I added some more Live Performances to my sound cloud. These are taken from different stops on my recital tour last month. Enjoy!!
Here is a sound clip from my recital tour, the 2nd movement of the Gliere Concerto. I also have some videos loaded to youtube, you can check them out if you’d like, the channel is NKenney1.
Hi all – it’s been a while since I updated this, so I thought I’d give an update. I have an amazing year planned – and I’m already tired from all the excitement – but so ready to get to work!
I just got a call last week from the South Dakota Symphony to come out and play their October (6th) Classical concert. I used to play there as a substitute regularly during graduate school but haven’t been back since 2010. I’m really looking forward to returning and playing with my good friend, principal horn, Ryan Gruber, as well as some friends from the UNL. In addition, I have quite a few weekends already plugged with some local orchestras – should be a great year of orchestral horning!
I’m really looking forward to participating in the IHS workshops this year too. My good friend and colleague Pat Smith is hosting the Southeast Horn Workshop in Richmond, Va. It’s sure to be a hoot! I have also submitted to play at the IHS Symposium in Memphis next summer. Can’t wait to see all my horn friends there – it’s been since 2010 in Brisbane that I went to an International Symposium!
Perhaps the highlight of my year will be going on a solo tour. I have 3 stops planned so far, but am still in the planning process. I’ll keep you all updated if things change or add. So far I’ll be doing a recital on March 29 (8pm) at Oklahoma State University (Master class TBD), a recital on April 1 (6pm) at Middle Tennessee State University/Master class on April 2, and a Recital on April 3 (2pm) at Western Carolina University. It’s going to be a very intense week of teaching, playing, and, least exciting of the three, travel. The horn professor at Oklahoma State, Lanette Compton, has an outstanding lineup of guests coming in this year including Adam Unsworth, JD Shaw, and The American Horn Quartet. I feel honored to be coming in the same year as these guys but it also really makes me motivated to get to work!!! Check out the horn events poster they made for advertising:
I hope that, if you’re around, you will come and check out these awesome horn events!! Stay tuned for updates and details!!
A large part of my time these days is spent subbing in various orchestras on the weekends. This past weekend was no exception. I was invited to play, with the Long Bay Symphony Orchestra in Myrtle Beach, SC, a program that included the Overture to Barber of Seville, Don Juan, Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, and Alexander Nevsky. A heavy program to say the least!
The reason I’m writing, though, isn’t to brag about the neat pieces I’m getting to play but to talk a little bit about keeping your chops healthy during weekends like this. The rehearsal schedule for the weekend included a 3-hour rehearsal Friday, two 3-hour rehearsals on Saturday, a 2-hour rehearsal on Sunday and a concert after that. It was absolutely a ton of playing and I found myself really taking steps to ensure that my chops were well taken care of.
First, it is imperative to have an adequate warm up. I started this weekend off without one of those due to unexpected traffic, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s important to get your daily routines in even with the extended amount of playing during the weekend. This keeps you able to do the things you need to do for hours on end.
Secondly, drink lots and lots of water. Water, specifically staying hydrated, is super important to the muscles in your chops when you are punishing them for hours per day. I increased my water intake to well over 60 oz. per day from Friday – Sunday just to keep myself hydrated. I heard people complaining of fatigue (face and otherwise) on Saturday afternoon and it came as no surprise because I witnessed them guzzling Pepsi at the same rate that I was drinking water. This is just plain not healthy for the chops – or a persons well-being – when using your body to work as hard as we were this past weekend.
Lastly, I recommend the use of an anti-inflammatory. I prefer ibuprofen or advil. I take a small dose at the end of the day to help relax the chops and minimize swelling – though I still noticed some swelling. The bit of swelling that did happen went down after a nice, long, warm up.
I’m not the skinniest health advocate ever – but I do tend to make an effort to eat and drink relatively healthy, and work out. We all splurge, but I’d recommend trying to be as healthy as possible, especially when exerting yourself, and chops, in such a manner as I did this past weekend.
After all those rehearsals, I felt some discomfort on my face but overall I never really felt fatigued. I was able to make it through all of the services with a great deal of success, and I believe it is because I kept myself hydrated, used an anti-inflammatory after playing for hours, and warmed up properly (most days). Take care of the money makers!!!
