Low Range in the Daily Routine: To Blast or Not to Blast?

In the past I generally avoided low register “blasting” in my warm-up and daily maintenance routine, but recently I’ve had some positive results using Denise Tryon’s routine. If you aren’t familiar with this one it is worth checking out. It’s a bit shorter than some other published materials, and covers all the basics in around thirty minutes.

Getting back to low note blasting, my previous experience was that too much of it early in the day made the high range feel unfocused. I still played over the full range of the horn in my daily routine, but left the extreme fortissimo exercises for later practice sessions. However, during a recent evaluation of my regular practice materials, I decided to incorporate some low, loud patterns back into my daily regimen. After two months of doing the exercise found in the Tryon Routine every day, here are a few of the benefits I’ve noticed:

  • It really gets the air moving. Breathing exercises are great, but playing as loud as possible (with a good sound) in the low range requires moving huge amounts of air. When done efficiently, it can help open up the rest of the range as well.
  • It helps loosen up stiff chops. I realize now that this should have been obvious, but old habits die hard, and I really had to give these exercises a chance to experience this particular benefit.
  • Flexibility and consistency in and out of the low range gets a lot easier. Passages that go across the break range (ex. opening of Ein Heldenleben) have become more fluid and dependable.

Needless to say, I’ve changed my thinking about low note blasting! However, I would offer a few caveats:

  • Avoid doing it first thing. I would recommend at least a few minutes of gentle, mid-range warming up before jumping into any kind of range or dynamic extremes.
  • Avoid distorting the embouchure. Looking back on it, I believe the problems I experienced with previous forays into this territory stemmed from over manipulating and/or distorting the lips.
  • If things aren’t working, change something. If, after trying a new variation/addition to your routine, you aren’t experiencing positive results, don’t be afraid to change. Make notes about what you notice, and keep looking for ways to be more efficient.

All right, time to go out there and get blasting!

 

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Changing Up the Practice Routine

For the last several years my practice routine has been more or less set:

  • 50-60 minutes of warm-up/maintenance routine, occasionally changing up my regular materials or switching out various exercises.
  • 20-25 minute (or longer) break
  • 50-60 minutes of practice immediately following, or later in the day depending on my schedule
  • Long Break (2-3 hours)
  • Optional shorter session (20-30 minutes) as necessary

This worked pretty well for years, though from time to time I would have some issues with rebuilding endurance after heavy programs or breaks. For a variety of reasons (age among them) I decided this semester to change things up and see what differences, if any, resulted. In short, I suspected that my initial routine was too long and strenuous first thing in the day, and despite having a good break before continuing with further practice, the long first session was tiring me out instead of building things up. This is hardly a new idea, and lots of great teachers and performers have noted this before. But as any dedicated musician knows, it’s tough to change up your normal routine, even if it is less than ideal for you. For many (me included), the routine is a security blanket, a place to find refuge during tough playing times. In the midst of preparing some difficult repertoire for performances this spring, something needed to change. Here’s my newly-modified practice schedule:

  • 25-30 minute warm-up/maintenance routine
  • 10 minute break
  • 25 minute session
  • 5 minute break
  • 25 minute session
  • 5 minute break
  • 25 minute session
  • Longer Break
  • 15 minute session

It’s the same amount of time as my old practice schedule, but with more frequent breaks earlier on. In addition, I’ve made some changes to my regular warm-up/maintenance exercises. They still cover all of the essentials, but are more progressive and don’t start out so strenuously. I’ve been very pleased with the results, and feel that this the right path for me going forward. My endurance and efficiency are improved, and just as important, my recovery time after heavy performances has decreased.

I have a follow-up post coming on this, but to close I would recommend as a summer project for any horn students to switch up both your routine and practice schedule. Plan things out, take notes on how things feel at certain points in the day, and experiment with the order and pacing of your practice day. Have fun!

Horn Pedagogy Videos and More from Eli Epstein

Renowned horn pedagogue and performer Eli Epstein has a posted a  new video on Breathing and Breath Support to his YouTube Channel. Mr. Epstein gives a concise, yet detailed and anatomically correct, explanation of breathing, and also demonstrates how to put these concepts into practice. Before further discussion, you should watch the video!

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, Mr. Epstein’s approach to the horn is relaxed, methodical, and overwhelmingly positive, which makes for a very effective teacher. One especially unique element is the use of a chair to engage the same muscles used in breath support. Mr. Epstein expertly demonstrates by playing Mendelssohn’s Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, accompanied by a silhouette and animated meter showing varying levels of breath support There is a lot of information packed into this six and half-minute video, so it should be viewed multiple times if possible.

