I will be presenting three sessions at the upcoming IHS International Horn Symposium, and the next three weeks I plan to spend a week focusing on each to prepare them all. First up on my agenda is a survey on right hand position.
Back in 1982 one of my predecessors at Arizona State University Ralph Lockwood and graduate students Douglas Akey and Karen Teplik put together a survey. How many copies were sent out is lost to history but it must have been quite a number, in particular targeting members of major orchestras, college professors, and well-known foreign players. Unfortunately, Lockwood was not able to devote time to compile the survey results for publication. He certainly however received a good response to the survey with over 120 responses. It will be the purpose of the IHS session to look at the results, which are full of tips and notes related to hand position and much more.
Myself, I know that for many years, up to the middle of my time playing in The Nashville Symphony, I played with position “E.” That was my training as an “on the leg” player. And then I made a change as a part of improving my posture and solving arm problems to playing off the leg with a position about half way between “C” and “D,” which is my present setup. In terms of overall survey results position “D” was the most popular in the 1982 survey, but all four seen above had many advocates. Try them all! Each one sounds a little different out in the room and up close. Position “E” and “F” only work if playing with the bell on the leg.
There is a lot to glean from the 25 questions on the survey. While I won’t be giving away any specific results in Horn Matters (those will go to the IHS, as was the intention of the original survey), working on this has given me a number of things to think about which I will expand upon further in Part II.