New Book: Solo Training for Horn

Solo Training HornI’m pleased to announce that my new book, Solo Training for Horn, is now available from Mountain Peak Music. If you follow my blog you probably have heard about this project already, but in case you haven’t, here is a brief summary of the book and its contents.

Solo Training for Horn is designed to help you meet challenges found in eight popular solo works. When practiced regularly and intelligently, these studies will provide the foundation for successful performance of the works on which they are based, and other repertoire as well.

This collection consists of 12-15 studies per solo, each one focused on a relatively short passage or collection of passages. Literal repetition is generally avoided in favor of varied and progressive repetition. Most studies begin from a point of ease, and gradually progress to extremes, often going above and beyond what is required in the original works.

Works include: Sonata, Op. 17 by Ludwig van Beethoven, Villanelle by Paul Dukas, Concerto No. 1, Hob. VIId:3 by Franz Joseph Haydn, Concerto, K. 495 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Morceau de Concert, Op. 94 by Camille Saint-Saëns, Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70 by Robert Schumann, Concerto, Op. 8 by Franz Strauss, and Concerto in D, TWV 51:D8 by Georg Philipp Telemann.

And if you would like to hear a few excerpts from the book, here are two promotional videos.

As with my previous publication for Mountain Peak Music, writing Solo Training for Horn was an incredible learning experience. I hope that teachers and students of the horn find it a practical and effective addition to their repertoire of etudes and exercises. If you have any questions about the book or the writing process I would love to hear from you.

What’s next? Once the semester begins I will return to at least semi-regular blogging, and continue preparations for a recital coming up in early October (more on that later). I have a few bigger projects on the horizon, but for now am gearing up for the new academic year.

New Videos: Louisiana All-State Horn Etudes and Preparatory Exercises

One of my mini-projects this summer was to make new recordings of the Louisiana Music Educators Association All-State etudes for horn. I last recorded these about 10 years ago, and it was time to update at least the first set with video recordings, as well as some preparatory exercises to help guide students in their practice (similar to my Solo Training for Horn studies). I hope students and music educators in the state find them helpful. There are three main components to this collection:

  1. An unedited video recording of the Set 1 Etudes by Kopprasch and Gilson, shown below.
  2. Suggestions for performance and several preparatory exercises, which can be downloaded here: Preparatory Exercises LMEA Etudes Set 1.
  3. Video demonstration of the above exercises, shown below.

 

Review – MRI Horn Videos: Pedagogy Informed by Science

In Report No. 3 of my series on IHS 48 I very briefly mentioned a fantastic presentation by Eli Epstein and Dr. Peter Iltis titled “MRI Horn, The Inside Story: Pedagogy Informed by Science.” In short, they have been doing some groundbreaking research involving the bio-mechanics of horn playing, and have created a YouTube Channel devoted to sharing their findings. If you have not yet been able to attend one of their presentations, the videos will do an excellent job of catching you up on the present state of their research. Using some remarkable technology – Real Time Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or RT-MRI – Iltis, Epstein, and a team of scientists in Germany have been able to capture detailed footage of what happens in our bodies when we play the horn. There is much more research to be done, but their preliminary findings are very exciting, and have the potential to greatly improve our understanding of how to play (and teach) the horn. There are quite a few other MRI videos of horn players circulating on the internet, and they are all fascinating. However, the “MRI Horn” channel does the best job I think of providing the scientific and musical background for the study, and gives us a framework for understanding what we are actually seeing in the videos. Without further ado, here are the first two episodes:

Each episode is several minutes in length, but if you really want to understand what is happening in the MRI videos floating around out there you should take the time to watch them. One of the main goals of their study is to measure and analyze what elite horn players actually do when they play the instrument, and use those findings as a way to positively impact horn and brass pedagogy. As Epstein points out in the introduction to the videos, much of horn pedagogy is based on what horn players feel and think is occurring inside their bodies. RT-MRI technology shows what is really taking place, versus what we think is happening.

