October 17, 2016

IHS member Dr. Peter Iltis, horn player and Professor of Kinesiology at Gordon College, has launched a research project entitled the MRI Horn Repository Project (MHRP). In collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Gottingen, Germany) and the Institute for Music Physiology and Musician’s Medicine (Hannover, Germany), this project utilizes real-time magnetic resonance imaging (RT-MRI) to study tongue and throat movement strategies of elite horn players and players who suffer from career-threatening movement disorders, with emphasis on embouchure dystonia (EmD). In the next two years, his research team aims to significantly expand its data base and to provide selective access to scientists, doctors, and brass teachers world-wide to further understanding in this new, developing field of study.

The project has already resulted in five journal publications, presentations at three international symposia dealing with medical problems of performing artists as well as horn pedagogy, an internationally-televised episode with Deutsch Welle Television (Sarah’s Music: Music and Science), and a YouTube channel “MRI Horn Videos: Pedagogy Informed by Science.” The YouTube channel features a growing series of video lectures highlighting the RT-MRI work in Germany. The lectures are presented by Dr. Iltis and Mr. Eli Epstein, former second horn of the Cleveland Orchestra, now serving on the faculty of the New England Conservatory and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. These movies provide a valuable source for expanding the understanding of brass pedagogy. The lectures have Epstein presenting the pedagogical side, while Iltis presents the scientific side. Together, they provide a well-balanced and disciplined approach to understanding the amazing images. They have presented this work in two consecutive years at the International Horn Symposia held in Los Angeles (2015) and most recently at Ithaca College (2016).

Two significant testing sessions of the MHRP are planned for the next calendar year (January 2017-January 2018). During each 10-day session, 12 elite horn players from top European and American Orchestras will be recruited for scanning. The IHS Executive Committee enthusiastically supports this research project because of its application to many brass players and their problems. Inevitably, results will come more quickly with financial support, and we encourage those who possess the financial means to support this worthwhile project to visit http://www.gordon.edu/mrihorn for information regarding how to contribute.

Jeffrey Snedeker
President, International Horn Society