Often people refer to the french horn as the most difficult brass instrument to play. In a way I suppose it is. I like to not tell people that, especially my students. I think too many people make it seem too hard and students or new players then are weary of it.
The main reason it is considered difficult is because the horn player plays up in the higher partials than other brass instruments. So it is really easy to miss a note by not having your lips just right and hitting the wrong partial; of course this can work the other way also. Sometimes you can be trying to hit the right note (but be set wrong for it) and end up getting the right note.
It actually ends up being easier in a way, because conductors let you get away with more mistakes than the other instrumentalists. (he he he )
Yes, well after you've played your instrument for 30 years you start leanring some stuff. Actually you learn so much more when you are teaching. Because students ask you questions that you never really thought about.
A lot of teachers just give a pre-learned answer. But I never liked that after I got graded down on an English paper because the teacher thought 'heliotrope' was a yellow color. Everyone in class supported her because she should know. BUT !!! I knew heliotrope was not. So "Miss I've been teaching this course for 25 years", got really embarrased when she found out it was a violet/purple.
MY advice to everyone is, you don't have double check everything that everyone tells you.But you should do spot checks just to stay on top of things. And instead of just wanting to know the answer, try to understand why that answer is the correct answer. You will learn so much you never thought about before.
no,I'm not considering to switch, I just got a new flute and was just really curious about french horn.
But,I do know many who did switch because there are always so many flutist and there's like never enough french horns.
LOL, funny you should say that. The ONLY French horn player quit band in 8th grade so the teacher made an open call for anyone who wanted to learn it. I looked around at the other 25 or so flute players and raised my hand. I was consistently getting 1st flute parts but I wanted something different and I liked the feeling of being a team player ‘for the band’ and such.
i play the french horn and i've tried most of the other brass insturments, and in my opinion it is the hardest because you have to get the ombisures(dont know if thats how you spell it) right and i've noticed that the valves play a small part in getting the right note, but you mostly use your mouth. I'm the only one in my class and band who plays the french horn, and from what i've heard most people that have played it before give up easily, but if you want to play the horn, keep trying and it will be really easy once you get the hang of it!
It's a tough instrument, no doubt about it. But with enough perseverance and practice, anyone with dedication can become at least a respectable horn player. That being said, there are certain "innate talents" that will make a lot of difference as to how hard the learning experience is.
It helps immensely to have a good sense of pitch and intonation, this will allow you to hear the notes before playing them, reducing the number of fumbles. Also important is finesse. I started out as a trumpet player, and when I first switched to horn my tone was quite hard and bright. Work to develop a gentle but firm embouchure, this will help in getting that good smooth, rounded tone. (That being said, I don't like it to sound too milky, a little shiny edge is what I always went for, but always sweet and lyrical.)
If you go into any orchestral horn playing, the ability to mentally transpose becomes very important. Math skills are helpful there. Indeed, a good understanding of how the horn works requires a clear knowledge of the physics and acoustics behind the horn, as well as the instrument's history.
Also, pay attention to your lower notes. They aren't easy to get going on, but vital if you want to develop and advance your playing. Professionals and advanced amateurs are expected to play over three octaves, and that range goes way, way below the written middle C.
Is French horn the hardest brass instrument? Is a bear hairy? do babies cry? Is the sea salty? Heck yeah!
I've performed on every brass instrument except tuba, and I can tell you horn is the hardest. No other instrumentalist is expected to play in two different clefs and transpose into seven different keys in ONE piece of music! The closer harmonic partials difinitely make accuracy an issue. But an itty-bitty mouthpiece on an instrument the length of a trombone is also a big issue. If you attend many concerts, you'll soon see that most bobbled notes(clams)are made by the horn section, not the trumpets or trombones!
One professional horn player at a Boise horn symposium recently commented that if an oboe player made as many mistakes in a whole season as a horn player makes in a single concert, they'd be FIRED! ha ha ha!
To illustrate my point: A couple years ago my private instructor sent me to the music store to buy the Syrauss 2nd Horn Concerto. While I was at the music store, I decided to try some trumpets just for fun. I decided to try the Stauss concerto on the trumpet. I played through the first page w/ little difficulty, only missing a few notes due to fingering differences. "Hah! This is a piece of cake," I thought smuggly to myself. I could hardly wait to get the music home & play it on my wonderful French horn. To my utter shock & disappointment, I could hardly even play the first four measures on my French horn! Even though I hadn't played trumpet for many, many years, I could play it better & easier than the French horn I practiced for hours every day! Shish!
But, would I consider switching to another instrument? Not in a million, trillion years! I LOVE the horn. I LOVE playing it. I LOVE the sound. I LOVE the challenge. I LOVE what a good horn section can do. I LOVE the parts we get to play in the band & orchestra. I love playing in a horn trio & quartet. There's just no other brass instrument that has such a gorgeous, heroic, yet sweet & romantic sound as the horn. Composers also like us, and write beautiful parts for us to play. Picture the world w/o horns. What would movies like "Star Wars" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" be without horns?
Is the French horn hard? Yes it's hard, but it's worth every effort to master it, because it's simply glorious!
Valerie, Balanced Embouchure dealer for French horn