I finally finished (after umpteen years and almost as many drafts) my book Horn Technique: A New Approach to an Old Instrument a few weeks ago. Well, sort of finished. Like a lot of projects like this, it is never really finished. You finally just have to pick a date to stop working on it and move on, because new material comes in all the time. Or you go back and tweak and tinker with what’s there. But at some point you have just got to get this particular pig through the python so that you can get on with other things.

That time has come. The manuscript is now with the graphic designer, who is formatting the print copy as we speak (I assume). It would be easy just to pdf the Word document, call it formatted, and be done with it, but I am willing to spend some $ to ensure that the layout is both varied and attractive. Sidebars. Interesting fonts. Columns. Shading. Bold, Italics, etc. Graphics. Color Cover. It’s the product of many years of thought and work and revision after revision and I don’t want to have it look like it was thrown together over a long weekend in my garage. There is a huge amount of content here, and I want to make it easier to absorb and digest by the look and layout.

In the meantime, I am sitting around tapping my fingers on my desk, impatiently waiting for her to get all three hundred odd pages formatted. I can’t really complain, because it took me basically forever to get it done (and I still have a few more things I would like to insert after she’s done, stuff that has come up since I handed it off a couple weeks ago. Don’t let her know this.). What I need to do is to forget about it – she’s done when she’s done – and get to work on the companion volume, The Creative Hornist. The technique book has a little bit of creative stuff in it, but it’s mostly just straight technique talk – how do control this beautiful beast? Let me count the ways! – and not much creative stuff or how-to on musicality.

The next stop after technique is to do something interesting with it, and that’s what the creative horn book is about. Both books contain many (but not all) of my Horn Call articles from the past 17 years and more, plus a whole lot more. A good bit of the Creative Hornist book is thus already done, maybe 2/3s. So it shouldn’t be that long before that one will follow the technique book, I hope no more than four or five months from now. I’m dreaming, aren’t I? We’ll see.

But wait, there’s more.

I was on sabbatical last semester, and my topic was Rhythm, which is a little bit like an English professor deciding to take a sabbatical to study words. It was only a semester and it went by blindingly fast. I could have easily used a year or two to steep myself in it even more. I did a lot of drumming, and miss it now that I am back to a regular schedule and don’t get to do so much of it (I get the most drumming in when I’m alone in the house and am watching football or basketball. Double your pleasure, hours of fun!). But even in that short time I did salt away a lot of compost to generate future material from. After the CH book is out the door, I will start generating rhythm stuff. My basic premise is that it will not be one volume, but a series of different kinds of things: compositions, etudes, duets, arrangements, articles, a book, and even some videos (by the way, another project is to go back and illustrate both the technique and creative horn books with YouTube videos. It’s too much for me alone [especially while working full time and working in the Rhythm series], so I am gladly taking volunteers who would like to contribute a short (!) video to the cause. Pick out an exercise in the book that you can play very well and video yourself. You might check with me first to make sure that I or someone else doesn’t have dibs on it already. Thanks).

As an appetizer for the technique book, I will start posting in “12 Days of Christmas” fashion segments of the Table of Contents, which runs to around 8 pages altogether (it’s a big book). After that I may post all or part of the Preface to whet your appetite even more so that you will want to run, not walk, to get your copy when it comes out. Note: I am shooting for 3 formats: Print (paperback), eBook (Amazon Kindle), and Audiobook (this version will of course have to leave out anything with a notational example, but there is still is a lot of content for such an abridged version. I also like audiobooks because I listen to a lot of them myself. I don’t have a lot of time to read books, but I am in my car every day, as well as listening to them while at the gym (where I should be more often…), and I want to make the text part available to those folks who are in a similar situation.

Questions about any of this? I love questions. Send them on!

And Merry Christmas and Happy New Everything!