In USC Thornton Wind and Percussion faculty Kristy Morrell’s (MM ’94, DMA ’97) classes, students get a chance to practice breathing exercises with the brass instrument in a slightly unconventional way – by trying to keep a ping-pong ball in midair.
“We have breathing Olympics in the horn studio where we have a competition for who can keep the ball in the air the longest,” said Morrell.
The former USC Thornton grad shows hornists of all experience levels just how to perfect the practice in the video below – which was released through USC Thornton’s collaboration with New World Symphony’s MUSAIC project – and provides a variety of equally useful exercises and lessons in her debut instructional guide, Musician, Heal Thyself: A Self-Help Guide for Hornists.
From jotting down notes about horn performance as a young student to performing as a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for nearly 20 years, Morrell has long had a passion for understanding the complexity of the brass instrument.
That passion is translated onto the pages of Musician, Heal Thyself, which contains a multitude of resources for hornists, including: an assemblage of drills and exercises; strategies for efficient practice and problem solving; injury prevention and musical wellness; audition preparation; and how to manage performance anxiety.
“I decided to write my book because it had been on my bucket list of things I really needed to do,” explained Morrell, who wrote the work in its entirety last summer. “There hasn’t been a new horn book out in a while, and I felt that I just had to do it.”
The book is available for purchase through the USC Bookstore, the iTunes Bookstore, Amazon or Balqhuidder Music.
“I wanted to keep it concise so that if you’re in the practice room and you’re having a problem, you can quickly find the answer,” said Morrell. “I want musicians to make a reference out of it.”
The book came out in early October and has already sold out in its first printing.
The appeal of Morrell’s debut guide is in its concise and easy to use format, including ten color photographs and illustrations, with six audio clips and two video inserts available in the e-book version — ping-pong ball not included.