Wednesday morning we started our jam packed schedule with warm-ups. There was a daily early morning yoga class which I decided not to do. I’m just not into yoga. This decision was probably a mistake since the yoga classes were tailored for horn playing.
Bob Lauver, a hornist in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, taught this mornings’ warm-up class. Bob wrote the basis of his warm-up on the blackboard and then we went through it in all keys.
I struggled with this warm-up for two reasons. One is that I start my warm-up on low C and move down and then up from there. Bob’s warm-up starts on middle C and goes up. I had trouble playing any note above G. Bob wouldn’t even let us buzz on the mouthpiece before we started so I couldn’t even warm-up for the warm-up. The second reason is that I don’t know my scales by memory yet when played at a quick tempo. Yes I know I have to learn them so they just flow off my fingers without having to think about them. I can play all the major scales in the Pares book at a reasonably quick tempo when I’m reading the notes.
After the warm-ups we went to our ensemble groups. I was placed in a quartet that Bob was teaching. Other students were put in larger groups. My first reaction was ‘why me?’ I’ve never played in that small an ensemble and the three other members of the quartet were young students who play distinctly better than I do. Looking back being placed in this group forced me way out of my comfort zone which, in the end, was very good for me.
The music Bob picked was “Trois Chansons, 1. Dieu! qu’il la fait bon regarder!’ by Claude Debussy and “Suite for Three Horns: Arioso, March” by H. Lee Riggins. At first glance the music looked quite hard for me – lots of 16th notes which always elicit panic – but Bob assured me that it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
After the first rehearsal I felt a little better about playing these pieces. As Bob said, they weren’t as bad as they looked. Besides that, playing in the quartet was lots of fun. Bob was absolutely wonderful with me. He took the time to help with some of the tougher passages, was really encouraging and had lots of patience. Time for lunch.