Brief review: Recipe for Success — a new method for young horn players

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Anyone who teaches lessons to young horn players knows already, not only are there limited materials easily available to teach from, but also they are rather dated in approach. Myself, I have made the venerable Rubank and Pottag-Hovey books work when I have had young students, but with adjustments. From my perspective it seems very clear that there is a huge need for more and better materials to use with young horn players.

There are several reasons why new materials are so lacking for young horn students. Besides the limited market, big name players and teachers also lack the experience working with young students to develop updated and practical materials. Additionally, I have known teachers who made extensive use of materials they had developed on their own for their students, good practical materials, but those materials never were published, possibly because they felt they had limited visibility in the field or were perceived as such by potential publishers.

Fortunately for us, Karen Houghton and Janet B. Nye, both very experienced teachers of younger horn students, have stepped up and created a substantial new 2019 method book for young players, Recipe for Success: A balanced curriculum for young horn players. Published by Houghton Horns, for this review I was given a late draft of this 250 page method to examine.

As implied in the title, the book makes much use of cooking and food metaphors, dividing the contents into five “food groups,” Range & Flexibility (Fruits & Vegetables), Breathing & Tone (Dairy), Technique (Meat), Music (Grains), and Just for Fun (Dessert). Within each category there are three levels, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, each at a higher level of difficulty. This is all after an extended introductory section that covers a number of basics including practical discussions of posture, embouchure, etc.

Having published a number of books myself I appreciate very much the clear layout and illustrations. It is also published on quality paper stock as well, spiral bound, with pages of heavy stock between the food groups (sections of the book), making it very easy to navigate.

Also very much of note are the extensive “Chef’s Notes” spread out in the book, offering highly useful tips and wisdom. Those tips, combined with the practical music examples, make this book a great value.

To the music, Recipe for Success makes much use of familiar tunes of the type seen in typical beginning methods, but a number of the exercises are not marked with an author and are presumably by the authors, and yet others are marked as the compositions of teenagers and pre-teens, presumably written by their students in Texas. This certainly gives more melodic variety than seen in the typical method.

A final point to make is while it is structured in a way that it would be of value for a bright student working alone, Recipe for Success is designed to best be used in lessons with a competent chef, I mean horn teacher. It would also make an extremely practical reference book for music educators that work with beginning horn students.

This publication is priced very affordably at $24.95, and is available directly from Houghton Horns. Anyone who teaches young students should certainly check this out!

University of Horn Matters