Review: Long Tone Duets for Horns

While poking around the website of Mountain Peak Music – who publishes Marian Hesse’s Daily Routines for Horn and Daily Routines for the Student Horn Player – I came across this set of duets by David Vining (image at left linked from the Moutain Peak Music website).  It shipped very quickly, and I’ve been using it in lessons this week as a warm-up and intonation study.  It’s a great book, and a nice supplement to the now classic Intonation Exercises for Two Horns, by Verne ReynoldsIn lieu of  an exhaustive list of the contents see the brief description below, quoted from Mountain Peak Music’s website.

Long Tone Duets contains a duet in every major key with additional duets on various topics interspersed throughout the book. It provides the perfect venue for teachers to discuss details of intonation, tone quality, blend and balance with their students, or for students to warm up and play long tones together. Players who use Long Tone Duets will improve their tone, intonation and listening skills.

In addition to the exercises in each major key, there are studies in pitch bending, common chord progressions (I-V7-I, ii-V7-I), and an exercise based around the solo from Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.  Long Tone Duets packs a lot of material into a small package, and is suitable for intermediate to advanced players.  One other way to use these exercises is for transposition practice – it helps to play the exercise as written first, and then add one or more transpositions.  Playing the same exercise in a different key not only builds transposition skills, but also helps students develop an awareness of their tendencies in a given key.

Another detail worth mentioning in the horn edition is the preface, written by John Ericson of Arizona State University.  Ericson makes a great point that in the 19th century (and before), duets likely played a large role in horn teaching.  Duet playing seems to have fallen out of favor somewhat in horn pedagogy, but perhaps it will make a comeback through the efforts of artist/teachers like Vining and Ericson.  Ericson also notes in his preface that “one can easily use the studies in different octaves than printed to address specific needs of the moment.”

As with Mountain Peak’s other publications, the design and packaging is attractive and very well done.  Vining has also recorded a video demonstrating some of the studies contained in Long Tone Duets (embedded below).  I plan to continue using this book in my teaching, and I look forward to future publications from Mountain Peak Music.

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