Welcome!

Tina with her horn. I’m writing this blog with all my trials, tribulations and triumphs to provide some insight to all of you re-learning (or starting) the horn. Hopefully it will help you realize that it can be done to some level of success defined by you and all the problems, heartache, misery, etc., (I can go on and on) that has happened to me and will probably happen to you really isn’t so bad. There will also be days of awe, pure joy, delight, happiness – i.e. success – that will more than make up for the bad days. In the beginning I had way more bad days than good days but the tide seems to be turning. Everyone says the horn is one of the most difficult instruments to learn. Yup, that seems to be true. It is also one of the most rewarding instruments to learn and one of the most beautiful sounding instruments. My opinion of course but if I didn’t think that why would I bother to learn to play it? The triumph of getting it right, whatever the ‘it’ is for that practice day, rehearsal, audition, performance, or whatever, is worth all the bad days.

This is the 1st blog I’ve written and I’ve discovered that blogs are posted newest to oldest. That makes sense unless readers should read the oldest first. That’s the way my story of starting the horn again should be read since my story started about a year ago. I highly recommend reading this blog starting with my post, “The Beginning” and continuing oldest to newest.

Please leave comments, good and bad. That way I can learn from you and hopefully you can learn from me. Finally, this story isn’t necessarily limited to aspiring hornists. Learning any instrument takes time and there will always be ups and downs.  I think you will find parallels even though much of the story – method books, embouchures, horn buying and such – is horn specific.

I also want to thank the members of the Yahoo Horn Group for their advice without which I would have been lost more often than not.

Sincerely,

Tina Barkan

59 thoughts on “Welcome!

  1. Tina,
    There are many musicians who have started back after a long time away from their music instrument. I have so many stories to tell regarding starting back that it would take days of typing to relate.

    I started back at age 52, nine years ago, after 33 years away from the horn. I had played in middle school and high school and one year in a university wind ensemble and symphony orchestra. I quit at age 19.

    I had no intention of playing horn again, but I saved my new Conn that I used for only two years, thinking that someone in the family might want to play it. I still play on this same horn, a series C 8D that is in nearly new condition.

    What coaxed me back to playing was a series of events: a life tragedy; a work colleague who was a horn player; and the existence of many amateur bands and orchestras in my area. I started to attend some of the local concerts. After attending the concert of a nearby amateur symphony orchestra one night, I was walking to the parking lot and was just behind a very senior looking violinist in his tuxedo. The two of us struck up a conversation for a few minutes as he put his violin in the trunk of his car. He told me that he had just returned to playing violin after being away from it for 60 years; he was 79 years old. Well, that made an impression on me, and was another step along the way toward the day for starting back myself.

    I started practicing 30 minutes a day in that first year. A year later I was playing in that same symphony orchestra that I just mentioned. I have been at this now for nine years. I am still improving; in most ways I am a better hornist now than I was as a youth. This has been a rewarding experience. I wish I started back sooner than I did.

    Larry

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    • Its so encouraging to read these posts. I too took up the horn late. Its a great thing to fill your time with such a worthwhile activity. I f youre retired you have the time and for older people there are wonderful health benefits esp keeping the respiritory system fit. Good luck and enjoy music making on this great and beautiful instrument.
      Eric

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  2. You are very brave to embark on your horn journey.

    With its rich history and diversity I remain memorized and amazed by the versatility of the Horn. It is a happy challenge every time I play to increase my ability. Often rewarded with beautiful music.

    Enjoy yours

    Eric

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  3. This is a great idea–if it’s a blog where people returning to the horn after many years can communicate with each other and share accounts of their return and encourage others.

    I returned after 67 years, after being diagnosed with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and having lost almost a third of my lung capacity. It started with wondering if I could make any sound with the horn, given my diminished lung capacity (I was forgetting that the horn itself is just an acoustic amplifier–and glorifier–of the sound you make with your lips and the mouthpiece).

    I told my doctor of this “crazy idea,” and he immediately shot back, “It’s a good idea” and explained why: the disciplined breathing required. That was 2 years ago, and it hasn’t been easy, and I haven’t been able to return to my original level of ability (if indeed I had any ability), but I have a far better teacher now than my second teacher back in 1949 or ’50: a stern taskmaster who was impatient if I didn’t get a new exercise right the first time. My current teacher is a paragon of patience.

    (I’d better quit now, before I ramble on even longer than I already have. But thanks for creating this blog!)

