Cannon Music Camp Week 2: Great Repertoire, More Lessons, a Solo Performance, and a Maintenance Clinic

Week two of Cannon Music Camp has come and gone, and here’s a brief update on some of last week’s activities.

  • Great Repertoire: In preparation for their finale concerts at the end of Week 3, the orchestra, wind ensemble, and symphonic band are working on some great pieces with fun and challenging horn parts. Highlights include a band transcription of the Olympic Fanfare and Theme by John Williams, and the symphonic poem In the Steppes of Central Asia by Borodin. The student brass and woodwind quintets are also preparing movements from two standard works for those ensembles, Victor Ewald’s Brass Quintet No. 1, and August Klughart’s Wind Quintet. One of the most beneficial elements of any summer music camp is the opportunity to see lots of repertoire in a short period of time. For many students, the amount of music they rehearse and perform at a music camp or festival is equal or greater to the amount seen in an entire semester at school.
  • More Lessons: Lessons have been going very well, and I’ve gotten a chance to work with students on some more in depth topics during Week 2. Even though our time at camp has been limited, I’ve been making short practice assignments for the students from week to week. These often involve working on a specific technical exercise, all or part of an etude or solo, or simply making sure to warm up every day. Even in this short amount of time I can already hear improvement in everyone’s playing – bravo!
  • Solo Performance: On Tuesday I performed on the second of two faculty showcase recitals, playing Eric Ruske’s arrangement of Arban’s Fantasy and Variations on the Carnival of Venice. Kudos to pianist Aaron Ames for putting together the accompaniment in a very short amount of rehearsal time. I’ve been working on this technically challenging piece periodically over the last four years or so, and finally decided to program it on a public recital. Overall the performance went well – it is an impressive sounding work, and will really push your multiple tonguing, flexibility, and all around dexterity on the instrument. Though originally intended for solo cornet, it can be done on the horn, and has been recorded by Eric Ruske and Jacek Muzyk.
  • Maintenance Clinic: Last Monday’s master class focused on the topic of basic horn maintenance and repair. Even beginning horn players can be taught how to oil valves, grease slides, and restring rotors, and it’s never too early to start in my opinion. We discussed several ways to keep a horn in good working condition, and I put together the following maintenance schedule for the students to use as a reference. (Maintenance Schedule) For another take on this topic be sure to read this article by brass repair technician Dave Weiner.

Here are some other general maintenance tips:

  1. Keep an emergency repair kit in your case at all times containing: screwdriver(s), valve oil, slide grease, rubber bands (to temporarily repair a broken valve spring), and precut and tied lengths of valve string.
  2. Have any major dents in your horn immediately repaired by a qualified technician.  The smaller the tubing, the greater the effect a dent will have on the playing characteristics of the horn.  (ex. leadpipe)
  3.  Depending on the way your skin reacts with the metal of your horn, you may need to wipe clean any fingerprints after playing with a soft cloth and/or purchase a leather/neoprene handguard.
  4. When in doubt, leave any repairs (except oiling and restringing) to a PROFESSIONAL.  Trying to disassemble valves or remove stuck slides/mouthpieces without the proper training and equipment will only result in bigger repair bills.  Regular maintenance will help postpone or prevent any major repairs to your horn.

There are also a number of helpful “how to” videos on the internet, including this collection I put together a few years back. It was a busy but extremely fun week, and I’m excited about Week 3!

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