IHS Area Rep Corner – Zachary Cooper

Notes from Big Sky Country

zach cooperI first joined the International Horn Society when I was a student in college. Receiving my first issue of The Horn Call was such an eye-opening experience, realizing how many other horn players there truly were in the world. I had heard of the IHS when studying with founder, Bill Robinson, in high school, but it was when I became a member that I suddenly understood what the IHS did for me and for all of us. It connects us to something greater, an entire community. When I came to Montana five years ago, I was surprised to find an already thriving community of hornists.

Now that I am the IHS Area Representative in Montana, I hope to build and strengthen that community of hornists, of which many of you are probably unaware. We are a state with seven regional orchestras, highly skilled performers, and the perfect training grounds for our future orchestral and military band performers and music educators. 

During the pandemic, our orchestras have continued to record concerts, without audiences, and publish them on MTPR, PBS, and YouTube amongst others. Our state universities have continued creating experiences through online masterclasses and competitions across the country. A sophomore student at the University of Montana won an intercollegiate mock audition competition against four other institutions nationally. The community band in Missoula gave concerts outdoors during summer 2020 to audiences blocked for contact tracing. In addition to teaching at UM, I presented at the IHS Virtual Workshop and worked with my colleagues of the Northwest Horn Society to start a podcast for our members in the region. A UM grad also serves on the board of the NwHS and recently moved to Washington state to finish her student teaching. These are just a few examples of what we are all doing in Montana.

In such a strange time when we have lost many opportunities to engage with others, our horn community has worked to educate and perform and, perhaps most importantly, remain relevant.

The Quarantine Stretch - Part 2

Solicited and Introduced by Mike Harcrow

This is assuredly one of the most bizarre seasons any of us has experienced. Many musicians have suffered untold losses because of the global pandemic. What is so encouraging through all of this, however, is the resourcefulness of friends and colleagues in stretching themselves to remain creative, to learn new skills to facilitate their creativity, and to proudly and expertly display these newly-acquired skills in inspiring projects (performed on balconies, in front yards, on YouTube, in social media outlets, etc.) while negotiating cancelled seasons, taking on other full- or part-time jobs, home-schooling children, watching savings disappear, and enduring a great host of other challenges.

While I know there are so many of you doing this very thing, I asked a few of our wonderful colleagues who are in some way reinventing themselves to share their thoughts and experiences by responding to any or all of the following prompts:

• How are you diversifying or bolstering your musical skill sets for the future due to current orchestra closures and performance cancellations?
• What secondary skills are you honing or exploiting?
• Have you taken on another job to maintain an income? If so, what?
• What hobbies or new interests—music-related or not—are generating income for you?

I am grateful to each of our contributors for giving us a little insight into their personal struggles and victories. Let us continue to learn from, inspire, and encourage one another.

Peace and health to you all, dear friends!

Ken Bell

ken bellI am a freelance horn player in the Baltimore, Maryland region. For the last 20 years, the bulk of my income has come from playing assistant first with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I am also the hornist at the Hippodrome Theater and Principal Horn with the Lancaster (PA) Symphony. Most of my income through horn playing has stopped, due to the pandemic. The Baltimore Symphony and the Lancaster Symphony have provided some employment through virtual performances. Although performing has been my major focus and income, I started diversifying several years ago. I have been an adjunct horn instructor at Gettysburg College and doing brass instrument repair for several years. More recently, I became the librarian and personnel manager of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.

I have always been passionate about music as a career even with its ups and downs. So when I did branch out, I did so within the music field.

I have expanded my private teaching (all virtually) to students and adults, which complements my college teaching. I find that the increased teaching is helping me improve my playing and explore new methods of teaching with my students.

Another passion is brass repair. I’ve normally concentrated on cleaning and repairing horns, but have expanded to full restorations of other brass, including trumpets, trombones and antique horns.

I have arranged music for many years, but lately I have been using these skills to create pedagogical material for my students. I have learned (like everyone else) to teach and record solos and ensembles virtually. My knowledge of audio and video recording, and the proper tools to use has certainly increased! I am hoping to expand my web presence so as to increase my teaching and repair income.

