Churchill Fellowship Report - Emma-Richards

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Churchill Fellowship Report - Emma-Richards

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Page 1: Churchill Fellowship Report - Emma-Richards

Travel to Berlin to get lessons and gain

teaching techniques from members of

the Berlin Philharmonic horn section.


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Emma Richards

Berlin – 2013

Report submitted: 1/11/14


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Page Content

4 Summary


5 – 6



• Why is this topic important

• Key questions

7 - 9 Methods

9 - 29 Key learning’s



24 – 31

• My Fellowship’s contribution to the Trust’s purpose to advance any

occupation in New Zealand

• How I will use and apply my learning’s

• Where I have shared my learning’s and experiences

32 – 34




• Key experiences in my journey

• Recommendations to others

• Overall value of my experience

36 - 41 Appendix

• Travel diary


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My goal was to travel to Berlin for one month to intensively study the french horn

with Fergus McWilliam, a member of The Berlin Philharmonic. As well as studying

the horn I also wanted to gain specific knowledge and new ideas about teaching brass

players. My goal was to attend all of the orchestra's rehearsals and performances,

which would allow me to absorb the orchestra's renowned sound and learn the

workings of one of the best french horn sections in the world.

Fergus is at the top of his field as a performer and teacher, playing- as he does- in the

Berlin Philharmonic. Before I applied for the fellowship I was in touch with Fergus

to see if this project could be possible and to my delight he said yes. I felt extremely

excited to have the opportunity to study with him privately. I planned to work on

several aspects of my own horn playing including my low register, quiet playing and

expanding my sound and breathing capacity. I also wanted to get advice from him

about performing under pressure and how I can work on consistency throughout my


With seven major symphony orchestras (and several private ones), two major concert

halls, and a lot of smaller venues and churches, Berlin is indisputably one of the

world's greatest cities for classical music. I felt very excited to get this rare

opportunity to go to Berlin for one month of lessons, teaching mentoring with Fergus

and the chance to see one of the top orchestras in the world rehearse and perform.


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Why is this topic important?

When I applied for the Winston Churchill Scholarship to travel to Berlin I had been in

my full time job at the Auckland Philharmonia for four years. I was ready for fresh

inspiration, advice on specific horn playing techniques, new teaching ideas and an

exciting list of musical goals. From my research I knew that Berlin was the perfect

place as it is full of world-class musicians and is home to seven professional

orchestras, including the world renowned Berlin Philharmonic.

I believed that going to Berlin at this stage in my musical career was an extremely

important and relevant step for me to take. I wanted to make sure I was still growing

and striving as a performer and teacher having been part of the APO since graduating.

I am very grateful for my job and have loved performing with the orchestra for the

past four years but felt it was time for my own personal horn playing to get some

specific attention from a world class teacher. I believed that exposing myself to the

highest quality of horn playing and teaching possible would be the exact resource and

inspiration I needed.

Being able to take the time away from learning new orchestral repertoire and teaching

meant I was able to fully focus on the specific horn techniques I was aiming to

improve. It also gave me the time to get some fantastic teaching and educational

advice, which is a hugely important part of my life here in New Zealand.

I am a very proud New Zealander and love living in this amazing country. There are

times however where I feel that living here can be quite isolating especially when it

comes to orchestral playing. I strongly believe we have a high quality and steadily

growing arts scene here but due to our place on the map we are very removed from

the rich musical culture and fascinating traditions of Europe. I believed it was

incredibly important for me to visit Berlin to soak up all it has to offer.


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I mentioned in my application that ever since I started the horn I have spent hundreds

of hours looking on YouTube, iTunes and anything online I can find to do with the

Berlin Philharmonic. To my ear they have the best horn section in the world and I

consistently try to aim for their level of performance. After nine years of following,

being inspired and learning from them online I felt it was important for me to go to

Berlin to see and hear for myself what they have to offer and to soak up their

information, culture, horn sound and amazing musicianship. I have now bought this

new information and fresh inspiration back to New Zealand and am loving sharing it

in my many musical roles in the community. This is a bit repetitive

The key questions I aimed to address were:

• To observe how one of the best horn sections in the world work together

musically, technically and socially.