“But what about ‘Paralysis by Analysis’?” you might be saying at this point. “Won’t all this information just confuse students, when they should really be focusing on time-tested methods of teaching and playing the horn?” While I understand this concern, I think these videos and the MRI studies can actually help combat Paralysis by Analysis by helping us focus on useful information and eliminating extraneous physical concerns in our teaching and performing. But don’t take my word for it! Watch the videos yourself and come to your own conclusions!

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!

Brief Reviews: Quality Tones App and The Big Book of Sight Reading Duets

Today’s brief reviews will consider two new products for brass players: Quality Tones – an app for iOS and Android devices – and The Big Book of Sight Reading Duets, from Mountain Peak Music. Both provide a creative, fresh approach to learning fundamental musical skills.

app-iconQuality Tones was designed by Spencer Park, a member of the San Antonio Symphony Horn section, and is available for a reasonable price on both the Apple Store and Google Play. I first heard the term “Quality Tones” at a master class given by William VerMeulen, though the concept can probably be traced back to Arnold Jacobs. Essentially, quality tone studies are meant to train the brass player’s mind and body to produce any pitch at any dynamic, with varying lengths, articulations, and tonal shadings, all with a consistent and beautiful tone quality. The Quality Tones app provides a means to achieve that end, by presenting a fully customizable selection of random notes, dynamics, articulations, etc, presented on individual “slides.” The app is meant to be practiced with a metronome, and notes can be repeated until the desired effect is achieved. After trying out the app myself and with a few students, I found it both fun and easy to use. The capacity for variation built into Quality Tones is fantastic, and training sessions could easily be created for a wide range of playing levels. Development is ongoing, with updates planned for adding drone, tuner, metronome, automatic slide advancement, and tone/decibel feedback features. One other tweak that might be helpful is to include time signatures for each quality tone study.

Horn_Cover_Web__91885.1442358992.225.275The Big Book of Sight Reading Duets, created by David Vining (horn version edited by Heidi Lucas), provides a progressive, enjoyable path to  improved sight reading. I’ve been using this book for the past several months in my teaching, usually beginning each lesson with a few random selections. It has rapidly become a favorite among my students, who are quick to remind me if we forget to begin a lesson with it! Despite several quality publications on the market, sight reading still remains a mystery to many students, who often avoid practicing it out of an ill-founded belief that one either can or can’t sight read well. While it is true that some otherwise competent musicians struggle with sight reading while others seem to have an almost uncanny gift, in my experience it can be improved provided that the necessary time is invested. These duets make putting in that time less of a chore. The 100 duets are grouped by difficulty, and each skill level includes a range of styles and challenges. Transpositions as well as bass clef versions make the horn edition by Heidi Lucas even more effective. While it might be tempting to immediately dive right into this book, I strongly recommend that students and teachers first read the Introduction, which is full of practical sight reading advice, and perform the clapping duets found in the beginning. Your students may scoff at the idea of clapping rhythms, but they won’t after the first couple of examples. In some ways the clapping duets are more challenging than the regular examples, and demand an even higher level of concentration and rhythmic integrity.

If you’re looking for some innovative ways to approach the interrelated topics of accuracy and sight-reading, check out the resources above. You won’t be disappointed!

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.

Five Years of Horn World

anniversaryTomorrow is the fifth anniversary of Horn World. Looking back at my first post from June 2010, I still feel very much the same about the goals and overall direction of the site. As a way to recap and reflect, here are some of the reasons I began blogging (taken from that first post), with some follow-up commentary based on my experiences over the last five years.

