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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Oct 5, 2018

Denise Tryon, Associate Professor of Horn at the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinatti and former Fourth Horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra, has built a wonderful career which combines teaching, performing, and expanding the repertoire of her instrument through active commissions.  Denise is a trail blazer in our field!  She has asked herself the hard questions and has not been afraid to step off the beaten path and shape her unique, meaningful, and impactful career. 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Her journey from student, to top-five orchestra member, soloist, and pedagogue
  • The distinction between warmup and daily routine (hint: a warmup is a small part of a daily routine)
  • What a good routine covers – the various fundamentals of your instrument as well as extended techniques
  • How to set up your own routine – something that works really well for you
  • What mindful, efficient, practice is to her:

o   Be demanding but kind with yourself

o   How to organize it (I’m loving the “55 and out” technique!)

o   How to problem solve

o   What “swear” words she will not allow in her studio (and they are not what you’re thinking!)

o   How we need to let go and go with the flow

o   The four elements we need to address in the practice room – technical, physical, musical, and mental

  • Audition Mode and audition preparation
  • How musicians need to figure out how to find our own voice and market themselves
  • How we must strive for excellence, not perfection
  • “Change your mind and your body will follow”
  • “Be demanding and caring” when you practice
  • “Give to yourself first”



ALL ABOUT guest:


Low Horns Unite:

Audition Mode:

YouTube channels:




Her album, So Low

Doctor Beat Metronome by Boss

Mechanical Metronome (not the one she mentions)

Horn Berp – Buzz Extension Resistance Piece

The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Victor L. Wooten



A native of Roseville, MN, Denise Tryon is currently Associate Professor of Horn at the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinatti. Previously, Tryon was fourth horn of The Philadelphia Orchestra (2009-2017) and served as the Horn Professor of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore starting in 2007. She has also held positions with the Detroit Symphony (2003-2009), Baltimore (2000-2003), Columbus (1998-2000), and New World (1995-1998) Symphonies as well as participated in the Colorado Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival. An accomplished solo performer, Tryon has performed recitals in Sweden, Norway, Poland, Japan, Canada and the United States.

“Denise Tryon’s command of the lower register provides the strongest foundation of sound for a horn section, and yet, her sound is supple and flexible.”

—Yannick Nezet-Sequin, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra

In 1989 Tryon graduated from the famed Interlochen Arts Academy and in 1993 received her Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in Boston. She received the Presidential Scholarship while in the Artist Diploma Program at NEC with the Taiyo Wind Quintet, which won the Coleman Chamber Competition and worked with great composers such as John Harbison, Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, and Elliott Carter.

An active and accomplished educator, Tryon is sought after for her masterclasses. She has taught extensively in the United States, Scandinavia, Europe, Asia and South America. Beth Graham of the Warsaw Philharmonic and founder of the Warsaw Horn Workshops raves, “In just a few seconds of listening to a student she can diagnose deep-seated problems and give

immediate fixes, often with a healthy dose of humor as well. The transformations she can accomplish in just a short time are truly remarkable.”

Tryon released her debut solo album, SO•LOW in 2015. As a part of this album, she commissioned 4 new pieces for low horn and piano. Said in a review by Gramophone Magazine “Tryon plays these works with sonorous fluidity and dexterity, ending with a bit of captivating acrobatics.”

In 2009, Tryon founded Audition Mode, a yearly horn seminar, with Karl Pituch. In 2010 she was an International Horn Society (IHS) Northeast Workshop Featured Artist. She was a contributing artist at the IHS Symposium in San Francisco in 2011, as well as one of the Solo Artists at the Nordic Hornfest in Norway in 2012. Tryon was on the horn faculty at BIBA (Blekinge International Brass Academy) in Sweden in 2013.

She has been the Featured Artist at the Warsaw Horn Workshops in 2013, 2015, and 2016. In 2014 and 2016, Tryon was a Featured Artist at the IHS MidNorth Horn Workshop, and in 2015, she was a Featured Artist at the IHS Symposium in LA. In 2016, Tryon was on faculty during the brass weeks at Domaine Forget. Tryon was the Featured Artist at the IHS NorthWest Horn Workshop in 2017.


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Visit for information about past and future podcasts, and for more resources on mindful practice.


Most sincere thank you to composer Jim Stephenson who graciously provided the show’s musical theme!  Concerto #1 for Trumpet and Chamber Orchestra – Movement 2: Allegro con Brio, performed by Jeffrey Work, trumpet, and the Lake Forest Symphony, conducted by Jim Stephenson.

Also a huge thank you to my producer, Bella Kelly!




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