I have some interesting new hobbies, which may or may not generate income, but I look forward to them. I have been learning a foreign language through a phone app and haven’t missed a day since I started in March. I have also enjoyed home projects, like rebuilding my shed from the ground up.

I endeavor to keep a positive, forward-looking attitude, which I believe is as important as anything else. I try to practice daily and enjoy virtual practice sessions with other colleagues once or twice a week.

I look forward to the day when we are all performing together as before, but until that happens, l will continue to expand my skills and remain open to new opportunities.

Garrett Krohn

krohnMy name is Garrett Krohn, and I am a horn player based west of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I am working on my dissertation to complete my Doctorate of Musical Arts from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. This past summer I accepted a position at a large church in Big Lake, Minnesota as the Creative Arts Associate. The position has helped diversify my skills with technology as well as vocal technique. Part of my duties every week involves doing all the tech program for both of our campuses, which includes Ableton, lights program, LED wall, mainstage patches, etc. I also lead worship each week singing and playing guitar.

I also serve as the adjunct instructor of horn at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul where I teach once a week. Sometimes we are able to meet in person, and sometimes we meet via Zoom. I also have several private students that I meet with online.

Quarantine has pushed me musically in several directions. At work, it has forced us to adapt as a church to all online content, which means a lot of video editing for myself and the rest of the team. In my personal music pursuits, without any gigging opportunities, it has allowed me the time to pursue other musical interests. For me, this includes transcribing and practicing bass and exploring other hobbies, such as disc golf.

 Joshua Paulus

Dr. Olivier Huebscher

Professor of Brass, Mount Allison University, Sackville New Brunswick, Canada

huebscherI have found myself doing a lot more teaching, and a lot more teaching of much younger students as well. I have taught online lessons for 5 years so that aspect is not particularly new, but half of my online studio is now middle or elementary school horn players. There is a very different energy and skill set to teaching very young students as opposed to music majors with professional aspirations.

Secondary skills is a tough one. The online lesson aspect is part of it, and also trying to figure out ways to do distanced chamber music via recording. I have a woodwind quintet, Volante Winds, and being based in different countries has made live performance or rehearsal impossible. To combat that we are commissioning a new piece by Brian Nabors, which is designed to be premiered virtually. Basically, seeing what we can do with technology as a support instead of as a substitute guides us.

I have been lucky enough not to need an additional job with my University and private teaching workload. This is mostly due to having enough savings to tide over lost income. However, it is very tight and the loss of performance income is something that I know many people are struggling with. Teaching is something that only really works when there are performances to teach people for so that is not something that can sustain a profession.

I have tons of hobbies and new interests, but few with any money-generating potential. I have made a little bit of money working as a personal trainer, but that is only an option because New Brunswick gyms are open (with Covid precautions). Wish I had a more hopeful answer here, but I don’t think anyone is going to be paying me for my baking anytime soon! 

Bernhard Scully

scullyIn terms of diversifying and bolstering skill sets for the future due to current orchestra and performance cancellations, I have taken a number of strategies. This also applies to my performance/research interests, my teaching at UI and abroad, and my oversight of Cormont Music/Kendall Betts Horn Camp. It is my belief that all musicians should expose themselves and familiarize themselves with as much diverse music as possible. This includes Western Classical/Non-Classical Music, Non-Western Classical/Non-Classical Music, and Indigenous Music from around the world. This is dealing with the totality of world music, and likely it may not be possible to fully engage with everything. I propose then to think of it as a continual life-long learning endeavor. It is important to take the horn into every musical realm possible, even if there is no precedent for it. By engaging with the horn in areas that currently have no precedent, you are now establishing a precedentJ Also, it is important to access one’s own creative potential. This includes improvisation, composition, arranging, entrepreneurial thinking, etc., in your daily work. Again, this can be very incremental, but consistent engagement with these skills will allow musicians to become much more versatile, be more in touch with their own inner creative voices, and much more autonomous (having more agency for themselves in relation to their career) in their lives as musicians. At Cormont Music and the Kendall Betts Horn Camp, I have implemented a curriculum that embodies every element of what I deem necessary to be a successful and prepared musician in the 21st century and beyond:

  • Focus on Fundamentals of Horn Playing (including ear training; theoretical harmonic/rhythmic training; basic elements of craft like phrasing, breathing, efficient tone production, articulation, dynamics, range, endurance, and so on)
  • Historical Performance (Western Natural Horn, Horn in Non-Western cultures)
  • Western (European) Classical Orchestral Horn Training and audition preparation
  • Health and Wellness (Alexander Technique, Yoga, Mindfulness)
  • Creativity (Improvisation, Composition, non-traditional approaches to performing-teaching-learning, and General Entrepreneurial Guidance)
  • Solo Master Class Coaching with a World Class Collaborative Pianist
  • Horn Chamber Music in the form of horn quartet and large horn ensemble playing

At Cormont, we have also adapted to the new online world by creating virtual content in the form of the “Online KBHC Experience” which probably many IHS members attended this past June. We also are offering monthly sessions we call “Horn Camp Connect” which have featured our diverse KBHC faculty along with interactive guided practice sessions. We are offering all of our online content as a gift to the music world during this difficult time, free of charge.

My teaching at UI reflects these values as well. If students can become familiar with and work these various elements into their daily lives, then they will be all the more enriched and versatile as musicians, ready to adapt to whatever situation arises and go after their dreams whatever they may be.

I have not really taken on new hobbies per se, but I have ramped up a couple things that I normally have more on the back burner in my daily life. I have focused on my physical fitness training in the form of triathlon training (partially to keep myself balanced during this very difficult time). I have begun reading more books, especially in areas I have not studied or explored before. I have delved into creative work like improvisation and composition much more than I have in the past. Most importantly, my wife and I have spent a lot more time with our children, helping them with school, playing with them, and just hanging out with them in ways we have never had the ability to do in the past. I have been cooking a lot more and have learned new recipes. I am also trying to learn Spanish. None of these things are directly resulting in income, but I am sure they might become useful in various ways into the future.

Thai Johnson

Tenor completing an Artist Diploma at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University (Columbus, GA)

thai johnsonBefore this pandemic began, I accepted a contract to sing the role of “Don Ottavio” in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Prague Summer Nights summer program. I was amongst the majority of musicians whose performance plans were cancelled due to this pandemic, and since I could no longer travel and perform this role, I spent the summer educating myself in other areas to aid my performance skills. This included attending online voice pedagogy workshops, reading about a variety of topics including language study and investing in the stock market, and signing up for virtual masterclasses and concerts. I learned more about earning income as a private instructor and body awareness through online workshops and webinars. Using all the knowledge I acquired over the summer allowed me to begin building my own website and establish a private studio online. Though I missed out on a wonderful performance opportunity, I now have skills and knowledge which will further my career and set me up for future opportunities.

I have always had a strong interest in the Alexander Technique and vocal pedagogy, so this summer allowed me to delve deeper into those subjects. I was able to attend five weeks’ worth of an AT intensive which helped me to better understand the mechanics of my body. I worked in private coachings with professionals whose backgrounds included all areas of the arts community, and working with such a diverse group allowed me to build a new professional network while simultaneously learning about body awareness from a multitude of perspectives. Several voice pedagogy workshops and conferences were also cancelled due to COVID-19, but that opened opportunities for virtual conferences. This actually made these opportunities more accessible, so I was able to attend the Acoustic Vocal Pedagogy hosted by the New England Conservatory of Music, learning from some of the top of the field in the pedagogy world. I would never have been able to attend a workshop like this had it not moved online.

I am fortunate to receive a scholarship and stipend through my assistantship with my school, so I do not need a second job. This allows me to focus more on my education, but I recognize I am one of the fortunate few who can say this. I do some work with a local Episcopal church as a soloist, but aside from that and a small online studio, I rely mainly on my assistantship and some family assistance to support me.

