A Golden Clam for James Boldin’s Kopprasch Project

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Golden Clam AwardIt has been a long while since a Golden Clam has been awarded and our honoree today most certainly deserves one in recognition of his contributions to the horn world, and specifically for one project in particular.

Since January 2011 James Boldin has been recording Book I of the Kopprasch Sixty Selected Studies Op. 6 on video and uploading those videos to Youtube for public viewing.

On his web site, Mr. Boldin cites four reasons for this project:

1. Pretty much everyone who has played the horn for more than a few years has at least heard of the Kopprasch etudes, and they often  (along with other standard etude collections) form a core repertory of materials for horn study.

2. Practicing Kopprasch can be beneficial for players of varying abilities.  Whether it’s working on tone production and consistency, or perfecting transposition skills, I think Kopprasch holds an important place in the repertoire for students, amateurs, and professionals.

3. As a teacher, I wanted to provide a resource for my students and others so that they could at least hear one interpretation of these etudes, and use these recordings as a jumping off point for their own creative practicing.

4. Although there are several recordings online of Kopprasch etudes, to my knowledge no one has yet recorded all of Book 1 or Book 2 on video.

While he admits that each recording is not absolutely note perfect, he does clearly illustrate contrasts in dynamics, articulation and tone color. These details can make a big difference between a hum-drum reading of the notes and something greater.

That being said, Mr. Boldin performs each etude with assured confidence and a clean sound.

His videos in this regard are a great model for students to follow. As a beginning student myself many years ago I had developed the bad habit of stopping and starting etudes – much to the consternation of my private teacher. It took me a while to adapt to the mindset of playing a Kopprasch etude end-to-end, more like a performance and less like an exercise.

It takes a certain amount of confidence in a higher purpose to record etudes like these in one take and put them online for the world to hear. Mr. Boldin is to be commended not only for his chutzpah but also for some very fine and solid playing.

His latest chapter is etude #26:

For more examples, be sure to take a look at his Youtube channel.

It is adding up to a large collection that without a doubt will benefit many – whether they are learning the Kopprasch etudes for the first time, or are someone more like me who is returning from a break and is curious to hear what another professional player is doing with these etudes.

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