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 Clarinet gone horn.
Author: Laurie 
Date:   2006-04-24 04:02

Hi all,

I'm a clarinet major, and am currently talking Advanced French Horn. For advanced french horn, i am required to do a nysmma level IV solo after one semester. Sounds Great right.. sure.. light problem.. I can't play horn!

I don't know what to do- My tone is terrible, hearing the intervals is crazy hard, and i'm so frustrated. I feel like i have no support or help from my teacher as well.

I'm practicing, i'm getting private tutoring and i really am trying. But i'm not going anywhere. What do i do to make it easier ? Any Suggestions ?


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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-04-25 22:21

Sing the piece before you play it. It'll make you think about the intervals, and it'll help you breath properly (though as a clarinet player, breathing shouldn't be a problem for you).

I play the clarinet, not very well, and am attempting to learn the trombone. I played the horn for six years as a kid, but pretty badly. OK, very badly.

If you think the horn is hard, well, in some respects the trombone is even harder.

I'm not familiar with nyssma levels, but level IV after six months sounds challenging! What piece do you plan to play?


If there are so many people on this board unwilling or unable to have a civil and balanced discussion about important issues, then I shan't bother to post here any more.

To the great relief of many of you, no doubt.

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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: ClariTone 
Date:   2006-04-26 02:13

I agree that the trombone is a bit harder in some aspects than the french horn. Just some thoughts, how is your embouchure. Most hornists I believe use 2/3 upper lip and 1/3 lower lip inside the mouthpiece as well as the pucker/smile embouchure (at least thats what I was taught, and use with great success on the trombone). Do some googling on french horn basics like embouchure, distance between your upper teeth and lower teeth (on trombone you take the shank of the mouthpiece and bite down to determine about how wide to keep your mouth open), and fingerings/pitch tips. Also perphaps voice your concerns to your teacher. Tell him/her where and with what you are struggling, and maybe ask them to explain it differently if the answer still eludes you. Their job IS to teach, so they should be more than happy to accomodate. Also practice often. No amount of thought or research can replace good solid practice. Good Luck!!!


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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: Laurie 
Date:   2006-04-30 17:43

Its a nyssma IV after 4 months of playing, with instruction once a week.

Personally, i just feel like i need more time. I was fine with trumpet and trombone, but i don't know why horn is that much harder. I just need more time to develope the proper technique. I seem to be playing with a clarinet embochure and never using enough air etc.

I spoke to my professor numberous times, and he just doesn't seem to care. He's a great guy, but one of those horribly talented players who really don't understand "why" a kid doesn't understand how to play it. "It's easy, just do it". It got to a point where i broke down crying during my last exam becuase, i worked soo incredibly hard, and really did make improvement.. and he just made me feel like i was two inches tall.

I've gotten help from the top horn players in the school, which is so helpful, but it doesn't help me pass.

I'm just frustrated beyond words.. and really want to throw the horn out the window.

Practice time.


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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: clarhorn 2017
Date:   2006-05-01 03:48

Welcome to the horn Laurie.

The French horn is considered one of the most difficult instruments to play.

I grew up playing the clarinet through university. I started on the horn sporadically over the next 15 years. I finally joined the community band where I have learned how to play over the last dozen years. (Yes that means I am a card carrying member of AARP.) I still feel I can play the clarinet much better than the horn. Probably still have less than half the hours playing the horn in 27 years than I did playing the clarinet over 11 years. Starting on the horn was a struggle. Hitting the correct note is a challenge compared to the clarinet. There are days when all the notes sound great and other days where it is a struggle just to get even the usually nice notes out.

I would suggest:
1. As with any difficult task, frustration adds to the frustration. If you are having a tough time, take a break and do something else. Come back and try later. But be sure to warm up. I have found it takes longer to warm up my lip for the horn than playing the clarinet. What comes out at first may not be pleasant. Be sure you have a good warm up routine.