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    • Hi Walter – Thanks for your comments! I hope that my blog will become a place where ‘back to the horn’ folks come to share their experiences. It would also be a great place for discussion about dealing with all the medical things that plague us as older hornists. Just the fact that you have mentioned returning to the horn with COPD may encourage someone out there to give it a go.

      My teacher is also a paragon of patience. A stern taskmaster wouldn’t have made it past the first half hour.

      Sincerely,
      Tina

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  4. A medical–or medical related–note: When my primary care physician told me that I should take up the horn again, he also recommended I get a teacher and stick with the horn and lessons for at least a year. This was savvy advice, because there were many times when, thoroughly discouraged, I wanted to quit and would have quit, but didn’t because I had decided not to until that year was up. By that time, I was hooked.

    Not because I had made great progress; I hadn’t. I was hooked partly because I knew the breathing discipline that I’d learned would probably disappear if I quit, and partly because my love of the horn had increased ten-fold in the year. I think anyone who has played the horn before and didn’t dislike its sound would be hooked by the end of a year. It’s that kind of instrument.

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  5. I am 86 years old, having played the horn in the following years: 13-19, sporadically 20-30, regularly from 52-82, all as an amateur. While in college,( U of Chicago)I met my wife, who sang in the chorus for the 19th century German operetta “Der Waffenschmied” where I played in the college symphony. When I was 52, it was she who encouraged me to take it up again.

    Although I have recently quit playing in our local town band, and donated my horn to the local school system,my pulse still quickens at the sound. I have met (briefly) several of the star performers, often at meetings of the IHS.

    The book by Farkas was a godsend when I took up the instrument again in 1952.

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  6. Tina, I played horn for two years in high school and then picked it up again on my 38th birthday. I have been taking lessons ever since (now 9 years), and I play in a community band and orchestra. I am always the only one in the group who isn’t a teacher of some sort, but I dig my heels in and keep playing. Good luck!

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    • Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment!
      Where in Long Island are you? I’m in Miller Place.
      From reading your website it looks like you started back in 1998. How are you doing now? Did you get into the community orchestra?

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  7. Hi Tina, how funny that my friend and pro horn player suggested I check out your blog…. and here I see you every week in band!!! My story is the same as yours; played in high school, laid off it for 25 years, then picked it up again about 5 years ago. Very frustrated, almost gave it up several times; took lessons for two years. Just recently had a huge breakthrough with a change in embouchure, so have found much more enjoyment playing lately with more progress in the last 4 weeks than in the last 4 years. Looking to do some horn quartet stuff; interested??? I’m in Center Moriches. How is the new horn treating you??? See you Monday night. Jonathan Penney

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    • Hi John,
      This certainly falls into the small world category.🙂 Yes I am very interested in playing quartets. The new horn is wonderful but I am struggling through a mouthpiece nightmare. I’m going to be blogging about it (again) in the next day or two. See you Monday.
      Tina

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  8. Tina- What a great blog, just what I have been looking for, cohorts who have joined in the pain and joy of coming back to playing the horn after a long hiatus. I played in high school, didn’t play again until I was 35 in a local community band that was outstanding. It had lots of talented people and we played great stuff. Got my chops back and thought I was doing pretty darn good by the time 6 years of playing roled around. Then had another 15 year hiatus (to long to explain why)and started playing again with U of Alaska Ensemble here in Anchorage. Been at it 5 years, but I am struggling this time. My counting is a disaster sometimes and I can’t always get the brain and fingers working together to play the fast stuff. Thought of quiting again, but thought I’ll be damned if I will, even thinking about a new horn. I look forward to reading your blog.

    Paul Jackson

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    • Hi Paul,

      Welcome! I feel your pain with the counting. Yesterday my horn teacher reminded me again about using the dreaded metronome. I’m going to have to figure out how not to completely block it out when I play. I did get a good tip about two months ago from Scott Bacon that has helped the brain / fingers problem. For any fast etude or passage practice it slowly by first putting your finger down deliberately and then play the note. So a C major scale on F horn would be C, put down 1st valve, D, lift up 1st valve, E, put down 1st valve, F and so on. Then build up speed always using this technique. It feels very odd at first. I had to think very hard to get this working. However, my brain / fingering coordination has improved dramatically. Let me know if this works for you.

