IHS 50 Report, Part 3

*This is the third part of a series on the 50th International Horn Symposium. Follow these links to read Part 1 and Part 2.

By the time you read this post, I will be returning home from the 50th International Horn Symposium in Muncie, Indiana. For a variety of reasons, I chose not to stay for the entire symposium this year, but have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. Bravo and a huge THANK YOU to Professor Gene Berger and the students and staff at Ball State University for making this week possible. From my perspective, all of the many events and other activities have been well organized and have run smoothly – not an easy feat! As I write this, I am listening via Facebook live to an exciting performance by Leelanee Sterrett and Tomoko Kanamaru on the Wednesday evening concert. Not to sound like too much of an old fogey here, but I knew Ms. Sterrett when she was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while I was working on a doctorate there. At the time she was already a tremendous horn player, and has since gone on to perform at the highest levels. Here is the program:

Kate Soper, Into that World Inverted
(b. 1981)
Jane Vignery, Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op. 7
(1913-1974)
Ruth Gipps, Sonatina for Horn and Piano, Op. 56
(1921-1999)
Leelanee Sterrett, horn Tomoko Kanamaru, piano

After intermission, the second half will feature an All-Star Horn Big Band, but since I will be departing quite early in the morning I will be turning in for the night.

Working backwards from the final concert of the day, our 4:00 p.m. brass trio performance went very well, and as always it was a pleasure to make music with my colleagues. In my experience, audiences respond well to brass trio music. There is a surprising amount of variety in the repertoire, with some really fine original works by established and emerging composers. If you are looking for something different to program on an upcoming recital, consider putting together a trio of your own.

Earlier in the day I attended one of the IHS 50 special sessions, this one on “Horn-Making over the past 50 Years.” The speakers included Richard Bentson, presider, and Panelists Robert Osmun, Englebert Schmid, Chuck Ward, Philipp Alexander, Johnny Woody, and Dan Rauch. The panel encompassed a wide range of experiences and perspectives, including highly-skilled repairmen, custom makers, consultants, and everything in between. It was a fascinating lecture, with each panelist presenting a brief overview of their thoughts on the last 50 years of horn making. There were of course some differing opinions, but a few of the commonalities are listed below:

  • For custom (boutique) horn makers, the materials and methods of building horns have evolved significantly over the last half-century, with the trend being towards greater precision and customization to the individual player. Examples of this include greater variety of alloys (brass, red brass, nickel silver, etc.), and the use of plastics and other composites such as carbon fiber. However, as the horn playing community as a whole tends to be quite traditional, the standard double horn in F and B-flat has remained the most popular choice for a majority of players. *Several panelists did note the increasing presence (and availability) of triple and descant horns, though.
  • For large scale factory-made horns, quality has often suffered when the parent company has tried to cut costs without consideration of the effects on their instruments. One panelist even mentioned a meeting in which the idea of using glue to hold horns together was offered as a possible way to cut costs (thankfully the idea was later abandoned). One panelist also pointed out that while factory-made horns such as the Conn 8D were once the instruments of choice for professionals, those days have largely come and gone. Most professionals now have their pick of several brands of high end custom made instruments, while factory horns largely cater to the student market.

I left this session a bit early to make it to a 1:00 p.m. presentation by Dr. Stacie Mickens, “Positive Practice Strategies.” I have seen Dr. Mickens give this presentation a few times before, and it keeps getting better and better. Drawing on two books, The Perfect Wrong Note by William Westney, and Practicing for Artistic Success by Burton Kaplan, she offered some wonderful tips on how to structure practice sessions so that we actually make progress rather than feeling frustrated. If you get the chance to hear her give this presentation or to take a lesson with her I highly recommend it!

As usual, I’ll be sharing some summary thoughts about the symposium, but it will take me a few days to process everything and put together something coherent. Check back soon to read more…

Advertisements

Warm-ups and Routines Available Online

We live in an exciting time for horn playing and brass playing in general. The quality of instruments, mouthpieces, and other equipment is incredibly high, with so many options at all price ranges. This applies to published materials as well, including warm-ups and routines. This post is not an attempt to address the plethora of printed materials, however. For an in-depth look at those routines, I highly recommend a dissertation by Dr. Alex Manners, An Annotated Guide to Published Horn Routines, 1940-2015 (D.M.A. dissertation, Arizona State University). Rather, this post is an attempt to compile a list of routines which are available online for no charge. Some of them are standalone routines, while others are contained in comprehensive methods. Authors and their affiliations are noted where available, with links (current as of this post) to download the materials. If you know of any others, please feel free to comment!