2. With limited time to achieve your goal, I would suggest as usual practicing that which you find most difficult—in this case sounding the proper notes in sequence. As you can sight read playing in time with the correct dynamics, I would suggest concentrating on sounding the proper notes worrying less about the other mechanics. This will help you successfully navigate the intervals. As with any difficult passage start slow adding successive notes until the sequence is complete.

3. Listen to the piece; you will develop a better sense of what needs to come out. Listening to the music may help like singing it does as suggested by David Peacham. Have one of your horn playing friends record it for you. Perhaps they can play it with you to help with alternate fingerings (just as with the clarinet).

4. As with the clarinet, the starting mouthpiece is suggested to be the middle of the road. But at the risk of developing horn GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), as you play the trumpet and trombone which bracket the horn mouthpiece in size and depth, you might want to look at different mouthpieces.

5. The instrument makes a difference. I assume you are starting with a double horn in good shape. Like clarinets some horns play more easily than others.

Good luck and just keep practicing. One thing I always like about school, the semester ends. Life keeps on going.


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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: Matt Locker 
Date:   2006-07-25 15:01


re: hearing the intervals.........

I play both horn & clarinet. I find that I cannot hear the horn intervals consistently the day after playing the clarinet. I believe this is due to the nature of the instruments (Bb clarinet/F horn). The longer the period since playing clarinet, the better I hear the intervals. My solution to the problem is to never play clarinet the night (or two) before a concert. Hearing intervals is generally not a problem on clarinet.

By terrible tone, do you mean thin/weak/wavering/........ I'm going to guess thin. If so, you may be playing on tight lips. What I mean is that your lips are stretched too taughtly on the mpc. Fatten them up a bit like you are whistling (pucker a bit) and see if your tone improves. Make sure to support the air column also. The horn is a long instrument remember.

Hope this helps.


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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: Cr8trAnd 
Date:   2006-11-26 00:08

I play Clarinet and just decided to read this board because I love the horn. With all of this trouble you guys are talking about, I dont know why we just dont all start playing the horn in grade school.

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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: marzi 
Date:   2007-03-27 01:17

also a clarinet player wanting to try horn, but what if you can't sing? should you then stay away from trying to play horn , does it take more of an "ear" than clarinet?

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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: sobblaster 
Date:   2007-05-25 10:38

I am a horn professional in oz...Performed with ARMY Concert Band in Sydney for 8 years gone into teaching play everything in a concert band....

I agree with everything clarhorn says...though you if you are still reading this forum...I would suggest patience is a virtue. Horn is there hardest of the brass family the harmonics are closer together meaning your lips vibration of the notes are closer together…that is why there are so many players that have trouble…I suggest you do lots of flexibility exercises “THE PHILLIP FARKAS” book is the best method book it covers everything about playing horn. If you haven’t got the dosh for this practices scales, scales…arpeggios and arpeggios over 2 or 3 octaves till blue in the face then play some music this should be a great start. Most players don’t warm up there instrument the Horn is one you cannot play properly till warmed up…trust me I can pick up flute, any clarinet (bass etc), any sax (Eb, Bb etc) , trombone, trumpet, tuba, but the horn is the one I take the longest to PLAY well…..hope this helps..............happy horning!!!!! Steve

the music score in australia..

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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2008-10-18 03:08

I've been toying with the idea of learning horn for quite some time, and more recently having been inspired by players such as Radek Baborak, Sarah Willis and Marie-Louise Neunecker, I wouldn't mind putting it into practice.

So much so, I'm even considering getting a Chinese copy of an Alexander 103 (shame they don't have screw-on bells!):

Are they the ones with tuning problems in that they're flat (and need the main tuning slide shortened), or is it the cheaper full double that's flat?


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 Re: Clarinet gone horn.
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2008-12-21 09:01

The Chinese 103 copy was flat, so I've been chopping bits off it in an attempt to bring it up to pitch. I've turned it into my experimental horn so I can practice brass repair techniques on it.

I bought a used Holton 178 for a good price off eBay (and the seller only lives down the road from me!) which is so much easier to play in every respect.


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