Just joined 8notes today, so fair warning this is my first posting.
Actually not quite ready. I am not an intermediate player quite yet, but I'm looking to maybe 6 months from now. I am presently a lowly beginner french horn player. I bought my F/Bb horn from Sam Ash, a Jean Baptiste. As some of you are aware it is made in China. Don't see much about them on the internet, although it is just a student horn, bought new for only $900. Not really too sure how far I should go with this horn, after I reach some degree of competency. Don't want to be "held back" by my horn.
Seems that Holton (maybe others also?) does market some of their models as "intermediate" horns, so if I decide on a Holton, which models would be appropriate? Two of their designated "step up" intermediate horns are the H378 (yellow brass), and H379 (nickel). Also, they offer a version with a screw on bell (H479), and although not absolutely mandatory it would definitely help me with my commutes on airlines with undersized overhead bins. Any suggestions on those Holtons? There are some very positive reviews on the web, for whatever it's worth.
Regarding the issue of test playing on one of these models. I won't be buying from an online merchant, so when I locate a Holton dealer (actually I have found a few in Las Vegas, and several in Southern California), are most dealers helpful in allowing customer to demo the horn prior to purchase?
Besides Holton, what else should I be considering?
Look at the Paxman range, in my opinion the best in the world.
PS. Have a look at some of my compositions for horn on 8 notes - they show a progression from beginner through intermediate to expert competency.
Thanks for your recommendation. Was very familiar with this name, so I will ask the local shop - maybe they can hook me up. As a general rule, what kind of mouthpiece comes with each Paxman horn? An intermediate horn would have a mouthpiece for an "intermediate" embouchure, i.e, developing but not yet at an Advanced level, etc?
At this point, I am giving some thought to just upgrading my mouthpiece for my Jean Baptiste (Sam Ash horn). I start with a new teacher (3rd one) in a few weeks, and will get her advice.
Regarding mouthpieces - please don't confuse the term 'intermediate' with an 'intermediate' level of playing ability. Mouthpieces are designed to match particular lip types e.g. thin, medium, fat and so on (look at a picture of Denis Brain - he has the archetypal 'Cupid's Bow' shaped lips so, to a certain degree everybody's different). If you send a photo of your lips to Paxman they (tempered with advice from your tutor) will recommend an appropriate mouthpiece (a Paxman 7B mouthpiece is, I believe, the most popular because the majority of people have lips of medium thickness). The correct choice of mouthpiece is critical at your stage of development - after hundreds (or thousands) of hours practice your whole embouchure will evolve and develop - the wrong mouthpiece could have disastrous consequences. Concentrate too on developing wind power (one of my old tutor's - Ifor James - had such large lungs that when not performing he used to wear a waistcoat to hold in his vastly expanded ribcage). Also, because the horn has such a wide range, try hard to develop a minimum pressure playing technique: this will give the benefits of flexibility combined with maximum stamina - something every horn player needs in abundance. You can practice 'buzzing' through a mouthpiece to achieve the total range of notes so keep one with you at all times so you can practice even in the bath. Think of your development along the lines of a body builder and try to ensure you develop only good playing habits to achieve the best physiological results. Best wishes for the future.
...of course the aim of developing good physiological attributes is to provide yourself with a platform that will enable you to meet the technical requirements to become a good horn player. In tandem with this you must develop your mental faculties to acquire good 'musicianship' - a faculty that enables you to achieve discernment and good musical taste.
I am in danger of composing a complete lecture here so suffice it to say that the fundamentals are key to developing anything worthwhile...if you can enjoy perfecting your tone (and wind power) through practising long notes across the range at all dynamics; and practising assiduously the musical production of scales and arpeggios you will succeed. Anything less and you might as well take up knitting.
I am in the U.S., and it looks like whichitaband.com is the distributor for Paxman. They say on their website that they will pick you at the airport, so I just might stop in there on one of my frequent trips between Florida and Nevada and have a look at the Paxman. As I mentioned, I start soon with my 3rd instructor. She plays the horn professionally so I will ask for her assessment of my lip shape, etc, to best recommend a mouthpiece.