This past weekend I enjoyed a number of sessions at the 2012 Southeast Horn Workshop, which was hosted by Jeremy Hansen at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee. Among the high lights of the weekend was Karl Pituch’s AMAZING recital and an hour-long talk from Douglas Hill on being a teacher.
I have really thought about my place as a horn teacher a great deal over the years and many of my thoughts were in line with what Doug had to say – except that he was able to explain it all so well because he has thought about these ideas with 40 years of teaching experience.
I’ve been asked, in job interviews at universities, before to “describe a typical lesson.” I always had an issue with this question because for me there is no typical lesson. Of course I gave the standard “We’ll talk about what we went over and assigned last week, I’ll have the student play, and then we’ll see where it goes from there” answer. I had never really thought about WHY there is no typical lesson for my style of teaching.
I know that some teachers, old pedagogues of brass, use the notion of a “cookie cutter method.” Each student comes in, does certain things, and *BADABING* – when they leave they can play. It has worked for many teachers and players in the past, but I really think it is just luck. More often than not you hear of the success stories, but what about those students that failed? Did they fail because they didn’t put it the work and adhere to the master plan or was the style of teaching they received not right for them?
Doug’s approach to the role of teacher and student really fit as a great explanation of what I already truly believe in. He came up with the notion that the most important job for the student is to take responsibility for his/her learning. Once the student is responsible for their path, they can then begin to set goals – both micro and macro. After this, it is then the teacher’s responsibility to understand the student’s goals and respond to the work they are putting in. He called this the responsible student and the respondable teacher.”
This is a perfect explanation of my philosophy of teaching – and it describes very well why there is no cookie cutter method to teaching the horn. Each student should have an idea of the short and long-term goals that they have. Of course, depending on what long-term goals they have the teacher and student can discuss what works best for progress at any given time – but it is also OK for the student to have definite short-term goals as well.
Doug even alluded to the fact that by the time the student is advanced enough into his program each lesson is not about what he has assigned for the next week, but rather what is it that the student is working on this week. Be it a problem in the low register, a recital, and audition, etc – the student brings to the lesson an issue or a goal, and it is the great teacher that is able to respond to each individual student’s needs.
What this accomplishes is the teacher then turning that student into their own teacher by guiding and helping them create their own path. In hindsight, it is very easy for me to see that Dr. Mattingly did this for me and it is probably why I was able to develop my own opinions on the matter without even really knowing that it was happening.
Of course the topic I’m talking about is teaching horn, but really the notion works for all of “teaching.” Band, Spanish, English, Sciences, Math, etc – all very successful students first take responsibility for their learning and most come across that one really special teacher (among the bad ones!) that responds to their individual needs; pointing them in the direction of success, often making adjustments to the path as needed, and in the end we have someone who is imbedded with a love of their discipline.
There are an assortment of horn hand guards out there. Really, the only reason I use one is because I play a raw brass instrument and it keeps my hand from turning green. Often times, though, it is hard to find one for the top-of-the-line horns, unless a certain company makes one specifically for it, then you are cornered to get THAT one. I’ve been playing around with a few things and think I have found a great solution.
The last guard I put on my horn was tennis racket tape. It worked well as a guard, but when I went to get my horn cleaned by Brad Obbink, he informed me that the rubber in the tape, when reacting with any bit of sweat, turns to Hydrochloric acid. YIKES! When we removed the tape it was a gross blue-green color… this Brad assured me was from the acid eating away at the brass.
After a bit of assurance that the horn would be fine once cleaned, I went about thinking on how I could make a similar hand guard, without the same issue. Alas, I ended up at Play it Again Sports, just to see if I could find some athletic tape that was cotton to go under the rubber part. Something to soak up the sweat. What I found was even better!
The newest in horn innovation, well, as far as I am concerned, is borrowed from America’s favorite past time. BASEBALL BAT GRIP TAPE!