If you like this video and find it useful, be sure to check out his other videos on Relaxation Before Performance and Radical Practicing. The relaxation video comes at a very fortuitous time, as many of us in the education field are approaching the end of our academic year. If you find yourself getting tense and more stressed than usual, take five minutes to listen to this video. You’ll feel more relaxed afterwards.

In Radical Practicing, Mr. Epstein discusses and demonstrates the importance of varied repetition as the pathway to learning new material. When we repeat material over and over in exactly the same way, we become bored, even if we continue making the same mistake. Varying our repetitions to target specific elements of a passage is a much more effective way to learn and retain. On a personal note, this concept played a huge role in the development of my etude book Solo Training for Horn.

If juries, final exams, and other end-of-term tasks are starting to stress you out, take a break and view the above videos. It will be time well spent!

Brass Pedagogy Interview Questions

Earlier this semester I was contacted by David Mercedes, a doctoral tuba student at the University of Iowa, with several interview questions for his Advanced Brass Pedagogy course with Professor Jeffrey Agrell. David had some very insightful questions, and I have shared these (and my candid responses) below, with David’s permission. The questions are similar, though not exactly the same, as those posted by John Ericson at Horn Matters. I assume both projects are for the same pedagogy class – BRAVO to David Mercedes, Professor Agrell, and the rest of the Advanced Brass Pedagogy class on a fantastic project!

During your years of collegiate teaching, what do you think you have brought to your studios that has been most valuable to them?

I think I’ve brought a variety of professional experiences as well as enthusiasm and passion for what I do.

What is the best way you motivate your students?

Leading by example! I never ask students to do anything I don’t already do or have done in the past. I try to be as excited as I can about whatever it is that they/we/I are doing, with the hope that my excitement is contagious. Attitudes are contagious, and having a positive attitude is one of the most important attributes you can bring to your teaching.

How do you work with students who don’t seem to be motivated, and are complacent with not progressing as a musician?

I try to find something that they are interested in, whatever that may be, and use that as a conversation starter. Students almost always have something they are passionate about, and I try to help them transfer some of that passion to their musical studies. I ask them to provide both long and short-term goals, and we use that as a basis for materials and strategies covered in lessons.

What are some of your recruiting strategies?

Recruiting has been and continues to be a major component of my current position. Here is a short list:

  • Regular visits to local schools
  • Recruiting tours with other brass faculty
  • Develop a robust, professional online identity through website, social media, YouTube videos, etc.
  • Email, hand-written letters to prospective students
  • Annual on-campus recruiting events (Brass Day, Horn Day, etc.)
  • Building relationships with local music educators

How strict is your personal practice plan? What makes you stick to it, and how often do you change it?

I’m fairly regimented in this area, although age and experience have taught me to be more flexible. I strive for 2 hours of focused practice throughout a work day, unless rehearsals, performances, or other obligations prevent it. I enjoy practicing and learning new repertoire, and that’s what keeps me motivated. I am almost always planning a future program in my mind and thinking over repertoire choices.

How did you go about getting invited to perform at festivals, conferences and other institutions?

Persistence – keep applying for as many of them as you can and eventually your proposals will be accepted. Ask for feedback on your proposals from others who have been successful in applying for those festivals/conferences. Cultivate relationships with people in and out of your field – you never know when those relationships may bear fruit. Be a GOOD PERSON.

What advice would you have for someone who is looking to follow a career path like yours?

Stay interested in what you do, and stay positive. Figure out what it is that you do well, and continue to improve on those things. You can’t do everything, and no one expects you to. Seek out others who are doing the same kinds of things you are and ask them questions about their success, failure, etc. Be honest with yourself and your capabilities – this is very important in avoiding burnout. Try to avoid over-committing yourself. Be especially careful in how you represent yourself on social media. This is incredibly important today.

What is a typical day like for you?

It really varies depending on my teaching and performing schedule. I almost always start the day with some meditation and breathing exercises, followed by a warm-up/maintenance routine. I feel like if I can get that part completed early in the day then I am well-prepared for whatever challenges come my way.

What is the on – campus interview like?

Varies depending on the position and duties, but here are some general components.

