I am a high school horn player that has been playing horn for four years. I have taken the horn much more seriously in the past year or two, and I need help with something that has happened recently.
I have always had more troubles than most people of my age with my high range. Throughout the duration of this past year, I was struggling to reach B flats above the staff. At the beginning of this summer, I bought a new mouthpiece that was deeper and of better quality. I then went away to music camp for a month, during which I played on the new mouthpiece for three-four hours a day. At the beginning of camp, I had a hard time adjusting to the new mouthpiece- I had trouble reaching Fs and Gs at the top of the staff, for example. Sometime during the third week of camp, I felt that I finally reached a point of familiarity with the new mouthpiece, and my high range improved. By the end of camp, my high range was better- my B flats were coming out much easier.
After returning from camp after four weeks, my practice time per day changed to about an hour to two hours per day, simply because I can not have a practice session longer than this- by the end of this time, my chops are exhausted and incapable of playing.
My high notes came out very easily for about two weeks after camp. I then had a time period of about five days during which I was not able to practice at all for three days (non-consecutive.) After I returned and began practicing regularly again, my high range was, as expected, worse.
However, two weeks after returning, I feel that not only have I not improved back to where I was, I have gotten worse than when I returned- Fs, Gs, and As above the staff sound very full of air, non-focused, and, frankly, out of reach.
I feel that, especially in the past few days of practice, I am playing with my jaw much wider and my lower jaw set more firmly. I also have less facial movement when reaching for high notes. However, while this aspect seems like it would be an improvement to me, my high range and playing skills are suffering. Moving between notes, not even high notes, now seems rough and difficult, and my high range seems to be decreasing by the day. I am also cracking the high notes much more often and falling to a lower partial.
None of this is affecting my lower register, which seems fine- I am still capable of playing down to the D almost two octaves below middle C.
I donít know what or why this is happening right now. I understand that I am playing less than I am at camp, but except for those three days that I was not able to practice on, I am regularly playing every day. I have an audition soon for which I have to play the Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1. I used to be able to play this well, but I am afraid that I will not be able to play it now because of my seemingly increasing range problem.
If anyone has any idea of what might be my problem, it would be kindly appreciated.
I recently switched to a Laskey 80G. I had be playing on something actually narrower and deeper, more funnel shaped. I feel that getting more of my lip in the mouthpiece has improved my high-end. If you have the ability to get to a place carrying Laskey's full range, I'd pick a cup you like and then start at the smallest and go up the diameters. You may be surprised.
I am curious as to what your private studies teacher has to say about this. If you don't have one you should think about getting one. That being said here is my opinion based on the information supplied.
Obviously playing at camp was helpful, switching to the Laskey 80 I assume is a larger mouthpiece than what you were playing, and as a result will require more strength and stamina which you developed at camp but have lost as you are not playing as much and playing different exercises.
If you wish you can send me a private message with your warm up and practice routine. Be as specific as you can including what days you do what. I can review your routines and give you feedback on the exercises and routines. The feedback may include what exercises to discard and new specific exercises to regain and stabilize your range.
I think there has been confusion between me (switching to 80G) and the original poster, whom I recommended trying the same cup shape but different inner diameters. For me, I found that I had so little of my lip actually in the narrower mouthpieces that I couldn't vibrate freely in the higher end. Oh, and now having played on the Laskey for awhile notice I have very little reaction (least for any metal mouthpiece). Mr Laskey confirms that he uses no nickel whatsoever in any of his mouthpieces. None in the brass and none in the silver he uses to plate it.