      Sincerely,
      Tina

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  9. Tina –
    I’ve truly enjoyed reading your blog and can truly sympathize with you on so many levels! I’d love to talk to you about your horn, mouthpiece and embouchure issues in greater detail if you’ve got some time and are willing to call me (or e-mail me with your number). I’ve been through so many identical issues – trying (and falling in love with) an Otto horn, trying and wanting to like the LDx5 (and ultimately not liking it), trying the Laskey mouthpiece and getting frustrated and not knowing why, switching mouthpieces more frequently than changing socks and so on….
    If you’d like to call, you can reach me at 540-429-2335. I know it’s a holiday weekend, but I’m certainly not doing anything, so please feel free to call at anytime. I’m in your same timezone.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Jeremy
    PS-
    Please pardon any typos…I’m using a phone to type and it has a tiny screen.

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    • Hi Jeremy,
      Wow. I would definitely like to talk to you about this similar path we seem to be going down. I’m swamped tomorrow with all the family home but after turkey day my life should calm down and I’ll give you a call. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!
      Tina

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  10. Gee, I had no idea there were so many others out there all taking up horn after a long hiatus.

    I played horn in high school, college, and the US 30th Army band. Then put it down in 1970 when I went to work (telephone company switchman, then mostly computer system administration and programming). For 4 decades I would rarely, if ever, pick up my horn. But I still kept it, hoping I might get back into it one day. I retired in October 2009 (at age 65) and have played my old horn a few hours per week since then. Things are coming back, though I’m not yet back to where I was in my youth.

    The horn I have is the same horn that my parents bought for me in 1961. They bought it in West Berlin while on vacation. Supposedly it was smuggled across from East Berlin. I’ve never seen another one like it. It’s a F/Bb compensating horn made by “Meister Karl Dressel”. It has mechanical linkages and a detachable bell. It’s been a pretty good horn, but I think it could use a good cleaning, something I hope to get done if/when I find a 2nd new/used horn. I will probably keep my old horn for ever as it has sentimental value for me.

    Finding a new horn is turning out to be much more difficult than I thought. Music stores only keep a very few new horns and I find it difficult to judge older horns. I think I may just have to wait many months if not a year or more for some knowledgeable professional to point me to a good horn.

    I have not yet found a band/orchestra/chamber group to play in, but there is an opportunity coming up in February. I feel I really need to play in a group to get a feeling of fulfillment. But even without, it’s fun and satisfying if/when I play and feel improvement in my playing.

    Cheers,

    Marnix

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  11. Tina

    Once a Horn player…always a horn player? Was is it with old horn players picking the beast up after decades? I do not know but the bug has bit me as well!

    I sold off my 6D years ago and recently I picked up a demo Willson CS 240. Great Swiss horn.

    I had a question about timing and attending the BTI. It seemed to me that you were on your journey for a year before gracing the doors of BTI. I have no idea of where I will be in 5 months. I am taking lessons. I am practicing but I also have the dreaded day job. I work from home so I can get in practice AM and PM.

    I am just starting to read your posts and am looking forward to reading many more.

    I am not sure if you mentioned the Jasper Rees book, ” A Devil To Play”? It chronicles this UK player’s first year of playing after 20+ years of not….like the rest of us. If you have not read it is a scream with lots of British humor.

    Keep it up Tina!! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • David,
      Thanks for writing! I was at BTI about a year after I went back to the beast. I was able to keep up with most of it. The horn choir was not a problem at all. The quartet was a bit more challenging to say the least but it was worth every minute of it. There was one fellow who had only started up again 3 months before BTI and he seemed to be okay. And there was a lady there who had been playing for about 9 months. It’s a very nurturing environment and I never felt like I wasn’t good enough to be there. I plan on going again this year.

      I did read “A Devil to Play”. I enjoyed the book and it got me to drag out Mozart 3 and work on it for a while. I may be speaking heresy but I’m not a big fan of Mozart so I got to a point where I could play it okay, not great and certainly not at performance level, and then I put it away.

      Speaking of old horn players coming back to the horn, a friend of mine who plays 1st horn in the band I’m in has just started a Facebook page called the Midlife Horn Player. You may enjoy reading or participating in the discussions.

      Sincerely,
      Tina

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  12. Tina

    Thank you! I will eagerly await your postings and seek out the Facebook page!

    I also appreciate your encouragement at BTI. The timing may not be perfect but I hate to pass up the chance. I know I have an open slot in my calendar and so I will push ahead. I will drop you a line in a few months to amuse you with my stories as I am sure I will have them.

    If anyone reads this post and I will go to Facebook, I am interested to find if anyone else like me is a fan of Willson horns? I think I may have found an undiscovered gem. A Swiss handmade horn that competes well with a Paxman 23 and an Alex 103 at slightly less cost (Willson seems to have raised their prices as their popularity picks up)

    Thanks again Tina!!

