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A Critical Study of Essential Elements Book 1: Enhancing the Pedagogy for Beginning Hornists

Eric Linke, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


For the young hornist, playing the horn is often a frustrating and unrewarding experience. Accuracy is very difficult because of where notes fall on the harmonic series, the right hand must be placed correctly in the bell to avoid impacting tone color and intonation, it takes time to develop consistency with only a handful of notes, and takes even longer to develop a good tone. Because of these frustrations, horn players have a notoriously high dropout rate amongst elementary and middle school level band students. Method books often form the backbone of the curriculum utilized by band directors, and it is up to each director to develop their curriculum using these books. Because starting students on horn is such a significant issue, this document will examine a variety of method books to find the similarities and differences from pedagogical materials created by specialists on the horn. If the problem areas can be rectified or avoided, band directors will have better options for designing their own curricula. The primary focus of this document is Essential Elements: Book 1, a popular method book used in many beginning band classrooms. Essential Elements: Book 1 is one of the most widely used method books used in beginning band classrooms. This writing compares Essential Elements: Book 1 with the literature written by specialists in the horn, identifying important issues with the scope, sequence, and presentation of information. This writing includes descriptions of texts by several horn pedagogues and alterations to Essential Elements: Book 1 that could help make it idiomatically more appropriate for the horn while still retaining the book’s ease of use inside a large classroom setting. These alterations to Essential Elements: Book 1 include additions to the explanations of horn technique and revisions of the exercises present in the book.

Subject Area

Music|Music education|Pedagogy

Recommended Citation

Linke, Eric, "A Critical Study of Essential Elements Book 1: Enhancing the Pedagogy for Beginning Hornists" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI29166207.