Think teaching horn stops with the studio? Go outside the lines with Dr. Jacquelyn Adams. Red Hot in Hattiesburg Mississippi. September 28 2015, 0 Comments
"So often our teaching starts and stops when the students come and go. In keeping up with our changing social online climate, Dr. Adams dedicates much of her time creating multiple opportunities for her students and future students. It starts with outreach and continues with social media platforms. I was honored to have this time to bring to light the constant creative that is Dr. Adams." -Barbara Van Pelt
"My mission is to strengthen fundamentals and musicianship in the horn community. And pizza."
After being a visiting professor last year, this fall is my first official year teaching horn at The University of Southern Mississippi. I went through the daunting application/audition process last April and am officially on a tenure-track position! Going through the process of obtaining a college gig was a whole experience unto itself: 9am recital, interviews with the music faculty and school faculty, a public master class, a public brass quintet and woodwind quintet rehearsal. For me, the most nerve racking part was the initial phone interview. Can't we just text those things?!! Kidding. Kinda. I HATE talking on the phone. I was so nervous, but tried to get in the zone by listening to relaxing music and even took a beta blocker (which I don't even take to perform because they dry my mouth out but I was that nervous to talk). Then they called and I totally hung up on them by accident. Smooth move, Adams. It all worked out but I have much respect for people who endure the process.
I'm excited about a project outside the lines of responsibility to the university that relates to this new job - the debut of Horns of Hattiesburg, a high school horn club here in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The high school division meets one Sunday a month to learn/play horn choir music, develop fundamentals, help the kids with audition concepts and music, and, of course, to eat pizza. The mission is to strengthen fundamentals and musicianship in the future horn community. Did I mention pizza? Many of these kids are showing up to college auditions without any concept for the basic fundamentals of brass playing (not all but a surprising amount). There is no way for band directors to get to every single person in the room and some of the directors run their programs alone. This unto itself is incredibly challenging, and we all know the horn is a difficult beast to tame. The goal is to get involved with these young players earlier in their development and trouble shoot some of this - show them hand position (NOT on the outside of the bell!! ACK!, talk about tongue tension, check out their fingerings of choice…).
"...opened our minds and rocked our worlds..."
One of my favorite aspects of the university gig is the opportunity to introduce the horn studio to influential teachers and performers. At the same time, I expose the community to some of my own horn heroes (there are so many!) thus raising the awareness of brass musicianship. I learn so much in these moments from the musicians. Dr. Andrew Pelletier (Bowling Green State University) jump started our semester by performing an exquisite solo recital, teaching a powerful master class and six individual lessons, and leading a Brahms 1 sectional at the beginning of September. He really whipped us into shape! Dr. James Naigus (composer/hornist) is doing the same adding a composer's forum this week as part of the USM Symphony Orchestra's premiere of Radiant Dances. Leslie Norton (Nashville Symphony, principal horn) led an awesome master class and the Blair Woodwind Quintet from Vanderbilt University performed a pristine recital. That was all just this month! It was an honor to host the legendary Julie Landsman on campus last Spring. Julie led two master classes that opened our minds and rocked our worlds in the span of five hours. Her methods of teaching the Caruso technique have revolutionized my own playing and the students experienced immediate and long term benefits from her visit. We had a very diverse turn out for that event - both middle and high school students (some of whom traveled up to six hours), university students, and professionals. One adult individual traveled from Kissimmee, Florida, to Hattiesburg via planes and cars to attend the master classes! Jeff Agrell (University of Iowa) and Evan Mazunik will be on campus in February for a week long residency focused on improvisational technique and sound painting. YES! Insanely excited to learn from these two incredibly innovative and creative musicians, and cannot wait to expose the students to their performance techniques and practice process.
"Taking horn performance and teaching out of town casts a spotlight on you and your work. This provides great evidence of the quality of faculty The University of Southern Mississippi seeks to acquire and maintain." - Scott H. Bacon (owner of Siegfried's Call)
"I had never been anywhere like Peru, and it was beautiful."
Summer 2015 was one of the most fulfilling seasons I've experienced on horn. Kendall Betts Horn Camp spanned the entire month of June (you cannot beat New Hampshire in the summer. SO. BEAUTIFUL.) The Cusco Music Festival was a life changing week in July, and spending time rehearsing and performing with The North Country Chamber Players (also in NH) was an incredibly enriching week.
