by Marlene Ford

ford mTeaching horn lessons via Zoom is a lot different.
Teaching horn lessons via Zoom is no different.

Many college and private horn teachers are seeing their students through some sort of online applications during this Coronavirus pandemic. It took me awhile, but Zoom turned out to be as easy as Tune-A-Day.

Once I was up and running, my students all showed up at their regular lesson times. With so much out of our control, this small routine of regular lesson times was comforting. What wasn’t routine, they missed. Driving to lessons, unpacking the horn and music, warming up and playing in front of the real me was a ritual missed.

The basic music work was pretty much the same: scales, etudes, solos, orchestral excerpts. I listen; they listen. I comment; they comment. Learning happens—sometimes because of me, sometimes despite me. Nothing changed there. I hadn’t considered that I could video record their lessons through Zoom. That was a boon for us all. On the flip side, we just couldn’t play together. No duets. There was the time delay and there was often distortion. Also, it didn’t make much sense to discuss sound quality as low notes sounded like barking dogs and high notes just disappeared.

Ah, what would horn playing be without a few laughs. Cherubini Sonata #1 is now played by the horns with an Italian villa background, one regularly has a gorilla as stand partner, and I’ve had the pleasure of my pedagogy being questioned by a student’s Google home device.

As we go into our third week at Zoom U., we are planning a studio class. If there are no recitals this semester, we can still play for each other. That will be a little different, but not totally different.


Marlene Ford performs with the Eastern Virginia Brass, the Norfolk Chamber Consort and the Williamsburg Symphony. She and the Eastern Virginia Brass have been recipients of grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. With great pleasure she presented a group of lecture recitals titled Lady Composers--Music for Horn and Piano.

Marlene is the adjunct horn instructor at Old Dominion University and also in her private studio in Norfolk, Virginia.

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