What hobbies or new interests—music-related or not—are generating income for you?

As I mentioned earlier, I have been learning more about vocal pedagogy and teaching and have a virtual studio. Over the past few months, I have been able to teach several students and earn a small profit that way. I hope to expand this as I move away to pursue my master’s degree, wherever that ends up being. I have also been working with my school to put together performance videos to share publicly, so I hope to start generating income through virtual performances. When everything starts to open and normalcy returns, my expectation is the work I do during this pandemic to market myself and share performances will lead to live performance opportunities as well. Only time will tell, but I am thankful for the time to continue learning and expanding my skill sets. If you want more information about who I am and what I do, please feel free to check out my website, thaijohnsontenor.com, and enjoy this recent performance video

2020 British Horn Symposium Recap

by Lindsey Stoker and Richard Steggall

bhs2020 is a big celebration year for the British Horn Society as it marks the 40th anniversary of its founding. It was due to be celebrated with a festival at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on Sunday 1st November featuring guest soloists Radek Baborák and Ben Goldscheider. With the COVID outbreak and the country in lockdown it was looking increasingly unlikely that it would be able to go ahead. Time to think outside the box!

The main problem that we faced was that the lure of our annual festival for many is a social one. Yes, we showcase the best in horn-playing from Britain and abroad, but the focus is on being together, talking about and playing the horn. We have recitals, classes and group playing for young and old throughout the day, and for a lot of players the highlight is the massed blow at the end of the evening concert where children, amateurs and professionals all rub shoulders. We were determined still to hold a festival on 1st November, but how could we recreate that sense of community in an online event?

A festival sub-committee was formed and, with the help of Zoom, came up with an programme that we could stream on the day. Initially we decided to ask professional players around the country to submit videos talking about technique and also invited members to submit remote ensemble recordings for a competition as well as an online valve stringing contest, with prizes for speed and style. Given the coronavirus restrictions that musicians were experiencing, it also seemed like an opportunity to invite orchestral sections to introduce themselves, perhaps talking about their new work environment, what they might be missing or whatever they felt might be interesting for the BHS community. The final result was a mixture of these elements. Some sections were sadly unable to contribute as they were still not back at work.

At the 11th hour a window of opportunity opened for there to be a live-streamed element hosted by the Stoller Hall, a new concert hall at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester where Tom Redmond, former second hornist of The Hallé orchestra, animateur and presenter had recently been appointed joint head. Instantly this opened up new possibilities. Manchester is the home of The Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata and nearby is Opera North in Leeds. Surely we could form a horn ensemble for the event? Despite travel restrictions it was also looking possible that Ben Goldscheider could still be involved. Time to re-think our ideas...

The first festival, in 1980, concluded with a massed horn ensemble playing Beethoven’s Egmont Overture arranged and conducted by Alan Civil. Could we recreate an online version of this? We managed to assemble eight players from four orchestras to play in a live-stream performance with Ben Goldscheider, encouraging everyone else to join in from their homes to recreate this moment. To compliment this, it seemed fitting to include the magical opening quartet from Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel arranged for eight horns by Jeffry Kirschen. With Lindsey Stoker and Tom Redmond controlling events from Manchester and Richard Steggall running the YouTube feed safely from his home in London, 200 miles away, we were ready to go.

The event opened with a welcome from the BHS honorary chair Barbara MacLaren followed by a short film of the first British Horn Festival, including interviews with Willi Watson and Tim Jones. Videos premiered on YouTube every 15 minutes and included “Dream Concert Programmes” from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra horn section, “Four Reasons to Learn the Natural Horn” from Anneke Scott, “Top Five Things We Say to Our Students” from Tim Jones and Angela Barnes (London Symphony Orchestra) and how to play the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 1st movement horn solo and Maxwell Davies’s Sea Eagle from Nicholas Korth (BBC Symphony Orchestra) and Richard Watkins respectively.

Ben Goldscheider and Huw Watkins performed an exquisite recital which was live-streamed after the first hour. Their programme was Jörg Widmann Air for solo horn, Roxanna Panufnik Sonnets Without Words, Huw Watkins Lament and the Beethoven Horn Sonata.

