One great thing about horn camp is that you have time to do all sorts of things that you seldom get the chance to shoehorn in the narrow time slots available to you back at school. I luxuriated in the three hours we had at KBHC (Kendall Betts Horn Camp) every morning to get deep into various topics (my favorite topic this summer was constructing a thread to organize all of horn technique in a progressive way, using video games as one model…). Also fun were the “Open Studios” that were special times when the faculty member could visit other topics and participants could switch from their regular routines to sample the various offerings. My open studios were on Classical Improv, and attendance was the greatest ever. We had a lot of fun working on horn technique and musicality in the context of classical improvisation. I was delighted to work with some wonderfully talented folks, especially high schooler Nikki La Bonte, who, in spite of being a novice at this, instantly seemed to acquire a very experienced ear, which is often a great challenge to classical players – they have to listen in a very different way than they are used to, and quickly understand what they hear and respond. Kudos, Nikki! I also had the pleasure of jamming with Ian Mayton (college sophomore from the U of NC-Greensborough, a student of my friend and colleague Abigail Pack), who was a terrific jamming partner as we made stuff up for about an hour (I also enlisted him to join me in an improvisation on stage that very night. He didn’t hesitate and did great).
I had a terrific two weeks at Kendall Betts Horn Camp once again in the wilds of New Hampshire (which, admittedly is a rather large circle). I will relay thoughts and inspirations from that sojourn in days to come. But let me first relate a jarring postscript to that string of peak experiences.
Cautionary tale: After 11 years of travel, national and international, it finally happened. I flew yesterday on United from Manchester, NH to Cedar Rapids (2 hour delay in Chicago; could have been and usually is worse). Glad to be home. But when I opened my horn case this morning, there was a huge dent in the metal above the bell ring (which fortunately is ok). A baggage handler clearly dropped the case on its curved topside from a minimum of 3 feet on to concrete, probably more to produce such a dent; my Marcus Bonna case has been outstanding in protecting the instrument all these years. But there are limits to the abuse it can take. The United web site said to my wonder and horror that they do not consider any claims after 4 hours after the flight (NOTE to everyone – whenever you travel with you horn, open the case immediately upon landing and have a camera ready; you also have to have it witnessed by a United agent; you should also probably photograph the horn before the flight to have a BEFORE picture). I called United and was put on hold for 20 min. – I guess their way of weeding out complainers who aren’t serious. OK, I just worked at my desk until they got around to me. I reported that the case was ok, but the contents were damaged – and wondrous to say, they take no responsibility for what is in the bag – only the bag! If anyone has had anything like this happen to them, I would appreciate knowing what your experience was. Next stop: my instrument insurance company. Never had a claim with them in 12 years, so I don’t know how they deal these things – I will report on that later. Any advice on this from the crowd? What happened to you? What did you do?