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Showing posts from January, 2019

Pedagogy Books

Pedagogy Books
Pedagogy books are written to help us understand how we and the horn work together. There are quite a few options out there, but some are becoming outdated and others just are not the best overall quality. You should also be on the lookout for new ones that enter our world from time to time because they each offer a unique perspective on this crazy world we live in. Here are a few of my favorites:
#1 - Phil Farkas - The Art of French Horn Playing I consider this the bible of horn playing. It was written in 1956 but has stood the test of time. Farkas’ book is a wonderful guide for beginners and those who teach beginners. It also serves as a resource for review from time to time for those of us who need reminders on how the horn works. He also wrote three other pedagogical books that are just as lovely as this one.
#2 - William R Brophy - Technical Studies for Solving Special Problems on the Horn This book is way less words and way more playing. Brophy created this as an exerc…

Dealing with Mistakes

Dealing with Mistakes
As horn players, mistakes are just in the nature of our instrument. The Guinness Book of World Records lists us as the hardest instrument to play, along with the oboe. Every time we feel comfortable with the horn and things are going great, something bad happens. It is in that moment of comfort that we relax and let our focus slip just enough for mistakes to creep in. There are countless variables that lead to our success and if one of those gets slightly off, we can crash and burn before we know what happened. It is important to learn to accept these mistakes. Take a moment when you can to analyse what happened and make sure you can recover quickly. It does no good to spend time being mad at yourself and beating up your mindset just because you cracked a note. By no means am I saying that we should not be striving for perfection at all times, I am just saying to give yourself a break. Your mental health is important and you need to take care of yourself and check …

Accuracy

Accuracy

Accuracy is a challenge we face as horn players on the daily basis, especially the higher in our range. To combat this, there are some fun ways to work through fundamental exercises and help your accuracy at the same time. The best way to start is just playing scales and arpeggios with different articulations at varying dynamic levels. Work on playing scales in your full range as loud as possible to as soft as possible while playing the notes from slurred all the way to staccato. This will give you some ideas about where you have the biggest holes in accuracy. Josef Schantl wrote a book of studies called Grand Theoretical and Practical Method for the Valve Horn as a series of over 200 exercises in all major and minor keys. Not only does this book help with the fluency of all key signatures, but can be a resource when working on accuracy issues. He has suggestions on articulations written throughout so feel free to use those as needed, but play around with dynamics more than a…

Articulations

Articulations
When you are playing each note, remember that there is a beginning, middle, and end. Each part of the note requires definition and equal attention. Articulations are often what causes us to make the most mistakes. There are different ways to approach articulations, but we are going to keep it simple with a “too” approach. Start by just slowly saying the word “too.” Feel the shape your mouth makes and where the tip of your tongue makes contact. It should be around the back of your top teeth, just where the roof of your mouth meets the teeth. This creates a well-rounded attack that works great on the horn.
The higher in the range you are playing, your tongue will move further up from that position, and the lower you play, your tongue will move further down. This motion should happen naturally, but if you find yourself making unclear beginnings to notes, check in with where your tongue is making the initial attack. Make sure that after you make the attack, your tongue moves …