• To expose myself to the highest quality orchestral concerts possible.

• To spend time away from the everyday demands of my job to work on several

technical aspects of my own horn playing which included my low register,

quiet playing, expanding my sound and breathing.

• To get advice on performance pressure

• To get advice and inspiration for teaching methods

• To get fresh ideas for solo and chamber concerts


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Methods I addressed my key questions in several different ways:

During my time in Berlin I attended Berlin Philharmonic rehearsals to observe how

the horn section rehearse and work together. I also went to many Berlin Phil

performances and through this got to know the members of the section very well

(please see the travel diary in the appendix for specific dates). They would often

invite me back stage before and after the concerts to talk with them, which was a real

highlight for me.

Above: The back entrance to the Philharmonie (where the Berlin Phil rehearse and perform

their concerts).


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In order to expose myself to the highest quality orchestral concerts I went to 23

different concerts over the month I was visiting Berlin. This included everything

from the Berlin Phil to smaller chamber and solo concerts. I was quick to learn that

Berlin has a huge variety of high quality choice when it comes to choosing which

concerts to go to. Simply listening to 23 different concerts over the month filled my

brain and reinvigorated my passion for performing as a soloist and chamber musician.

One of my main reasons to my study trip was to spend time away from the everyday

demands of my job to work on several technical aspects of my own horn playing

which included my low register, quiet playing, expanding my sound and breathing.

During the month I was in Berlin I had ten horn lessons with four world-class

teachers. During these lessons I was able to cover several aspects of my technique

and made huge improvements on my overall horn playing.

When I was not getting lessons or seeing concerts and rehearsals I spent the rest of my

time doing personal practice. I found some teaching studios near to where I was

staying in Charlottenberg and managed to hire a space there for the full month. I had

24/7 access to the room, which also included a piano. Having my own private space

to practice was an invaluable way to solidify my advice from teachers.


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Above: the practice room I hired while in Berlin

In my lessons with the horn teachers I discussed the topic of performance pressure

and gained valuable advice on staying consistent in a horn job. After getting to know

the members of the section well they were always happy to offer advice and tips on

these topics.

A lot of my work here in Auckland is teaching both individual and group brass

lessons so I wanted to take this opportunity to get some fresh ideas in Berlin.

Experiencing ten high quality horn lessons really opened my eyes to some new and

exciting teaching methods. Fergus was especially passionate and helpful with this

and was willing to discuss at great lengths his ideas and beliefs on teaching.


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My Fellowship’s contribution to the Trust’s purpose to

advance any occupation in New Zealand

I believe that my fellowship contributes to the Trust’s purpose to advance any

occupation (in my case being a professional classical musician) in New Zealand.

Having the opportunity to get lessons from some of the best horn players and teachers

in the world and given the chance to enrich myself in Berlin’s amazing musical

culture opened a whole new world for me. I gained a much deeper knowledge of

several horn techniques, which I can apply directly to my job as 3rd horn in the APO.

Since returning from my trip to Berlin applying these new skills and knowledge in the

work place has been very rewarding. Some of my old weaknesses in horn technique

are well on their way to becoming strengths and I feel like my improvement rate is no

longer capped. I now have the tools to teach myself, and my students, how to reach

the next level. I find this prospect very exciting.

The new skills and ideas on teaching I acquired in Berlin have improved the way I

communicate with my students. Although my main occupation is performing, I do

spend a considerable amount of my week teaching and mentoring privately and in

schools. Since returning from Berlin all of my students and groups are fully informed

about my experience and always love hearing about what it is like over there.

