Real World Horn Playing Seminar

Seminar Subjects, Events and Activities

Remember, even though you will be getting a copy of my new book, the most important thing about learning to be a musician is to interact with other musicians. Its not just what you play but how you play it that really counts. I will be here to give you feedback and show you how I use the various exercises and techniques.

Basic Techniques

Warming-up: I feel that warming-up is important enough that we will cover this first and do some together everyday. I have developed a series of exercises and rules which will help you best prepare yourself for each days playing.

Breathing: The most important basic concept for you to develop as a wind musician. We will do exercises, discuss and practice things I learned from Arnold Jacobs, and work on practical application of the techniques in solo and orchestral repertoire.

Embouchure: All the exercises and practice in the world will not bring you to your full potential if your embouchure is getting in your way. I know this is a very touchy area to get into but if you want an evaluation and help in establishing a better embouchure, I will do that for you. No one will be "required" to change their embouchure, but you might want to after I show you some things.

Tone Improvement: After we get some of the previous things established we will work to establish your best tone. Everyone's tone is different and everyone has different concepts of tone, but we can discuss and work with some common denominators like efficiency, resonance and consistency throughout range and dynamics. Since all these basic aspects are tied together, you will find that you may gain many new insights on your sound once other basic elements are improved.

Intonation and Tuning: Another touchy area for some people, but this is an area that keeps many people from getting a job as a horn player. There are some incredibly simple things that anyone can do to improve their intonation. But when it comes to intonation, the most important thing for an advanced player is consistency. Do you play the same exact pitch every time you hit a note? Do you keep a consistent pitch at different dynamic levels? Do you know when to adjust the pitch to conform with different chords and scale steps? Do you have a plan for how to tune your horn? How is your hand position and what effects does it have on intonation? I could spend the whole week on intonation.

Building Range: This goes for both directions- high and low. Its all tied together with the breathing, the embouchure and most of all, your conceptual approach. Playing high has little or nothing to do with physical strength once you are physically big enough to play the horn. It all has to do with touch and experience. There is a "magic" combination of elements that must come together to play up high ( or anywhere else on the horn ) much as there is a "combination" to a lock. You can either smash and cut at the lock or you can use the key. Your choice.

Practicing: Is there a right way to practice? You bet. There are a lot of right ways to practice. There are also a lot of wrong ways. I have a bunch of practicing techniques. Maybe you can add some more. We all have precious little time to do anything today. Make the most of your practice time.

Tonguing, Lip Trills and Other Necessities: If you still don't know how I can fill several hours a day for five days explaining the mysteries of the horn, this should be a clue. Legato tonguing ( the basis for all great playing ), staccato that "lives", double tonguing and triple tonguing. Plus what I call compound tonguing.

I never used to teach my high school students lip trilling because I couldn't do it myself to my satisfaction. I finally figured it out when I was in my thirties. Now my high school students can play those Mozart trills the right way. And contrary to what some people say. There IS a technique ( or a trick ) to learning them. Lip trills and the exercises to develop them are also very important to gaining control of your embouchure and especially the high range.

And yes, we will talk about hand position, mouthpieces, horns, mutes and electronic equipment.

The Most Important Thing

Musical Phrasing: I don't care how many notes you can play without missing, how loud or soft or high or low. If you cannot make music you will never reach your full potential as a horn player and a musician. And you know what? Good phrasing helps you play more accurately, more rhythmically, and when push comes to shove, it will get you a job over someone who is just a technician. Musical phrasing will help you be less nervous in a concert, at an audition, or as a soloist. Most of all, good phrasing gives the satisfaction that we are all looking for as musicians- the satisfaction of playing the most beautifully that we can.

For The Aspiring Professional or Just Aspiring

Solo Performance: We will have time devoted just to learning solo repertoire in a master class setting. Amazingly enough, with all the space I have already devoted to discussing technical aspects, I really feel that the real strength of my teaching is in the area of musical phrasing and interpretation. If you want to work on a piece and/or perform at a master class, please let me know ahead of time so I can make arrangements for the accompanist to know the piece. I will also be using the remarkable computerized "Practice Studio" by Coda Software. If you haven't seen this in action, you really should. Everyone is welcome to participate in master class.

Audition Preparation: I've listened to hundreds, maybe thousands of auditions over the years. I've played a few too. We will have some mock auditions that will show you why some people are more successful at these than others. I will reveal exactly what audition committee members are thinking while you are playing. How to prepare yourself to handle the situation. We will have master class type instruction on some of the major orchestral repertoire.

The "Real World" of Orchestral Playing: Feel free to pick my brains. I've seen most of it over the years. The major and not so major repertoire. Crazy Conductors. What it means to be a pro. Section squabbling ( not just in my section- actually there hasn't been much in my section ). Tricks and suggestions for certain excerpts. What does an assistant do anyway? How much teamwork is really involved in a section.


Ensembles: Every day. Lots of repertoire. We will custom tailor this seminar to the people who attend.

Teaching Techniques: One of my main purposes in having this seminar is to try and help upgrade the level of horn pedagogy. If any of this is starting to sound completely egomaniacal I can only say that I've taught a lot and seen students from all over the world and it is obvious to me that horn teaching is often a very hit and miss proposition. I wrote the book because I felt that in order to get the best ideas a student would have to buy many books and then know which parts were the most helpful. My book is a teaching tool for me that brings a lot of superior teaching techniques and exercises together in one place. I didn't think it all up. Obviously. But since there is also a lot of misinformation about horn playing and teaching out there, I felt I should at least try and sort through it to make life easier for me and my students. This seminar will ultimately be all about teaching for all of you who are interested. Just observe and interact with me.

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