A Session at AMEA: “Why the Horn?”

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Dated 1/14/05, this article from the HTML archive of the old Horn Notes Blog is a brief report on a session presented jointly with three other Arizona hornists, including both of the other full time professors and a name Horn Matters readers will recognize, Bruce Hembd. The three professors subsequently did several sessions at AMEA of the same general type before the retirement of Prof. Johnson. The novelty of all of us together was a bit of a draw, and I would welcome teachers in other states to consider similar sessions, it was very enjoyable to come together to promote better horn playing.

Today I had the unique opportunity to present a joint session at the 2005 AMEA conference (Arizona Music Educators Association) along with Keith Johnson, Professor of Horn at the University of Arizona, and Nancy Sullivan, Instructor of horn at Northern Arizona University, assisted by Bruce Hembd, a Phoenix area freelance hornist. The title of this panel discussion was “Why the Horn?,” a topic suggested by Keith Johnson.

First, It was great to have all three of the full time horn professors in Arizona all on the same panel. I wonder how many other states can boast of such a gathering of horn professors?

Besides discussing various teaching issues of the horn a major point was to promote the horn as we feel there are just not enough horn players coming up in the schools. Keith made an excellent point, that it is almost as if educators have heard that the horn is hard and they are afraid to make people play it. The reality is the horn is perhaps hard to start on but really it is no harder than several other instruments to actually play. Each instrument has its own challenges.

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Keith also had one other interesting point, that if you took a standard orchestral brass section as a standard for balance, if a band has six trumpets it should have 8 horns, if it has 9 trumpets it should have 12 horns, etc. Maybe I am a little biased, but wouldn’t it be GREAT to see this sort of a plan carried out by music educators? What a sound it would make.

I enjoyed the session immensely and look forward to working with Keith and Nancy (and Bruce) again soon. And, like us, please do your part to help promote the horn out there.

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