By Kyra Sims

I sat with John Clark in a coffee shop on New York City's Upper West Side on a rainy day in February. We chatted about playing horn in the city, getting into jazz on the horn, and about his book Exercises for Jazz French Horn.

KS: Can you tell me more about your book?

JC: This book is geared towards high intermediate to advanced horn players. I advise students to make the book what you want it to be. It's not necessary to go through the book from cover to cover – you can pick the exercises you like or ones you need work on, and play them over and over again. Once the exercises are ingrained in your head and fingers in every key, you can use them in improvisation. It's important to play these exercises every day for the best effect.

KS: What are some other ways to begin playing jazz?

JC: Listen to music that you like to listen to. Pay attention to the sections you especially like (like a great solo) and try to duplicate it. Listen to the individual instruments in an ensemble and see what you notice about their roles in the group. Know as much as you can about what you're hearing (artists, when and where the albums were recorded, etc.). Also, play the exercises and train yourself to be able to play what you hear in your head.

KS: Any recommended artists to listen to?

JC: Adam Unsworth, Vincent Chancey, Julius Watkins, Tom Varner, and Willie Ruff. Also check out the vocalists DeeDee Washington and the Tierney Sutton. Gil Evans charts with horns, such as "There Comes a Time" and "King Porter Stomp."

Kyra Sims is a graduate student at the Manhattan School of Music and performs around the country in the Brass Roots Trio.

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