Carmine Caruso/Julie Landsman (Metropolitan Opera, Retired)

Louis-François Dauprat, Méthode de Cor (Adapted by François Brémont)

Heinrich Domnich, Méthode de Premier et de Second Cor

Frédéric Duvernoy, Méthode pour le Cor

Colin Dorman (Private Teacher, Freelance Performer)

Drop the Beat (Lanette Compton, Oklahoma State)

8notes.com (Author Not Listed)

Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse, Young Horn Players Guide

Horn Matters PDF Library (Bruce Hembd and John Ericson)

Oscar Franz, Grosse theoretisch-practische Waldhorn-Schule

Jacques François Gallay, Méthode pour le Cor, Op.54

Tony Halstead Routine and Companion (two separate links)

Jeremy Hansen (Tennessee Tech)

David Johnson (Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, Switzerland, Formerly American Horn Quartet)

Daniel Katzen (The University of Arizona, Boston Symphony, Retired)

Henri Kling, Horn Schule

Ab Koster (Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Hamburg)

Émile Lambert,  Méthode complète et progressive de cor chromatique

Otto Langey, Tutor for French Horn

Amy Laursen (University of South Dakota)

Jeff Nelsen, “Long Tunes” (Indiana University)

James Welsh Pepper, Self Instructor for French Horn

Giovanni Punto, Méthode

Josef Schantl, School for the Horn

Larry Shudra (Music Teacher, Spring Branch ISD)

Student Brass (Author Not Listed)

Óscar Sala (Orchestra of Granada)

United States Army Field Band, French Horn Fundamentals

James Boldin (University of Louisiana Monroe)

 

Kentucky/Ohio Tour and Technology Presentation

James Boldin, Jacob Coleman, Jeremy Marks (photo by Bradley Kerns)

October has been, and will continue to be, a busy month, with concerts and other activities happening every week. Last week my colleague Jeremy Marks and I shared a faculty recital at ULM (performance videos coming soon), and then traveled to the University of Kentucky in Lexington and Ohio University in Athens for some additional performances and masterclasses with their students. A huge thanks to our generous hosts Bradley Kerns, David Elliott, Lucas Borges, C. Scott Smith, Joseph Brown, and Laura Brown, for their hospitality and kindness during a very busy part of the semester. Both schools have very fine music programs – there is some great teaching and playing going on in the horn and trombone studios there! In addition to performing and teaching at these schools, I also gave a brief talk called “Technology and Horn Playing.” In my correspondence with David Elliott at the University of Kentucky prior to our visit, he requested that I speak to his students about my experiences using technology as a horn player in the 21st century. The presentation went well, and it is one that I plan to continue to develop in the future. Being somewhat familiar with technology, I created a series of bullets to use as talking points and as the basis for future discussion. Those points are listed below, with active hyperlinks where applicable and a few explanatory comments that weren’t in the original handouts. I hope you find them useful, and feel free to comment if you feel so inclined.

TRENDS

  • Mobile apps – ubiquitous
  • Facebook “Live” [for performance/audition preparation and promotional material]
  • Short Promo/Informational Videos (2 minutes or less) [Better to have several short videos on a topic than one long video. Research shows that shorter videos are more engaging to viewers.]
  • Texting/Messenger/Instant communication (Email old fashioned?) Snail mail now prestigious?
  • “Research” being done through social media (“where can I find…”)
  • Playing advice on social media [A mixed bag of sometimes helpful and sometimes irrelevant advice.]
  • Online lessons/master classes [More and more popular as technology improves and travel costs increase.]
  • YouTube great for discovering new repertoire – going to conferences is even better!
  • Death of compact discs – replaced by streaming services and websites like hornexcerpts.org

RECOMMENDED DEVICES

WEBSITES I USE EVERY DAY

  • www.random.org Create random lists of….anything! Sight-reading, scales, excerpts, etc.
  • www.toggl.com Time and task tracking software. Free, easy to use, with mobile apps.
  • www.drive.google.com Great for organizing/collaborating materials

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED WEBSITES/APPS

SOCIAL MEDIA…BE WARY

  • A powerful tool in the right hands, but can also be damaging to careers and personal well-being
  • Keep a tight rein on what you post, share, and/or like on social media. If you have to ask yourself “is this appropriate?”, then it isn’t!
  • Turn off commenting on YouTube videos [Some of the comments you receive will be less than helpful, and those who really want to reach you will use email or some other method of contact. In my experience, leaving comments on for YouTube videos invites trolls.]
  • I prefer blogging to social media – less reactionary, gives the opportunity for more reasoned discourse.