The event concluded with a live performance by the Manchester octet. Tom Redmond enthusiastically compered and announced the winners of the ensemble competition, with prizes donated by Corniworld Publications. The success of the event was highlighted by the number of photos of people playing along to the Egmont Overture in their own living rooms. The online nature also meant that we had a more international flavour to our audience, with many players from around the world joining in our live YouTube chat as the videos premiered. The one disappointing element was that no one entered the fastest valve stringing competition! Perhaps that’s for another time...

All our YouTube videos and the performance of the Egmont Overture can be found on the British Horn Society’s YouTube channel.  You can also have a go at joining in with the Egmont Overture; parts are available here

For those interested in the British Horn Society, our latest magazine can be found here.

Scholarship Program News

Hi Everyone, Patrick Hughes here, coming to you from Austin TX.  I am one of your Advisory Council members, and the IHS Scholarship Coordinator. I hope that all of our IHS members and their loved ones are healthy and staying safe. I’m writing today to give everyone an update on the IHS Scholarship Program Competitions.

 First and foremost: All the competitions this year are on!

 There are 2 BIG news items I want to highlight:

  1. The competitions and their deadlines have been spread throughout the year, in order to avoid the bottling up of deadlines that usually occur in April—which is, for many a tough time to be making recordings and getting recommendation.  My hope is that spreading the deadlines out will enable horn players to keep the competitions separate and unique, and allow everyone the chance to plan which competitions you’d like to enter.  We will be naming the winner of each competition usually within a month of the entry deadline, and celebrating each winner via announcements on the IHS page as well as social media outlets.
  2. We’ve adjusted the repertoire requirements, primarily due to the pandemic’s effect on making recordings with pianists due to social distancing. So, look for more options to play unaccompanied solos, as well as allowing for solos that usually require collaboration to be played sans piano, AND look for a few new repertoire changes!

Though the deadline for the Barry Tuckwell scholarship application has passed (December 1), the rest of the competition deadlines are still coming up! 

  • January 1: Mansur Award (essay/letter only--no recording)
  • February 1: Frizzelle Orchestral Excerpt Competition (includes recordings) completely online this year!
  • March 1: Hawkins (includes recordings) - virtual
  • April 1: Premiere Soloist competition with a deadline virtual preliminary, and the live finals round which will be part of the online IHS 53 next summer!

More details to come regarding the Premiere Soloist competition, as new repertoire is being discussed right now.

So get your horns out, start looking at repertoire to record and check out the IHS website for specific information about all of the scholarships competitions at https://www.hornsociety.org/about-the-ihs/scholarships

The Other Side of Fear -

A Road Trip by Amy Sanchez

sanchez map 560The following is a reflection from my recent 3-month solo adventure in travel, self-discovery, and of course, horn playing! Originally shared on Facebook, this post focused more on the first two rather than the latter, but I did indeed practice and record horn while on the road! I brought my recording gear with me (AEA ribbon mic, Apogee interface, laptop with ProTools) so I didn’t have to turn down any remote recording work, and rented a few hotels and AirBnbs along the way to do some teaching and master classes as well. While the pandemic has undoubtedly been difficult, it has also provided some unique opportunities. In addition to my “normal” work of teaching and recording, I spent much of my time on the trip photographing and filming for a yet-to-be disclosed project involving music and my passion for conservation. Hint: the project is related to a brass ensemble I’ve started, Horns for Rhinos, supporting the South African wildlife conservation non-profit Nkombe Rhino. You may remember an article in the May 2019 IHS Horn Call about my initial work with this endeavor!


“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

-Jack Canfield (also attributed to George Addair)

sanchez mountainsWhen do you feel most alive? Have you felt it recently? I think it’s fair to say that I’ve always loved travel - I remember as a kid all the weekends my family would simply “go for a drive,” or head into the Adirondack Mountains to go backpacking. For as long as I can remember, every time I pass an airport, I yearn to fly somewhere, anywhere. Exploration, curiosity, learning, adventure - it’s all part of it, but I realize now that possibility is the main motivation for me. When I travel, I feel like my whole world opens up and opportunities materialize. Not only tangible opportunities, but perhaps even more importantly, the opportunity to shift my perspective, to follow a gut feeling toward the unknown, to be vulnerable in the unfamiliar, and to simply be in awe.

