The Horn Call Article of the Month - IHS Members Only feature
from the May 2008 issue
by Frøydis Ree Wekre
I have to admit it – as I am getting older I am always looking more eagerly for the new voodoos of horn playing, stuff that will make my performance better, my tone more centered, stable and brilliant, my low range more rich sounding, my high range easier, my staccato more effortless (where can I find that one?), my intonation impeccable, and my rhythm completely perfect (this would be wonderful.)
What else – oh yes, a light weight horn that is easy to hold, combined with some extra weight on the valves and on the mouthpiece to avoid cracking up in fortissimo, the new stick arrangement to hold the horn up while playing so my arms can stay relaxed all the time, combined with frequent visits to the health club to strengthen my arms, a little practice device that encourages less pressure on the upper lip, another one which will give me the “Super Power Embouchure,” and plenty of stuff for enhancing my breathing capacity and speed of air and thus the projection.
My mother used to say – when confronted with the wishes for new clothes from her teenage daughter – youth decorates itself! Only now am I beginning to understand fully what she meant. The costs of fixing the hair, and of getting more coverup-and-take-the-attention-away-kind-of-clothes-and-accessories seem to be increasing with age, and for good reasons.
As a brassplayer at this point of my life – I am a model 41 – I wonder why I still have the urge to perform – and therefore to practice? When I first started in the Oslo Philharmonic at the age of 20, my older colleagues were incredibly generous in moving down from their seats to let me progress rapidly from fourth horn (which was written in my contract, but I never played it, except in Beethoven‘s 9th) to third and soon on to the first and the hottest seat. I thought this had to do with their age (they were around 45) and that this was a logical development in every horn player’s life. After 40, not to mention 45, you must expect to play less good, and therefore please get out of the hot seats, the sooner the better. Make life easier on yourself, don’t practice on weekends, take it as it comes. Let the young people sweat!
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Frøydis Ree Wekre is Professor of Horn and Chamber Music at the Norwegian Academy of Music, an international soloist, and past president and Honorary Member of the IHS.