Horn Pedagogy Week 15: A Missing Topic, and Final Review


First, thank you for following along to the end of the semester. We have been able to cover in some depth the most essential topics related to horn teaching and performance.

peak-7But there is, in reality, a topic rarely mentioned in the resources we have read from this semester, the topic of actually teaching students, or more to the point teaching them effectively.  Part of it, of course, is there are different ways to teach and different methods of teaching that will meet the needs of different students. Getting closest to part of the answer was Harry Berv, as he suggests specific etudes to train different skill areas. But still the lack of looking seriously at this aspect of horn pedagogy is puzzling.

Fortunately, for this 2016 update I have a couple new resources to suggest. If you are interested in insights into how to guide students to a higher level of performance (and you should be!) I highly recommend Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson. In this article I posted a summary of the book (of sorts) in Hornist Hamster memes.

As to how to best use those insights I secondly suggest a wonderful (and brief) article by Froydis Wekre that was recently posted in the IHS website.  Titled “Experiences and Strategies in Teaching,” this article is certainly worth reading. She concludes with these four points to ponder:

Be demanding, in a non-threatening way.
Be a teacher who is on the students’ side.
Keep yourself updated. Find out what is new in the profession, concerning repertoire, teaching methods, the way students learn, etc.
Give positive recognition to progress – whether small or big.

For those taking the class at Arizona State there will be a test (boo!), and there will be short answer questions related to the topics below:

  • Mouthpieces you might recommend to a beginner
  • Comparison of the single F and B-flat horns
  • Comparison of descant and triple horns
  • Comparison of horns typically used in the United States with those used in Europe
  • Teaching legato and staccato
  • Teaching the low range
  • Teaching endurance
  • The use of the assistant first horn
  • Teaching extreme dynamics
  • Accuracy, tactics to employ with students
  • Tactics to improve a lip trill
  • Stopped horn and echo horn
  • Tactics related to performance anxiety

There will also be three essay questions. Sorry, I am not putting them online! But students in the class will have them to prepare in advance of the test as well.

Looking back at the course and completely revising the test brought home even stronger the idea that teaching tactics will change over time, as noted this article. And I would also quote this passage from the book of James in the Bible: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” No teacher is perfect, but I hope this class has helped with insights as to how to develop your playing and has given you more tools in your toolbox as a teacher.

From the side of being a student and reaching for the next level, I would offer these brief, bonus readings on how to become a horn expert.

As a very final item of the semester, there actually is a lighter side to horn teaching and performance, and it would be a good time to reference the ultimate “Classic” horn method, the Complete Method für der Waldhorn oder der Ventilhorn by Professor Eric Von Schmutzig. A book I would highly recommend reading at this point in the semester, you may learn more about this “method” here.

Do you know more now than you did before the class? I hope so! And do continue in the repertoire course to learn even more.

This is the final review session of a fourteen week course in horn pedagogy. The introductory article is here, and the series is presented for the educational purposes of our readers. 

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