I’ve always loved road trips and have been fascinated by the admittedly simple concept that quite literally, the road I live on leads to the road you live on- and anywhere in the continental United States! ☺️ We are so lucky to have such space and freedom to explore. Even without leaving the country, it would take more than a lifetime to see it all (and of course, foreign travel opens up even more possibility for perspective and discovery).

I fully understand not everyone has the opportunity to travel far and wide- and I’m extremely grateful (and work very hard) for the circumstances that have allowed me to do so. Keep in mind, there are trade-offs to everything, which I won’t get into here. Suffice to say, after spending four months in quarantine completely on my own this past spring, I decided to take advantage of forced “time off” (as a freelance musician, all time off is unpaid), and go on an ambitious solo road trip this summer. In what one might consider an extreme social distancing measure, from July into October, I traveled for 99 days, drove 15,692 miles weaving my way through 30 national parks/monuments and countless other national forests, state parks, and natural lands in 28 states (including a flight up to Alaska to photograph coastal brown bears!). I basically avoided cities at all costs. The map of my route is below, and while I know you can’t see all the stops clearly here, I’ll be sharing more details in the future.

sanchez at the lakeFor anyone curious, I used Roadtrippers to plan my route- a very helpful app/website! Side note, before anyone is too hurt that I didn’t call while I was passing through their town, please keep in mind most of my stops were very short, annnnnd we’re in a pandemic… I was avoiding all humans! 😉 I wish I could’ve visited so many friends along the way. I skipped some areas that I know I’ll be hitting in the future (like the Pacific Northwest), and a few areas I’ve been in the past, but I was able to cover an awful lot of the most beautiful parts of the United States.

Our National Parks and protected lands are certainly our greatest treasure. It was humbling to experience even just a bit of the vast wilderness areas that surround us, and see the monumental efforts that have gone into preserving them and providing public access. That road that I live on, and the one that you live on? It travels through some really incredible places.

Was I nervous? Lonely at times? Uncomfortable in the unknown? Even heart-racing scared? Yes, definitely. But the growth that comes from facing those challenging moments when you only have yourself to rely on and pull yourself out of far outweighs the temporary discomfort. In all my travels, for all the lonely moments, there have been ten times as many that I was exhilarated, in awe of my surroundings, and motivated to see what was around the next corner. Through all the nerves, I’ve gained a confidence that has left me far less concerned about what others think, far more comfortable in my own company, and ready to handle whatever comes my way. Will there be more nerves and fear in the future? I hope so- for me, it’s grounding, and the best way to move forward and create opportunity. “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

Needless to say, I have many photos, videos, and stories to share (and I’ve got plans for some of that in the future), but on the trip, once I removed myself from the constant news and social media bubble, the discovery came that I didn’t need to share it with the world as it was happening. I wanted to savor it, be fully present in the moment, reflect on it. And now, just under 3 weeks after returning home to LA, I’m barely getting to the point where I can put a few of those reflections into words. Of course, while this was a solo road trip, I wasn’t really alone, and am infinitely grateful to the close friends and family who support me in so many ways, even in my solitude - which I’ve learned is far different than loneliness. ♥️

sanchez grand canyonMore than anything, my goal is to bring the the awe-inspired eyes from my trip and the perspective of possibility with me in everything I do. LA feels different now, music feels different, community feels different - and everything feels possible; opportunity is around the next corner. A fundamental shift, and I hope the idea might help inspire others in this unprecedented time that has been difficult for so many.

Possibility and opportunity are on the other side of fear.

If you’d like to follow my journey, please find me on social media or at my website below, where I’ve very recently started blogging about music, conservation, travel, photography, and perhaps most importantly, inspiration. Much more to come!


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