A Self-Help Guide for Hornists.
"Intended to help horn players help themselves, this book is an assemblage of drills and exercises, strategies for more efficient practice and problem solving, injury prevention and musical wellness, audition preparation, and dealing with performance anxiety, all in a concise and easy to use format including ten color photographs and illustrations. Applicable to all brass students looking to stock their arsenal with the problem solving skills they'll need to succeed!" - the publisher
An Interview with Author Dr. Kristy M. Morrell, by Karie Upton - from the IHS E-Newsletter
In October 2014, Glen Lyon Books released Musician, Heal Thyself, a book by Dr. Kristy M. Morrell of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and professor at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. Tagged as a “self-help guide for hornists”, this book is written to empower the horn player, help them reevaluate the way they approach the horn, and identify potential issues holding them back. Many of us spent our college years looking for the hypothetical “golden teacher”, the one that would lead us to success, but this book affirms that you are your most important teacher and shows you how to make every practice session the best lesson you will ever have. On October 24th, I met with Dr. Morrell outside of her office on the USC campus for the following interview.
Many people are content sharing their ideas by teaching lessons or masterclasses. What was your driving force for taking on such a large project as writing a book?
I have been planning to write a book for several years; it has been a long-term goal of mine. I finally decided it was time and I just sat down and did it. I had to keep regular hours of writing and give myself goals to finally finish it.
I imagine that students can take this book into the practice room and use it to help them figure out how to solve problems. I was going for convenient and concise because when I’m practicing, that’s what I want. Here’s the problem, what am I going to do about it?
Some of the musicians you studied with throughout your education include Verne Reynolds, James Decker, and Vincent DeRosa. What influence did they have on your teaching?
My two biggest influences in my teaching would definitely be Verne Reynolds and Vince DeRosa. I was fortunate enough here [at USC] to spend five years with Mr. DeRosa, which was a very long time with one instructor, but honestly we did a lot of good work together.
My time at Eastman with Mr. Reynolds was invaluable, absolutely invaluable. I think Mr. Reynolds taught me the importance of dailiness and about thinking things through first: what is this (when you’re looking at an etude), how do you decode this, what’s the subdivision, what is he after, what’s the interval? Then basically start slowly and work at it incrementally every day.
There is a chapter in your book dedicated to injury prevention and wellness, which is not a topic often included in books about horn playing. What compelled you to write about this?
A lot of people ask me that. I think as an educator, it’s really, really important to start with prevention: proper air support, posture, recognizing symptoms of overuse, and knowing where to go for help. Practice with economy, and don’t abuse your body. The first time you have pain, stop. Reevaluate what you’re doing. Stay in shape. Take care of your body. I think musical wellness should be part of every performance curriculum, and I hope every teacher feels the same.
My information in this book is very basic: pictures of the muscles (it makes sense when you look at it why certain ways of playing are kind of a bad idea) and there are other places to look. If you get into trouble or you have an injured student, the thing is to not ignore it. I think a lot of people don’t feel comfortable taking on this topic, I mean, I’m certainly not an expert. I’ve looked at the resources we do have available, and I tried to go from there. I hope everyone will think about it, and teach it. Prevention is really the key.