On Laying Down the Notes

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This post from the original HTML Horn Notes Blog dates from 12/16/04, right after hearing performance exams (juries) that semester.

A good project for any time is working on accuracy. In particular a great project is working on the exposition of the first movement of Mozart 2 or 4 and working on it with the idea of “laying down the notes.” In lessons with students working on these concertos (great audition solos) I mostly work on basics like rhythm and tuning and on more advanced concepts like musicality and getting the musicality across to the audience–but in the background the topic of accuracy always lurks.

Mozart-3-snipWhen you get to the point in your playing that you can accurately lay down all the notes in a Mozart exposition with high reliability, that is the point when you are ready to take auditions and win them. (This does assume, of course, that you also have great rhythm and intonation, can sell your musical ideas to the audience, and know all the other big excerpts well too). Don’t make yourself nutty, but push yourself on the accuracy issue.

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It can be a bit of a maddening project I realize as Mozart is not in a sense that difficult. The Schoenberg Kammersymphonie is difficult; Mozart concertos are very playable by an above average high school age horn player. One really has to keep focus and be consistent on every note. Buzzing the passages where you missed notes in a concerto exposition (or any other work) can bring the most benefit toward greater and more consistent accuracy.