Mouthpiece Comparison Chart and HornReviews.com

*This post has been updated as of January 29, 2017

Related to my two previous posts about choosing a new horn (here) and mouthpiece (here), I recently learned of some new websites aimed at helping players compare a number of horn and mouthpiece brands and models.

First is Colin Dorman’s “Mouthpiece Comparison Chart,” an interactive resource which can be found on his website,  colindorman.com. Mr. Dorman is an active freelancer and teacher in the Louisville, Kentucky area, and holds degrees from the University of Alabama and the University of Louisville. As of this writing, the database contains 658 separate entries for mouthpieces, which can easily be searched and compared with one another across a variety of categories, including: Maker, Model, 1 or 2-piece, Thread Type,  Rim Inner Diameter, Rim Shape, Rim Width, Cup Depth, Cup Shape, and Bore Size.  A PDF version of the entire list can also be downloaded for free. In one of the comments related to the list, Mr. Dorman states that he sourced most of the information for each make and model from the manufacturers’ websites, so one can presume that the measurements are accurate. Comparing mouthpieces can be tricky; while there are some standards regarding how various dimensions are measured, the numbers themselves can be difficult to decipher. Mr. Dorman has helped remove some of that mystery by converting all the bore measurements to millimeters, so that differences can be seen at a glance. One word of caution I would offer when comparing inner diameter (ID) measurements was related to me by a well-known maker of custom mouthpieces. Because of differences in where  ID is actually measured by different makers, the same measurement on one brand might not be the same on another. For example, an ID of 17.5mm on one brand might not actually be the same size as 17.5mm on another brand.

Virtually every major brand is represented here, and horn players should be grateful to Mr. Dorman for the amount of time and effort it must have taken to create such a detailed database. He also provides a very handy guide to choosing a new mouthpiece, as well as a great explanation of what the various parts of a mouthpiece do and how they are measured. I would also add that the rest of Mr. Dorman’s website contains some other useful resources, including a blog, technical and fundamental exercises, recordings of the Kentucky All-State Etudes, and more. Be sure to check it out!

The next resource is called Horn Reviews: The Horn Research Helper. This unassuming site actually contains quite a bit of information, including fairly extensive reviews of models by Alexander, Conn, Engelbert Schmid, Hans Hoyer, Holton, Jupiter, Paxman, and Yamaha. Like mega-retailers such as Amazon, Horn Reviews allows visitors to submit their own reviews and see what others have written about a particular make/model of instrument. Each model of horn is also rated on a five-point scale for Tone Quality, Playability, Construction, and Value for Money. After reading several of the reviews, I can say that they are for the most part well-informed, and give a good overview of the pros and cons for each type of horn (preferences of individual players and quirks of specific instruments notwithstanding). However, there are a few observations I would make about this site and others like them. They aren’t red flags, per se, just things that visitors should be aware of before putting too much stock in the reviews and other information found here.

  • I could not find any information on who wrote the reviews. I contacted the website creators using the online form, and am awaiting more information. The first rule of all online information is that you should be able to easily verify the author(s) and their qualifications.
  • There is no rubric given for how the five-point rating system works. The idea has some merit, and the graphics for each model look pretty slick, but for the ratings to provide anything other than personal opinion they really ought to have a detailed rubric for each category.
  • A statement on the website mentions an “Affiliate Program,” with the following information:

The owner of this site is an affiliate of e-commerce websites that sell French horns and related products. If you are interested in promoting your business on hornreviews.com via an affiliate relationship, please contact us. Recommendations, ratings and reviews are not influenced by participation in our affiliate agreements.

There isn’t anything unusual about websites like this one earning ad revenue, but the vagueness of the statement itself (What e-commerce websites?, How can you promote your business on hornreviews.com?) struck me as a little odd. Perhaps I’m being overly suspicious, but combined with the anonymity and unverifiable credentials of the authors, this was a sticking point for me. Despite these issues, Horn Reviews is worth more than just a casual visit. Perhaps the site will be developed more in the future, and will become even more useful. *I heard back from Carson Smith, the owner of hornreviews.com, and he provided some additional information about his site. Mr. Smith also kindly gave me permission to share his comments. See below.

Hi James,

Apologies for this delayed response to your submission via hornreviews.com last month. Going back through the user submissions I discovered your message. Happy to answer any questions you have about the website.
I’m author of the reviews, having personally played the models reviewed at horn events, owned them or taken them out on trial. Some years ago I bought and sold quite a few horns online and realized by notes could be beneficial.
Every player does have personal bias and horns vary in quality, so I do aim to write the review with a consensus tone, corroborating my take with second, third opinions – and inviting other players to contribute. A more rigorous and scientific testing process (think what DPReview.com does with cameras) is where I hope to go with the site eventually. Hope to find some partners who are interested in building this out with me.
Having just launched 20 months ago, the website’s grown organically without any promotion on my part, reaching several thousand horn players monthly. It earns a small income via Amazon.com and eBay affiliate links that pay when a user buys something.
My day job is running a consumer advice & rankings website for a media company. Horn playing is a hobby/obsession.
 -Carson

 

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.

