bad at french horn

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by thevolslover, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. thevolslover

    thevolslover New Member

    Ok, I started playing french horn in 6th grade. Apparantly when we tried out for instruments i was extremely good at it because i think i got about a 9/9 on the compatibility sheet and they make an extra spot for me on the french horn line. I did pretty well at it but really didn't like it. Then i got braces and those really didn't affect it. Then my band director asked me if i would like to switch to trumpet at the end of seventh grade and i said sure i've always wanted to try it. Then i was ok at trumpet but for some reason i didn't play over the summer for about 4 weeks and was extremely bad at it. I worked at it because i hated being bad and managed to get it a bit better. Then at the end of eighth i switched back to french horn and started playing mellophone for marching band. Mellophone is extremely easy for me and i have a better range than most of the freshman because of practicing the trumpet a lot. Now concert season is almost here and i've started practicing horn again. There is one problem though. I am really bad at it now. It always seems like my lips won't warm up to it and everytime i play now it gets a very airy sound. I may be imagining it but i think i distinctly remember having a nice tone on horn but now i don't. The only way i can get a better tone is to play everything really loud. My scales sound bad. I got my braces off maybe 4 weeks ago but it sounded bad with them on too. Before I switched to trumpet and i had braces it sounded fine. Also I have kind of a bad school horn and it doesn't play very well. I liked the one I had in seventh grade much better. I tried to give the french horn a bath and cleaned out the lead pipe a lot. Now the second and third valves are EXTREMELY SLOW slow as a dry trumpet valve. I'm starting to kind of worry too because try outs are in about 2 weeks and I'm very scared I will do extremely poor. I can't take private lessons because my mom is always working and cant' take me there (plus they are expensive). I really want to be good at french horn but it just seems like i'm really bad. Any tips on this? Also any body have something like this happen to them.
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  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - you have to get your sound back first of all. Maybe you have forgotten what a good french horn sound is like? Try and listen to great recordings of players to develop that concept and emulate that perfect sound for you. Things might slot into place more quickly than you think.
  4. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Welcome to the Mouthpiece!

    There are often requests on this forum for help and advice. Unfortunately, you'll probably get the same answer every time "Get a teacher". I understand that this is not possible, but how about just going to a teacher for a one-off consultation? At least he/she might be able to diagnose what the problem is and how to deal with it. My advice would be to practice what you can't do, not what you can. You say that your sound suffers when you play quietly. All I can say is "Keep practicing quietly" you might not get good results immediately, but slow and methodical practice is the key.

    Second piece of advice: Take all advice with a pinch of salt! Except mine, of course...

    Best of luck!
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Try relaxing your embouchure on the french horn more. The mellophone mouthpiece is of a similar size to a trumpet and switching to that from trumpet would retain the airflow and higher range for a while. Going to french horn after that with it's deeper cup and bigger rim would create an airy sound if the former embouchure was kept and not sealing the rim.

    TIMBONE Active Member

    I do not play french horn, but my brother is pretty famous on it. I understand that, unlike all other brass instruments, with french horn, you rest the mouthpiece on the bottom lip, and most of the work is done with the top lip. With playing some other instruments, is it possible that you have inadvertantly changed your embouchure?
  7. thevolslover

    thevolslover New Member

    not sure it seems the more i kind of warm up the better it is.

    BTW: Anyone have any ideas on how to loosen up the valve it is majorly bad. I am going later to fix it. I hope.
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  9. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    I strongly suggest that you take your instrument to a qualified repair shop rather than try and repair it yourself (unless you've been trained to do so, of course). Valves, particularly rotary ones like those on a French horn, can easily be damaged by using the wrong sorts of tools and techniques. You could potentially multiply the cost of the repair by attempting it yourself. The tips in the previous post might help, but I wouldn't go much beyond that.

    As far as "bad sound", give yourself a little time to get back into the horn. The removal of braces and the differences in trumpet/mellophone and French horn embouchure might take a little while to work out, especially for someone who is relatively inexperienced. Your comment that warming up seems to make it better indicates that maybe you just need to spend more time on proper warm ups.
  10. thevolslover

    thevolslover New Member

    Yes I have it in the shop now. Also I'm going to ask my band director permission to have him pay for it to be chemically cleaned. I also asked the clerk to have a private teacher call me with their times. I should be ok now i think. Thanks for the help.
  11. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - remember to keep us updated with what's going on. Others may have similar problems playing-wise and may learn from your experience.
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  13. thevolslover

    thevolslover New Member

    Sure thing.
  14. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - cheers!
  15. thevolslover

    thevolslover New Member

    Ok I got the horn back today. The valves work now (not to my high standards, but they work better). All the slides work now even if there are a bunch or nasty weld spots. It might be just today, but the horn seemed a lot easier to play. Also might have to do with not playing mellophone for a while. Well also it could be just practice. Need to memorize about 7 scales in 12 days so I'll be busy. Not including the prepared piece. Anyway thanks for the advice. If i ever get my horn it will be in perfect condition. I really want a Conn 8D but gold brass not silver. Thanks.
  16. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Good luck with your audition, and please let us know how it went.
  17. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    This is true. I learnt to play brass on French Horn, eventually I changed to Tenor Horn after a few years. It wasn't until years later, that a new conductor said to me, 'I can tell you used to play French Horn'. When I asked how he knew, he said it was because of my embouchure. Instead of the lips being fairly even, I play with most of the mouthpiece being covered by the top lip. And I've got to tell you, I've tried to alter this to produce a more 'tenor horn' sound but I always slip back!

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