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Horns Section Machine

(Photo credit: Todd Berman)

You (meaning me) write articles and blog entries and occasionally get feedback here and there, but mostly you send it out there and don’t hear any echo back about it – if it struck any chords with anyone, etc etc. Comments of (nearly) any sort are always welcome; sometimes comments lead to deeper or more interesting discussions than the original post.  It’s of course easier to send a comment to a blog than to an article. The following is part of an email I recently received from a good friend, someone I met and worked with at Kendall Betts Horn Camp. It’s about a recent article in The Horn Call, journal of the International Horn Society. I am respecting their wish for privacy by removing identifying names.

Having just read your technique column “In the Zone” in The Horn Call, I wanted to mention to you how useful I have found one of the techniques you mention in the column (and that you’ve talked about at KBHC): making things fun. About two years ago we received our program in September for the upcoming season and we had Till Eulenspiegel on our concert schedule for the coming March. For that concert I was listed as assistant to the 1st horn player, a fellow who played 1st for the ****** Symphony and 3rd for the ******* Symphony. At one of our first rehearsals he told me how he had studied and practiced the solos in the piece over the years, but he had never had the opportunity to perform the piece. At our next rehearsal he let me know that the ******* Symphony had a concert the same night as our concert on which we would play Till and that ******* would not let him out of his contract so that he could play with us. So, I went from assisting the 1st horn to being the 1st horn for the concert.
As I set to working on the opening, I suspect I settled into a conventional way of working on it. But then I tried to “re-frame” the opening solo as a way to just move from one note to the next, not worrying about rhythm or phrasing, that is, enjoying it or “making it fun.” What I found was that it falls into a nice jazz/swing piece. By working onit that way it seemed more accessible to me. Once it became accessible — that is, getting from pitch to pitch with ease and confidence — then I was able to work at it in the way it was written. I’ve tried that on other pieces and it has worked for me on them, most recently Tchaikovsky No. 5.
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