  • One or more meetings/meals with the search committee
  • Exit meeting with search committee
  • Q&A with faculty/students
  • Meetings with various administrators
  • Master class and teaching demonstration
  • Rehearsal with collaborative pianist and a recital performance, hopefully not on the same day.
  • Reading session with faculty ensembles (if applicable)

These can be stressful, and you should make sure you take time throughout the day or days that you are there to relax and have a little time to yourself. Remember that from the time you are picked up at the airport until the time you leave that you are being interviewed. The members of the search committee will probably be very relaxed and social with you and each other, which is a good thing, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security about your words and actions. Always represent yourself as positively as possible!

What do you think has been your biggest challenge as a musician?

Balancing the physical demands of playing with achieving musical goals. I tend to be an analytical player, which is helpful as a teacher and performer, but can sometimes get in the way.

Website Mini-Reviews

Up this week are brief reviews of three useful websites for musicians. In a previous post, I mentioned Toggl as a great tool for tracking and managing practice sessions. I’ve been using it more or less every day for the past several months, and still highly recommend it! In addition, check out the following sites to help plan and accomplish your practice goals.

Random.org: This is probably one of the most underrated websites around, with lots of potential random.orgapplications for musicians. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but is stable and does exactly what it advertises. One of my favorite tools is the Random List Generator. To use, simply copy and paste text into the box, and it will generate a randomized list. For example, copy and paste all 48 major and minor scales (click here for a PDF), hit the “Randomize” button, and off you go. To generate a new,  completely random list of the same scales, just go back and do it again. Practicing excerpts for an audition? Copy and paste them into the box to create a random order. (click here for a PDF list of several common excerpts). I also use the random number generator in lessons to pick out sight-reading examples. These are just a few of the ways you could use Random.org to make your practice sessions more effective, efficient, and fun! Let me know in the comments if you come up with others.

Trombone Tools: David Vining of Northern Arizona University and Mountain Peak Music has put together a fantastic collection of videos and articles. While some of them are obviously geared towards trombone players (Alternate Positions, for example), a majority would be useful for all brass players. His pages on Breathing, Lesson Guidelines for Students, and Hesitant Entrances are great places to start.

Don’t Waste Your Time Practicing! This new website was created by Dr. Travis Bennett, Associate Professor of Horn at Western Carolina University. Though still in the early stages of development, the site looks very promising. The title of the page is taken from a presentation Dr. Bennett has given on the topic of efficient practice, available on YouTube and embedded below. I look forward to seeing this new resource take shape.

 

 

Coming Soon From Mountain Peak Music: Solo Training for Horn

I’m long overdue for a new post and an update on my forthcoming publication from Mountain Peak Music, but with the end of the semester now in sight I can finally carve out some time to remedy that! In short, the first draft of Solo Training for Horn is over 50% complete, and I anticipate finishing it by the end of August. Intended as a companion to Solo Duet Training for Horns, this book will contain exercises and routines specifically designed to help players tackle challenges found in eight standard horn solos. As with the previous book, all of the works are in the public domain. There is some overlap with the duets, but there are also plenty of new pieces as well. Here is the list:

  • Beethoven, Sonata, Op. 17
  • Dukas, Villanelle
  • Haydn, Horn Concerto No. 1, Hob. VIId:3
  • Mozart, Horn Concerto, K. 495
  • Saint-Säens, Morceau de Concert, Op. 94
  • Schumann, Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70
  • Telemann, Horn Concerto in D, TWV 51:D8
  • F. Strauss, Concerto, Op. 8

Though there are some commonalities between the duet book and this one, I found my work on Solo Training to be much more involved and thus slower. While the material is of course largely based on the works listed above, creating these derivative exercises required a different mindset and approach than the earlier book. To help explain and demonstrate some of these exercises, I put together a brief video to accompany this post. FYI, I will be giving an expanded version of this presentation at the 48th International Horn Symposium in Ithaca, NY this summer. The presentation won’t be an advertisement for my book, but will instead focus on ways you can use some of the same techniques to create your own derivative exercises. These are not new ideas, but I think that students and teachers will find them especially useful because they are now organized and collected in one place.

Fragmentation/Transposition: Taking a short motive or motives from a challenging passage and transposing it to different keys. This builds more comprehensive technique and greater awareness of the intervals than simply repeating the same passage at the written pitch level. For example, mm. 96-102 from the first movement of Beethoven’s Horn Sonata, Op. 17…

beethoven…can be adapted into the following progressive exercise:

beethoven_exercisesHere’s a demonstration of the complete exercise.

a la Kopprasch: This means taking a familiar pattern and changing the rhythm and/or articulations to create a more engaging and challenging exercise. For example, this triplet passage from the Villanelle by Paul Dukas…

dukasbecomes:

villanelle_exerciseAnd here it is demonstrated.

