IHS First Day Impressions

FullSizeRenderThe Colburn School gets photobombed by an LA Bus

Sunday morning August 2, I drove to the Colburn School in LA to attend the first day of the IHS. The drive’s a mere 225 miles but its OK because my car knows the way. I arrived right at 11:00 AM and parked at Disney Concert hall ($9 for the day) and got registered and oriented just in time to make it to a “warm-up” with Jennifer Montone. I did feel a bit out of my element but it was fun and I appreciated her telling us up front that even if we couldn’t do the exercises it was OK. BTW, I couldn’t do some of them. They are hard. I will try some of this stuff on my own. I see that Julie Landsman’s Caruso method is now on YouTube so I will start there. We did “lips, mouthpiece, horn” along with some Yoga stuff. I wish I had taken notes. She talked about three areas of focus and for the life of me I forgot what they were in spite of making a mental note at the time.

Next I attended the Movie about the Studio Horn Players. Very informative. I enjoyed seeing a few comments by Fred Fox. He is my musical grandfather since two of my teachers from the 60’s were taught by him at Music Academy of the West. (yeah, I’ve been around a while). I was glad to get that out of the way since that was the main objective of my trip to LA. Annie Bosler informed us that the show is not available for sale. She is a most gracious and bubbly host by the way and put together a really great program. It will be hard to beat going forward. Many thanks for all the hard work.

I then went into a lecture about development of the double horn. Scott Bacon showed a timeline of parallel tracks of development of the Kruspe, C.F. Schmidt, Alexander, Geyer, and Knopf traditions and nicely explained the differences by using a wipe board and markers. He seemed to pronounce the Kruspe format as being nearly moribund, and felt that the next big thing is his 205 Weimar-Berlin horn that has an authentic true to shape C. F. Schmidt bell since he owns the mandrel that the original C. F. Schmidt factory used to make their bells. (Its interesting what you get when you Google “Weimar-Berlin.”) Don’t know if I got that exactly right but that was my understanding. He talked a bit about Nickel Silver and got me just a bit confused in terms of the actual makeup of German Nickel Silver which I understand is 60-65% copper. Did he say they got rid of copper? I can’t remember for sure. Somebody did comment that nickel silver contains no silver. I’d appreciate some fact checking before people make pronouncements at an international meeting. Don’t know if there is anything like peer review of content prior to presentation. Probably not for this type of meeting. That talk went over time and it was thought provoking so I stayed till he totally ran out of time.

I intended to go to the Julie Landsman talk on “lips, mouthpiece, horn” and “note tasting.” I even printed out the music before leaving home and brought a stand. Alas, being late for her session and given her worldwide fame, there was no way to get into the session. Probably I would not have done well on the exercises since it was a little bit of a repeat of the Jennifer Montone session. I then decided to catch a few minutes of a performance but got too hungry and went to the cafeteria.

Next I attended a talk on what was supposed to be all about the difficulties of playing G below middle C and the “embouchure break.” After 10 minutes the talk veered off topic into the psychology of horn pedagogy. It would have been useful to see some scientific data rather than pure anecdote. Also there was a slight bias towards one embouchure approach (the smiley tight corners one) with disdain for any use of rolling lips forward. I have to say that since adopting some of the concepts of “the balanced embouchure” I no longer have an embouchure break that is noticeable at least to me.

I ended my day watching a quartet competition and a performance on the plaza by Cal State Long Beach French Horn Ensemble. Most enjoyable. Then the long drive back to Clovis arriving in my bed by 11:00 PM.

It was fun seeing some famous people. Out on the plaza I observed some young girl horn players just giddy with joy having seen Sarah Willis in the flesh. I did find myself several feet from Miss Willis and heard her voice. It was not till I walked away that I realized who she was.  Its great we have our own rock stars. I did not see Stefan Dohr, another rock star who was also in attendance. Jeff Nelson came in late to a session and sat right next to me. I had lots of fun.

I’m looking forward to returning on Tuesday morning for more excitement and the making of tales to tell.

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