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Podcasts at a Glance

Episode 126 - Live at IHS 2011
Episode 125 - Summer Camps
Episode 124 - First Horns
Episode 123 - Cool Cases
Episode 122 - Gordon Higginbottom
Episode 121 - Dream Horns
Episode 120 - How Much Practice?
Episode 119 - Top 5 for 2010
Episode 118 - Oil!
Episode 117 - Back to School
Episode 116 - French Horns on YouTube
Episode 115 - 2010 IHS Symposium
Episode 114 - Patterson Shoot-Out
Episode 113 - French Horn Nation Live
Episode 112 - Alto Horn Advocate
Episode 111 - Double Descants
Episode 110 - Ascending Horn
Episode 109 - High Notes
Episode 108 - Mouthpiece Recommendations
Episode 107 - Beyond Farkas
Episode 106 - Embouchure Tools
Episode 105 - Vienna Horns
Episode 104 - James Peterson
Episode 103 - N.A.M.M. 2010
Episode 102 - Mike McCool
Episode 101 - Top 5 for 2009
Episode 100 - Secrets
Episode 99 - Coping with the Tenor Horn
Episode 98 - Horn Hacks
Episode 97 - Listener Questions 5
Episode 96 - Patterson Leadpipe
Episode 95 - Humboldt Workshop
Episode 94 - Mouthpiece Wheel of Doom
Episode 93 - Single Horns
Episode 92 - Horn Matters
Episode 91 - Marching w/ French Horns
Episode 90 - DCI 2009
Episode 89 - French Horn Nation 2009
Episode 88 - 2009 IHS Symposium
Episode 87 - Tenor Horns on YouTube
Episode 86 - Listener Questions 4
Episode 85 - Gino Cipriani
Episode 84 - Complete Guide to Brass
Episode 83 - Mellos on YouTube 3
Episode 82 - ID'ing Old Horns
Episode 81 - History Revisited
Episode 80 - Quick Horn Changes
Episode 79 - Limited Practice Time
Episode 78 - John Meehan
Episode 77 - History of the Mellophone
Episode 76 - Getting It Back
Episode 75 - N.A.M.M. 2009
Episode 74 - Must-Have CD's
Episode 73 - Nirschl and Monette
Episode 72 - Pimp My Horn
Episode 71 - Top 5 for 2008
Episode 70 - Fingerings
Episode 69 - 4 Christmas Clips
Episode 68 - Gifts '08
Episode 67 - What We're Playing Now
Episode 66 - St. Paul's Brass Quintet
Episode 65 - CN's Tenor Horn Adventure
Episode 64 - Bonnie Ott Thompson
Episode 63 - Improv for Dummies
Episode 62 - All-American College Band
Episode 61 - Mellos on Facebook
Episode 60 - See the Girls Dance
Episode 59 - Marching French Horns
Episode 58 - Piston/Rotor Horns
Episode 57 - Bb Marching Horns
Episode 56 - Getting Back In Shape
Episode 55 - Vibrato
Episode 54 - Listener Questions 3
Episode 53 - Blazing Technique
Episode 52 - Range
Episode 51 - Tonguing & Articulation
Episode 50 - Flexibility
Episode 49 - Drum Corps Minis
Episode 48 - Holly Marino
Episode 47 - Chris Nalls
Episode 46 - The Brass Gym
Episode 45 - Carmel Kenton Project
Episode 44 - First Year Anniversary
Episode 43 - 3 Listening Assignments
Episode 42 - Music Librarian Karen Smith
Episode 41 - Kevin Gamin
Episode 40 - Intonation
Episode 39 - Jupiter Quantum 5050
Episode 38 - Churches and Pits
Episode 37 - Karl Hammond
Episode 36 - Griffin Gunter
Episode 35 - A Mello Catechism
Episode 34 - Mellos on YouTube 2
Episode 33 - Listener Questions 2
Episode 32 - Top 5 for 2007
Episode 31 - Corps Auditions
Episode 30 - Gifts
Episode 29 - Kelly Smith
Episode 28 - From the 50 Yard Line
Episode 27 - Coping as a Trumpet Player
Episode 26 - Summer With Teal
Episode 25 - What's In Your Case?
Episode 24 - G Mellos
Episode 23 - Mello for Woodwinds
Episode 22 - Listener Questions 1
Episode 21 - Mini Corps 2007
Episode 20 - Mutes
Episode 19 - The IYM Mouthpiece
Episode 18 - J.D. Shaw
Episode 17 - DCI Finals 2007 Recap
Episode 16 - Descants & Triple Horns
Episode 15 - Coping as a French Hornist
Episode 14 - Music in Motion
Episode 13 - Buying Mellos on eBay
Episode 12 - Mellos on the Web
Episode 11 - Warm-Ups
Episode 10 - The Mouthpiece Debate
Episode 9 - Yamaha Mellophones
Episode 8 - New Horns at WW&BW
Episode 7 - Mark Taylor
Episode 6 - The Mellophonium
Episode 5 - Mellos on YouTube
Episode 4 - Paula Hyman
Episode 3 - French Horns & Tenor Horns
Episode 2 - Our Horns
Episode 1 - Introductions

