Random Wednesday: Counting, Practicing and Parading

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Getting the bug
This is one way how French horn addicts are born.

It’s not that Janelle Wigal doesn’t like sharing the stage with other French horn players. She just prefers them to be sitting behind her, especially the boys.

“[When I started], there were so many guys who played French horn, and then I would get in honor band and sit in front of them,” the 15-year-old said, smiling. “I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

“I’m very competitive.”

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A legend passes
One of the greats in the brass world has passed.

He was to the classical trumpet what Louis Armstrong was to the jazz trumpet, raising it to the status of solo instrument and joining it to the ranks of the piano, violin and cello as a recognised concerto instrument.

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Resource on practice habits
A superb web site, funded by the Sibelius Academy, devotes itself to the basics of practice habits, specifically for musicians. It is divided into seven parts, five of which – physique, ergonomics, practice, psyche and survival kit – offer a treasure trove of information to look over and think about.

Myself, I was impressed to find a specific page on ergonomics for French horn players. It certainly makes a good argument for bell support devices.

French horn players are prone to twisting their body to the right. As a result, the thoracic spine twists, the rib joints become stiff, and the shoulder blade support deteriorates (esp. on the right-hand side).

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Random pictures

It is your job to count
For may years I was a lazy measure counter.  Playing lots of opera taught me better.

I recently played Così fan tutte with the Asheville Lyric Opera.  … in particularly No. 25: “Per pieta“, which has some hair-raising horn parts.  But for now, this is just a quick post inspired by all the counting of rests the opera involved.

First, an important point for any ensemble playing…

It’s YOUR job to count the rests.

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A bedtime story

The French horn laughed at his own joke; he couldn’t resist poking fun at the flute.  You wouldn’t know from the way he played – full of confidence and arrogance – but he was envious of the flute.  Everyone loved the flute.  No gloomy mood could withstand the velvet force of his lilt.

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Using smart technology

Until recently I hadn’t truly realized how much I have come to depend on my smartphone (iPhone 4).  I have gotten into the habit of recording/videoing practice sessions and lessons.  The power of a 10 second video is amazing compared to a mirror.  I use both, but a video seems to have more impact on some people.  Recording a short excerpt, even on the pathetic iPhone microphone can be very eye-opening.

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Random videos

Myron Bloom performs the first concerto by Richard Strauss.

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Trolling the long call.

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A docking station for an smart phone.

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How to maneuver the French horn in a U.S. Army ceremonial band. This is one part of a series of videos.

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If you know what the Nyan Cat is, it is time to get practicing.

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Romain Thorel gets a fever.

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