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Thread: Potential Adult Horn Beginner

  1. #1
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    Default Potential Adult Horn Beginner

    Hi- my son just started Middle School beginning band (he went with trombone!) but along the way I've gotten the bug to play again- I was a sax player back in High School- and I'm interested in starting from the ground up learning to play the horn. I can still read music just fine, but I have zero brass experience. I was always pretty good at picking up a new instrument and learning it well enough in school (I bounced between saxes, bassoon, and bass clarinet as needed for concerts), so the horn will be a challenge but one that could turn out to be rewarding if I have ANY talent for it!

    I've tried to do my homework online, but there's just so much 'try it and see' kind of advice out there it's hard sort out. I don't have a huge budget to play with- more like ZERO budget- so I'm about resigned to picking up a low end single F horn and having a go at it and see what happens. Even the 'intermediate' horns seem to hover in the $3K + range, but I'm more in the $500 range, so yeah I'm limited.

    Keeping that in mind, I've seen some horns that are in my price range and have pretty decent reviews- I know they're far from top of the line, but are these low end suitable for someone just getting their feet wet? From my own band experience I know a decent mouthpiece can make a lot of difference so I'm prepared to upgrade that (once I figure our what to upgrade TO) from the standard one.

    Has anyone any advice from that sort of perspective- adult beginner- that might help? Anything from decent books and whatnot to recordings to general advice. Any and all is appreciated- even if it's only "RUN AWAY!!" or "YOU'RE DOOMED!!"

    Thanks a lot, and I look forward to hearing from you ~

  2. #2
    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    A cheap horn is generally OK for any beginner, but I believe you understand it will not be ideal. And a bad horn will make playing so frustrating, so hopefully the seller will be honest as to the quality. You want the horn to play reasonably in tune and blow fairly freely in all but the extreme ranges (you won't be playing really high or low as a beginner anyways)

    The greatest challenge in play French Horn is being able to hit the right pitches. And to make it more challenging it is a transposing instrument. So when you see the written pitch "C" and you learn that you play it "open" (no valves used), "E" just above it is also open. So are you playing "C" or accidentally "E"?

    Well, you'll need to have a pitch reference that can aid you (a piano, a tuner or something on the internet). However, because it's a transposing instrument the "C" you read is actually sounding a perfect 5th lower ("F") so your pitch reference must sound an "F" so you can be sure that's the "C" note your playing.

    As for method books, any beginner Horn one will do. It's once you've gone beyond that stage that you need good advice as to which ones to advance to.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Has anyone any advice from that sort of perspective- adult beginner- that might help?

    Yes. Don’t be self taught. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. Don’t guess how something should be done. Find the best teacher you can and get started on the right foot so you don’t have to unlearn bad habits later. View lessons not as an expense but as an an investment in yourself, your creativity and happiness. Read everything you can on the subject and find somebody to model after, someone whose sound or approach you enjoy. Collect horn literature. Collect recordings by the legendary Dennis Brain, one of the great legendary horn players ever... The French horn is a beautiful instrument with perhaps the most refined brass sound of all the brasses.

    PS. Sometimes a good way to go with instruments is to rent one with an option to buy if you really like it in your affordable price range. You might end up with a better instrument that can be managed with affordable payments. A good teacher can also give you an opinion on what might be the best instrument to buy. A good instrument will inspire you to play and practice—and that’s the value of having one. The better the instrument, the better the emotional and expressive possibilities. That’s why some can be pricey, but it can be worth it depending on how good you are. As you probably already know, the FH can be a wild and thrilling instrument!

    Last edited by Larkenfield; Sep-03-2018 at 14:49.
    ”Art is how we decorate space; Music is how we decorate time.”

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