If you teach horn to students, how do you go about doing it? This is something I am curious about. Some things I am particularly interested in are how much theory you discuss with your students and whether or not you get your horn out to play along.
On the flip side, if you're a student taking lessons, what do or don't you like about the way your instructor teaches?
Fredrick, you ask some great questions. From my experience some teachers include theory and some do not. When I was first out of college I did not teach any music theory but I certainly do now. I should probably refund those students I taught in the begining.
I always have my horn with me at a lesson and I always play something for the student. Often we play something together as well. I adapt my lessons to the students needs and desires. I have students of different ages.
Here is how I do my lessons.
First lesson is an inventory lesson. I check their pitch range, dynamic range, tone color, breath control, posture, hand positions, etc. I have them fill out a time block sheet which is a bunch of blocked squares in half hour increments. THis shows me when they go to school, when they go to soccer practice, when they do homework, eat, sleep, wake up, etc. It's amazing how many parents don't realize how busy their children are. Based on this sheet I can determine what exercises to give them and how much time they really have to practice. With younger students I try to find out if they are taking lessons to be good in band, or if they might want to continue to play in college. With adults I try to see where they want to go with their horn playing.
A typical lesson with a younger student will include different scales, etudes. I use at least two etude books. One we progress numerically through the book. Another book I use to pick and choose etudes that will work on their weaknesses or specific techniques they might need in an upcoming concert. I also expect them to bring their school music to the lesson. If the parents are spending money for them to sound good in the school group then I want them to sound good on the music in that group. After all, if they sound bad in school and someone finds out they take lessons from me, then no one will want to take lessons from me. However, if they sound good - then hopefully more will take lessons from me.
During the lessons we talk about why the composer writes certain things certain ways, how their part fits into the larger piece, and so on. As they get better at playing we work on playing in tune, playing in time with others, etiquette, etc. As mentioned earlier I always have my horn with me at a lesson. I play passages so they can hear what a good Horn sounds like. I will play passages twice and have them try to identify the difference in how I played them, identify which is correct and which is not, and why.
We talk about music theory but we also discuss mechanical theory behind playing. Things like why the 4th line D is one of the more difficult notes to play. Why cross fingerings are difficult. . . . and I could keep rambling on.
As a student I was lucky to have good teachers that taught me proepr articulation, air flow, literature, transposition, et al. I didn't know what I wanted or needed back then.
Wow, John! This is great information. I've only been teaching horn for a little over a year to two students. The first one I got because I knew his mom and she asked me to teach him. The second student's mom found me through the internet referral on hornplayer.net.
I've done very little theory teaching because both my students are already well versed in theory. They are so sharp, they are one step ahead of anything I've tried to introduce! They've both studied other instruments including pisno and have excellent theory instruction at school.
I've had great fun teaching them horn theory, though. I think one of the most important things for a horn player to understand is the harmonic pattern, different partials, etc. I introduce with simple lip slur arpeggios that move through the different valve combinations. I want them to eventually understand what the relationship between the F and the Bb horn. I can't think of any better way to teach this then to have them work with the partials, etc. If anyone (esepcailly you John) have any ideas for helping a child understand this, I'm all ears!
I also use Wendell Rider's book. It's loaded with great ideas for getting horn players breathing well and playing with a nice full rich tone. His warm up is the best.
Also, I always play my horn during lessons. It's often the quickest way to get a point across. One of my students loves to play along with me, the other prefers to play alone. Go figure.
I do lots of scales & scale patterns that I've adapted from HL Clarke's studies for cornet and from Arban. My students like the scale patterns. I use Getchell's etude books, Philip Sparks solos, and for fun we do duets & play along CDs of movie themes.
One more thing... I introduce my students to the principals of the embouchure method I promote (The Balanced Embouchure). But I only introduce it in tiny "baby step" increments to them as I don't generally recommend BE for beginners.
Valerie - teaching the harmonics is very difficult to begining students or younger students. The valves are there so they never really understand what we're talking about or why. Two things I do are 1) I know what classes they are taking and their hobbies. So when they start higher math I'll talk about the frequencies and square root relationships. 2) Another way I do it that seems to help them understand is alternate fingerings. When I look at their school music or etudes I try to see where they can use easier fingerings or no fingering changes. When they see how much easier passages can become with these little tricks then they can start understanding how the harmonic series works.
I also LOVE and use Wendell Rider's book. It is loaded with great ideas but too much for none students with little experience. But with a guide it's Fantastic. I don't like his warm up as much as the Walter Moeck Warm up for horn - MOeck is my favorite.
I've had wonderful success using parts of Wendell's warm up with my students. The second warm up exercise is the one that uses a simple major arpeggio, first slurred, then tongued in all the valve combinations. I have them carefully do the crescendo/decrescendo slurred then duplicate the sound & feel tongued. This made a HUGE improvement in both my students' tones.
I love this exercise because it's so simple, it allows their attention to leave the printed page and focus on their sound. It resulted in improved breath support and taught them both to listen critically to their tone. It also teaches them a very basic and important lesson on the harmonics and how the major arpeggio is parallel with each fingering on both horns. This what I mean by teaching the harmonics. I don't get into the mathematics of the harmonics, just the sound & what notes they are on the printed page.