Making contact with the musicians in Berlin could also open up doors for other New

Zealanders (students/professionals) to do the same in the future. I already know one

APO colleague who applied for a scholarship to do a similar study trip and was happy

to hear he met up with some of the horn players I had met in Berlin.


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How I will use and apply my learnings

I will use the knowledge and skills I learnt in Berlin in several different ways. These


• Private teaching (students aged between 7 and 26)

• Auckland University teaching

• My job as principal 3rd horn of the Auckland Philharmonia

Above: The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

• Chamber Music (with ACE Brass Trio)

• Sharing the knowledge with the APO horn section

• Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s Partnership Schools visits

• Chamber Music New Zealand

• Auckland Youth Orchestra


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Where I have shared my learning’s and experiences

Although the majority of what I learned in Berlin is impossible to write down in black

and white or to measure mathematically it can be seen and heard when I perform in

the orchestra, a chamber group or when I mentor or teach my students. These new

skills and experiences have instigated many musical and technical conversations with

my New Zealand colleagues, changed the way I perform, teach and view music.

I have shared my learnings in the following environments:

The APO horn section

Above: The APO Horn section 2014 (Photo credit Adrian Malloch) Left – right: David Kay, Carl

Wells, Nicola Baker, Simon Williams, Emma Richards


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It was wonderful to arrive back and share my new knowledge, passion and experience

with the APO horn section. All four of them were so supportive and excited about my

trip so I could not wait to tell them all about it. They were especially interested in

hearing about my experiences with the Berlin Phil and how it was to see them live on

a daily basis. They were also interested in hearing about the new personal

improvements I had made with my horn technique and were kind in giving me

positive feedback with how my changes with posture and sound were going.

During my time with the Berlin Phil horns I felt that I became part of their horn

community. Since being back I have kept in touch with them all and have also

included our APO horn section in on the contact, mainly through facebook. Already

the APO 4th horn has met up with two of the Berlin Phil horns while he was in

London. Having this relationship with such great players and people is great for us

here in APO.

After being immersed in their “horn community” I thought why can’t we have one

here too! We already get along so well so I thought I would give it a go by starting an

APO Horns facebook page. I thought it would be a great way to keep up our moral

and to connect our students, friends and family together. It has been a huge success

with over 300 people “liking” us and keeping up to date with our concerts and fun


Above: The cover of our APO Horns Facebook page


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APOPS Tutoring in schools

Since being back in Auckland I have visited 9 different schools several times to

mentor and tutor various wind and brass ensembles. The schools I have visited in

2014 include:

Westlake high school

St James High School

Papatoetoe West

The Tironui Trust

Above: Tutoring students involved in the Tironui Trust – Papatoetoe 2014


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Above: Tutoring students involved in the Tironui trust programme - Papatoetoe 2014

Although my specific teaching role in each school changed, depending on what the

students were working on, I was able to build up strong relationships with the students

over time. During the tutoring sessions we covered lots of technical things such as

rhythm, intonation and dynamics but since my return from Berlin my new goal for the

year was to inspire. I told my students all about Berlin and encouraged them to stay

learning their instruments and playing in school bands as you never know where it

might take them. I place a huge importance on teamwork, respect and aiming high. I

informed them about striving to sound their very best and talked a lot about hard work

and what it takes to make it. I love this part of my job and feel grateful to have the

chance to inspire and teach all of these young students.


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ACE Brass:

Above: ACE Brass Trio in action

Once I returned to Auckland our trio (ACE BRASS) got together for a meeting to

discuss our education show for the year. After seeing so many inspiring education

shows in Berlin and meeting some amazing teacher I was 100% ready to commit to

creating our best show yet. We decided to team up with a drummer from STRIKE

percussion to add an extra dimension and sense of excitement to the show. Our show

ended up becoming a huge success in the 15 schools we presented it too with many

schools, teachers and parents giving us fantastic feedback.

