tenet (ten' it), noun: a principle, doctrine, or belief held as truth

Welcome to my blog! Here I will share some of my thoughts on horn playing and teaching, which I think about a lot, and maybe some other things, too. Since my job (which thankfully, allows me to do a lot of playing and teaching) keeps me very busy, as does my wonderful family, I may not write frequently. My goal will be quality, not quantity!

Please share your comments.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

5 Days in the Life

     Tonight I will conclude a busy 5-day stretch that demonstrates what makes my job hectic at times, but also exemplifies one of the aspects I love about my job: the opportunity to perform and make music in a variety of settings. Here are the highlights...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In the Hot Seat

     Last week I had the opportunity to play Principal with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra for Mahler's 2nd Symphony.  I normally play 4th in this group, but due to a couple of absences in the section, I got to play 1st.  If that doesn't deserve a blog post, I don't know what does!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Much Should a Teacher Play in Lessons?

     I'm a little behind on my Horn Call reading.  Recently, I was reading James Boldin's interview with Douglas Hill in the February 2011 issue (Vol. XLI, No. 2).  This quote caught my eye.  Discussing what it takes to be a successful, effective teacher, Hill says...

"Developing verbal skills is important, and maybe even developing vocal skills, or demonstration skills. I don't demonstrate much on the horn, mostly because I'm not asking people to imitate. If you rarely play for students in lessons, the best sounds come from them. I'm not denouncing imitation - it's useful for many things - but we can get that by listening to CDs." (p. 50)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Best Practice Advice

     It's been waaaay too long since my last post!  There are lots of reasons for this, but one of my favorite sayings is: "A reason is not an excuse."  I feel compelled to write this post because I've been giving this little bit of advice in several lessons lately.
     Back in February, I posted a list of Practice Tips.  If I could only give one, this would be it:

Monday, May 23, 2011

SMBQ Germany Tour 2011

     I just recently returned from another successful international tour with the SMBQ.  We visited southern Germany May 9-17, playing concerts at some of WCU's sister schools in Ludwigsburg, Weingarten, and Tübingen.
     On the map you can see some of the locations we visited...

Friday, April 29, 2011

A World Premiere: "far beyond the dissonance"

     This week I had the opportunity to give the world premiere performance of a piece for solo horn.  The title of the short but challenging work is "far beyond the dissonance," and it was written by Dr. Greg Robin, a colleague of mine at Western Carolina University...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recital Prep, Part 5 - Breathe Deep and Blow Fast!

     The title of this post says it all!  It's time to go on stage and play the music that you've worked so hard on.  You've carefully chosen your program, worked out the details, played some run-throughs and mock performances, and you're mentally and physically prepared to play your best.
     While you're on stage, it's important to keep things simple in your head.  I love this quote from Keith Hill and Marianne Ploger at www.musicalratio.com:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recital Prep, Part 4 - Visualization and Tapering

     I'm a big believer in visualization: imagining yourself in the performance situation as you practice.  This can really play a role from the early days of preparing your music, but should become an even bigger part of your routine once you can play your pieces start to finish.
     In your mind, picture the performance in vivid detail.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Recital Prep, Part 3 - Continuity

"The Incredible Shrinking Recital Program!"

     After you've picked your recital program, and you've learned all the details of the music by hitting the woodshed, then it's time to shift your practice gradually from detail work towards continuity work.  This means playing through longer sections, run-throughs of your pieces, and even entire mock recitals.  There are several benefits to this continuity work:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Recital Prep, Part 2 - Hitting the Woodshed

     So, you have a recital date booked and you've picked your program.  Now it's time to hit the proverbial woodshed and get to work learning and refining all those pieces.  I've already written some about practice techniques, so I'll just follow up here with a few words of caution.
     First and foremost, I want to stress how important it is to get started correctly on a new piece!  All too often, a student comes to their lesson after they've been working on a new solo for a week or more, and they're playing wrong rhythms and/or notes!  At that point,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Recital Prep, Part 1 - Programming

     This post begins a series on recital preparation that starts with picking your program, and ends with the performance.
     As I mentioned in my post on "Priorities in Performance," I place a very high priority on audience enjoyment.  This begins with deciding which pieces to play.  During your student years, it's very important to cover many of the standards in the repertoire, and your teacher will help you pick your program.  So, you have less freedom, and the audience might not get as much consideration in the process.  Still, I think most performers want the audience to enjoy their playing, so this should factor into your decision-making.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kiss Me, Kate!

     This week I'm playing in the pit for WCU's production of the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate.  I always enjoy working in the pit when I get a chance; it's different than what I do most of the time, and it presents new and interesting challenges.  Plus, I get to play great music!  In this case, I get to "get my big-band on," which is a style we horn players don't get to play very often.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Horn in 'Pop' Music

        Below is a list of 'pop' songs that have prominent horn parts.  Along with each artist and title, I've included a link to YouTube where you can hear the song.  The times in parentheses indicate where the prominent horn part begins.  If there’s no time indicated, the horn plays at the very beginning and/or throughout the recording.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Scales Practice Chart

     Here's a handy practice chart to help you stay organized when practicing your scales with a tempo goal in mind. You can check off or color in the boxes as you are able to play each scale at each tempo.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Priorities in Performance

     When you're performing in front of people, your first responsibility is to the audience, then to the composer. So, if the composer wrote something that you can't play without diminishing the experience for the audience, then change it, leave it out, or something! (sorry, composers) Nobody likes to watch/hear someone struggling with their instrument.  You have a responsibility to those people who have taken precious time out of their lives (which they'll NEVER get back) to come hear you play.  No pressure...

Monday, March 7, 2011

SEHW 2011

     The 2011 Southeast Horn Workshop was this past weekend in Boone, NC on the campus of Appalachian State University.  My students and I had a great time!  A big thank you to the hosts, Karen Robertson and her students, for putting on a top-notch event.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Practice Tips

     This is a list that I gave to my students at one of our weekly Studio Classes last semester.  It was partly an outline for the discussion we had, and partly a list that they could refer to as a reminder during their practice time.  In many cases, each of these items could serve as the basis for a separate blog post--and I may discuss many of them in greater detail in the future--but here they are all together!  We can all use reminders of these things occasionally.  I've only given credit on a couple items, but very few of these ideas are original.