  • Communication/Networking: Maintaining this website has been an effective way to network, and I am still surprised – and flattered – by the breadth of readers who choose to visit Horn World.
  • Writing Practice: Though neither the fastest nor most prodigious of writers, I enjoy the act of developing, writing, and revising blog content. For me, writing is both a skill and a creative outlet, just as much as any of my other professional activities. After five years, I hope that I’ve become a better writer, and if not, certainly a more experienced one. I still struggle with beginning and ending articles, and my prose has a tendency to ramble…
  • Development as a Teacher: My effectiveness as a teacher has certainly benefited from my work on this site, mainly because I strive to be as knowledgeable as possible about the trends in my field. I’ll never be an expert in everything, but I can at least hope to know a little about a lot of things. Most of the content here is directed at horn players, and to that end I have devoted the majority of my writing and research time to horn-related topics. However, I also think that my teaching in other areas (music history, music appreciation, etc.), has improved.
  • Share Unique Experiences and Perspectives: For those contemplating a blog or just starting out, my only advice is to start writing, and keep writing! If you don’t feel like you have anything new or original to say, consider this: putting down ideas (original or not) in your own words makes them original. I also think it’s important, especially early on, that you not evaluate blog ideas based on whether you think others will find them interesting, but whether you find them interesting. After some experience – and periodic analysis of your blog stats –  you will have a much better handle on what kinds of things make for good content.
  • Generate New Ideas: Even after 500+ posts on various horn and music-related topics, I still actively think about new ideas, and plan to continue posting content for as long as I am able. I maintain an electronic list of 40 to 50 ideas for blog posts, and periodically update it. Sometimes an idea I had six months ago no longer seems feasible, or requires some tweaking in order to make it practical. As new ideas pop up in my mind I try to avoid too much evaluation – I simply jot down the topic or topics and continue on. I’ve found that when I come back to it – either a week later, or as much as a year later – the good ideas will still resonate with me, and hopefully with my readers.

Well, what’s next? As noted in my Summer Plans, I have some blog ideas in the works, including several recording reviews. I also thought that the five year mark was a good time to make a few changes around the site – nothing major – just a little housekeeping. First, I have decided not to renew the hornworld.me domain. It was problematic from the beginning, and the other two domains for this site, jamesboldin.com and hornworld.wordpress.com, will continue to be live. I don’t anticipate any major issues with this change. Second, links to Guide to the Brass Quintet have been removed. When I started that project, the plan was to migrate all of the content from an older website that contained material from my doctoral dissertation. For a number of reasons – including the time commitment necessary to move everything over – I decided not to continue with the migration process. Rather than have only 10% of the material live, and with an undetermined time table for when the rest would be ready, I thought it best just to remove the links. If you are interested in the information contained in my dissertation, please feel free to contact me, or even better, consider borrowing a copy of my document from the International Horn Society’s Thesis Lending Library.

Review: Good Vibrations: Masterclasses for Brass Players, by Randy Gardner

Good Vibrations: Masterclasses for Brass Players is the title of a new book by Randy Gardner, goodvibrationsProfessor of Horn and Chair of the Winds and Brass Department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. I have been meaning to write a review for the past several weeks, but as there are already some great ones out there in The Horn Call and at Hornmatters.com, I wondered if I could add anything new. As I read (and re-read) Good Vibrations, and thought about some of the themes presented in it, another book came to mind, Douglas Hill’s Collected Thoughts on Teaching and Learning, Creativity, and Horn Performance. And while it might be unconventional to begin a review of one book with an extended quote from another, I think that the following passage from Collected Thoughts summarizes my thoughts on Good Vibrations.

Do not pass on your prejudices or your own problems to your students. Try to discard such pessimistic attitudes and, as a result, raise the expectations of these students. Sure, the horn has its difficulties, maybe even a few more problems than some other instruments, but why should that become the focus? That is the challenge, and meeting challenges is what it is all about. I believe strongly that students learn as much from teachers’ attitudes as they do from the well-chosen words. (Douglas Hill, Collected Thoughts on Teaching and Learning, Creativity, and Horn Performance, pp. 67-68)

As with Hill’s book, Good Vibrations conveys an encouraging, positive attitude towards the challenges of playing the horn and other brass instruments. Drawing upon decades of experience as an orchestral musician and pedagogue at the highest levels, Gardner has assembled a detailed and practical resource. Though it appears to be geared towards the undergraduate-level horn player and beyond, Good Vibrations contains many helpful tips that could be applied to all levels, including beginners. Each chapter focuses on one or more of the components of successful and artistic horn playing, shown below.