Although we are there to primarily introduce and educate the students to brass

instruments I decided to make a small addition to our schools show this year. My

experience in Berlin got me thinking how important it is to have a passion and to

follow it so I wanted to give the students some guidance on this. In each show I told


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the students how we actually do this awesome performing for a job. Most of the

students were unaware that you could actually do music as a full time job. I

emphasized that with hard work and a true love for what you do that they too could

make their hobby their job and get opportunities such as my Berlin trip.

Here is a list of school we have performed and mentored at in 2013:

ACG Sunderland

Bailey Road School

Papatoetoe North School

James Cook High

St Thomas


Favona School

Rangeview Intermediate

Northcote Primary

New Lynn Primary

Gladstone Primary

Kohia Terrace School

St Kentigern’s for girls


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Above: a “selfie” taken with the some of the students after a fun ACE Brass show

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

Lots of people in the APO organization were interested in hearing about my time in

Berlin. The education department loved hearing how the Berlin Phil ran their

education concerts and has since asked me to compere (MC) an education concert

next year in 2015 using some of the ideas from the Berlin Phil.

Auckland Youth Orchestra

Since being back in Auckland I have had the opportunity to tutor and mentor the

Auckland Youth Orchestra Horn section. These four students have had a big year

preparing some large repertoire for their concerts. Having the sound of the Berlin

Phil horns fresh in my head was a great inspiration for me to work with the AYO horn

to create a unified section.


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Auckland University

I am currently teaching a horn student in her first year at Auckland University. I was

glad to have had my Berlin experience before starting this role at the beginning of

2014. My student is also very passionate and excited about the Berlin Philharmonic

so it has been wonderful to share and discuss with her the new techniques I learnt.

The Auckland horn community

Our Facebook page has created a great sense of community for the APO Horns and

our supporters. Over time everyone I come in contact with will become aware and

hopefully be interested in the time I had in Berlin. It would be great to inspire other

students and people to do a similar study trip. I am also aiming to run a horn day in

2015 so we can all come together to play, talk about and share our passion for horn

playing and all it has to offer.

Previous horn teachers

I am grateful to still be in close contact with my two main horn teachers, Heather

Thompson (currently a horn player in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) and

Joan Watson (principal horn in the Canadian Opera Company). Both Heather and

Joan were delighted about my trip to Berlin and I was in touch with them both during

my study trip keeping them up to date with my findings.


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Key experiences in my journey

Nothing could have prepared me for the very first time I heard the Berlin Phil live in

their concert hall, The Philarmonie. It was a magical experience that I will carry with

me for he rest of my life. I was in awe of their passion, technical brilliance,

commitment and enthusiastic attitude to the music. The whole experience of waiting

in the concert hall before hand and seeing the orchestra warming up on stage then

hearing that very first note was a real buzz.

Above: A picture of my first Berlin Phil ticket taken in the Philharmonie on the 29th of November 2013

Getting to meet and socialize with the whole Berlin Phil horn section on several

occasions was amazing. I have admired this group as horn players for over ten years

so it was wonderful to get to know them all as people. I loved hearing their stories


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about how they made it to the Berlin Phil and it was also nice to hear them all talk

about their families and show me pictures of their kids and pets. I felt so welcome

and they really went out of their way to make sure my time in Berlin would be one I

would never forget. It is fantastic that I have still managed to keep in touch with three

of the players, especially since I am planning a trip back to Berlin this coming


The main reason for going on this trip to Berlin was to get horn lessons from some of

the world’s best teachers. Although I was really excited to get my lessons started I

was, to be honest, quite nervous.

When I walked into the horn room I lost my breath because Andrew Bain

(principal horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Sarah Willis (horn player in

the Berlin Philharmonic) and Fergus (my teacher) where in there. It was so

lovely to finally meet these horn players I had been admiring for years and to see

that they are all lovely people. I had my horn lesson in the horn room in front of

both Fergus and Andrew Bain, which was a little nerve racking at the start.