    Dave

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  13. Tina, this may be redundant at this point,but are you familiar with Jasper Rees’ book “Devil to Play,” a hilarious, wonderful, informative chronicle of the British journalist’s saga re-learning the horn at age 39, having last played it at 17? He vows to play the Mozart Third Concerto at the British Horn Society, after one year of resuming practice..

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  14. I started in playing the Horn when I was 64. Fortunately, I had an excellent teacher who played in the symphony orchestra and who was very tolerant of my efforts.

    I have had interesting experiences with my efforts in joining community symphonic bands. Some band directors seemed happy to have me in their band but others told me to leave and not come back until my playing was at an acceptable level for them.

    I now play in two symphonic bands and practice at least an hour a day.

    Richard

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  15. Hi There

    Thanks for the great blog. I too quit after high school and started again at 65 when I retired. I’m in a community orchestra and 2 bands – lots of fun and great performing experience. I take lessons from Wendy Limbertie here in Toronto- a good player and excellent teacher.

    I have had the good fortune to be at the 2009 IHS Symposium and the recent IWBC meeting here in Toronto, and have heard and met some great players: Anamia Larsen, Jeff Nelsen, Joan Watson, Andrew Pelletier, Lisa Bontrago & Michelle Stebleton, Christopher Leuba, Fergus Mc William, Patti Evans, Gail Williams, Eric Ruske and Others.

    PS Patti Evans is the Principal Horn with the Winnipeg SO and an AMAZING player!!, he said seriously enviously!!!

    I too will be at the NJ BTI this year and appreciate the comments above on another’s experience there.

    I first read a review of Jasper’s book the same week I decided to get back into the saddle: got it a month later and a great read.

    Being a bit of a gearhead, I have a Berg single Bb, A Hoyer double, a no -name Chinese single Bb and 2 valvectomied horns- one F&Eb ( & soon to be D & C) and another Bb and A. (Old saying: “beware of the man with only one gun for he probably knows how to use it!”)

    PPS check out “Bach Valentin Eschmann” on You Tube, then try to find your socks in the next county.

    Cheers

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    • Thanks for your comments! I was also at 2009 IHS and the IWBC last week. I will be at BTI so we can chat there. I’ve always been a computer and technology gearhead but haven’t yet gotten into the multiple horn camp. Maybe someday when I play better. I have probably purchased all the ‘this will make you play better’ horn toys but they really haven’t made me play better. I’ve learned that the only one who can make me play better is me.
      Sincerely,
      Tina

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  16. Hullo, Tina. I’m a week away from 52 and about a year ago thought I might like to take up the horn again, which I had abandoned in its case for about 15 years. I wondered whether it would be possible, and googled and found your blog. So I took the horn for a thorough service and have been playing it obsessively ever since. I went to the IHS in Brisbane and had the absolute time of my life. So count me in as another re-convert!

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    • Congratulations on starting to play again. Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading my blog! I’m still obsessed and I hope to stay that way. I had the same experience at IHS last year in Illinois. I didn’t want it to end. I considered going to Brisbane but 25 hours in an airplane was more than I wanted to deal with plus I had many rehearsals and concerts to play in. If you have any questions that I can help with give me a shout.
      Sincerely,
      Tina

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  17. It is so encouraging to meet the community of like minded horn players.
    I took up horn i my early 50s and now that im retired its my major interest. I play in a community orchestra and im learning jazz horn. I dont have a teacher yet.
    Good luck and keep practicing.

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  18. Tina
    A year later and I have some updates. I too started my own little website but it does not have the traffic you have. I also went to BTI and it was great and am going back agian this year.

    I am also writing an article for “The Brass Herald” (UK publication gaining a following here in the U.S.). I am covering the Barry Tuckwell Institute this year but am I also doing a second article on folks like us. Those that took up an intstrument later in Life or those, like me, who after 3 decades, dusted off the horn and played again.

    I plan on speaking to several folks for this second article and I hope some folks will leave post at my blog as to why they started or came back.

