daily kaddish: for verne reynolds

[powerpress]

Today’s Kaddish is one horn pedagogue Verne Reynolds might have appreciated: once again I was backstage at the opera in a loud stairwell with only iTalk, a recording app that has no gain control, so I had to play “Kaddish” sotto voce the whole way through.

Verne Reynolds spent most of his career as a horn prof at Eastman, and I almost went there to study with him. From the horror stories I’ve heard about his tyrannical teaching, it might have been just as well that I went elsewhere. Then again, where I ended up for grad school was no picnic, either.

Still, I count Verne Reynolds as an important teacher. His fiendishly difficult 48 Etudes were the centerpiece of my studies with Dr John Deal at the University of North Dakota when I studied with him during my high school years. A trumpet player, Dr Deal didn’t—I think—fully appreciate how hard these etudes were to play on horn! But that turned out to be a very good thing for me. Since Dr Deal didn’t think it should be any big deal for me to play them, I didn’t either, so I worked my ass off, and those beastly etudes gave me rich rewards in the years since.

To this day, when I need to whip my technique into shape, I turn to the 48 Etudes.

I even played a few of them for a wedding once—it was a solo horn gig, and I mean solo. Unaccompanied horn. Just me. Can you say “naked”? The other problem is that there isn’t a whole huge amount of solo horn literature, and I had something like forty-five minutes to fill. Perhaps it was desperation that reminded me that some of the etudes are almost catchy, so I programmed them.

I wish I could report that the bride with the funny taste is still happily married the guy with the indulgent taste, but this was a mercenary gig. The paycheck I got after the ceremony was the last time I ever saw her name, which I’ve long since forgotten.

A kaddish for the guy who wrote the etudes that keep us horn players humble: Verne Reynolds was 84 when he died on 28 June 2011.

About erin

Erin Vang, PMP, BMus, MMus, is Owner and Principal Pragmatist of the consultancy Global Pragmatica LLC®, offering custom JMP scripting, localization program management, and facilitative leadership services. She is also an orchestral horn player who freelances in the San Francisco Bay Area and plays assorted brass for the celebrated dance bands Midnight Smørgåsbord and contraPtion. More about Erin…
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