Andrew just wanted to observe Fergus’s teaching style. In this first lesson I

outlined to Fergus the main reasons why I had come to Berlin and what I wanted

to achieve out of the lessons with him so I had a good plan for the rest of my time

there. So although I was nervous, I will never forget the first lesson I had in


It was refreshing to learn how passionate and dedicated Fergus is to his teaching. He

travels the world teaching and giving master classes, passing on his wealth of

knowledge. Probably his biggest teaching venture is his involvement with the El

Sistema system both in Venezeula and Scotland, which I greatly admire. It was

especially exciting to talk to him about this as we have our very own Sistema

programme happening here in Otara. Just this year we have introduced the woodwind

and brass players to the already thriving string groups. Talking to Fergus about the

huge success that the Scottish programme has reached made me very excited for the

future of Sistema here in New Zealand.


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One experience I had not really thought about before hand was the fact that I would

be in a foreign country by myself, in the freezing cold and not able to speak the

language. I relished the opportunity to learn a bit of German and found it an exciting

challenge to navigate around this huge city. I was not used to it getting dark at 3pm

and found that I had not been properly prepared with bringing warm enough clothes!

I soon sorted this all out and before I knew it I was navigating around and even able to

order food in German. This whole experience of a new culture was a great learning

opportunity for me, and one that I loved trying to figure out on a daily basis. By the

end of my time in Berlin I actually felt quite at home, which was fantastic.

Recommendations to others

I would fully recommend to musicians, especially those who have full time orchestral

jobs, an experience such as my Berlin study trip. As orchestral musicians we are

often bound to practice and perform what the orchestra has scheduled for the year.

Most of the time, especially at the busy times, there is no time to work on your own

playing and technique and you can sometimes feel swamped with all of the music you

need to learn and perform. I believe that a study trip away from your regular

orchestral job allows time to work on and improve in all areas of your playing,

including technique and musicianship.

Probably the most important benefit of a study trip to an orchestral musician is the

way it re-inspires and reinvigorates your love for music. Being surround by such

amazing musicians in one of the cultural hubs of the world is infectious. I know I left

Berlin feeling excited about coming back to Auckland with fresh ideas, an improved

horn technique, a new appreciation for different types of music and many new friends

who are doing exactly what I do but on the other side for the world!


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Overall value overall my experience

I left New Zealand with a very open mind, a little nervous as to how I would fit in to

the Berlin music scene but excited at what I would discover and learn. Right from my

very first day I was exposed to world-class musical performances, inspiring teaching,

a new culture and a fantastic group of new friends and colleagues.

I truly believe that my study trip to Berlin was life changing. The horn lessons and

performances were a wonderful resource and the new friends and colleagues I made

were the greatest highlight. I was lucky to meet inspiring horn players and musicians

from all different cultures and I look forward to seeing them all again in the future.

This study trip to Berlin was incredibly important for my musical and personal

development. It was an invaluable and unforgettable experience that will follow me

through the rest of my life as a performer and teacher. I left Berlin with a fresh

approach to developing my horn playing and the inspiration to continue on my path of

becoming a great horn player and brass teacher in New Zealand. I feel so grateful for

this experience and would like to thank the Winston Churchill Trust for giving me this

once in a lifetime opportunity.

Above: The Berlin Phil, live on stage - 2013


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Travel Diary Date Activity/places/thoughts/learning’s/people

23rd November

YAY!!! Today I leave for Berlin from Auckland. A long flight via Melbourne, Dubai and London (46 hours!!). I even did some sneaky horn practise in the Melbourne airport with out getting told off (unfortunately that was not possible in Heathrow!!!).

24th November

I arrive in Berlin late afternoon and navigated the public transport to get to my room in Charlottenburg. It is quite a shock as it is already very dark, cold and I can’t speak German. I finally get there at about 6pm, grabbed a bite to eat and headed straight to bed to try and get over my jet lag as quickly as possible.