Peru was amazing. Dogs and music and wonderful food everywhere. And pisco sours! The Cusco Music Festival, a classical music festival only in it's third year, included a brass faculty member for the first time ever - it was an incredible honor! I had never been anywhere like Peru. The festival was a week long and involved performing a solo with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Cusco (Cusco Symphony Orchestra), teaching members of the orchestra, and teaching young players from the Cusco Youth Orchestra.
The Cusco Symphony Orchestra brass section and I spent time together in sectionals every morning, which was fun and also a little challenging because of the language barrier. We figured out a system and got through everything, learning a ton from each other. The altitude is SO HIGH and the morning temps were SO FRIGID (no heat in the rooms) - these guys were so dedicated to their art and improvement (and obviously more adjusted to the climate) but I was wearing a sweater, jacket, gloves… they were in t-shirts playing Schubert 9 brass sectionals in a scenario that many of us would've complained about for weeks. They were an absolute delight and joy.
We also went to the local middle school and worked with members of the Cusco Youth Orchestra. I was awed and impressed with the school - it was beautifully tucked into the mountains with a gorgeous, hand crafted playground. It was basically built into the ruins, so the steps were incredibly tall and made of ancient stone (literally). The kids were eager to learn and despite the language barrier, it was incredibly productive. There is a lesson in there - less talking, more doing! Therefore, we held long tone contests and high note contests, which tickled them pink, and I played them this crazy unaccompanied solo (Strofa III by Jo van den Booren) that also made them giggle. They were pretty transfixed by my Schmid triple horn. The week was also very special to me because it was my first experience performing a Mozart horn concerto with orchestra. Finally! You practice those things your entire career (I started that sucker in sixth grade which feels like many moons ago) to play 30 seconds of it in an audition setting. Definitely makes more sense with the orchestra. One thing I didn't anticipate was how different it would feel playing at 11,000 feet of elevation. I didn't get physically sick or anything but it was definitely hard to breath and my lips felt incredibly thin. If I were to perform at that elevation again, I would give myself about two weeks to hang out up there and adjust beforehand. Another lesson learned. Culturally, I ate ceviche for about 6 meals in a row while traveling, tried beef heart and guinea pig (that one was rough). Machu Picchu was crazy amazing and mind blowing. Just like a postcard EXCEPT it was crawling with tourists and they have these signs indicating which way you have to walk and someone blows a whistle at you if you go the wrong direction. You can hike further off the trail should you want a more physical experience, but who am I kidding? I checked it out and grabbed a beer while some of the others hiked to the peak. Another Peru highlight was randomly bumping into an opera singer in the bathroom that I went to college with in Denton, Texas. Too funny. I came out of the stall and there Emily Newton was, washing her hands, and we were like "Um…. heeyyyy."
"I wanted to present something uniquely expressive, fresh, and entertaining."
This fall is 100% focused on teaching at The University of Southern Mississippi, performing with the orchestra, and premiering "Radiant Dances" for solo horn, strings, and percussion by James Naigus. James is an incredibly smart and talented composer on the rise, and also a fellow horn player. When approached to perform a concerto with The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, I wanted to present something unique, fresh, expressive, and entertaining. I immediately called my buddy Jeff Agrell (horn faculty at University of Iowa) to seek advice and he suggested that I contact James. Radiant Dances came to life in that moment. I finally met James while teaching at Kendall Betts Horn Camp and was struck by his high level of creativity, intellect, and energy. We spent the month of June playing in ensembles together, improvising, performing… he accompanied me on piano at the faculty recital where we played Piazzolla's "Oblivion" and James, Jeff, Lin Foulk (University of Western Michigan), and myself performed in an improvising quartet called the "Moose Drool Quartet" at one of the faculty recitals. The concerto is full of soaring melodies, lush chords, and opportunities for expression. There's a prolonged cadenza in the second movement that allows for an intimate moment within the piece. I love the entire piece but that second movement is my heart. The premiere is Oct 1st, then we move to recording and a music video.
