Horn Repertoire Week 14: A Course of Study


One of the goals of this course is to prepare graduate students for comprehensive exams. One typical question asked in those exams involves outlining a course of study for horn students at the college level. It is the sort of question that has no right answer, most teachers to a point follow the methods of their own teachers, but there are things you could put in a course of study that are clearly wrong.

I have a favorite sample answer we will look at in class, but for those reading online I simply say that the ideal answer reflects a couple things, that of tracking through materials (solos, etudes, excerpts) in some logical fashion, and also demonstrating some knowledge of materials you could use to some practical advantage in lessons.

To close out the year in terms of quotations, I would offer this final one from Verne Reynolds in The Horn Handbook, closely related to our topic of developing a course of study in your teaching.

Nearly every freshman entering college has played at least one of the Mozart horn concertos. Nonetheless, beginning the freshman year with one of the Mozart concertos is not unreasonable. The third concerto, with its emphasis on lyrical playing rather than technical display, is a perfect choice because the teacher can insist that preparation begins with notes but does not end until every element of performance is mastered. During the freshman year, teachers and students should not be hindered by deadlines on the preparation of solo works. Within reason, teachers should take whatever time is necessary to perfect the first solo work, since this will set the pattern for the future. Much of what is learned by studying the Mozart Concerto No. 3 will be applied to other classical works.

There is not much in the solo horn literature to suggest that a chronological order of study is of particular value. A Mozart concerto could well be followed by one of the Hindemith sonatas with the hope that the same care and understanding will be applied to both works….

…Not every solo work that is practiced will be performed in the semester or the year that it is assigned. Some works – Richard Strauss’s Concerto No. 2, Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, Gliere’s Concerto – can be worked on during the sophomore year and performed in the senior year….

In the chapter on etudes we established a sequence of Kopprasch, Maxime-Alphonse, Barboteu, and Reynolds, augmented by Hill, Schuller, and Decker. In the orchestral studies we followed the alphabet. The solo literature for horn does not lend itself to such an orderly approach….


As I studied with Reynolds (for my MM) and five of my other horn teachers (!) were students of Reynolds, I read the quote and can see that elements of his underlying course of study are seen in my teaching, but hopefully in a more practical form tailored to individual students. Looking at the Mozart 3 suggestion specifically, when I was in school he typically would assign Mozart 3 to all of the freshman horn students. He demanded perfection on the assignment and I always thought it in a way a bit cruel, as it pitted students against each other. But then again, in an audition everyone will be playing exactly the same music, the assignment did I suppose make students face that reality right away.

With that thought, there is one more class on the online schedule, but actually now that week is used for a take home final, so do continue ahead for a few final notes to close an epic semester.

Continue to final session of Repertoire Course

This is week 14 of a fourteen week course in horn repertoire, the second semester of a broad overview of horn repertoire, performance, and pedagogy. The introductory article is here, and the series is presented for the educational purposes of our readers.

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