This year, the two All-State etudes from Kentucky are etude #6 from the Bernhard Müller etude book and etude #7 from the John Shoemaker Legato Etudes for Horn.
- Müller No. 6 – measures 1-19. Tempo quarter note = 88
- Shoemaker No. 7 – measures 40 – end. Tempo quarter note = 72
As in previous years, I’ve created a single-page PDF with both etude excerpts on a single page, along with the tempo markings. I’ve also added measure numbers to each etude excerpt, to make it easier to reference measure numbers here (and during online lessons). You can download this PDF by clicking the button below.
I’ve also put together a recording of both etudes for reference. This recording is available on Youtube (or by watching the embedded video below):
Etude #1 – Müller #6
This etude is obviously the more “technical” etude. As such, make sure that you’re practicing it in a logical and thoughtful way. These kinds of etudes generally reward this kind of structured practice, rather than trying to simply go as fast as possible from the very beginning.
The rhythm in this etude is fairly straightforward.
Obviously, make sure that you are counting the 8th – 16th note figure accurately and not rushing or dragging as the range gets higher (or lower).
In measure 12, make sure to give the quarter note full value. Even if you cut it short to breathe, don’t jump in to measure 13 early.
In measure 13, notice the rhythm changes from an 8th note and 16ths to steady 16th notes. Make sure your opening tempo allows you to maintain a consistent tempo through the etude.
Your last note is a full quarter – you don’t need to go on, so make sure the last note gets its full value.
There are lots of breath marks in this etude. Like Strauss 1, I don’t believe they all need to be breaths. In this case, they are almost like phrase markers. In the first 12 measures, the phrase “breaks” all happen after the 8th note. From measure 13 to the end, the phrases all “break” at the barline.
This piece is entirely in the key of our G major (C concert) (notice that there are zero accidentals).
This piece can be thought of almost as a study in “modes”. Modes are when you start a scale on a note other than the root note. For example, playing the notes of a G major scale, but starting on an A (mm. 3) or B (mm. 5).
Similarly, the second have of the etude combines the study of scale modes with arpeggios. In my extended scale exercises, I call these “Arpeggio Modes”. However, notice that the arpeggios are not quite as straightforward as the scales. For example, the arpeggios in mm. 13 and 14 are in root position, and the arpeggios in mm. 15-17 are not. Make sure you know what arpeggio key you’re playing in!
While it’s not explicitly marked, the articulation style and pattern in measure 1 and measure 13 should be carried throughout the piece.
Of course, practicing is slurred can have many benefits in fixing embouchure, air, and finger coordination (especially in the arpeggios), but make sure you spend time practicing this piece (and your scales in general) with a short, crisp articulation.
Etude #2 – Shoemaker #7
As in years past, this etude is the “lyrical” etude of the two. One thing to note about this etude – it starts at measure 40, not measure 1. My measure numberings, however, start at mm 1.
Take note of the tempo marking – andante sentimentale – and make sure that you know what these words mean and how they translate to the overall style of the piece.
When you’re practicing this etude, it’s probably better to work at or close to tempo in small sections (2-4 measures), since trying to do this etude too slowly can distort the musical phrasing and pacing.
Note that there are two ritardandos in the last line, with an a tempo between them. The two ritardandos are not the same – make sure that is clear in your counting (and playing).
As the key signature suggests, this etude excerpt is in the key of Eb major (Ab concert). While there are a few accidentals, the piece never really leaves Eb. The accidentals (the B natural and A natural) primarily function as appoggiaturas (non-chord tones approached by a leap, resolving by a step).
When you have 8th notes, make sure that you notice what arpeggio (or scale) they are making. There are very few melodic surprises in this etude (unlike some other Shoemaker etudes), however, some of the arpeggios do skip over notes (mm. 11 and 16), so make sure you practice the “complete” arpeggio so you know where you’re going.
Most of the style indications are clearly written in the music.
The opening andante sentimentale and the numerous long slurs (as well as the dolce marking in measure 1 of the full etude) all indicate that the notes should be well-connected, with ending notes of phrases played full value.
Make sure to follow the indicated dynamics carefully as well, and always make sure that you’re aware of what your next musical “goal” is, and phrase toward (or away from) that note.
Hopefully, these resources give you a good starting point for your practice on these All-State etudes.
As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact me.
If you want some one-on-one help, I do both in-person and online lessons. I’m happy to do a one-off lesson if you simply want to get some quick feedback, or we can do weekly lessons if you want to really improve your horn playing (and audition results!).
If you’re having trouble getting back into your practice groove after the summer, this recent blog entry on starting and maintaining a practice routine has a lot of practice strategies and tactics to improve your day-to-day practice routine.