Earlier this semester I wrote a brief review of a new publication by Mountain Peak Music, Range Songs for Horn. The materials have been adapted specifically for horn players by Rose French, and it makes a great addition to other method books and exercises for range development. After working out of the book for the last month, I’m even more convinced of my initial impressions – Range Songs really works! I’ve been playing a couple of high exercises and low exercises for about 5-10 minutes each day, as a supplement to my regular routine. Before beginning to play any of the exercises I read over the Introduction carefully (available online as part of the sample pages). It not only explains how to use Range Songs effectively, but also offers some great comments on range development in general. Here’s a short video of me playing through one of the high range exercises.
It’s still a work in progress, but I’m already starting to notice more ease in the high range. In addition to the suggestions from the Introduction, I also highly recommend practicing each tune with a tonic drone. My B-flat above the staff tends to be sharp (maybe I’m raising my eyebrows too much?), but practicing with the drone is helping me learn to bring the pitch down (I left the drone off for the video recording). Another tactic I’ve been trying is putting the right hand further into the bell than normal. At a certain point clarity and projection can start to suffer, but for the most part the further I can get my hand into the bell the more stable the high range. This is a well-documented phenomenon in horn-playing, but it helps to remind myself of it as often as possible! And finally, it helps me to play each phrase by itself a few times to find the most efficient way to approach the target note, and then put it back in context. So much of what we do in the high range is determined not by what we do on the high notes, but by what we do before them. Has anyone else out there been working out of Range Songs (or other range development exercises)? If so, what are your thoughts?