Flow Study: Removing all but the most important notes from a lyrical or technical passage, and reducing it to a flow study. Notes are gradually added, while maintaining the same basic melodic shape and direction to the air stream. Transposing the exercise to other keys makes it more useful and interesting to practice. The familiar opening of Mozart’s K. 495…

mozart1

Becomes:

mozart_exercise

Here’s the video.

Here are two more examples which combine several strategies. Both are based on this passage from K. 495.

mozart2

The first exercise deals with a small portion of the phrase:

mozart_exercise2

And now the video:

The second exercise deals with the passage as a whole, with varying rhythms and articulations.

mozart_exercise3

And the video.

I hope this brief introduction to Solo Training for Horn has whet your appetite for more, and if you like any of the exercises presented above feel free to print them for your own use. The book will have many more exercises and routines, roughly 12-15 for each solo work. I’m very excited about completing the book, and look forward to sharing it with the horn playing community. Stay tuned for more updates!

New Year’s Review: Toggl Time Tracker

Happy New Year!

If any of your resolutions for 2016 have the words “time management” or words to that effect in them, you may be interested in Toggl, a simple but very powerful tool for tracking the time you spend on various tasks. *Note to my horn students – we will be using Toggl during the Spring 2016 semester, so feel free to go ahead and familiarize yourself with it. I stumbled across Toggl while searching for an easy way to monitor and categorize practice time. Initially, I was looking for a smartphone app designed specifically for musicians, but wasn’t very happy with the usability of several apps after downloading and test-driving them. My requirements were (I thought) pretty basic:

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Ability to enter and track time spent on different activities
  • Ability to see summaries at-a-glance
  • Compatible with iOS and Android
  • Reasonable pricing

After several unsatisfactory experiences with musician-specific apps, I expanded my search to include all time management and tracking software. So far, I’ve been very happy with Toggl, and would freely recommend it to anyone. As mentioned earlier, I am planning to use it in my studio during the upcoming semester, with the goal of encouraging more efficient and mindful practice sessions. The interface is very easy to use, and can be customized quickly. Here’s a couple of screenshots showing a few of the ways I use Toggl.

First is a general summary of practice time – which has been useful for helping me stay in shape (and motivated) over the holidays. These are my totals for the week so far.

weeklysummary

And next is a more detailed view of the time spent on specific areas of practice. I have been using this to help me stay on track with my recital practice plan.

detailedview

Toggl can be used for free via its website, or with a smartphone app (also free). The website and smartphone app sync automatically, which is very handy. Creating projects and tasks is simple and intuitive, as is the time-keeping interface. While you could also do this with pencil and paper (or a spreadsheet), the clean, easy-to-use nature of Toggl makes integrating it into practice sessions seamless and, believe it or not, fun! If you don’t believe me, create an account and try it yourself. Don’t feel limited to using Toggl just for practice time, though: you could also monitor time spent on workouts, emails, studying, etc.

 

 

A Recital Practice Plan

Photo by Emerald Harris/ULM Photo Services

Photo by Emerald Harris/ULM Photo Services

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

As this semester draws to a close, I’m gearing up for several performances in December and during the spring. These include: recruiting concerts and a recital with our faculty brass trio, various orchestral performances, and a recital tour with Trio Mélange, a voice, horn, and piano trio (see image at left). The trio consists of myself and two ULM colleagues, Claire Vangelisti, soprano, and Richard Seiler, piano. We’ve performed together frequently over the past few years, including a contributing artist concert at the 45th International Horn Symposium in Memphis, TN. In addition to a faculty recital here in Monroe, we’ll perform at Centenary College of Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin State University, and The University of Texas at Tyler. Our program will include several lesser known, but high quality, works for voice, horn, and piano.

  • Carl Gottlieb Reissiger, 4 Gesänge, Op.117
  • Eurico Carrapatos, Dois Poemas de Miguel Torga
  • Gina Gillie, To the Seasons
  • Auguste Panseron, Le Cor: Romance