Welcome to The MelloCast -- a Podcast dedicated to the Mellophone, French Horn, Alto Horn, Tenor Horn, Circular Alto, and any and all other middle brasses, their players and fans. Each week we hope to deliver a discussion about these instruments and its players, answer any of your questions, and present both rare and familiar Mellophone and Middle Brass audio clips and recordings!

You can E-mail us with any questions or comments to  (Don't forget your name and town so we can mention you on air!)

Episode 126:  Live at the 2011 IHS Symposium

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson, Chris Nalls, Mark Taylor

  • This year marked an unusual event at the 2011 International Horn Society Symposium in San Francisco -- Chris, Mark and John were there at the SAME TIME!!!  Chris brought along his digital recorder and got to record some live content.
  • The key highlights were being able to meet noted players and try out cool gear.
  • This year's symposium made note of the rise of jazz and pop, including Mark Taylor and Genghis Barbie.
  • Shout out to Jim Patterson!  Also making a big showing was Ion Balu for his mutes, valve caps, lead pipe and his personality!
  • One piece of gear that was popular was the JoyKey.
  • The next symposium will be in Denton, Texas.
  • Listening Assignment: "Without You" by Genghis Barbie.
    • Though their CD is mostly pop, this is a very straight-forward arrangement.
    • Genghis Barbie made two big showings at the IHS symposium and were quite popular!
    • We hope their act will bring new people to the horn.
Running Time: 32:38

Episode 125:  Summer Camps

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson, Chris Nalls, Mark Taylor

  • What can you do during the summer?  Go to camp!  There are many summer music camps available for high school and college students, some of which are very prestigious, which can move your playing ahead by a full year.  Here is a list of many of them.
  • Many local camps can last a week or two.  Many of the more prestigious camps can last for 6 or 7 weeks.  The top ones include Interlochen, Brevard and Sewanee.  John has been an instructor for both Interlochen and Brevard.
  • These camps are not cheap, but there are always scholarships, especially if you play in local organizations.  Being that they're always looking for good horn players, this can work in your favor.
  • You will have to audition as soon as you arrive.  Have something prepared.
  • Chris has already mentioned the Humboldt State University Brass Chamber Music Workshop in Arcata, California.  Older players are welcome to attend, in addition to students.  There's also the Kendall Betts Horn Camp.
  • There are also British Brass Band camps in England.
  • Listening Assignment: "Furious George" by Mark Taylor from the CD At What Age.
    • Mark put together a traditional 12-bar blues number for this track.
    • Next time he'll be sure to write something easier!
Running Time: 27:54

Episode 124:  First Horns

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls, Mark Taylor

  • What was your first horn?  Are you looking to buy your first horn? We hope to give some good pointers.
  • Chris started on a Conn 6D.  Mark started on a Reynolds single F, but the first horn he owned was a Holton H179.  Al started on a King Eroica.
  • There is an eternal question as to whether it's best to start on a single F, single Bb or double.  Our thoughts are mixed.
  • Don't trust the Chinese knock-off horns.  It's best to go to a reputible instrument seller and, if possible, bring someone with you (like your teacher) who knows instruments.
  • To quote Gordon Higginbottom, it's better to get an old, good horn than a new, not so good horn.
  • eBay is a good but not always reliable resource for purchasing used horns. is a great resource.
  • You really can't go wrong with the "staple" horns: Holton H179 or H177, Conn 6D, 8D or 11D, King Eroica, Reynolds, Olds, Yamaha and lately Jupiter.
  • Listening Assignment: "Four Men on a Horn" from the CD Four French Horns (Plus Rhythm).
    • This CD features Julius Watkins, David Amram, Fred Klein and Tony Miranda.
    • This is not an easy album to find.
    • This album was recorded in 1957.
Running Time: 24:33

Episode 123:  How Cool is Your Case?