25th November

Today I got up early to start organising my time in Berlin. First on my list was getting a cell phone sim card so I could contact the horn teachers and any new friends I make. Then I went off to the train station so I could buy my monthly transport ticket.

After this was sorted I went about finding a personal practise space near to my house that I could hire for the 5 weeks I am in Berlin. As I was walking I saw a picture of an electric guitar on the window of a building so went in to see what it all meant. I discovered a music school equipped with over a dozen practise rooms for teaching and practising. After some discussion (mostly in sign language and broken German on my part) the manager agreed to let me hire a small space for 150 euro. I was so excited to have my own music room while in Berlin (it even came with a piano which I loved to toddle on too). – Please see the attached photo.

So, naturally after finding the room I settled in to do some much needed horn practise. I never normally have more than two days off in a row in NZ and all of the travelling was forced time off so I wanted to get back in shape before playing to anybody.

On my way back from horn practise I decided to do some proper research about what classical concerts were on in Berlin over the next month. I called in to several different venues to pick up their programmes for Nov/Dec. Lucky I noticed that Swan Lake was on this very night so promptly got my self a ticket. Tonight it was the “Orchester der Deurschen Oper Berlin” performing with the “Solisten und Corps de ballet des Staatsballetts Berlin” dancing at their Opera house on Bismarkstrasse. The show started at 7.30pm and I was so excited!!! While I was sitting there and as the show started it dawned on me that I have


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actually played Swan Lake (on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd horn) in New Zealand 5 times but had never actually seen it! I was so great to see how the music fits in with the expression of the dancing and the sets where amazing (sorry we are not allowed to take photos of that). I felt very priviledged to be watching and listening to such a high quality performance (and this was just the beginning!!!).

26th November

Today I got up early and went to the practise room to continue getting back in shape. While I was here I got a call from Fergus (my horn teacher) saying he could teach me today at 2pm so I jumped at the chance and hopped on the next train to the famous Philharmonie Hall. I have spent the last few years of my life watching concerts online in this hall so I was really excited to finally see it and go inside AND of course to get a horn lesson from one of the Berlin Phil horn players. I arrived and he took me straight to their special “horn room” where all the players leave their instruments, clothes etc. The cool thing is that it is covered in funny photos and quotes which I loved.

When we walked into the horn room I lost my breath because Andrew Bain (principal horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic) and Sarah Willis (horn player in the Berlin Philharmonic) where in there. It was so lovely to finally meet these horn players I had been admiring for years AND they are so nice too.

So, I had my horn lesson in the horn room in front of both Fergus and Andrew Bain, which was a little nerve racking at the start. Andrew just wanted to observe Fergus’s teaching style.

In this first lesson I outlined to Fergus the main reasons why I had come to Berlin and what I wanted to achieve out of the lessons with him.

After the lesson (which lasted nearly two hours) I was lucky enough to meet someone who could get me in to the dress rehearsal of “Staatskapelle Berlin” playing the opera Il Trovatore. In New Zealand both in Wellington and Auckland I have played in the pit for at least 15 opera’s so it was great to be in the audience to experience the world famous conductor, Daniel Barenboim conduct this fantastic orchestra and cast.

At the opera I made sure to introduce myself to the principal horn, Ignacio Garcia, and arranged to get a horn lesson off him while I am in Berlin.

27th November

This morning all of my “Berlin dreams” came true!!!!! I got to see the Berlin Phil live in rehearsal. I was a little nervous turning up backstage as my horn teacher had told me just to walk ‘confidently past security”. Once I was in I could not believe how amazing the Philharmonie is in real life. The grandness of it was mind blowing. The rehearsal started at 10am so I was interested to see that most of the musicians only came on stage about 5


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minutes before!! It was such a privilege to see the orchestra work on passages from the upcoming concert. Like APO, they spent a lot of time rehearsing the string passages. It was great to see that in rehearsals all of the musicians were giving it 100% (even at the back of the string section). They gave it their all and sounded great…but, I was glad to see that they too made mistakes and had to stop to fix bits, just like in our orchestra.

