Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2018

Breathing

Breathing
Disclaimer: I am not trying to reconstruct anyone’s breathing with this post. I am just offering a few of my thoughts that I feel are not commonly expressed in typical breath training. These are just ideas that I have picked up along the way that I feel have helped my students a lot and are things that they have never heard. The first is where your air is going inside of your body. You will hear a lot of explanations saying to “breathe into your stomach” so that your stomach expands. This is a great concept, however...your lungs are behind your stomach/other organs and while yes, the stomach does expand, if you change your thinking to filling up your lower back, I have noticed less physical stress becomes incorporated. By placing your palms into the sides of your lower back and aiming your air into your palms, you will learn you to take deeper breaths more easily in a relaxed manner.
You will often hear comments about keeping your air column deep and wide when the air is enteri…

Embouchure

Embouchure
The best embouchures are often described as two-thirds top lip, one-third bottom. This comes from the way that we aim our airstream down into our lead pipe. Having more top lip gives us better control with aiming our air and makes shifting between ranges easier. Lips comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and appropriate mouthpieces can aid in finding this balance. Your teeth can also play a role in helping find the proper placement as well. An easy way to find a setting is to place the mouthpiece almost to the lips and then begin a free buzz and slowly place the mouthpiece on your face and allow the muscles to relax around the mouthpiece to keep the buzz going once it is in place. Aperture, the hole your lips make to allow air through, plays a huge part in this setup as well. Aperture should naturally find its way through simple exercises and can also help guide the mouthpiece to proper placement. Check that the corners of your mouth are firm so that air is not slipping out …

Transposition

Transposition
The purpose of this post is not to completely teach you how or why we transpose, but rather a few ideas on how to work on transposition. The short of it is, we transpose because of our tradition coming from the natural horn where you could just change a crook and be in the right key. The how gets a little more complicated, but with proper guidance and lots of patience is easily achievable. Further reading can be found at: http://hornmatters.com/?s=transposition I highly suggest that you find a teacher who knows what they are doing when you start learning transposition. It is a tricky matter that if learned incorrectly to being with can hurt things down the road. When you are first learning transpositions, give yourself some baby steps. First, identify the key you are transposing to and the interval over which you need to make the chance. Take Horn in D for example. This means you are transposing down a minor third. Check the key signature and see if there are any accidental…

Overtone Series

Overtone Series
All instruments are created around a naturally occuring series of notes. Each fingering on every instrument allows a certain series of notes to be produced and that series is called the overtone series. With the correct setup and everything working in the right way, the attempted note should come out. However, there are various issues that can cause incorrect notes to come out. Have you ever heard a reed instrument squeak? That is a note within their overtone series that came out instead of the note they were attempting. On the horn, the overtone series on the open F side of the horn looks like this: (photo credit : Maurice Limon)
This series works for each fingering on the F side of the horn and goes down by half-step as you add fingerings in order (2, 1, 12, 23, 13, 123) and this is how the fingerings for all of the notes on the horn are determined.
There are many exercises that are based around the knowledge of the overtone series. Some of the notes are not perfectly i…

Scales: Chromatic/Major/Minor

Scales: Chromatic/Major/Minor
Scales are a great starting point for fundamentals on the horn. Most exercises are built around scales and arpeggios so learning them early is key. I suggest starting with a chromatic scale. Find a trusty fingering chart from one of your band books or online ( http://www.public.asu.edu/~jqerics/HornFingeringChart.pdf ) and find a note that is in the middle of your current range that is comfortable to play. From there, work your way chromatically down as low as you can continue to get notes to speak. When you reach your lowest possible note, turn around and work your way back to to where you started. Now do the same thing going up. Go as high as you can without forcing and come back down. This is a great starting point for getting to know your way around the full range of the horn and you should start memorizing your chromatic scale as soon as possible. Then we need to work on major scales. Full range of the horn makes it possible to play every scale a full…

The High School Hornist: What to Expect

The High School Hornist: What to Expect
Hello! And welcome to my blog! My name is Tracy Bass and I am currently finishing my Doctor of Music Arts degree at the University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. Thank you for checking out this blog! This is going to serve as home to projects I did during my time at UMKC and will also be a collective resource for high school students who want to major in music in college. I got a late start to horn and never had private lessons before starting college. My first semester, I was put fourth horn in orchestra and had no idea what I was in for. I was expected to read bass clef and transpose which were two things that I had no idea that the horn did. My goal with this blog is to create a resource for high school students and teachers to use when preparing for what a horn player can expect to see at the collegiate level. Below is a checklist of topics that will be explored. Each item will have its own blog post coming soon so…