Specifically made by Easton, I found a SYNTHETIC grip tape that has a very thin cotton lining attached to it. It is also a little bit sticky, so the application is very easy. Furthermore, the addition of a very thin lining acts sort of like a padding, which creates a very comfortable grip on the horn. I also find myself holding the horn by the outside tubing from time to time, so since I had enough material, I went ahead and wrapped it there too, here are some pics:
Thus far, I am very happy with my discovery. It will be interesting to see if this tape reacts with the brass, though I don’t think it will. It is, after all, made to go on metal bats! If any of you have experience with this stuff, please let me know!
The inspiration for this post came from a good friend and colleague of mine, Patrick Smith. Pat is the horn teacher at Virginia Commonwealth University… a very fine hornist and historian. To any of you high schoolers out there looking for a place to study, Pat would be an awesome teacher.
At any rate…. often times we get/have to travel with our horns. I’ve had the opportunity to go all over the place BECAUSE of my horn. #Win. Numerous times I’ve been told that I had to “check” my horn because it “won’t fit.” I go to one specific time when coming back from Mexico. I had just gotten my Engelbert Schmid horn maybe two weeks prior to the trip. At the time I was using a Marcus Bonna MB7C case, seen below. This is a great case for carrying on to planes because it is designed with the shape of an overhead compartment, and if it doesn’t fit above, it will ALWAYS fit below a seat.
That being said, when we were coming back from Mexico, the flight attendants, or whoever those people are that check you in and think their job is more important than anyone’s, tried to make me check the bag. Mind you, I had JUST gotten it and I paid over $11,000.00 for this horn. No WAY I was letting anyone touch it. We bickered back and forth for probably 15 minutes about it. She was insisting that I had to check it… we were arguing so much that some other passengers were getting angry with me, saying “just let them do their job” among other similar remarks. Well, I wasn’t budging because I KNOW what these guys do when they load the plane. What is that, they do, you ask? Well, check out the video here, if you must find out. The blue bag the guy throws is a horn in a hans hoyer case.
Now, if that had been my $11,000.00 dollar ES horn in a MB7C case, the bell would have been crushed into the corpus of the horn. You see, with the extremely small size of the case the horn sits on top of itself. It is GREAT for travel, but not so much protection…. I found out the hard way when I dropped the same case with my yamaha in it, on accident. Luckily I was on my way to see Brad Obbink when I dropped it and he was able to get the bell fixed pretty easily.
My argument with the lady in Mexico ended with me agreeing to curbside check the horn. I took the tag and put it on my horn case. She followed me all the way to the plane, she was going to ensure that I put it in some random guys hands… until she was distracted! I quickly held the case down by my side, walked on to the plane, and proceeded to stow the horn away in the overhead bin, where her and the other passengers agreed that the case wouldn’t fit. I found it quite funny that the lady who had the biggest problem with my horn going on the plane was boarding right behind me and got to watch me (easily) stow the horn above my seat. I looked at her and said “Imagine that, it FIT!”
The video up there of Pat’s horn being slammed onto the conveyor belt inspired me to write to all traveling hornists, to tell my story, and to offer advice about horn cases. There are a million horn case companies out there. Marcus Bonna MB7C is great for traveling, but please, as stated, be careful with the case, it can get damaged in there. And BY ALL MEANS do not let anyone take this case at the airport. IT WILL FIT somewhere on the plane, and if they take it, IT WILL BE CRUSHED, ask my friend Sarah Gregory.
Luckily, Pat’s horn wasn’t damaged. His Hans Hoyer is stowed away safely in a Hans Hoyer Case. Apparently these cases are pretty sturdy! But they may not fit on the plane. I currently carry a Cardo Case, which is quite a bit bigger than the MB7C, though the horn does not sit on itself and I think it provides a lot more protection. I have yet to travel on a plane with it, so if any of you have any experience doing this, please let me know. I would be a little nervous about where it fits.
If you are a world traveler I highly recommend you get some kind of bag that you can ensure you will get on the plane with you. A MB7C, a Pope Bag, A Lewis Bag, or something similar, that will easily go above or below the seats. Just remember that sometimes these smaller cases sacrifice the safety of the horn BUT you can be sure that you have it in YOUR hands, not some lazy airline worker who was ready to go home 3 hours ago.