Video Podcasts: Conversations with Peter Iltis, Pedagogy Informed by Science


UPDATE 2017: These have now also been posted to iTunes; see for more information on this and other episodes of the Horn Notes Podcast.

Dr. Peter Iltis and MRI horn videos are the topic of three new episodes of the Horn Notes Video Podcast. Iltis in recent years has been principal investigator for some very exciting MRI studies of horn playing, which are now part of a growing series on YouTube, and he is Professor of Kinesiology and Horn at Gordon College.

Podcast-snip-articleAs a first comment, this is a topic that any serious teacher really can’t ignore, MRI videos allow clear insights into technical issues of the horn that have never before been available. For these conversations I had a number of topics I wished to explore which I believe will be of wide interest to horn teachers and players.

Part I of the conversation touches first on the topic of mouthpiece pressure but focuses on the “four points of resistance” proposed by Farkas in The Art of French Horn Playing. According to Farkas there are two points that are more or less fixed:

  • The horn and mouthpiece (taken together) and
  • lip aperture

And two points of resistance that are controllable:

  • the base of the tongue (back where you say K), and
  • the voice box or Larynx

How many did he get right?

Part II continues into the topic of tonguing, first looking at legato and then at tonguing itself of all types. This episode contains information that will certainly be new for many horn teachers and players.

Part III concludes the conversation, looking at the topics of range, jaw position, dynamics, trills, and more.

At the end of the third video Dr. Iltis looks ahead to the future of this project. Presently he is laying groundwork for what is proposed to be called the International MRI Horn Repository Project. They are in the process of securing funding, and many angles for further research are being explored.

As this research goes forward be sure to follow their YouTube channel!

One topic I skipped over for time in this conversation was breathing. Many published descriptions of the process are very flawed. For more on this topic check his videos, but if you prefer to read you are in luck, as his article in the February, 2013 issue of The Horn Call, “The Physiology of Breathing: Setting the Record Straight” provides what you need to know!

As just hinted at, there were a number of topics we did not get to in our conversations, and I look forward to speaking with him again in the future.  Thanks again to Peter Iltis for joining me for this series of podcasts, and be sure to check YouTube for more episodes of the Horn Notes Video Podcast.

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