Last week I attended the Barry Tuckwell Institute held at The College of New Jersey. This was an amazing experience. In fact, I almost emailed my husband and said it was the best thing I ever did but then I decided that probably wasn’t the best message to send. I can say that it was the best horn experience I have ever had.
We all checked in on Tuesday afternoon, got our dorm room assignments, our schedule and our official t-shirts, and then had dinner where we were introduced to Barry. There were about 20 students, four horn teachers, Barry, and Karen – the person that made everything run smoothly. Boy did she do a great job. Everything ran flawlessly the entire time.
We had a nice mix of attendees. There were a few high school students, some college students and the rest of us were adult amateurs. I don’t think that I was the most inexperienced hornist there which was a big relief. I had been very worried that I would not be able to keep up with the other students. I needn’t have been concerned. One’s skill set was completely irrelevant. If all I could do was play a few easy tunes I think they would have figured out a way to include me in the playing events.
The t-shirts we received set the tone for the conference. I’m a big fan of this t-shirt! Those of you who have read some of my other posts know that although I practice the exercises in the Kopprasch book, I am not a fan. Barry joked that if anyone mentioned Kopprasch there would be a $500 fine. Although I brought my Kopprasch book expecting to do some practicing, I went and shoved it back in my car. What a relief. According to the BTI website, the whole idea of the institute is to experience the joy of playing the horn in a non-competitive environment. They accomplished that in spades. I never felt like I was being judged on my horn playing in any way.
Meeting Barry was one of those goose bump experiences. He has been my horn hero ever since I started playing the horn back in high school. (Which made me wonder who are the horn heros now?) What a nice guy. Totally unpretentious. He made everyone feel comfortable. He ate all meals with us, stayed in the dorms, and was easy to talk to. One of the first things I asked Karen was whether we would be able to talk to Barry while we were there. Well, no worries. Karen said that was one of the big benefits of attending. So true. Next post – day one.