KMEA Kentucky All-State Horn Etudes 2018-2019


Here are the two Kentucky All-State etudes for French horn for the 2018-2019 school year.

As usual, I’ll also provide a recording and some practice tips to help get you started out on the right foot. If you need more help, you can contact me for lessons – either in person or online.

KMEA All-State Horn Excerpt #1 – Kopprasch 27

Like the past several years, the first horn etude for this year’s All-Sate comes from the Kopprasch book. This year it’s Kopprasch #27

If you don’t have the Kopprasch book, you really should. You can either download it for free from IMSLP or you can buy it. It’s one of the most important books in order to be a well-rounded horn player.


Kopprasch etude practice tips - Click to expand
  • Tempo: Although this etude does have lots of 16th notes, note that the recommended tempo is not that fast. My recording is done around 82-85, so you can go either a bit slower or faster and still be in the given tempo range.
  • Articulation: Note the varying articulation pattern in the first measure and the second measure. Pay attention to whether there are 2 or 3 notes underneath the slur.
  • Style: Closely related to the slurs, notice which notes do and do not have staccato markings. Almost every 16th note has the markings, while no eighth or quarter notes have them. Try to make sure that every note is the correct length.
  • Accidentals: While this etude may look intimidating because of the 16ths and accidentals, notice how and when the accidentals occur in the music. They are usually half-step lower neighbor notes in the 3-note slur pattern. If you know your chromatic fingerings, these figures are among the easiest to play in the piece.
  • Arpeggios: In the measures without the 3-note chromatic figure, make sure to notice the key(s) of the arpeggios. Lots of these will have alternate fingerings (know your harmonic series) that can make them a bit easier on the left hand, if necessary. Additionally, practicing them on the F side of the horn can do wonders for accuracy when you switch over to the Bb side.
  • Dynamics: While this etude has the usual “Kopprasch dynamics” of either piano or forte, there a couple of things to pay attention to. In this etude the crescendos and decrescendos are fairly quick – 1 measure to go from piano to forte (or vice-versa). Also, notice the dynamic contour from measure 8 into measure 9. A crescendo from forte into a louder dynamic, and then a subito mezzo-forte. Both the contour and mf dynamic are not usually seen in Kopprasch.

KMEA All-State Horn Excerpt #2 – Shoemaker 6

Although the Legato Etudes for French Horn book by John Shoemaker isn’t quite as well known as Kopprasch, it’s been quite popular as a resource for All-State horn etudes for the past few years. I wasn’t very familiar with this book until 2008 or so, but it’s a really great book which covers a lot more than just legato playing. If you don’t have it, you should definitely check it out.

Shoemaker etude practice tips - Click to expand
  • Tempo: Although this definitely falls into the lyrical etude category, notice that the tempo is a bit faster than the fastest recommended tempo for the Kopprasch etude. This means that the 16th notes may require a bit more work in this etude than in the Kopprasch since they go by noticeably faster.
  • Articulation: While there are a lot of slurs in this etude, make sure to pay attention to the notes that aren’t slurred. Specifically, the 3-note half-step motion (similar to the Kopprasch), it’s not always all 3 notes that are slurred.
  • Style: There are lots of accents and a few staccatos in this etude. Notice that the accents occur in different dynamics – some in piano and some in forte. Try and respect all the markings that are present. Avoid the dreaded mezzo-nothing.
  • Dynamics: Like I mentioned previously, notice the different dynamics that are written, and pay attention to how each dynamic is approached. Some will be gradual changes (crescendos and decrescendos) while others will be sudden changes with no warning.
  • Accuracy: Since both this etude and the Kopprasch feature a similar half-step chromatic motion, be smart about practicing that and you can double up your practice efficiency. Additionally, notice the larger scale/arpeggio patterns in the piece to double-check your accuracy. For example, the first two measures are basically just a C major arpeggio. The more of this kind of structure you notice the easier it will be to hear where the music is going.
  • Bass clef: Although there are only a few notes in the bass clef, make sure that you know what those notes are. All of John Shoemaker’s Legato Etudes use new bass clef notation. If you don’t know how to read bass clef, there are plenty of online tutorials to help you figure out the note names – there are only 5 notes!

Start Preparing Now!

Hopefully, these two short videos and tips will give you some inspiration and ideas to get a jump on the All-State music for this year.

The two best pieces of advice I can give in general, though are:

  1. Start practicing the All-State music today. Even if you only do 1 measure of 1 piece, that’s a start. Tomorrow you can do the next measure. If you wait, the amount of work becomes overwhelming, and you never start because you’re afraid of how hard you’ll have to work. Don’t worry, you have time to practice, no matter how busy you are.
  2. Make sure you have a strong routine of fundamentals and do them regularly. For most horn players, this is marching band/mellophone season, so make sure that you find time to keep your French horn basics in shape. Scales, arpeggios, harmonic series, long tones, etc. I have lots of exercises for all these things over on my French Horn exercises page. All for free!

If you need some more one-on-one help, don’t hesitate to contact me for a lesson or two. Just click this button: