Etudes. Studied systematically or in more of a free form manner they a great way to work on technique and to keep your chops healthy. They are the topic of a conversation with Gabriel Kovach, principal horn of the Phoenix Symphony, in Episode 28 of the Horn Notes Podcast. Download from iTunes, etc., or access the show directly here:
It is a good conversation, touching on some common materials but also some new and interesting materials. At the conclusion of the podcast I also speak of what materials I use typically in my teaching. Those materials have evolved over time for me. I don’t consider myself to be a “system” teacher but I do have materials I like to use and feel are effective. A short series of articles from a few years ago on the same general topic may be found here.
One of them not mentioned in the podcast are the Gallay Op. 57 etudes for second horn. I put my own version of these in my original low horn book (currently out of print), and I’ve been puzzling over them recently as I was given a copy of the new edition of these by Lucien Thevet, published in 1948. What Thevet did was shorten 2/3 of them to various degrees (some drastically), and also he transposed three of them into lower printed keys. Clearly not done just for space, it is the sort of editing we don’t see people do today.
At the same time, though, looking at them with the lens of having taught from this book for a while, I can begin to see his point. Sometimes there is more to be gained from a shorter and more focused etude. The preface states “The experience of many years’ teaching has guided us in this choice.”
Which is all to say there is more than one way to use etude materials and you don’t have to use them as printed. Beyond cuts and transposing to new keys you can use etudes prescriptively to work on specific problems, you can use them to organize practice generally, or you can just play them for fun. It’s all up to you.