Skype Master Class with Andrew McAfee

Here is an interesting master class video, presented via Skype by Andrew McAfee, Instructor of Horn at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and former Principal Horn of the North Carolina Symphony. Mr. McAfee has also created a series of educational videos and other materials for horn players available at hornlessons.org. This class, titled “Horn Embouchure Technique Overview,” is presented to a live and virtual audience on Skype simultaneously. A recording of the class has been made available on YouTube, embedded below.

I heard Mr. McAfee perform with the NC Symphony numerous times during my student years, and he certainly backs up his ideas with great playing. I particularly like his explanations of “heavy” air and playing into the bottom of each note.  While there are aspects of his pedagogy that could certainly be debated, that is not my intention in this post. Instead, I want to draw attention to the format of his presentation, which has some pretty exciting possibilities. There are a handful of horn teachers out there who are pioneering the area of online instruction, and though it has some definite disadvantages I think we will see it used more and more.  One possible way to use this technology would be at International Horn Symposiums. One of the complaints I have heard about IHS symposiums is that it isn’t always easy and/or convenient to travel to the host sites. Perhaps streaming some of the major concerts, master classes, and lectures online might encourage more participation, at least from those who might not otherwise attend the event. Access could be granted through a fee system, much like the onsite registration (1 day pass, full week, etc.). The technology to do this already exists, and is being used successfully at sites such as the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall and Medici.tv, to name a few.

There are of course some logistical issues to be worked out with such a venture, including licensing, and various technological concerns. However, I think the benefits in this case would outweigh the drawbacks. To me, having potentially thousands of horn players take part in an IHS Symposium – even if some of them are online – is worth the effort involved in setting up the streaming service. The concerts and classes could even be archived in video format and made available to IHS members, in much the same way as their podcast series. I don’t foresee the streaming service taking away from the number of live attendees at an IHS symposium – after all, nothing can replace an actual live performance or master class – but for those interested people who might simply live so far away from the event site as to make travel impractical, this might be a great alternative.

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