Wendell Rider was Principal Horn with the San Jose Symphony from 1970 until its demise in 2002. He has also been Principal Horn with the Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra, the Bear Valley Music Festival, the Monterey County Symphony and the Monterey Bay Symphony.
He attended the Eastman School of Music and studied with Verne Reynolds. Other teachers include Charles Bubb Jr., Ralph Hotz, and Philip Farkas and Arnold Jacobs of the Chicago Symphony. Mr. Rider currently teaches horn at San Francisco State University, Santa Clara University and has also taught at UC Santa Cruz. He is also a founding member of the popular brass and percussion group “Brass Plus” (featuring members of the San Jose Symphony), the Woodwind Quintet “RedWoodWinds”, and is heard frequently around the San Francisco Bay Area as a recitalist and soloist.
Mr. Rider has soloed with the San Jose Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Monterey Bay Symphony and Midsummer Mozart. He started teaching horn at age 15 when he was principal with the California Youth Symphony. He has many students playing professionally, some as principals, in orchestras all over the world.
He has heard and judged literally thousands of auditions for San Jose Symphony and other organizations. He has coached students and professionals on different instruments for student and professional auditions.
Recently, Mr. Rider became one of the first teachers to begin giving regular lessons over the internet using video conferencing.
Mr. Rider’s book, “Real World Horn Playing”, now in its second printing, is being sold around the world from his website at www.wendellworld.com. For more information about the book and the “Real World Horn Playing Seminar” he can be reached through the website, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 408 275-8242.
I started playing trumpet when I was 8 years old. I started playing the Horn too at ten and switched to it exclusively shortly thereafter. In seventh grade I joined the California Youth Symphony and my life changed forever.
I had never even listened to very much classical music, but soon I was immersed in the wondrous energy of Tchaichovsky's 5th Symphony. I was playing 4th horn and struggling to keep up. We played many other pieces that year but that's what I remember the most.
The next year I shared 3rd horn with someone I never got along with, but he moved, and when everyone ahead of me graduated, I was sitting on principal horn as a freshman in high school. And so began my so-called career.
The next year I added an adult amatuer orchestra to my schedule when their principal horn left. So I was doing at least seven concert sets a year between those groups and I also played in my school band and orchestra. It was fun, exciting, and got me out of the house a lot. I played pick-up jobs with other semi-pro players and I was soon making some nice pocket money to boot.
As soon as I was elevated to 1st horn, people started asking me to teach their kids. I would tell them that I had no experience, but they would just say "just show them what YOU do". So I did, and it turned out that I had a certain knack for teaching, although my methods were pretty crude compared with what I do today. I used to yell at my students. I learned that from my youth orchestra conductor and my father, who was recently deceased. Some of them yelled back at me. They had learned too.
In the meantime I had made friends with three other horn players in the youth orchestra. We played trios and quartets and hung out together all the time. We even chased after the same girls. I never dated anyone from my high school. They were too uncultured and not anywhere near as cool as the youth symphony girls.
Its amazing to me now that during all this time I never thought I would end up being a professional horn player. I was going to be a scientist or a writer or something. Even when I went off to the Eastman School of Music instead of staying home and going to Stanford, I still thought it was just a good way to get out on my own for a while. But its like a drug. You have no idea whats going on when you are addicted to something. All bets are off.
I played 32 years as principal horn in the San Jose Symphony until its demise in 2001. Those were some pretty crazy years. Along with the playing and teaching I started a Mozart Festival (for summer employment), got a minor in film making at San Francisco State, started an herb and vitamin business, got my massage license, my first mac, and played a lot of volleyball. Throw in all the road trips and you have a fairly active life.
So that's kind of the short version. What is really the thread for me through all this is the mystical experiences I have had along the way in all of my pursuits. That is what changed me. That is why I don't yell at my students any more. And maybe its why I'm still playing, when other interests beckon (besides having a mortgage to pay). If you are a musician you know what it is like to sit in the middle of an orchestra. You know what goes on out there. Its a connection with yourself and others that you can get no other way.