This semester I was very pleased that we could have master classes for the Arizona State University horn studio with Gabriel Kovach (Principal Horn, Phoenix Symphony) and Johanna Lundy (Principal Horn, Tucson Symphony). Each brought valuable insights to the class, and I would offer just a few brief notes.
Heroic Horn or Lyrical Horn?
At one point, while exploring a new work with a student, Kovach asked if he was looking at a point in the work as representing the heroic horn or the lyrical horn. I thought this an excellent way to think about the spot in question, and a lot of our best music does actually fit into one or the other category.
Playing in Character
A point made by Lundy was in starting works it was very important to play in character right away, and beyond that to be a bit assertive about that character. Thinking about playing in character is a good way to not sound bland, to make a statement musically.
Another point from Kovach was that he loves etudes. They are a great way to stay in shape and on top of your playing. There are teachers and players who seem to look down on etude playing and etude study, but Kovach is not one of those players.
Break Rules for Results
Finally, Lundy suggested tonguing in a specific passage with a specific student in a way that would certainly raise some eyebrows (especially among students and amateurs) as breaking rules laid down in a famous book or two. But for a pro, they know results are what you are looking for. I know I break exactly the same “rules” of tonguing, and I was glad to hear it stated so plainly by another fine player.
Much more could be mentioned, but I would close just by saying I am glad we have great resources like Lundy and Kovach in the area, and for sure you have great resources where you are too, make use of them.