 

 

Summer Project: New Website Design

One project I had lined up this summer was to take a look at redesigning this website. After several hours of comparing various templates and mock-ups, I finally settled on the one you see here. I hope you like it! While the content of the site has not changed, the overall look and usability have (I hope) improved. Two big improvements I was looking to make have been accomplished:

  • The site looks better on mobile devices. The previous template looked ok on phones and tablets, but I was never completely satisfied with it. If you have the chance, please take a look around on your mobile devices and let me know what you think in the comments section. One other significant change is that the categories, search bar, blog links, and other functions are now located at the bottom of the page.
  • The overall look is cleaner and more visually appealing. Yes, a very subjective appraisal, but I hope my readers will agree. The previous design template was starting to look dated, and I thought it was time for a change.

 

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.

Five Reasons to Join the International Horn Society

horncallcoverFor several years I’ve had the privilege of serving as an area representative for the International Horn Society, with one of my duties being to encourage and promote membership in the organization. Recently I received some information regarding the number of IHS members in each state here in the U.S., and the bottom line is that more horn players should join the IHS. I won’t reveal any numbers or name any names, but in my state the number of actual members was far lower than I expected, especially given the number of professional, student, and amateur players that are active in Louisiana. We did not have the fewest members of any state, but we certainly could stand to bump up our numbers. Rather than consider the reasons why horn players might not join the IHS – some of them possibly valid, some perhaps not – I thought the best way to help promote membership would be to list a few big reasons why you should join. Here are five, though the list could certainly include more!

  1. The International Horn Society Website: The official online home of the IHS, www.hornsociety.org, is a wonderful resource, with lots of great content available to everyone. Whether you peruse the classified ads and job listings, search the Horn Call index, or shop for music using the Online Music Sales page, there is a wealth of information on this site. However, the best content in my opinion is available only to IHS members, including electronic copies of The Horn Call, and video recordings from a 2010 survey on European horn playing conducted by Dan Phillips. If you are a frequent visitor to the site (including hornplayer.net) but have not yet joined the IHS, consider supporting it through your membership. Organizing, maintaining, and updating a website is no small task, and your membership would help defray some of the costs.
  2. Thesis Lending Library: This repository of horn-related knowledge and research is one of the most extensive collections available outside of a major university library, and is free for IHS members. A $45 refundable deposit is required.
  3. Commissions and Competitions: Each year the IHS supports the creation of new works for the horn through its Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund. If you’ve ever wanted to take part in commissioning new music for the horn but weren’t able to acquire the funds, consider joining the IHS and applying for an award from the Meir Rimon Fund. In addition to commissioning assistance, the IHS also hosts an annual Composition Contest, as well as several scholarship competitions aimed at supporting horn students.
  4. Membership is Relatively Inexpensive: IHS dues are very affordable, especially considering the variety of programs that the organization supports. A student or club membership (8 or more members submitting dues together) is $30 annually, which amounts to $2.50 a month. If money is keeping you from joining the IHS, consider that forgoing one cup of Starbucks coffee (or other suitable luxury purchase) per month would more than cover the cost.
  5. Networking/Collegiality/Friendship: Last but certainly not least on my list of reasons to join the International Horn Society is the opportunity to meet new colleagues and friends. As with any organization of its kind, the IHS brings together numerous backgrounds, interests, and experience levels, with the one common thread being a love of the horn. There are of course occasional disagreements among members about the direction and goals of the society, but in my experience the IHS is an incredibly friendly and welcoming organization, with a history of strong leadership.

Another component of the data was the number of libraries with memberships, and I assume that most of these come from universities and/or large public libraries. Again, these numbers were far below what I expected, even in states with very large populations. While I find the lack of individual memberships in the IHS difficult to explain, I think one big reason behind the low/declining number of library memberships is that many libraries are transitioning to digital databases which already include full-text subscriptions to journals such as The Horn Call. EBSCO host is one such database. I imagine that most libraries don’t see the need to join the IHS for the printed journal when they are already purchasing access to it through a database like EBSCO.

I hope this post has given you some food for thought, and I encourage all horn players of any level to support our official organization.

Recording Review: Orchestral Excerpts for Low Horn, by Eli Epstein

Although in my last post I mentioned that it might be the final one of 2014, I’ve recently acquired some great new recordings that I felt should be reviewed before the year’s end.

This week’s review begins with a short story. One of the first horn recordings I purchased was David Krehbiel’s Orchestral Excerpts for Horn, which I picked up in a Tower Records store in Charlotte, NC during my freshman year in high school. At the time I knew very little about orchestral music, let alone the important excerpts for horn, but something about the CD attracted me to it. Had it been a tape or LP I would probably have worn it out long ago, but thankfully the CD is still in great shape after countless playings over the last 20 years. In retrospect, I think this recording is what really made me fall in love with the sound of the horn, and it introduced me to some of the great orchestral parts for the instrument. My only regret was that Summit Records never pursued a sequel, though the important horn passages in orchestral music could surely fill up multiple discs. And while an entire album of unaccompanied horn playing might seem boring, or at the very least, esoteric to a general audience, I thought it was fantastic.

This brings me to the subject of today’s review, which is, as far as I’m concerned, a perfect sequel to the original horn excerpts CD. I’m a big fan of Eli Epstein, a former member of the Cleveland Orchestra, and a renowned horn pedagogue. I’ve reviewed his book, Horn Playing from the Inside Out, and his YouTube video on the finger breath, both of which address numerous pedagogical issues. What I like most about Epstein’s approach to the horn is the balance between technical and musical considerations. He not only explains how things should sound, but lays out a step-by-step process to help you achieve that sound. In Orchestral Excerpts for Low Horn, Epstein discusses and performs 21 low horn excerpts from the standard repertoire, providing a wonderful resource for teachers and students tackling these challenging passages. The accompanying website (www.epsteinhornexcerpts.com/), which includes pictures, diagrams, and links to recordings, is a great companion to his other pedagogical materials.

Of course, the real star is the recording itself. Though there are numerous valid approaches to these excerpts, you would be hard pressed to find more nuanced, musically substantial performances anywhere. Every note has a purpose, and every musical decision has a concrete, logical reason behind it, which is explained in the commentary preceding each excerpt. Mr. Epstein plays with a warm, fluid sound, with the just the right amount of brassiness when the music calls for it. Rhythm and intonation are impeccable, and these recordings would be great to play along with when preparing either the excerpts themselves or the corresponding first and/or third horn parts. Epstein’s enthusiasm and love for this repertoire come through clearly in his commentary and performances, and I highly recommend this recording to anyone who plays the horn. Whether you are studying these passages for the first time or are reviewing (or teaching) them for the umpteenth time, I am certain that you will be encouraged and inspired.

Recommended Websites: Fall 2014 Edition

With the end of the semester swiftly approaching, activities in our department are beginning to ramp up. These additional commitments, combined with various other performances and projects, will limit my posting to this website. I hope to post a few more times before the year’s end, but this will probably be my last one for at least the next few weeks.

And now, on with the show! Here are a few interesting and useful websites  I’ve come across recently.

http://frenchhornchambermusicplus.com/ This is the website of Dr. Jim Irwin, a former member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and all around musical Renaissance man. His website contains a plethora of interesting resources for horn players, including live recordings from Dr. Irwin’s solo and chamber music performances, scores and recordings of his original compositions, and a blog. Definitely a site worth visiting.

http://metronomer.com/  In this post I mentioned using mobile metronome apps extensively. In addition, I also metronomeruse web-based metronomes quite often in my teaching studio. They are convenient and easy to use, though more limited than their  smartphone counterparts. After trying out several different web-based metronomes over an extended period, my favorite by far is Metronomer. It is stable (rarely crashes), and with a tempo range of 20 – 600 BPM most subdivisions are possible. Three different click sounds are available, as well as a tap function and several common meter patterns. Although I haven’t used this function, the site can also be used to generate customized click tracks. To my knowledge, Metronomer is free to use and has no ads or banners. Here’s a screenshot.

http://carion.dk/ The website of Danish woodwind quintet Carion, a top-notch ensemble that seems to be relatively unknown in the United States. I stumbled across their video of Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles while searching for a video of a woodwind quintet to show a music appreciation class. In short, it is an amazing recording, combining choreography with a performance of a very difficult work. Especially noteworthy for horn players is the stellar playing of their hornist David M.A.P. Palmquist. I couldn’t find much information on Mr. Palmquist, although a few websites made mention of him being Solo Horn with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. If you have time, check out the Ligeti video (embedded below) and their other recordings of works by Carl Nielsen, Jacques Ibert, and others. Their performances are technically superb and very engaging to watch. I’d love to see this group invited to perform at a future International Horn Symposium.

%d bloggers like this: