Monday, May 2, 2016

The Uber Horn Quartet Visits UW-Oshkosh

On Saturday, April 23, the Uber Horn Quartet spent the day with Bruce Atwell, the UW-Oshkosh Horn Studio and guests at HORN DAY, a day-long clinic for horn players of all ages.  The day began with a group warm-up session led by Professor Atwell, followed by a horn choir reading session. Right after that, Uber presented a masterclass on the four areas of horn challenges.  Accuracy, Dynamic/Articulations, Range, and Endurance were the four topics covered in the hour-long session.

 Anna started the conversation with a discussion and exercise on accuracy. First, Anna played a series of notes and asked the group to echo her.  She provided boundaries on which notes she would be using, but it was otherwise up to the group to figure out the tone patterns.  Once they got the hang of that, she began to play a melody (which ended up being Twinkle, Twinkle) by ear and within five minutes the whole group was playing Twinkle from memory/by ear.  Anna’s take-away on Accuracy: You have to hear the notes first or you will never have great accuracy.

Next, Mary Jo led an exercise in dynamics and articulations. Continuing with the Twinkle tune, Mary Jo pointed to one of a series of signs and the group had to play that phrase either FF, MF, or PP, overly emphasizing the dynamic changes.  The second part of that was to provide a set list of articulations, either tenuto or staccato and have the students emphatically play whichever articulation was being requested. The final exercise was to have one Uber point to a dynamic and another Uber point to an articulation, changing the selection at erratic moments throughout the song and seeing how quickly and obviously the group could change both.  It was a lot of fun for everyone! Mary Jo’s take-away: when you feel like you are exaggerating, you are probably only doing the minimum necessary amount of work.

Thirdly, Liz led the group in a chat about range.  Liz presented an etude exercise that will help students work on developing both the upper range and the lower range.   Liz began by playing a lip slur on the F horn between third space C and D. Using C as a pedal tone, she continued to move higher by step returning to C. All of the students played the exercise together. Next she played a low C and descending, repeated the same exercise.  She pinpointed that the goal is to always keep the tone centered.

Fourth, Kelly touched on the topic of endurance.  She first discussed that endurance is a challenge to “practice” because you have to be close to the end of your practice session before you can begin to work on it.  Kelly demonstrated and then led the entire group in a Caruso exercise using perfect fourths to show them one way they can work on endurance at home.

After the Masterclass everyone needed a break so we headed upstairs to visit Heid Music and Hoyer Horns, where everyone had an opportunity to try out horns and look through sheet music, along with some other accessories available for purchase.

Once back from lunch we all met for a second horn choir rehearsal followed by a second masterclass with the Ubers.  This masterclass was a little different because the three student competition winners performed for the masterclass.  Each of the three students brought something special to their solo and it was a great opportunity to work a little more in depth with each student.

The day was punctuated with joint performances of the Uber Horn Quartet and the UW-O Horn Day Ensemble.  A big special thanks to Bruce Atwell for his organization and arranging the day and we hope to see all the participants at a future horn event!

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