Experiences and Outcomes

First off, I want to encourage anyone reading this who has a bachelor's degree in music to take this survey I'm conducting.

This survey examines how music undergraduate degrees differ - and how different experiences might correlate to various outcomes for music majors.

Speaking of experiences, I had a great time at the Northwestern University Peak Performance Horn Symposium in June. I took pages and pages of notes during the masterclasses with Gail Williams, Jon Boen, and Dave Krehbiel, the incredible series of lectures by the sports and music psychologist Don Greene, as well as classes on Alexander Technique, Aston Patterning, and meditation. I met a lot of people, got some great ideas, and I feel inspired. I can't recommend the symposium enough.

I took a small risk myself and played in a masterclass for Mr. Krehbiel, at the symposium. I played for Dave twice before when I was a student. He was as delightful and musical as ever and it felt good to not be too bound by my own ego and fear. I played the Romance No. 67 by Saint Saens, originally a horn piece but later repurposed by Saint Saens for cello and chamber orchestra. I'll be playing this same piece at a concert at Rhodes on October 23 - a concert of all French music from the years 1870-1940. 

I also took the opportunity to talk to everyone at the symposium that had a lot of experience with mellophone. I'm trying to improve my teaching and methodology for my students who must spend almost half the year playing the mellophone (most of them.)

Upon returning home, I finished up my method book, which I have mentioned in previous posts. You can now take a look at it here.

Wishing you all a cool and easy summer!

Thoughtful Retreat

Currently, I am in Portland, Oregon playing Swan Lake with Oregon Ballet Theater. We had our dress rehearsal last night - first night in the pit - and I think it's going to be a good show! The horn section has never sounded better, IMO, even though a lot of what we're playing is footballs and offbeats! 

I don't have much else on my schedule other than the ballet services so that leaves a lot of time on my hands for practice and other projects. Crummy projects like taxes and also fun projects like working on my method book! 🤓

As some of you know, I'm developing a method book specifically for horn players who need to structure their own time (like someone is just out of school) and want to keep up their skills. Let's face it; it's also a routine book that "routine nerds" are going to enjoy. :)

Here's how it works:

A key a day

Each day of the month is assigned a key, major or one variation of a minor. There is also a transposition (or natural horn) key that corresponds to that day for exercises that are meant to be played on natural horn. For example, today's key is F Major and the the transposition key is Bb alto. Yesterday was d harmonic minor and also Bb alto transposition. Tomorrow will be c# melodic minor with a transposition key of A.

Four routines

 I have put together four different warm up routines to choose from - a choose your own adventure of warming up. Every exercise in the routine is done in the key (or transposition) of the day. The routines are similar in format; they each include the following:

  • pre-warm-up
  • flexibility exercises
  • scale pattern
  • tonguing or interval practice
  • longtone study

Etudes and Excerpts

At the end of the book will be recommended etudes to be transposed in to the key of the day as well as orchestral excerpts for each key. This is by no means an excerpt book but instead, the excerpts are a way of further exploring a key and its possibilities.

I've been in a montage

I believe most humans are familiar of the cinematic trope of the montage. Rocky's got a big match coming up - life or death! - and we see him jogging all hours of the day, practicing with the bag, strategizing with the coach, etc., etc....

Welp, these last few of weeks, I've been in a montage. Getting ready for playing the Ligeti and Brahms last month (as well as a set with the Memphis Symphony) felt like a giant feat. And I have had to ma'am up and just do the work! Here's how the montage goes: 

*Me talking on the phone to my mom* - "Yeah, Christmas was great... Coming up in January? Well, I'm preparing to play the hardest piece written for French horn three different times... You're right, mom, they probably should have gotten Jen to play it."

CUT TO - Me studying the score, drinking coffee. I pause to scribble with a pencil and nod to myself, satisfied

CUT TO - At a messy instrument repair shop where my salty repairman friend (cameo role by Dan Aykroyd) cuts and realigns my thumb key while I perch on a stool and watch. 

CUT TO - Me practicing the second movement of the Ligeti over and over and over and over and...

CUT TO - New Years eve, a party at a friend's house. We all wear party hats and crowns and at midnight I kiss Elise (played by Chloë Sevigny) to show that I'm "keeping it together" and I'm not turning in to a total loner.

CUT TO - I'm jogging through the neighborhood, "Silver Lining" style except that instead of a garbage bag, I'm wearing every item of clothing I own because it's been freaking cold, here!

CUT TO - Pressing send on an application for a higher ed job and then immediately falling asleep from sheer exhaustion.

CUT TO - Second movement of Ligeti - AGAIN!

CUT TO - The performance, backstage. My trainer says, "Are you sure you're ready to take this guy?" and I reply, "It's now or never, mack."

Below, a video of that fateful second movement of the Ligeti. Enjoy!