  1. The Foundation
  2. Breathing and Embouchure Basics
  3. Tone and Dynamic Control
  4. Legato
  5. Articulation
  6. Range
  7. Flexibility and Endurance
  8. Accuracy and Intonation
  9. Lip Trills
  10. Stopped Horn
  11. Warm-Ups, Practice Routines, and Sight-Reading
  12. Appendices

Each concept is first explained, then followed by several exercises which target the development of  a specific skill or set of skills. While many of the exercises look familiar (Gardner gives credit where it is due), I have not seen them presented elsewhere in such a concise and usable manner. Good Vibrations is a book which belongs on music stands in practice rooms and/or teaching studios, so that these exercises can be incorporated into a daily routine. Most chapters conclude with “Skill Assessments” drawn from the standard orchestral and solo repertoire. These concrete musical examples provide the student and teacher with benchmarks to gauge progress in one or more areas. As in his previous book, Mastering the Horn’s Low Register, Gardner provides helpful technical and musical comments for each excerpt found in these Skill Assessments. Appendices at the end of the book include suggested Skill Assessments for trumpet, trombone, euphonium, and tuba.

Because it isn’t possible to delve into each chapter in detail, here are some other highlights from Good Vibrations.

  • Time Savers: Concise, yet powerful teaching tools which can drastically increase your rate of progress.
  • Emphasis on the importance of developing aural skills: The chapter on Accuracy and Intonation includes a discussion of the SING-BUZZ-PLAY progression, as well as several ear strengthening and intonation exercises.
  • Masterclass Tips: As the title states, Good Vibrations is written in a less formal style, similar to the way a great pedagogue might conduct a masterclass or group lesson. As a teacher, I was particularly excited about the many suggestions and “one liners” that could be used to great effect in a masterclass or other teaching situation.

I own lots of books about the horn and brass playing in general, but relatively few of them end up on my “frequently read” list. Good Vibrations is one of them, and should be on yours too!

Semester Preview, Part 1: Brass Trio Performances and Guest Artists

free-happy-new-year-2015-clipartGreetings to my readers, and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2015! Here is my customary semester overview, but this time I decided to break it into two portions. We have a lot of events going on this spring, with quite a few of them occurring in the first few weeks of the semester. Here goes.

Brass Trio Performances

Black Bayou Brass will be very active this spring, beginning with a recital program at the Big 12 Trombone Conference, hosted by James Decker at Texas Tech University. We performed at this conference in 2011 and had a wonderful time, and are looking forward to returning. Our program will consist primarily of original works for brass trio.

  • Flash, by Jérôme Naulais: A great piece which we’ve performed numerous times in recitals and on tour. We’ll be recording this work in May of this year (more on that in a future post).
  • Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68, by Béla Bartók/arr. David Jolley: This is a fantastic arrangement of these brief piano pieces. They have been recorded by the NY Brass Arts Trio, on an album I reviewed here. They are fun and challenging. Special thanks to David Jolley for making this arrangement available to us!
  • The Brass Abacus, by William Schmidt: A wonderful piece, though seldom performed or recorded. Consisting of five sections which correspond to the letters A, B, A, C, and US, this extended work is full of interesting melodic and rhythmic devices. It is still available, I believe, from Western International Music, which William Schmidt founded. For more info on the composer and his music, check out this blog post by Anthony Plog.
  • Trio for Brass, by Gina Gillie: Completed in 2014, this charming new work was commissioned by the late Elliott Higgins and the New Mexico Brass Trio. Dr. Gillie is Associate Professor of Horn at Pacific Lutheran University, and was a classmate of mine at the University of Wisconsin. In addition to her active performing career on horn, she is also a gifted composer. This trio is very playable, yet encompasses a variety of styles and timbres. We are looking forward to performing it!

In addition to our conference recital, we will be also performing at high schools in Louisiana and Texas, as well as performing our own faculty recital at ULM and a guest recital at Ouachita Baptist University. The Big 12 repertoire will remain the core of our program, with the addition of a few other brief works to round things out.

Guest Artists

The brass area is also excited  to host several fantastic guest artists this spring. The following is a modified version of a press release I recently wrote to publicize these events, hence the slightly more formal language.

