Why go to a IHS Symposium? For the Sessions and Master Classes

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As part of a cleaning project at home I stumbled across my folder from the 1983 International Horn Workshop in Charleston, IL. It occurred between the junior and senior years of my college study (I was then a student at a small college in Kansas) and it was one of those inspirational life events that had impact.

IHS-1983I posted some of my memories of the event a few years ago, and I especially remembered as impressive the performances of Charles Kavalovski and Gerd Seifert. And trying horns! However, in that article I mentioned as well that I could not remember anything much specific about the sessions I attended.

Part of the event impact however was from the sessions, and in my folder from the event I found a full 14 pages of notes! For each session below I will just list who gave the session, the overall topic, and one thought taken from the notes I took at the time.

  • Gerd Seifert (master class): Use the finger tips of the right hand to adjust intonation, it requires much less movement than adjusting with the palm/heel of the hand.
  • William VerMeulen (managing performance stress): It is better to risk and miss than risk nothing.
  • Walter Lawson (equipment): Use SFZ followed by cres/dim to learn to center pitch on your horn.
  • Carl Scheibler (auditioning): Rhythm and intonation must be perfect; 9 out of 10 will fail in auditions due to rhythm. But musicianship wins the job in the end.
  • Philip Farkas (hand position): Use a more closed hand position to help with high, soft entrances.
  • Rebecca Root (coping with conductors): The problem with conductors is they are not real people and have an exaggerated opinion of their importance.
  • Gail Williams (playing assistant horn): Avoid the bad habit of not taking a full breath all the time – you don’t know what the first horn will do and if you need to play longer than marked.
  • Michael Hatfield (master class): (in reference to the Short Call) Try to play it well in a standard way, it will show the committee that you know what you are doing.
  • Bruce Lawson (acoustics): The bell flare is the only area of the horn where metal choice makes much of a noticeable difference.
  • Charles Kavalovski (daily routine): Think of the lips like a spaghetti machine, making smaller spaghetti as you play in the higher range.
  • Kendall Betts (tone production): Think of phrases when you play long tones.

One of the sessions (Alan Civil—humor in horn playing) I was at but did not take any notes on, and the last panel discussion I missed totally, but looking at the schedule there were at no time two things booked against each other and I attended almost everything that happened the entire week! In my notes I also found some great advice (on looking for a good grad school) from a teacher I now consider to be a friend, Randall Faust, heard some GREAT horn playing and I left the event ready to get to work!

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To close with a message to students out there considering summer options this year and having the time open, consider attending an International Horn Symposium. You will learn a lot, and I will offer this as food for thought; I was once one of you out in the audience, pretty average I think but ready to really make some progress.

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