It’s a challenging program (approximately 52 minutes of music), and while it would be nice to have an open practice schedule to devote exclusively to this repertoire, as you can tell from the above I am going to be balancing a lot of different material in my day to day work. During graduate school I would have gone through all of this repertoire, plus etudes, ensemble music, and other materials, every day, averaging three and a half to four hours of practice. At this point in my career, though, I simply do not have the time to devote four hours every day to individual practice. Now, I strive to practice for two hours each day, unless I have a concert or heavy rehearsal schedule. When preparing for multiple programs, I usually create a rotation that allows me to practice everything over a period of several days. This approach seems to work, and it is really the only way I’ve found to make sure I cover everything. Here’s my current rotation for the Trio Mélange program. The numbers beside each work indicate specific movements to be practiced.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Reissiger 1, 3 Reissiger 2, 4 Reissiger 1,2 Reissiger 3,4 Reissiger   3, 1 Reissiger 4, 2 Reissiger 1,4
Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso
Gillie 1 Gillie 2 Gillie, 3 Gillie 4 Gillie 1 Gillie 2 Gillie 3, 4
Panseron Panseron Panseron Panseron Panseron Panseron Panseron

The Gillie and Reissiger are both lengthy, four movement works (20 and 17 minutes, respectively), and this schedule allows me to address each piece in its entirety multiple times over the course of a seven day period. The Carrapatoso and Panseron are a bit shorter and less technically involved, and won’t require as much time to prepare. Because of intervening commitments like rehearsals and performances, it might take longer than a week to progress through this seven day schedule. However, keeping track of the dates allows me to pick up where I left off  in the rotation after missing a day. After a warm-up/fundamentals session, I work for approximately 10-15 minutes on each piece, depending on the needs of each day. The remainder of the two hours is spent on ensemble music, etudes, and other chamber or solo repertoire. As the date of the performance gets closer, one or more of these days will be replaced with complete runs of the program.

If you’ve not tried such a detailed approach to recital or audition preparation, give it a shot! You will hopefully find yourself more prepared, more confident, and less stressed out even in the face of multiple performing commitments.

 

Back to Basics: One Month with the Standley Routine

At the beginning of September I decided to take a break from my regular warm-up and maintenance routine – Douglas Hill’s Warm-ups and Maintenance Sessions for the Horn Playerand began working on the Standley Routine. Going in, I decided to commit to it for one month before making any long term decisions. If you are not familiar with the Standley Routine, here’s a brief summary, excerpted from the previous post linked above.

From 1949 to 1957, Forrest Standley performed as Principal Horn of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and later taught for many years at what is now Carnegie-Mellon University.  Two of his former students, son Gene Standley of the Columbus Symphony, and H. Stephen Hager of Southwest Texas State University, have made available a revised and edited version of their teacher’s warm-up and daily routine.  Although the Standley Routine is fairly lengthy when compared to other daily routines – one hour and forty minutes according to the original preface – the level of thoroughness and organization is unparalleled.

Before getting to my conclusions about the routine, an explanation for the switch is in order. There were a few big reasons why I thought a change could be helpful to my playing, and here they are in no particular order.

  • Endurance: After returning from a wonderful week at the 47th International Horn Symposium, I had a difficult time getting back in shape for some upcoming solo, chamber, and orchestral performances. As anyone who has attended a large conference like the IHS Symposium (or ITG Conference or ITA Festival) can attest, the irony of these events is that you don’t really have time to practice very much. I managed to get the horn on my face every day during the symposium, with the exception of the day I departed, but resuming a full practice regimen upon returning was a challenge. I did what I normally do to build endurance, which is add five minutes of practice time to my routine every other day, but wasn’t totally satisfied with the results. Having had some prior experience with the Standley Routine, and having heard that it was good for building endurance, I decided to give it a shot.
  • Concentration: As with the first reason, this one probably has very little to do with what I was practicing, and more to do with how I was practicing it. Nevertheless, after many years of playing my regular routine on a daily basis, I began to notice my focus and attention wandering during the first hour of practice – precisely when they needed to be most present. I should state for the record that this doesn’t mean there are any shortcomings in design or content with Hill’s routine, nor does it indicate that I had mastered it so well as to be bored. Nothing could be further from the truth! Still, I thought changing routines might help me break out of this habit.
  • Consistency: One of the strengths of Hill’s routine is that it covers everything, within a reasonable amount of time. I knew that if I played the full warm-up plus routine I had touched on pretty much every technique required of modern horn players. But, over time I began to think that maybe it might be useful for me to forego some of that variety in favor of more similar patterns which emphasize the same basic techniques. For example, the Standley Routine doesn’t include any stopped horn, multiple tonguing, or lip trill patterns (Hill does), but instead presents four types of exercises (scales, arpeggios, endurance, and overtone) in every key. Is it a comprehensive routine? No, not in the sense of Hill’s Warm-Ups and Maintenance Sessions, but it is very thorough.

Ok, so what has the past month with the Standley Routine been like? On the whole, it’s been very productive, and I’ve noticed improvement in all of the above mentioned areas. It is taxing, especially the endurance exercises, but seems to be exactly what I needed at this point in my career. The entire routine takes me about 65-70 minutes to complete, although instead of performing the arpeggio exercises both slurred and tongued (as indicated), I alternate articulations each day. In addition, I use a tonic drone, and play the endurance exercises on the F horn. I would also recommend supplementing with various etudes and/or exercises to cover stopped horn, multiple tonguing, and lip trills. Recently I’ve been working through Robert Ward’s 30 Etudes for Stopped Horn, which I picked up at the IHS Symposium. It’s a fantastic collection of stopped horn studies; look for a more detailed review in the coming weeks.

I plan to continue with the Standley Routine for the immediate future, although at some point I will probably return to Hill’s Warm-Ups and Maintenance Sessions. To be clear, they are both great routines, and I am not necessarily advocating for one over the other. What I think is important, though, is that we periodically take stock of our daily routines, and consider trying other patterns and approaches.

Wednesday Review: Horn Fundamentals, by Bruno Schneider

Most horn players today are fortunate to have a wide variety of quality practice materials available to them. Using the internet, one can readily find dozens of great methods, etudes, and other exercises to purchase (for a list of some of them, see this article). One recent addition to these materials is Bruno Schneider‘s Horn Fundamentals, published by Editions Bim. Schneider is a well-known name among horn players, having performed extensively throughout the world as a soloist, chamber musician, and clinician. His collection contains many familiar patterns, as well as some new ones (or new approaches to familiar patterns). You might ask “Why buy another collection of the same old exercises?” – a valid question – and here are a few reasons. 1) As a teacher, I consider it part of my job to be aware of as many new publications as possible. I don’t buy every new publication that comes out, but rather try to go for a good sampling of what’s currently available. 2) Often what seems like “the same old exercises” really isn’t, either because of actual changes to the material or because of an updated or different pedagogical approach. 3) Having a variety of materials gives us options as players and teachers. Even if you are very satisfied with your current materials, you never know when you might come across your next favorite exercise. There are plenty more reasons, but hopefully this is sufficient to prove my case. At the very least, if you’re a professional musician and/or teacher you can deduct them on your taxes! Getting back to the matter at hand, here’s a summary of the contents in Horn Fundamentals.

  • Preface: I love this quote. “Efficiency in technical development requires patience, creative imagination, and a dedication to the ultimate goal of technical perfection…” (p. 2)
  • Flexibility: Lots of basic patterns using the harmonic series, covering a three-octave range.
  • Fast Flexibility: Builds on the materials from the previous section, but with faster and more difficult patterns. One interesting update to these otherwise familiar exercises is the inclusion of fingerings for E-flat alto as well as the customary F and B-flat.
  • Scales: Tw0-octave major and minor scales with a variety of articulations for comprehensive study. The most interesting thing to me about this chapter is that the scales are notated using the Grand Staff. It seems like such a simple thing, but I’ve rarely seen the concept of bass clef notation for horn players approached in this way. In using these particular exercises with a few younger students I noticed that they seemed to grasp the idea of bass clef much more quickly.
  • Intervals: Diatonic, chromatic, slurred, and tongued.
  • Articulations: Another very interesting set of exercises, focused mainly around developing finger dexterity and articulation clarity on short diatonic patterns.
  • Chromatic Exercises: Designed to help stabilize the mid-low range, and work through any embouchure breaks.
  • The Start of Sound: These are both accuracy exercises and long tone studies. Schneider notes that “The start of the note is a touchy moment which needs to be mastered in all dynamics throughout the entire register. The impulse which one gives before attacking the note is determining and corresponds to the pick up gesture of the conductor.” (p. 58) Articulation variations are included as well.
  • Exercises to Play Loud: Aimed at improving forte dynamics and beyond, these exercises are anything but subtle. Although not explicitly stated, it would be advisable to take short breaks between these exercises, and/or to play only a couple of them per practice session.

The typesetting is very clean, with plenty of space between staves and exercises. My only criticism is that it would be nice to have spiral binding so that the book lays flat on a music stand. Annotations are in French, German, and English. The price is fairly reasonable, especially for 76 pages of great exercises. If you’re looking to switch out some or all of your daily exercises, or if like me you just enjoy  studying and comparing different practice materials, Horn Fundamentals is a worthwhile addition to your library.

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