Elise and I are on a delightful "gig-cation" in Oregon, staying at our friend Carolyn's gorgeous house and looking after her gardens and apiary while she walks across the UK. Elise played Mahler's 7th Symphony with the Oregon Symphony shortly after we arrived in the PNW and now, I'm playing a pretty light gig, "Faust" with the Portland Opera. Light, as in not too much to worry about as fourth horn. Not-so-light, in terms of subject-matter, of course. After the opera, I'll be teaching at YMA and then heading home.
Even with my light obligations, I need to stay in decent shape. The City of Tomorrow is recording an album at the end of the summer and hey, my self-esteem is just better when I get some practicing in. So what does one practice when there's not much on the horizon (and one did not necessarily pack a ton of music in one's car driving from Tennessee??)
For a warm-up, I'm doing one or two sections of the Standley Edition. I've been thinking very much about the scientific method when warming up: trying my best to observe when things are not as they should be - not ignore, that is, when my intonation is off, when tone suffers, or articulation is unclear. Make hypotheses and test them. I've been writing some of these processes down and noticing that my inclination is to not always go with the simplest answer when I probably should.
After warming up, I have been working one etude from each of the three etude books that I brought with me this summer, the 5th "Cahier" of the Maxime Alphonse books, the Verne Reynoldes 48 Etudes, and Studies by the Italian horn player Agostino Belloli by way of Gumpert and Chambers. These are probably three of my toughest etude books and I am learning to love them more every day. I use a random number app on my phone to choose an etude every day. It feels special when I get to repeat one. That happens pretty frequently with the Belloli, since there are only eight in my book. So far only once with the Reynoldes.
After carrying on like this for a while, the Maxime Alphonse is starting to feel really easy. I find the Reynoldes etudes to be at times very poignant and at times hilarious. I wonder if he was at all inspired by the Ligeti Piano Etudes for some of them. At the beginning of the summer, I couldn't usually get all the way through my final Belloli Study, (they're very long and operatic) but now I'm getting pretty good at it.
After etudes, I'll take a look at anything hard in my Opera lit, or work a little on solo repertoire I'm keeping up. I'm avoiding practicing the City of Tomorrow music too soon. I don't want to get bored of that and I know I'll be practicing it really hard, come July.
Here's a little clip of the beginning of a Belloli study.
So, what is YOUR summer routine like, these days?