Kyle Hayes, Editor
What Does it Take to be a Horn Player?
By James Boldin
Recently I had the opportunity to assist some local middle school band directors in the process of instrument selection for an incoming class of sixth-graders. This was my first such event, and I must say that it was incredibly well organized, despite the large number of parents and students in attendance. The way the process worked was as follows. Parents brought their rising sixth-graders to the school’s band room, where demonstration areas were set up for each of the woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. Students could then tour the various instruments, trying as many or as few as they liked. Numerous educators were stationed at each area to assist the students in choosing an instrument. As we coached each student through the bare essentials necessary to produce a sound on a brass instrument (just breath and buzz, right?), we were also supposed to assess as best as possible what their potential was on that instrument. Based on this brief tryout, along with their scores on a basic aural skills test given earlier, we then put together our best recommendation as to which instrument each student should choose. We of course worked together with the students and parents to arrive at a choice with which all parties – student, parents, and band director – could be satisfied. The entire thing was a tremendous learning experience for me, and I made sure to talk with the band directors well before the event to share ideas on what traits would be most beneficial to young horn players. Although there are certainly many more things which could be added, the following list (in no particular order) represents some of the items we ranked as most important.
Three Things You Should Practice Every Day
By James Boldin
Although you might not be required to perform each of these techniques every day, it is essential that you keep them in good shape so that they are ready to go when you do need them. I’ve found that even just five minutes or so of dedicated practice in each area helps to maintain proficiency. If your regular daily routine doesn’t already include patterns for developing the following skills, you can choose from among the many excellent resources already out there, or create your own.
To Teach or Not to Teach?
That is the Question.
by Richard Williams
One perplexing decision faced by high-school students on the verge of entering collegiate music programs is whether to teach or perform. Period. Black and white. Will you spend the rest of your life in an elementary-school music classroom playing Orff instruments and chanting the “ta’s” and “ti-ti’s” of Kodály rhythms, or will you spend your time playing standard concerti and meticulously preparing for orchestral auditions?
Effective Practice Strategies
by Dr. Eldon Matlick, Proffesor of Horn, University of Oklahoma
The first step in making the most of preparation time is to develop a plan. It is essential for the aspiring musician to maximize effective problem-solving techniques in order to utilize available practice time wisely. Planning ahead means prioritizing the preparation of materials while keeping a watchful eye on overall progress.
With students, it is good to set goals of varying length. Short-term goals consist of the successful completion of weekly lesson materials and nagging problems/figures in ensemble or solo music. Medium term goals would be identifying needs for later in the semester. This could be the preparation specific material for concert ensembles or looking ahead at specific literature requirements within the applied studio. Finally, there should be long-range goals. These can address specific performance preparation such as a jury, recital, or competition. Also, this can address a special need such as range development, improvement of technical facility, or ensemble placement. It is important that goals be realistic, especially on the short and medium categories. Once expectations are met and success is achieved, this positive reinforcement gives the impetus for further, and more adventuresome, goals.
A hero’s life?
by Jonathan Stoneman
The Salome 6, L-R: Georg, Fergus,
Klaus, Stefan J, Sarah, Stefan D
It might be reasonable to expect that playing in an orchestra as consistently good as the Berlin Philharmonic would breed in its players either arrogance and complacency, or enough relentless pressure that only superhuman players would survive. When seen in close up, on and off duty, the Berlin Philharmoniker horn section isn’t in either category. Why not? The answer is both simpler, and more complicated than you might expect.