I have always enjoyed practicing (Yes, I know that I’m weird), but I’m not always able to find time during the school year to practice everything on a consistent basis. Fortunately, since I’m a teacher, I can continue the practice tradition that I began when I was preparing for grad school.
I have always had an affinity for etude books. I even wrote my doctoral dissertation about horn etude books. For some reason, I just enjoy locking myself in a room and playing through as many etudes as possible. To this end, I started a tradition of reading through lots of different etudes during my summer practice. It began with playing through 8-10 etudes a day from a stack of maybe 4-5 books. Since then, my etude collection has grown substantially, and I now probably read from 8-10 different books a day, which means that I’m playing through approximately 15-20 different etudes on a daily basis. To me, it’s not only fun, but it also helps to keep me in shape. Before I went to grad school, this was how I improved my reading skills and endurance. During my rehabilitation from Embouchure Overuse Syndrome and severe performance anxiety, this has been a valuable way to not only regain my endurance, but to also challenge myself and recover a lot of the technical facility that I lost.
I don’t always play through the same stuff, but I will revisit etude books that I’ve worked on in the past. When playing through etudes during my practice session, I try to alternate between books that are enjoyable or that I’ve mastered and those that are new or more challenging. Here is a list of all the different etude books that I have played through over the years:
Bach – Cello Suites; Basler – Legato Interval Studies; Belloli – 12 Progressive Etudes; Brahms – Ten Horn Studies; Chaynes – Quinze Etudes; Clark (ed.) – Studies in Lyricism; Concone – 32 Lyrical Studies (Wagner); Cugnot – Thirty Etudes; Denniss – Studies for Low Horn; Faust – Interval Studies; Gallay – 12 Etudes for Second Horn, 12 Grand Caprices, 22 Studies, 40 Preludes, Unmeasured Preludes; Getchell – Second Book of Practical Studies; Grabois – Twenty Difficult Etudes; Hackleman – 21 Characteristic Etudes for High Horn; Kling – 40 Characteristic Etudes; Kopprasch – Sixty Selected Studies; Lewy – Ten Progressive Etudes; Matosinhos – 12 Jazzy Etudes, 15 Low Horn Etudes; Maxime-Alphonse – Books 1-6; Miersch – Melodious Studies; Mueller – 34 Studies; Pottag – Preparatory Melodies; Randall – Twenty Etudes for the Advanced Horn Student; Reynolds – 48 Etudes; Rochut – 120 Melodious Etudes (Trombone); Schmoll – 14 Modern Studies; Shoemaker – Legato Etudes; F. Strauss – Seventeen Concert Studies; Thevet – 60 Etudes; Uber – Solo Etudes for Horn; Wagner – Kopprasch Down Under
It’s a long list, and this definitely isn’t even all of it. While at WVU, I had access to Dr. T’s vast collection of etude books, and I basically had free reign over all of the music in her office, which literally took up a whole wall. I know that I have played through others, but this is what is currently in my library. Some of these books are definitely a little too advanced for some students, but I feel that this list has a lot of the major etudes that students and professionals should know.
As I mentioned above, my dissertation discusses most of the aforementioned books and rates them based on difficulty level. I would be more than happy to share my dissertation with anyone that is interested, but there is also another resource available on-line.
www.hornetudes.com by Ricardo Matosinhos
Matosinhos and I were actually working on the same dissertation topic at the same time. I was hoping to publish my dissertation as a resource book, but Matosinhos’ website is so thorough that I decided against it. Either way, it is a wonderful resource that everyone should know about and use.
I don’t do this “etude routine” every day, but whenever I play through these etudes, I am definitely getting a full workout, and I feel that it sufficiently replaces the rigors one would go through when facing a full rehearsal schedule. Some days, I will come back to the horn after doing this routine and play through other stuff: solo lit, chamber, or orchestral excerpts. During my grad school days, I would warm-up for an hour in the morning, play through the etudes for an hour during the middle of the day, and then do another hour session later in the evening. Like I said, it was a great workout, and I always felt improved as a player and well-prepared for anything after the summer months.
I’m sure that everyone has their own practice regimens, but it’s always helpful to hear new ideas and to try out new things. Just don’t forget that there are lots of etude books out there waiting to be used. I hope to have one of my own out there soon.