After the rehearsal I was so inspired by what I had heard that I went straight back to Charlottenburg to practise for the rest of the day.

28th November

This morning I got up early and did a good long warm up and practise session to prepare for my lesson with Fergus.

In today’s lesson we focused on Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4. This is one of our core pieces of music to learn and I have been working on it ever since I started playing the horn 10 years ago! Fergus has a great approach to teaching, different to anybody I know. He got me to describe and sing (out loud) exactly how I wanted it to sound. At first this was hard as it was a bit embarrassing singing in front of him. After a while I got it sounding how I wanted it to and it was now time to put in on the horn! Because I had such a clear idea of what I wanted to do in my mind and ear it was easy. I found this method of singing very useful and plan on using it my own teaching in Auckland.

29th November

Today was the day I had been waiting for over 10 years – I get to see the Berlin Phil in concert for the very first time. Tonight they played Faust Overture by Wagner and Faust Symphony by Liszt. The excitement in the foyer was infectious and I just can’t believe I made it here!! And as for the orchestra – mind blowing….out of this mind amazing!!!!

30th November

After a lengthy practise session in the afternoon I went to see the Berlin Symphony play Tchaikovsky Symphony No.6. I ended up meeting some of the young players afterwards, which was nice.

1st December Today I was lucky to get a lesson with Andrew Bain (principal horn of the LA Phil) who happened to be in town playing with the Berlin Phil. This lesson was great. Andrew was all about blowing as much air through each of the phrases as possible!!! Just blow and trust the horn We also chatted about warming up…he said not to pay too much attention to the chops, just to concentrate on warming up the breathing.

2nd December I had no lessons planned for today so was happy to get in a lot of practice.


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3rd December Today was a great day as I had two old colleagues from APO come and visit me all the way from Norway. It was so good to see some familiar faces!!! After a morning of practise we all went to see the Deutches Symphony Orchestra play Brahms 2.

4th December Today was so cold I could barely move!!! Tonight I saw one of my best concerts yet…the Berlin Philharmonie Wind Quintet with Stefan Dohr playing horn – amazing!!!! They played all the different styles perfectly and sounded out of this world great.

5th December Today I had another great lesson with Fergus.

Tonight was also amazing as I got to see Gustavo Dudamel conduct Beethoven 4 with the Berlin Phil.

6th December Today I got up extremely early so I could get in a good warm up before my horn lesson with Ignacio Garcia (Principal horn of the Staatskappel Ballet). After battling through a massive blizzard to get there I had a great time. I played Strauss 1 and he helped me a lot with new phrasing ideas and talked a lot about the energy of each note. It was an intense lesson but fantastic.

7th December Today I practised all day and then decided to go out at night to a non-classical gig. I watched a cool jazz gig with singer/songwriter Mari Simpson and loved it. I met some nice musicians in the audience and even got an offer to play on one of their CD’s while I was in Berlin. I was a good change to see something different!!

8th December After my practise session I was excited to do and see Stefan Dohr play a solo horn recital with organ. I had never seen or heard of anything like it so was intrigued to see what it would sound like. I absolutely loved it and the horn and organ blended so well together. I was most impressed with how he managed to get through all of that music and not have bleeding chops at the end of it. He is a real champion!

9th December Tonight I went to see Elliot’s Brass Quintet (a tuba friend I had made in Berlin) concert. It was in a huge church, which meant it was a great sound. They shared the concert with a singer to break up all the brass pieces. This is a great idea as it gives the chops a break! I must suggest it to ACE Brass.

Stayed for the after function and met Orzan (principal horn in the Deutches Symphony Orchestra) and asked him for a horn lesson in the following weeks.