Grammy award-winning trumpet artist Dr. Christopher Moore and ULM trumpet professor Dr. Aaron Witek will give a joint recital on January 13th at 7:30 p.m. in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall. Musical selections will include works for two trumpets by Vivialdi, Morales, Pascual-Vilaplana, and works for solo trumpet by Basler, Clarke, Enesco, Peaslee. In addition, Dr. Moore will teach lessons to ULM trumpet students and present a master class while he is in residence.

Faculty members in the Division of Music at Ouachita Baptist University will present a concert of solo and ensemble works for brass on January 26th at 7:30 p.m. in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall. Ensemble members include Dr. Craig V. Hamilton, trumpet; Dr. Heather Thayer, horn; and Dr. Justin Isenhour, trombone (we were undergraduate classmates at Appalachian State University). The group will give a master class for music students on January 27th at 11:00 a.m.

Dr. Nicholas Kenney, Assistant Professor of Horn and Assistant Director of Bands at Southeast Missouri State University, will perform a recital on March 17th at 11:00 a.m. in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall. A frequent soloist and guest clinician, Dr. Kenney was named a finalist in the 2009 International Horn Competition of America. His program will feature the music of Antonio Vivaldi, Paul Basler, Eugene Bozza, and Bernhard Krol. ULM faculty members Dr. Richard Seiler and Dr. James Boldin will also perform on the concert. Dr. Kenney will present a master class on March 16th at 3:30 p.m.

Coming up in Semester Preview, Part 2: Orchestral performances, horn conferences, work on my book project, and more reviews.

Coming Soon from Mountain Peak Music: Solo Duet Training for Horns

In my Semester Preview, I mentioned a new book project for Mountain Peak Music. Work on the publication has been going well, with an anticipated release in 2015. The title is Solo Duet Training for Horns, and it will consist of duo adaptations of several standard solo works for the horn. David Vining, owner of Mountain Peak Music and author of Solo Duet Training for Trombones, has written a very nice description of the concept behind the series. The comments are applicable to both trombone and horn players.

These duets are designed to assist trombone players in learning six of the most popular trombone solos. The two parts are equal in importance and difficulty. Solo Training Duets can be used to help students learn style and technique, as recreational musical diversions or even as additions to recitals.

The horn edition will contain the following:

  • Paul Dukas, Villanelle
  • Alexander Glazunov, Rêverie, Op. 24
  • W.A. Mozart, Horn Concerto No. 3, K. 447 (All 3 movements)
  • Camille Saint-Saëns, Romance, Op. 36
  • Camille Saint-Saëns, Morceau de Concert, Op. 94
  • Franz Strauss, Nocturno, Op. 7

In choosing works for this project, they needed to meet these criteria.

  1. Popular solos which appeal to a wide range of ability levels, with a special focus on advanced high school and college level players
  2. In the public domain internationally. (Sorry, no Strauss Concerto No. 1!)
  3. Work well as duo arrangements

There are of course more than six works which fit these requirements, so I had to use my best judgement as a teacher and performer to narrow down the list. Hopefully these duets will be useful to horn teachers and students. Briefly, here are some of the benefits to studying solo material in this manner.

  • Because each part contains an equal amount of solo and accompaniment material, they are actually more difficult than the original solos in terms of endurance and technique. By learning the duo parts, students will be more than prepared to perform the solo version.
  • Students will gain a much more thorough knowledge of the entire work, both solo and accompanying parts.
  • The duets can function well as etudes or in performance as concert works.
  • They are fun to play! I have confirmed this with my students!

To  generate some interest in the project and to give you an idea of what the finished book will contain, here is a short “teaser” video. The source material is the first movement from Mozart’s Concerto for Horn, K. 447.

As you will notice, I am performing both parts, through the magic of multi-track editing and recording. Because of the somewhat impromptu nature of the recording, I decided not to put any of my students on the spot. However, in the future I will definitely invite my students to join me (if they are willing!) for additional videos.

I am having a great time working on this project, and look forward to its completion. Adapting these works for horn duo is a tremendous learning experience, requiring in-depth study of the entire score. In some instances a small amount of re-composition is required in order to make the voice leading work for two voices or to make a part more playable on the horn. In all cases, I have tried to be as faithful as possible to the composer’s score.

Stay tuned for more updates!