Epstein Resources: Breathing, Support, Practice

Eli Epstein’s book, Horn Playing from the Inside Out, is one of my (current) favorite resources on horn playing.

Not because it’s the best book on horn playing, but because it’s concepts are both logical and implementing them is given in easily understood terms.

If you’re not quite ready to buy the book (although you should), Epstein has put some of his concepts on breathing, air support, and other musical techniques on his Youtube channel.

His most popular video (and maybe the most important to watch) is his video on finger breathing.

No matter what level of horn player you are, your breathing can almost certainly be better, and that will make everything better and easier.

It doesn’t just cover breathing, though. In the video Epstein discusses his discovery of the importance of vowels in horn playing, and why they are so important.

Another video of his that I’ve really been into lately is also breathing-related. This video covers what it really means to “use” air support. His visual demonstration of this using a chair is especially insightful and immediately relatable.

I find that the idea of breath support has been especially useful for me, since if I don’t use good support, I find that I quickly start trying to (over)compensate with tension in my shoulders, throat, and embouchure.

His most recent video isn’t about the physical aspect of playing at all, but rather about radical practice. This video breaks down some ways to practice a famous orchestral excerpt (Til Eulenspiegel) that might be a bit “outside the box” for some younger players.

While these practice strategies aren’t that radical, I know they are things that I work on with my students, and I find that many have a tough time doing this kind of practice.

Instead, many prefer to simply start at the beginning of pieces and play until things fall apart. Then repeat that process.

I do wonder how many “practice” this way because it’s how they were taught vs. how many do this because they don’t know what they need to work on.

If you like these videos, you really should check out the book. There’s lots more information and it’s one of the few must-have horn resource books that have come out in recent memory.