Semester Wrap-Up and Summer Plans

With the submission of final grades, this unprecedented spring semester is now behind me. For students and colleagues at other institutions who may still have a few more days or weeks to go, hang in there! I’m extremely proud of our students for their resilience and flexibility, and honored to be working with such dedicated faculty and staff. They truly went above and beyond to help our students be successful.

As we move into the summer, I’ll be shifting gears a bit and working on some longer-term projects as well as a few smaller things. One major undertaking is learning to use several apps in the Adobe Creative Cloud, including InDesign, Premiere Pro, and Audition. I’ve had experience with similar software, but this will be my first in-depth look at Adobe’s apps. So far I’ve been very impressed with their power and versatility, and look forward to learning more. I also have plans for another book with Mountain Peak Music. It’s still in the planning stage, but I hope to knock out a large portion of it this summer.

In my own horn playing, I’ll continue to work with the Caruso Routine, as well as various etudes, solos, and other repertoire to keep in shape. One new series that I’ve really enjoyed is Jim Stephenson‘s Maytudes. The composer’s description is below:

A French horn etude project in consultation with Gail Williams, with one etude created every day during the month of May, 2020. Subscribers would receive a new etude in their email box every day, for their own private “world premiere!”

It’s a really cool idea, and the etudes are very well-written, but tough! I’ve recorded a video of the first one (with the composer’s permission), and plan to record more as I’m able. It takes me about a week to learn each one. If you are looking for a good summer practice project it may still be possible to join the Maytudes project. Contact the composer directly to inquire.

In addition to the above, my plans are to continue to enjoy spending time at home with my family. This extra time with loved ones has been a bright spot in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Hopefully stay-at-home restrictions will ease throughout the summer, and we will be able to safely venture back into public spaces. If you’ve read this far, thank you! and best wishes for a safe and restful summer.


Cannon Music Camp

For the next three weeks I’ll be teaching horn at Cannon Music Camp, on the campus of my undergraduate Alma mater, Appalachian State University. Here’s a brief description of the camp from their Facebook page.

Since 1969, Cannon Music Camp has offered the most comprehensive course of musical instruction in the Southeast, with intensive college preparatory work in ensemble performance, one-on-one instruction, and music theory.

It’s a wonderful program, serving band, orchestral, choral, and piano students. This was the first music camp I ever attended, and I’m honored to be on the faculty this summer. There are eight horn students – including one from Louisiana – and they are all eager and talented. I’ll be getting to know them better in our weekly lessons and master classes, and will be posting some weekly updates here about the various horn-related and other activities during camp. One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is what topics to cover in the weekly master class. Since time is limited, there are some things we won’t have time to do, but we will definitely be talking about warm-ups/fundamentals, instrument maintenance, and other basic info, as well as things like recommended recordings and websites. I’m not living on campus during camp because both my parents and my wife’s parents live within an easy driving distance, but I plan to attend as many concerts and other camp events as my schedule allows. One last thing worth mentioning is that I’m teaching in my former horn teacher’s studio, which along with bringing back some great memories has the very nice view shown to the left.

Summer Plans

Whether you are a student, college professor, or full time professional player, the summer months offer the possibility of some much needed down time, as well as opportunities like summer festivals and (hopefully) more practice time. As a student I spent many summers attending various festivals,  but there were also a few years when I spent my time working at home and practicing a lot. Either route can be very beneficial, and I encourage students to try both, perhaps combining them into a single summer by attending a shorter one or two week festival.  For the last few years I’ve begun my summer break by making a list of projects I’d like to complete and goals I want to achieve before classes resume in the fall.  I rarely make it through everything, but having a standing “to do” list of both long and short term projects and goals has helped me stay motivated throughout the long break.  Even if list-making and organization don’t come naturally to you, I think it’s very important to develop these skills during the student years so that you can rely on them in your career.  I’ve included my current summer to do list below, in no particular order. Feel free to borrow and/or adapt anything you’d like, and have a great summer!

  1. Continue working on my etude video project.  At the very least I want to make good progress towards completing all of Kopprasch Book 1 by the end of the summer.
  2. Work on some arranging projects, including works for horn and piano and horn ensemble.
  3.  Prepare and present a recital in July for a local church’s summer concert series.  Works include the Beethoven Sonata, Op. 17, Chabrier’s Larghetto, Winteregg’s Blue Soliloquy, a new composition for horn and piano, and more.
  4. Continue regular posts on this blog – there will be a few down weeks for vacations and various other things, but on the whole I plan to keep writing.
  5. Catch up on my reading!  My short list includes Dennis Brain: A Life in Music, as well as some other non-music related books.
  6. Some type of project based on beginning band methods for horn.  I’m not sure where exactly to go with this, but I’ve been looking at the horn books for various beginner band methods with the aim of writing some kind of a comparison/review.  More on that to come.
  7. Finish importing my old Guide to the Brass Quintet site into WordPress.  There are a number of reasons for doing this, namely the ability to purchase my own domain name and the easier to use interface on WordPress.
  8. Relax, and spend time with family and friends.  Although it’s last on the list, this is always one of my top priorities during the summer.  Reconnecting with my relatives and close friends is something I look forward to every year.

Well, there you have it.  It’s not a particularly long list, but it should keep me occupied for at least the next several months!

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