Playing the French horn is like trying to walk the wrong way on an escalator. You have to constantly work at it just to hold your place. If you want to improve your playing, you have to work even harder. If you lapse below a certain minimum level of effort, your technique and endurance will deteriorate. There is a direct correlation between how much we practice and how well we play.
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A recent visitor found my site by typing “playing fast 16th notes on horn” into a search engine. I’m going to assume this person was looking for exercises to improve tonguing speed.
Rapid articulation was a challenge for me as an undergraduate horn student. I had difficulty playing the Mozart concerti up to speed because I couldn’t consistently tongue fast enough to play the sixteenth note passages. I tried a few different exercises, and eventually settled on the following:
- Set your metronome to 100 beats per minute for the quarter note. Starting on middle C (concert F), take a deep breath, and play 4 beats of sixteenth notes plus 1 additional note on the 5th beat.
This is a response to an email from a reader:
I am a horn player – amateur but fairly serious. I have a problem that I don’t seem to know the solution to. I seem to accumulate much more condensation (‘spit’ but I am told it is mostly not ) in my horn than most. I talk to the other players in my section and no advice. This has been the case over ten years on two different horns (both Hoyers if that is relevant). Just wondered if you have heard of this and have any advice.
This is my response to a request for advice on improving tone quality, endurance, and range:
I am a junior high school student currently on his 2nd year of horn. What would you recommend horn players on how to improve their tone quality, endurance, and range (lower and upper).
Thanks for your interest. Here are a few thoughts which will hopefully be useful to you:
This is my response to an email I received requesting advice for young horn players:
What would be some advice that you would give a young horn player to get better at their playing?
If you aren’t already taking lessons, find a good teacher. Even the best band directors can only do so much. One on one private instruction is essential if you are serious about playing horn. Take ownership of your learning by bringing questions and concerns to your teacher. As you become more advanced, it’s less about what the teacher assigns you, and more about what you bring to him. Don’t think of your teacher as a boss; think of him as a mentor or a consultant. Progress is up to you; your teacher just points you in the right direction.