Warm-up (and learn to practice) with Solo Training

In a previous blog entry I talked about some projects that I and others are using to fill up the time due to the cancellation of all upcoming performances and most teaching.

In that blog entry (which you can find here), I talked about going through several technique books that I have and adding or modifying things to my warm-up.

One new warm-up/technique resource that I just became aware of is James Boldin’s Solo Training for Horn. This book looks interesting for a couple of reasons – not only does it cover important techniques in the context of French horn solo music, but these exercises can give a younger student insight into how to practice anything difficult.

Solo Training for Horn

The book uses passages from several common horn solos:

These are then broken down by the technique(s) that they cover:

  • First notes
  • Articulation (legato/staccato)
  • Scales/Arpeggios
  • High/Low range
  • Lip trills/flexibility
  • Stopped horn

You can get a taste with a 15-page sample(!) that gives just a taste of the 100+ pages.

This book seems great for any student studying (or about to study) these works, but I also like how James uses these exercises to show an observant student how to practice.

A Guide to Practicing

Take the 2nd page of the sample (download here), which uses the opening of the Beethoven Sonata.

While this piece is not especially demanding, the opening 2 measures covers two octaves in 5 notes in a staccato style at a forte dynamic. Younger players often have trouble with this passage.

Looking through this exercise, you can see the various progressions that a student could use to improve their ability to play this passage or use this as a starting point to expand their low register (and low register articulation).

Another great example of breaking down a phrase to its component techniques is page 3, which uses a small phrase from the opening of Mozart 4, movement 1.

This exercise uses both a simplified melody and tranposition to start the phrase with a simpler melody and in more comfortable register, before adding the faster notes and higher register.

Just scrolling through the 15 page sample can give you several different ways to break down challenging phrases and incorporate those exercises into your regular warmup. This alone makes this a great resource for a student or a teacher looking for ways to prepare students to tackle more difficult literature.

If you haven’t yet, check out the 15-page sample here, and you can buy the book directly from Mountain Peak Music or from Amazon.