I couldn’t find an indication in any of the videos, the clinician here is Dr. Abigail Pack, Associate Professor of Horn at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In addition to the lack of production credits on the videos, the YouTube channel name is a little misleading, as it doesn’t specify which UNC campus is being represented. The video and audio quality are quite good, and Dr. Pack does a fine job explaining her chosen topics. The intended audience seems to be music educators and horn players, although other brass players could certainly benefit from watching as well. Here are titles and links to the videos.

The next several videos come from Banddirector.com, which claims to be “The #1 Online Resource for Band Directors.” The site was new to me, but they do have a nice archive of video and print resources related to brass instruments. One video which immediately caught my attention is titled “Stopped Horn – Techniques for French Horn,” presented by Dr. Lin Foulk, who is an Associate Professor of Music at Western Michigan University. Having put together my own video on stopped horn, I was really interested in Dr. Foulk’s take on things. She does a great job explaining the essential stopped horn basics in a short amount of time, and I highly recommend her video to both students and band directors. The video quality is a little grainy, but the overall effect is still good.

Next from Banddirector.com are a couple of videos featuring Bernhard Scully, formerly of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Canadian Brass, and now an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Recorded during his time with the Canadian Brass, the videos are titled “French Horn Breathing Tips,” and “The Hand & French Horn Bell.” As you might expect, Professor Scully has some great advice on these topics, and in addition to being a top level player he has clearly thought out the pedagogical side of things. The audio quality is a little distorted during the playing segments of the videos, but otherwise the presentation is quite effective.

One other highly recommended resource found on Banddirector.com is a reprint of an article by IHS Honorary Member Louis Stout (1924-2005) titled “Choosing an Artist French Horn.” In addition to describing the qualities that an artist level instrument must have, he provides an annotated list of orchestral excerpts which can be used to test out new horns.

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