I've premiered a few other pieces, "Heavy Mettle" by Wayne Lu and "Solomento" by Charles Waters, but this is my first time with orchestra and it is super exciting. Radiant Dances is a hit and a fantastic addition to the horn rep (which is limited for solo horn and string orchestra). Excited to record it with members of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra this fall. Thankful for the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra in general. Pensacola has become my home away from home, and the symphony musicians of PSO were the first for me to connect with after leaving NYC. The brass section is an awesomely supportive group of friends and the conductor, Peter Rubardt, went to The Juilliard School, so it's nice to look to the podium and see someone with NYC experience in their eyes as well. And, yes, it's a look. This is my second season as principal horn with PSO and we open the 2015-2016 season with Don Juan this weekend! My first time riding principal on that piece and am totally hyped up and ready to rock.
"I've been using social media as a means of connecting for quite some time."
I've been using social media as a means of connecting for quite some time. We didn't have a computer or internet in my home when I was in high school (really dating myself here). It's difficult to remember life without the ability to connect with friends far and wide at any time. There is an incredible amount of potential to communicate and connect with the horn studio, and also connect the horn studio to the world, through these social mediums. The school uses YouTube videos to promote events like the premier they just did and also the individual studios. I also have my own YouTube channel, and I do use Twitter. The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Horn Studio has a private Facebook (FB) group page where we "handle business" and communicate about in house issues like rehearsals, sectionals, music festival opportunities, recordings, and sometimes just funny horn memes for stress relief. We also have The USM Horn Studio public FB page where we communicate with friends, family, and the community about upcoming recitals, events, achievements, photos of the students enjoying campus life or The Pride of Mississippi marching band (sometimes those pics take some filtering. Kidding! Kinda!... Those kids have a blast - literally and figuratively). The public horn studio page is used to unite us as a studio with the school of music, often sharing posts that may not be 100% horn related but pertain to the School of Music and could be of interest to the community or friends of the studio. The horn studio also has their own YouTube Channel. My personal FB page remains my own territory but I certainly do not hesitate to share things from the studio page that make me proud as a teacher, or events that might be of interest to non-USM folks. It all works together from the School of Music page to the USM Studio public page to the USM Studio private page to my personal page, and that is how FB works. It's fantastic to promote something on one FB page but the more you can tie those posts together for multiple views, the more FB will boost visibility and do the legwork for you. Horns of Hattiesburg is currently a page in the making. Right now we are utilizing a private group page to communicate internally about getting it off the ground but once we gain some inertia we will begin the public page.
Here is a video I made last year that is totally worth mentioning. I recorded 8 horn tracks in my kitchen and set it to a slideshow for recruiting. This is a great example of how I use Youtube.
"The more I focus on quality versus result, the more rewarding the result seems to be."
Using social media to promote and document these events enables us to reach and connect with an even wider audience. The University of Southern Mississippi PR/Marketing Department does an amazing job of encouraging the faculty to utilize FB and social media. The PR/Marketing director, Mike Lopinto, is a driving force in the promotion of these events (and in the SOM, in general). He and his team stay busy creating flyers, FB events, updating the website, thinking up catchy weekly hashtag concepts, and feeding content to the faculty and students for posting. #TransfomationTuesday is one of my personal favorites. Every Tuesday we highlight a student who has been "transformed" in an aspect of their musical life - practicing and conquering scales, getting in the practice room before 7AM to warm up, learning a solo from memory, playing four double high F's in a row (there actually was one in the horn studio!), winning a gig or competition... things like that. It's a fantastic way to bring attention to students who are putting in the work and highlighting their progress gives their confidence a boost. It's healthy for the students to feel the studio and music school standing behind their achievements on social media.
Good vibes and best of luck to everyone in the horn community and beyond this season! It's going to be a great year and things are off to a good start. I'm excited for the future and also open to whatever opportunities may present themselves. I am learning to be focused on the task at hand, always striving to bring my best, and letting life guide me through the process. Aiming at my personal goals and career dreams has not always been easy to balance (still isn't) but the more I focus on quality versus result, the more rewarding the result seems to be. Also, the more often I walk my dogs, the better I seem to feel. Funny how all that works together for a greater good…
--- Dr. Jacquelyn Adams is Assistant Professor of Horn at The University of Southern Mississippi. She is also Principal One, of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra.
"I for one, cannot wait to hear about the next set of adventures that Dr. Adams will embark on! To keep track of her, links are provided above. I thank her on behalf of the horn community for sharing her insights, music and talent with us." -Barbara Van Pelt
Compiled by Barbara Van Pelt, MMusic (horn) Hartt ('87)