Nowadays, the level of playing required in our profession is extremely high, necessitating an impeccable technique in a wide range of situations. It is not uncommon to have a 90-minute Mahler symphony with 100 musicians, an Edgar Varèse work needing medium low-range fortissimo playing, and the Ligeti horn trio with its huge range and extremely delicate dynamics, all in the same week.
For a long time, students were advised to specialize either in low or high horn, believing this would transform modest abilities into assets. This may have worked in the past, but it is a poor choice today, based on the requirements of making a living in today’s evolving music industry. Over the last 15 years, the number of candidates for open positions has increased greatly. Add to this the fact that the offers of work have tended to decrease, and you can see that now, more than ever, the path to a successful professional career is a rocky one.
We now have the correct mindset, a healthy fighting spirit, without any compromises, so we can throw ourselves into the search for perfection and increased self-knowledge. After fourteen years of study plus thirty-one years of orchestral and pedagogical activities, I have the feeling that these activities are those which govern our lives and that it is now time to put on paper my experience, well aware my credibility as a writer has a direct relationship to my credibility as an instrumentalist. But isn’t the challenge motivating?
The concept and contents of this collection are inspired by my daily reality, that of a professional player whose free time is rare and who understands the toll taken by heavy concerts. Having little or no free time for the luxury of profound technical work, I had to invent exercises that lead quickly to what we all seek: to be in top form, to see progress!
To do this I had to gauge and analyze the requirements of the 21st century horn player before explaining the fundamental lessons from which I developed the following working method.