The two etudes for 2021-22 Kentucky’s All-State audition are out! As usual, I’ve put together some practice tips and recordings to help out all those auditioning this year!
This year, the All-State pieces are excerpts from etude #1 in John Shoemaker’s Legato Etudes for Horn and etude #19 from Kopprasch 60 Selected Studies.
The excerpts are as follows:
- John Shoemaker, Legato Etudes for Horn – #1, Moderato, measures 1-24, quarter note = 96
- Kopprasch, 60 Selected Studies for French horn (book 1), Carl Fischer ed. – #19, Allegro, measures 1-20, dotted quarter note = 60 (or faster)
To make it a bit easier, I’ve put together both excerpts on one page, along with marking the specific sections requested and adding in measure numbers. (I’ve found measure numbers makes online lessons much easier.)
If you want, you can my version of the etudes here:
I’ve also created reference recordings of these etudes to help you learn what they sound like. You can hear them here:
Etude 1: Shoemaker #1
Like the name of the book suggests, this is the lyrical etude of the pair.
The first thing to notice in this etude is that it starts with an eighth rest. This has phrasing implications I’ll mention later, but when you’re counting through it, notice that almost half the measures are silent on beat 1!
Additionally, you have lots of long(er) notes followed by short notes. Make sure you subdivide the long notes carefully and don’t be in a hurry to get off of them.
Since the rhythm in measure 11 contains both duple (eighth and sixteenth notes) and triple (triplet) subdivisions, make sure you count that measure carefully. It’s easy to be “lazy” with your 16ths or to rush the triplets.
This piece contains two sharps in the key signature – F# and C# – make sure you know what major (and minor) keys this indicates. (If you need a hint, my major scale and minor scale sheets can give you a clue.)
Knowing the key(s) indicated by the key signature should give you a clear idea of which arpeggios/scales you should practice. If some of the arpeggios are tricky, practice some of my advanced lip slurs (especially #5 and #7) can help, and looking for alternate fingering (maybe using my harmonic series sheet) can also help you avoid some of the more awkward fingerings, if those are a challenge.
Like I mentioned before, the downbeat of measure one is silent. This means that the first “real” downbeat that the listener will hear is the downbeat of measure two. Make sure that you phrase the opening arpeggio (and all similar measures) in a way that makes it feel like a “pick-up” measure to measure two.
Similarly, the first note (A4) should feel like a pick-up to the downbeat of beat two (F#4), the third note (D5) is a pick-up to the fourth (A4), and so on.
There aren’t a lot of musical terms in this etude, but make sure you know what the written terms dolce and poco rall. mean, and have a plan on how you want to demonstrate them to the listener.
Etude 2: Kopprasch #19
Although this etude does have some slurs, this is the more technical etude for this year.
If you don’t have much experience with 6/8 time, this etude may be a bit rhythmically confusing.
First, a refresher: 6/8 time means that each measure has 6 eighth notes, and the eighth note gets the beat (more on that in a bit).
If you’re unsure how to count rhythms in this etude, set your metronome at a moderate tempo (around 80), and let that metronome tick be the eighth note (not the quarter note!). Since each eighth note can be divided into two sixteenth notes, the first measure is simply counted as “1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 &”. Make sure you can play this rhythm evenly and steadily at a slower tempo before speeding it up.
Remember that since you’re letting 1 metronome tick = 1 eighth note, a quarter note will last for two ticks, and an eighth note will take up an entire tick. While the rhythm may seem tricky at first, since Kopprasch is fairly repetitive, there are only 4 different rhythm patterns to count!
Once you can play sections comfortably (and accurately) at eighth note = 150, you should bump the metronome down to 50, and count each tick as a dotted quarter note. This means that each tick will now equal three eighth notes.
The recommended tempo is dotted quarter = 60 (which is eighth note = 180) or faster.
This piece is in one sharp – G major/ – make sure that you are comfortable with the fingering patterns and basic scales/arpeggios in this key. Starting in measure 11, a C# shows up pretty consistently, which implies a key with two sharps – make sure you know which two keys this could be (think major and relative minor). Again, make sure you’re comfortable with this key and its basic fingering patterns. Note that the C# makes for some awkward fingerings: going from 12 -> 23 or from 23 -> 2, especially.
Many of the melodies in this piece are simply walking up and down whatever scale you’re in. Knowing the key (and being comfortable with it) makes it much easier to “batch” the notes into little micro-phrases rather than trying to read every single note in the piece.
There are a couple of tricky sections to pay special attention to, though.
Measure 12 and 13 contain some large jumps down between beat 4 and 5. Make sure you land accurately on the downbeat of beat 5. Otherwise, the scales in beats 5 and 6 become very difficult.
In measure 17, pay attention to the note on beat 3. It’s very easy to play this note as an F# (which is the same fingering as E). However, if you play it as an F#, the tendency will be to play the note on beat four as an E, instead of a D.
If you’ve done much Kopprasch, this part of the etude should be relatively easy.
If you’re not sure about the style, you can check out some of my previous All-State etude walkthroughs [LINK], as well as several of my Kopprasch etude walkthroughs (#10, #12, #6, #8, #9). Etude #19 falls right in line with the style in the other Kopprasch articulation studies.
The very short description of the style is that the last note of the slur should always be a little bit shorter than it looks. This helps to keep the tempo from slowing down, and it gives you a bit of “clear air” to cleanly articulate the staccato note immediately following the slurred notes.
Additionally, practice the staccato notes very slow and very short, at least until you get comfortable with the melody. If you play them too long, it becomes difficult (or impossible) to speed them up.
That’s it – these tips should give you a good starting point in your practice for the All-State this year.
However, more important than having an idea of what to do is actually doing it.
If you’ve had trouble committing to a regular practice strategy in the past, here are a few blog posts I’ve written that may help you get more consistent practice (and progress) this year:
- Use a strategy called “Time Blocking” to make sure you keep long-term projects moving forward.
- If you need to start a practice habit, “Micro-practice” can help you get started!
- Or you can make practice a rule and not a decision.
- Remember that, for skill-based activities (like playing a musical instrument) quantity often proceeds quality.
- Plan the most effective practice session by “eating the frog”.
If you want some more in-depth help, you can get in touch with me for in-person (or online) lessons. I’m happy to do one-off lessons to help you tackle a specific problem, but, of course, you generally make more progress with regular, weekly lessons.