30 Day Practice Challenge

Looking for something to help you stay motivated over the holiday break? Consider taking a 30 Day Practice Challenge. I’m a big fan of these for physical fitness, and have completed several over the past year. In short, the idea is to perform a brief activity or series of activities each day for thirty consecutive days. Some of the challenges build in length and intensity, while others remain constant over the entire period. The challenge in that case is maintaining the routine. While not a substitute for a full fitness or (horn practice) routine, 30 Day Challenges are fun, and in my experience, really do provide benefits. Here are some more specific reasons for trying a 30 Day practice challenge:

  • Small, daily goals are easily achievable.
  • Fixed amount of time keeps you motivated to finish the challenge.
  • After 30 days you can change to a new challenge, or continue!
  • Excellent template for establishing positive habits.
  • If 30 Days seems too long (or too short), modify to a 15 Day or 60 Day challenge.

If these seem like compelling reasons, here are some ideas to get you started. These can and should be modified however you like. The important things to do are 1) pick something and 2) stick to it!

  • Minimum amount of practice time (example: 1 hour of practice per day)
  • One Kopprasch/Maxime-Alphonse/Other standard etude per day
  • Same melody, different transposition each day, cycle through all keys multiple times
  • One melody per day from Arban’s “The Art of Phrasing: 150 Classic and Popular Melodies,” Concone Lyrical Studies, or any other similar collection,
  • 10 minutes of long tones per day, varying ranges

This will likely be my last post of 2017, and I would like to wish all my readers Happy Holidays and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous start to 2018!

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Friday Potpourri

An assortment of news, websites, gear, and other items of interest from around the horn world.

Just Sayin’: A new (and free)  smartphone app which allows you to “post any combination of voice, text, photos and video to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.”  Definitely some possibilities here for musicians.

Horn Playing from the Inside Out: A new book by Eli Epstein, a former member of the Cleveland Orchestra. One of the most comprehensive books of its kind, Mr. Epstein shares his thoughts on horn playing, musicianship, and overall well-being. Available in print and e-book format. I’m planning to write a more extensive review of this publication soon.

Chopsaver: Recommended lip balm for horn players. Not a new product, but as this is marching band season and many students have been spending long hours outside punishing their lips, it’s worth mentioning. A bit pricey, but overall a very fine product.

Daniel Grabois’ Blog: Now in his second year as the horn teacher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (taking over after Douglas Hill’s retirement), Dan Grabois always has something interesting on his blog. An active performer, writer, and composer, he seems to be doing quite well in his new position.

Upcoming Performances: I’m booked up with orchestral playing for the next few weekends. Here’s the rundown.

  • September 22, Shreveport Symphony (3rd horn): Brahms, Academic Festival Overture, Bruch, Violin Concerto No. 1, Dvořák, Symphony No. 8
  • September 29, Rapides Symphony (3rd horn): Outdoor pops concert, movie music, Broadway, etc.
  • October 7, South Arkansas Symphony (2nd horn): Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3, Mussorgsky/Ravel, Pictures at an Exibition

Students: Looking for Something to Do this Summer?

We heard some great brass juries today – bravo to all the students on their hard work!  I’m planning to post a bit more about juries on Wednesday, but for today here’s a list of some projects for horn students (and other brass players) to consider over the summer break. Summer is a great time to build on the momentum from your end-of-semester jury, and any of the projects on this list would make a good way to spend a few weeks (or more) over the break. Go ahead and take a few days if you need to decompress after the stress of final exams, but before you get too far into the summer make sure you have a plan for how you want to improve. Pick two or three things off the list to start, and come up with your own creative ideas to supplement. Have some other ideas for fun summer horn-related projects?  Feel free to comment.

Feeling Crafty? “Build” Your Own Horn Out of Paper!

While searching somewhat randomly on the internet, I ran across this paper horn, complete with assembly instructions and a pattern you can print out and cut (image at left). This design, created by artist K.Yoshinaka, is available for free on Canon Creative Park, a website specializing in “3D papercraft patterns”. Intricate doesn’t even begin to describe the level of complexity that would be involved in first cutting out the patterns and then gluing them together. Looking closely at the design pattern, I would assume that you’d need an X-acto Knife or something similar to make the precise cuts required. The bell and first branch patterns look easy enough, but once you get into the valve cluster and related parts things start to look a bit ridiculous. If you wanted to get really detailed, you could use different colored paper for an added layer of realism. Still, this seems like an interesting project, and definitely a great conversation starter for the teaching studio. Has anyone out there attempted to follow this pattern?  If so, did it work?  The same artist also has a pattern for a paper trumpet, which looks every bit as difficult to construct as the horn.

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