Review: A Hornist’s Handbook, by Randall Faust

Here’s another review I meant to write earlier this summer but am just now getting around to, Randall Faust’s A Hornist’s Handbook of Studies for Flexibility and Technical Development. I purchased this book along with Christopher Leuba’s The Rules of the Game at IHS 44 in Denton. Simply put, this is one of the most comprehensive single-volume collections of technical exercises I’ve ever seen. At 137 pages, this is much more than a daily warm-up or routine, but rather a compendium of exercises from which to select multiple warm-ups and/or routines. The exercises cover long tones, scales (major, minor, chromatic, modal) intervals (3rds through 7ths), flexibility (numerous lip trill and lip slur studies), articulation, arpeggios (two and three octaves), stopped horn, dynamic range, and sample warm-up patterns. Each section is prefaced by concise instructions from Dr. Faust which, if followed, will ensure that the player gets the maximum benefit from the exercises. The arpeggio studies included near the end of the book are an excellent example of the thoroughness with which the author approaches his subject. The customary two and three octave patterns normally found in similar publications are here, but in addition there are studies based on the diminished 7th chord, Neapolitan chord, and German and French 6th chords. The major scale exercises also go beyond the usual patterns, with exercises in diatonic 3rds through 7ths.

Dr. Faust’s preface provides some great overarching principles to be applied throughout all of the studies. Here are a few:

Aural skills and sight singing skills are important. The hornist should train his ear to lead his fingers.

Tone production should be led by the airstream. I believe that Horn playing at its best is merely an extension of the natural breathing process.

To summarize, A Hornist’s Handbook is one of the most complete collections of technical studies (by a single author) out there, and is highly recommended for both students and teachers. Although I probably won’t be replacing my normal warm-up and maintenance routine with it, I will definitely be incorporating several exercises from its pages into my daily practice, as well as making assignments for my students. For more information on other collections of technical studies, check out these posts.

“More Warm-ups and Routines for Horn”

“A Review of Ultimate Horn Technique

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