Introducing the University of Horn Matters Horn Repertoire Course

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Want to know more than your teachers? You will if you complete the University of Horn Matters Horn Repertoire Course.

This class is a companion to the University of Horn Matters Horn Repertoire Course launched for the fall semester of 2012, and is also fully organized as a hybrid, online class. For readers interested in all things horn playing but just now discovering this course may wish instead to go back and work through that course first, which starts here.

This course by design continues on the concepts of the pedagogy course and integrates an overview of the solo repertoire and horn history with the topics of orchestral horn playing, the natural horn, descant horn, triple horn, and Wagner tuba into the flow of the course.

There is a lot to cover in the context of a single year, especially as roughly every two weeks of material in this class could easily be expanded into an entire semester. Overall the goal remains to introduce a total overview of horn pedagogy and repertoire clearly, but to not overwhelm readers with too much information. There are some lengthy readings, but less than in the fall semester, and listening and performance is also important to this course.

Students taking this class at Arizona State will need to do a journal project on the required readings and have other projects to complete. Project options will be explained in more detail in the syllabus.

Besides the online readings posted this semester in the University of Horn Matters, students in the course will need three texts, which will also be needed by anyone wishing to follow along closely online.

The natural horn and descant/triple horn books are currently available as E-books and I anticipate that before we reach the topic of the Wagner tuba that book will also be launched in an E-book format.

Horn Matters readers are welcomed to follow along with the course and should feel to comment on these articles or on the readings, as appropriate, either directly in Horn Matters or on Facebook to be a part of the discussion. And because this course is an overview of many topics it would serve as an excellent review for graduate horn students anywhere who have upcoming comprehensive exams.

Speaking now directly to my own former students, they know I have taught these two courses (pedagogy and repertoire) a bit different every semester over now more than 15 years of college teaching. To them I dedicate this online course, as finally I believe I have the content pretty much ideally organized for a one year course of this type, a fairly comprehensive overview but hopefully, as already stated, not overwhelming.

The first topics of this semester are on orchestral horn playing. As a bonus reading to kick things off I would offer this quote from Philip Farkas from The Art of French Horn Playing, where he gets at the topic of how dynamic markings really work and vary by musical context. Farkas wrote

Most students go through years of indecision before finally coming to the realization that in ensemble playing there are, in effect, two distinct types of dynamic marks. One set is for accompaniment passages, and the other is for solos. Piano in an accompaniment means just that—play softly. However, the same mark in a solo passage might require much more volume. A solo passage must carry, even though the dynamic mark indicates softness. Your first duty in playing a soft passage is to make it audible….

Although solo passages can often be a degree louder than the dynamic indicated, the opposite is true of accompaniment dynamics. Here it is our duty to keep down sufficiently to let the soloist come through even though it means playing piano when mezzoforte is indicated. Thus the orchestral player might make a simple rule for observing dynamics. Solos should be played a little louder than indicated and accompaniments slightly softer

With that thought we bridge over from pedagogy to repertoire, and on Thursday we will be back with Week 1 of the University of Horn Matters Horn Repertoire course and topics related to orchestral horn playing.

Continue to Week One of Repertoire Course

This is the introductory article of a fourteen week course in horn repertoire, the second semester of a broad overview of horn repertoire, performance, and pedagogy. The series is presented for the educational purposes of our readers. 

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