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Horn camp

Steve Eddins
Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2024

In the summers, my horn journey goes through New Hampshire.

This coming summer will the 30th year of Kendall Betts Horn Camp, located in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire.

KBHC group photo

KBHC group photo, 2022
Photo credit: Sarah Scully Photography, used with permission

I first attended KBHC in 2017. Hazel convinced me to give it a try. I arrived on checkin day a bit early (as usual), and very soon I met Julie Gerhardt, the operations director. She immediately made me feel welcome, helping me to find my room and, more importantly, showing me the table with the cookies and lemonade.

Later in the afternoon, I met Bernhard Scully and Jesse McCormick, the artistic and associate artistic directors. They listened to me play for a couple of minutes so that they could place me in a good group and ensemble.

Randy Gardner, Jesse McCormick, Bernhard Scully

Faculty member Randy Gardner, Associate Artistic Director Jesse McCormick, and Artistic Director Bernhard Scully

At dinner, I got my first real sense of my fellow campers. There were 50 us, about equally split between high school students, college students, and post-college adults. Most of the adults were like me, recreational horn players with non-music careers. I also got my first sense of the stellar talent among the faculty and staff when they serenaded us with a horn choir fanfare piece.

Beginning early the next morning, I was quickly immersed into the horn program, which was mornings, afternoons, and evenings of warmups, fundamentals, lessons, master classes, aural training, Alexander Technique, ensembles, solo coaching, natural horn, informative presentations, faculty and participant concerts, and even fireworks. Plus, there was Clam Night, which I will not attempt to describe here. (You’ll just have to come to camp to see what that is.)

Becker warmup

Morning guided warmup with faculty member Lauren Becker

solo coaching

Solo coaching with faculty member Frank Lloyd and participant Michael Welles

Two things stood out to me during that June week of 2017. The first was how well the camp program worked for all the different participants—the high school students, the college students, and the adults. Despite the wide range of ages (teenagers to retirees) and horn-playing level (intermediate to professional), the instructional program and the social activities worked amazingly well for everyone.

The second thing that stood out about horn camp was how safe and warmly supportive it felt. The young kids clapped and cheered for us older “more experienced” adults just as enthusiastically as we clapped and cheered for them. There was a viscerally buoyant feeling that we were all in this together, celebrating this challenging and glorious instrument.

horn ensemble

My horn ensemble, led by Peggy Moran, Executive Director

Horn choir, piano, and double bass

Horn choir, piano, and double bass

By the end of the week, my musical batteries were fully charged, and I had enough practice and performance ideas to last a whole year (at least). I also had new friendships to last a lifetime. And, I considered myself part of the KBHC family.

I’ve been back every year since.

You should come, too! The time to apply is now.

Gazebo practice session

Gazebo practice session