Over the past ten years, YouTube has become an invaluable resource for classical musicians. It's a place to listen to obscure recordings your local retailers will never stock, a place to watch BBC Proms concerts if you can't travel to London, and a place to share performances and advice of your own with the entire world.
Park's main job is teaching band at Centennial Junior High School in Kaysville, Utah. "I really, really enjoy doing that," he said. Park has been an adjunct horn instructor at Utah State, recently joined the faculty of Weber State University, and is principal horn for the Orchestra at Temple Square.
I asked Park about how he became so devoted to sharing horn music on YouTube, and about the response he's garnered.
Why did you decide to start putting videos on YouTube?
I got a camera about five years ago, and I had been making [audio] accompaniments already — mostly for my students to practice with — using a software program. Pieces like the Hindemith horn sonata, where the piano part is really hard and the timing is complicated. My students needed something to practice along with to see how it all fits together. Then for my Master's degree, I created several videos. So I had all these on my computer. The first few I did were nothing fancy, but they seemed pretty good, so I started posting them on YouTube.
Then I started getting a little more creative with the backgrounds, and it just sort of blossomed from there. People started to notice, and I became surprised at the number of responses. So I decided to create a video library, mostly for high school and college students learning the repertoire. I've found that often [with other horn videos online] either the audio isn't very good, or the audio/performance is good but the video quality isn't very good. I've found I can get both good quality video and good quality audio.
How do you come up with all the visual backgrounds for your videos?
Whenever I'm out hiking around or on vacation, I have my camera with me, so I pick up some good ones that way. Also, if you go onto almost any television station's website to the weather page, they have contests where people post pictures they've taken, with monthly winners. I've found some nice stuff there that I've used. The [Lowell Shaw] Frippery videos are a bit different. The pieces have subtitles, and topic of the music itself made me go with certain themes: the circus one, the barbershop one, the pirate one. I have a green screen I use for those.
What pieces are you planning to record in the future?
"Sonata for Horn and Piano" by Bernhard Heiden, among many others. I really like the idea of recording contemporary stuff, helping new composers. My next project is going to be a CD, with some brand-new stuff that's never been recorded but that I think is really good. I'd like to help get some new works into the horn repertoire.
Have you been pleased with the success of your videos? What's really fun is that some people email me. Every time somebody subscribes, I shoot them a little e-mail saying thanks for subscribing and asking them to tell me a bit about themselves. I get about 10 to 20 subscribers a week. Most people I never hear back from, but some reply to me and tell me their stories. Some are getting ready for a festival and are using my recordings, which is cool. I've had a few college professors get in touch with me to say they tell their students to use my videos to hear how something sounds, and that makes me feel good.
Do you make any money on the endeavor?
It pays for the website, which doesn't cost much, and then some. I get one or two donations a month, around $20 to $25. But it's no big money-maker, that's for sure.
Are there other classical musicians, horn or otherwise, whose videos you admire?
The Vienna Orchestra has some terrific videos, and the Vienna horns also. The Mnozil Brass has some that are a riot — they do some amazing stuff. Then there's the Piano Guys, a group based here in Utah. They have a number of tremendous videos, and do a lot of merging of classical and contemporary things. They're really popular around here — the kids especially put me onto them. Marc Papeghin is a tremendous horn player. His stuff is much more sophisticated than mine is.
Gwendolyn Hoberg is an editor, writer, and classical musician. She lives in Moorhead, plays with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, and writes the Little Mouse fitness blog. She is also a co-author of The Walk Across North Dakota.