The title “blow your OWN horn!” can be understood in different ways: as encouragement, invitation, even as a command. Regardless, confronting the problems of learning the horn demands greater self-reliance, independence, and a more pro-active attitude than is usual or comfortable. “blow your OWN horn!” is certainly no traditional Horn Method – perhaps it is more a kind of Anti-Method. Much may seem iconoclastic and it is certainly my intention to be controversial. I describe “Truths” about learning and teaching the horn which I have been forced to accept over the last decades, but which frequently collide with conventional or “official” thinking. Many brass teachers tend to restrict their thinking to merely technical subjects and justify this with inherited or self-written “Methods”. The fact that these so-called Methods are frequently nothing more than collections of “survival tricks” is very bad psychology for ambitious young hornists. One of the most important and controversial themes of my book is that true technical mastery of the horn is only possible through musical playing. It is in fact musical playing which guarantees good technique and security, not the other way around. The reader may not be surprised that for a long time my working title was: “Horn Heresies”.

 

AMAZON REVIEWS

5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed by the horn afflicted, July 23, 2012

By 

HadleyReynolds 

This review is from: Blow Your Own Horn!: Horn Heresies (Paperback)

If the subtitle "horn heresies" is not a strong enough indication, the publisher's description "an anti horn-method method" spells out Fergus McWilliam's ambition in this unusual contribution to horn pedagogy. His experience over years of teaching is that "the way the horn is taught is too frequently not the way the horn actually needs to be played." For the student in all of us, he reminds us that there is no alternative to taking ownership of the process of achieving mastery.

Blow Your OWN Horn is not a book for beginners. McWilliam makes clear that he is speaking to advanced students and teachers, players who can look at their experience "from the other side" of working through the popular methods. As a perpetual student myself, I get his view that: "It is not amateurish, flawed theories and unqualified teaching that ruin young hornists. Ultimately it is the students themselves who permit it to happen!"

McWilliam's anti-method method uses a short essay format that enables him to keep readers on their toes with anecdotes, galleries of mental images to consider, lists of ambitions to prioritize, probing questions to ponder, physical exercises to try out. The two major chapters in the practical section - on embouchure and breathing respectively - are insightful additions to the literature. The same is true of a section on auditions and one taking on high-horn, low-horn mythology. His treatment of misconceptions about the diaphragm, the multiple kinds of inhalations possible, and "air in motion" should be required reading, even for Arnold Jacobs aficionados.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars These thought-provoking, and potentially amazingly performance-changing concepts have the ..., October 19, 2014

By 

sharman king

This review is from: Blow Your Own Horn!: Horn Heresies (Kindle Edition)

These thought-provoking, and potentially amazingly performance-changing concepts have the potential to inspire growth in all brass players. Mr. McWilliam is continuing the legacy of Arnold Jacobs in musical thought determining and enhancing musical performance. It's a must-read for all performers and more importantly, for all teachers of brass instruments. It's NOT just for the horn.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, October 29, 2014

By 

lee 

This review is from: Blow Your Own Horn!: Horn Heresies (Paperback)

I love this book! I heard about it through Sarah's Horn Hangouts. In my two, very short but very dedicated, years of playing the horn, I've always thought that there must be a better way to learning and playing the horn than grinding all day in a practice room. I even rejected some conventional ways of playing because I realized my body was a better performer and teacher of the horn than some of the rigid advice I was getting.

The first half of the book is mostly about the practice of skepticism: how teachers teach the way they do and why it's not necessarily the best way, how misconceptions about the horn are formed and debunked, how students are so eager to learn without questioning. The second half is about actual horn technique. I think this book is simply great for not just the horn, but just living life in general. It's in accordance with my own philosophy about musicianship: it's life itself, just expressed differently.

I disagree with the reviews that this book isn't for beginners. I think, actually, that it's best for beginners to dislodge themselves from misconceptions or pure adherence to a school of playing. I would still classify myself as a "beginner" who benefited a lot from this book.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Music over mechanics - plus some tips as to how to do that., October 31, 2014

By 

Lewis T. Fitch "f lew tist" (Clemson, SC) 
(REAL NAME)   

This review is from: Blow Your Own Horn!: Horn Heresies (Kindle Edition)

The French Horn is a notoriously difficult instrument to play, but one capable of some glorious music. Mr. McWilliam draws on his considerable experience in both orchestral and chamber music to point out that a rigidity of approach will rob the player of many of its possibilities. The book is sufficiently detailed to point out where some of the specific traps lie in Horn playing, but a number of his comments apply to other instruments as well, and certainly to music in general...

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Blow You Own Horn! It's a great book for many many reasons., January 9, 2015

By 

Mr. J. Begg "Pugwash" (Scotland)   

This review is from: Blow Your Own Horn!: Horn Heresies (Paperback)

The one book all horn -players should read and own. McWilliam's book is not a method book but a book that challenges us gently and occasionally not so gently into a re-examination of what motivates us to play the way we do. Horn Heresies also asks us to look at our deeply held precepts about horn-playing and to ask ourselves if we really need to go on doing the same old same old horn-shuffle when we could be engaged in a dynamic and thrilling horn-dance with our instruments. Don't look here for horn exercises, it's not that kind of book, but it is one to engage with and ponder over thoughtfully.

 

Der Titel “blow your OWN horn!” könnte als “Blase in dein EIGENES Horn!” übersetz werden. Er kann auf jeden Fall unterschiedlich verstanden werden: als Aufmunterung, Aufforderung, sogar als Befehl. Egal wie, die Auseinandersetzung mit den Problemen des Hornlernens fordert von Hornisten größere Selbstständigkeit, mehr Unabhängigkeit und eine proaktivere Einstellung als gewöhnlich oder sogar bequem ist. "Blase in dein EIGENES Horn" ist gewiss kein traditionelle Hornmethode – vielleicht ist es eher eine Anti-Methode. Vieles mag wohl bilderstürmerisch vorkommen, es ist in der Tat meine bewusste Absicht, kontrovers zu sein. Ich beschreibe „Wahrheiten“ sowohl über das Lernen wie auch das Lehren des Horns, die ich über Jahrzehnte habe akzeptieren müssen, die aber häufig mit konventionellem oder „offiziellem“ Denken kollidieren. Viele Blechblas-Pädagogen konzentrieren sich häufig – grenzen sich sogar ein – lediglich auf technischen Themen. Sie legitimieren sich weiter mit geerbten oder eigenentwickelnden „Methoden“. Die Tatsache, dass diese sogenannten Methoden oft nicht anders sind als Sammlungen von „Überlebenstricks“, bildet eine enorme negative Botschaft an aufstrebenden jungen Hornisten. Es ist eine der wichtigsten und zugleich kontroversen Grundideen meines Buches, dass wahres technische Meistern des Horns schließlich nur durch musikalisches Spielen möglich ist. Erst musikalisches Spielen garantiert gute Technik und Sicherheit, nicht andersrum. Es wird also den Lesern vielleicht nicht wundern, dass mein Arbeitstitel längere Zeit lautete: “Horn Häresien/Ketzerei/Irrglaube”