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.
BTI – Wednesday Morning –>
When hornists talk about pain it’s usually face, chops, fingers, shoulders, elbow or something related to muscle ache. I’ve developed a pain in my stomach just under my sternum. I have no idea if it’s related to horn playing though it seems to have started around the time I started playing off the leg. That’s a best guess time frame since it’s something I didn’t write down in my horn journal. I’m beginning to think that the start of everyday’s writings in my journal should include a general health check, including how I slept. I bet, at least for an older hornist, there will be some correlation between how one feels and how one plays.
Anyway, back to the pain problem. Have any of you experienced anything like this? It’s a dull ache that comes and goes, sometimes when I’m playing (worst time was at a rehearsal about two weeks ago) and sometimes not, and has been happening for around three months. It’s not a typical stomach type pain – no heartburn or any of the usual stomach gremlins. I have an appointment with the gastroenterologist late this afternoon so if there’s any insight out there please pass it along. I’ll report back after my appointment.
Tomorrow I leave for the Barry Tuckwell Institute in New Jersey. (Great timing.) It promises to be a jam packed five days of everything horn including a master class with Barry. It’s held at the College of New Jersey and we are all staying in the dorms at the school which was quite off-putting to me until I found out there are private baths in all the rooms. Ah- the small things in life. Of the 18 people signed up, it turns out that three of us are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th horns in my Riverhead Monday Night Band. I talked my friend Chris (2nd horn) into going but we both found out Jim (3rd horn) was going when we got the attendee list. We’ve been asked to bring lots of music so there should be plenty of opportunity to play in ensembles or horn and piano. I don’t know if I will have internet access while I’m there so I may not be posting again until Sunday.
Recently I read somewhere that someone played (I don’t know how well) Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro for all-state as a high school sophomore. This is a piece that I love (I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea) and off in the far recesses of my mind I was thinking that maybe I would try to learn it. However, I have always heard that it is a very difficult piece and I had pretty much written it off as not doable for me yet – I’ve just about got Strauss 1 in good shape. What’s the general consensus for when a student should take on that work and have reasonable success with it?
I hope everyone here in the states had a great 4th of July. After months of rain here on Long Island, we had spectacular weather for this weekend. I actually got out on my bicycle, my other passion, and put in some solid mileage. I’m an endurance rider and by the middle of the summer I should be putting in around 50 miles per ride. You can see some of my experiences on long distance rides here.
Barry Tuckwell Institute – Arrival –>