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls, Mark Taylor

  • Status can come not just by which horn you play but which case you carry it in.  Like the infamous "mouthpiece that comes with the horn," now it's the "case that comes with the horn."
  • The most noted Mellophone case is from ProTec.  It's not completely recommended because it's larger than the Yamaha case, just as heavy and doesn't protect the horn enough to make it useful.  Mark says Altieri now makes a bag for the Mellophone.
  • Reunion Blues makes a gig bag for the Tenor Horn.
  • ProTec horn cases have mixed reviews.  Their first cut-bell case is VERY big and VERY heavy.  Their second cut-bell case is a good size, but many horns don't fit in them.
  • When it comes to cut-bell design, almost everybody copies Marcus Bonna, with the exception of CardoCases, which are extremely cool.
  • Altieri cases are primarily bags, being very soft but surprisingly strong.
  • On the low end of the spectrum is Gator, which makes a very functional and lightweight fixed-bell case.  Reunion Blues bags are also excellent.
  • ... and then there are the Marcus Bonna cases -- the Cadillac of Horn cases.  One of the most popular is the MB-5, which has a design unlike anything else (though companies do make knock-offs, such as Osmun).  Al uses an MB-5.  Many companies also make knock-offs of the MB-1.
  • Then there's the issue of getting your bell cut.  We support it.  Just be sure whoever does it is REALLY good.
  • Listening Assignment: "My Heart Stood Still" by the Four Freshmen from the CD The Four Freshmen in Person.
    • The Four Freshmen are a vocal group who has been performing since the late 1940's.  They are still going today (but with different members, of course).
    • Member Ken Albers plays trumpet, flugel and Mellophone on many of their songs.
    • This album was recorded in 1958.
Running Time: 30:24

Episode 122:  Interview With the Legendary Gordon Higginbottom

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls, Gordon Higginbottom

  • Gordon Higginbottom is legendary in that he was the first true virtuoso Tenor Horn player. Some of his expansive credentials include tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music, Salford University, Leeds College of Music and Professor at London College of Music.
  • (I'll be honest -- the show notes don't do this episode much justice.  Just listen!)
  • Gordon started playing in small town brass bands in England.  His father was a conductor.  He also played with many "work" bands.
  • It was from playing with James Shepherd Versitile Brass that he rose to virtuoso status as he refused to play the existing literature for the Tenor Horn, and composers would write or arrange directly for him.  Due to this he was asked to be a soloist all over the world.
  • At this point he was strictly freelance and not connected with any one band.
  • This year 17 of the pieces on Grades 7 and 8 for the Associated Boards in Englad were pieces written or arranged for Gordon.
  • Gordon retired from playing in 1998 (with one exception along the way).
  • When playing with Versitile Brass, he and conductor Ray Woodfield introduced him to the Conn 16E Mellophonium, which he calls "an aboslutely fantastic weapon."  Of all his horns, he refuses to part with his Mellophonium.
  • As for tips for the Tenor Horn player, first he recommends getting the best horn you can afford, which can also mean a good model old horn instead of an inferior new horn.  Next, get the biggest mouthipece you can play on.  And don't be limited to what people say the instrument does.  Focus on playing slow melodies and try to articulate the words through the music.  Play artistically and make people cry.
  • Three additional tips: Know where to focus your eyes when playing high notes.  Always play through everything twice.  Learn to breathe in the wrong place, that way you can breathe anywhere and it will feel comfortable.
  • Listening Assignment: "Jenny Jones" performed by Gordon Higginbottom from the CD Sonata.
    • This is Gordon's only CD.
    • He was not a big fan of "Jenny Jones,"  but he was asked to include a traditional solo on the CD.
    • Most of the tracks on this CD were recorded in one take.
Running Time: 39:22

Episode 121:  Dream Horns

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson, Chris Nalls, Mark Taylor

  • What if you had unlimited funds?  What horns would you get?  (Time travel is not an option.)
  • Chris wants a Berg double, also a Schmid triple and a Kanstul Bellfront Alto F horn.
  • Mark would get a Durk Q11 triple and a Jacob Medlin single Bb.  Then he'd have a designer build him a horn from scratch.
  • John likes the Cornford 3S.  He'd also like a Miraphone 4-valve Althorn.  He'd also be interested in the Alexander Uberhorn.
  • Al would have a custom horon made by Lawson or Atkinson. Also a Besson Prestige Tenor Horn, the Kanstul 16E copy, the Miraphone 4-vavle Alto and an old Elliott horn (or have someone build one).
  • Listening Assignment: "Overture to Candide" by Leonard Bernstein from the CD Take 9 by The American Horn Quartet and the Horns of the New York Philharmonic.
    • You'll only find this arrangement on this album.
    • You have to love the high notes!
    • At least four of the players are on triple horns, possibly more.
Running Time: 20:10



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A Mello Catechism: A Guide to the World of Mellophones and Marching Horns.

A slightly irreverent but highly practical tome on all things Mellophone. Includes information on Mellophone history, mouthpiece choices, tone quality, intonation, coping with marching, and much more. 30 pages.

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