Also met a trombone player from Koncerthouse Orchestra who offered me a cheap ticket to The Rite of Spring.

10th Today I have a two-hour lesson with Fergus. We chatted and


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December experimented a lot with using aperture size to control dynamics. This is something that will be a work in progress for me but very helpful in the long run.

11th December

After a morning practice session I went and recorded a horn track on the Hughes Brothers EP. These were the people I met at the jazz gig. It was fun and great to get to know some of the local jazz musicians.

12th December

Today was freezing!!!!! I practised in the afternoon and then met with my musical director of the APO Eckehard Steir in the evening. He was in Berlin for work so we thought it might be nice to catch up.

13th December

Today I had another horn lesson with Ignarcio Garcia

14th December

Tonight I went to see the Koncerthouse Orchestra play Rite of Spring. This was exciting, as we had just played it in Auckland before I left!!!!

15th December

It was amazing to see the Berlin Philharmonie Education concert today (compered by horn player Sarah Willis). Although the whole thing was in German and I could not understand a word I was so impressed with it. They had hundreds of kids up on the stage singing and dancing which was cute

Tonight I got a ticket to go and see the Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra play Bruckner 4. It was amazing and made me super excited to play it with APO in 2014.

16th December

Today I had a long horn lesson with Fergus. We did lots of low register work.

17th December

Today I had an interesting lesson horn lesson with Ozan Cakar, the principal 3rd horn of the fantastic Deutches Symphony Orchestra. We had a go trying different mouthpieces which was a bit geeky but fun.

18th December

Today I had a fantastic horn lesson with Stefan De Leval Jezierski, the 3rd horn player from the Berlin Phil. He was so friendly and great to chat to about 3rd horn rep.

19th December

Today I woke up quite nervous as I had a horn lesson planned with Stefan Dohr (the principal horn). He is, in my opinion, the best horn player I have ever heard. He is a very busy man so I was extremely lucky to be able to get the chance to get this lesson. I lapped up every minute of it and even got to have a go on his horn.

Tonight I went to hear Deutches Symphony Orchestra play


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Symphony Fantastique. This was such a grand experience. I was impressed with the amazing brass players and huge dynamic range the orchestra could achieve. I went back stage to meet the whole horn section afterwards. We had a great night chatting and they were all very interested in planning a trip to NZ!

20th December

This morning was a great morning!!! I got called up by the principal horn of the Deutches Symphony Orchestra here in Berlin and asked if I could come in and play 3rd horn, as their player was sick. Although it was a great honour to be asked I could not accept the gig, as I did not have a work visa.

Today I met Sarah Willis for lunch. It was great to chat to her about her life and how she made it to the Berlin Phil.

After lunch I had my last lesson with Fergus. It was sad, as I have really enjoyed my time here with him. We mostly just chatted today but played though a little bit of Mozart 4.

Tonight I heard Berlin Philharmonic play Brahms Symphony No. 4. This was my most memorable musical experience ever. I could not believe the lush sound the strings were getting and how warm the brass section sounded. Definitely a night to remember.

21st December

Today I had two long practice sessions.

Tonight I went to see the Berlin Phil in their late night concert series. The gig started at 10.30pm, which was a weird feeling but really cool!! The audience members were definitely a lot younger which was good to see too. I was mind blowing to see Sir Simon Rattle conducting his very own orchestra, something I will never forget.

22nd December

After a great morning session, Sarah, one of the horn players offered me a free ticket to see the Berlin Phil playing Brahms 4 again. Although I had already seen it I jumped at the chance. It was funny as I got to sit with her mum, sister and brother. They were all really nice and it was fantastic to meet them.

After the concert I met up with a couple of the horn players, which was fun. We even did a late night visit to the Philharmonie stage which was a wonderful experience

24th December

Today I leave Berlin and it feels very sad. It kind of feels wrong in my gut to leave as I love it here and can’t wait to come back.