    Hope you are well. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Dave “Scooter” Bryan

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    • Hi Tina,
      It’s Lyn from the BSO Academy….Such a wonderful week. It’s been very difficult coming home for both John (tuba) and I. Not many of our friends understand what an experience we just had.
      I wish I could have gone to the BTI this week but it just wasn’t possible. Anyway, it was great meeting you. I think we should have talked more. I, too am totally obsessed with the horn. I absolutely love it! And I admire you for the progress you have made! I hope our paths will cross again someday!
      Lyn Banghart

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      • Hi Lyn,
        Yes, it was an amazing week. I also wish I could have gone to BTI and I hope that next year the two programs won’t be back to back. I too hope our paths cross again – maybe at the BSO Academy next year. There is always email!
        Tina

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  19. Hi Tina
    While dealing with a serious 1-on-1 with cancer I started thinking about things I wished that I had done. Because I’ve been blessed and lucky most of my life the list wasn’t long, but at the top was the horn. I had not played horn since I was a senior in High School, forty nine years ago. My wife knew somone who played in a Brazosport Wind Ensemble and said we should go to a rehearsal and listen. Next Monday night we were there. After about an hour a very nice lady handed me a folder of music and told me to pick one of the school horns and showed me where to sit. I couldn’t even remember the fingerings and I could barely read the music because of the tears in my eyes.

    That was six months ago. My wife let me buy the horn of my dreams, an 8D. I always have a mouthpiece in my pocket. I did not remember how hard a horn is to play but its worth every hour of practice because once in a while it’s all there, even if only for a few measures and you hear something so beautiful that you forget that it’s coming from the instrument you are holding.

    To anyone who ever played, it doesn’t matter how “good” your are. There is no pressure to be First Chair. There is the joy of sharing with others something only a few people cand do: I can play horn.

    BTW, Scooter I saw your post above. I love the Yamaha.

    Regards to all
    Forrest Mobley
    Angleton, Texas

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  20. Hello Tina,
    Just keep playing! I’m a (burnt out) NY broadway pit player that needed to explore other professions for a while. I can honestly say that it something that never leaves you. No matter what I sound like that day, I’m a happier person after playing. I can definitely offer some help. What gets me in shape the quickest is 2 things. Air and buzz. Make sure you’re using enough air from the first note of the day. I’ve gone through entire routines only to find a half hour later that I never took a complete breath! Playing a HUGE old conn, you an see the problem. The other is buzz. Practice with the rim only. It gets the metal out of the way of the air. I sound so much more focused when I’m feeding the horn the correct pitches. Lastly, when you feel confident, record yourself. Mirrors and recorders don’t lie!
    Please stay in touch. It looks like you’ve got one of my friends here in VA – Jeremy posting as well.
    Cheers,
    Don Spaulding

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  21. I’m not sure if this is the correct place to ask (I’m not au fait with blogging)… however, I’m interested to hear about your Dieter Otto horn.

    I have been unable to find many online reviews of Otto horns. I’m yet another late life returnee to horn playing (haven’t played since 1979) and I would like to start out with a horn that I can keep for years, rather than upgrade models constantly. The Otto appeals to me at this stage but I’m a bit concerned about your experience of finding it difficult to get a good tone. Also, I’m wondering if they are more difficult to get serviced?

    Like

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for writing! I’m selling my Otto horn but not because I don’t like it. I think Otto horns are great horns and they sound great. My initial issue was sound but that was me playing badly, not the horn. I, fortunately, fixed that issue with the horn but developed a physical problem while playing a 1969 8D that I got in the spring. The Conn is a heavy horn my already bad tendonitis in my left shoulder got worse to the point of not being able to hold the horn up to play it. I ended up practicing with my elbow on a table to relieve the pain. Consequently I started looking for the lightest horn I could find and I ended up with a Schmid which is why I’m selling the Otto. My shoulder problem isn’t solved but it’s a whole lot better.
      As far as servicing an Otto, that probably depends on where you live and how you feel about shipping your horn around. Scott Bacon at Seigfried’s Call sells them and has mine there. He’s in Beacon, NY. Houghton Horns in Dallas, TX also sells them. Both are great dealers and first rate to do business with.
      Feel free to email me if you want to chat more. tina.barkan@mac.com.
      Sincerely,
      Tina

      Like

  22. I’m 49 and play regularly in my school band and also help the horn section of my daughter’s youth orchestra. I’m planning to spend my 50th year becoming better at playing by getting some lessons and trying to get as much experience as I can. Your blog is encouraging and I’ll keep looking at it. Thanks.

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  23. Hello Tina,

    First, congratulations on your blog, and most particularly, for your willingness to return to the horn after so many years. Most of us will agree that it’s a challenge at any age.

    I can somewhat relate to a return after an extended hiatus. I played professionally for about 25 years, and then quit completely. But it’s difficult to abandon the horn forever. After about 12 years I began playing again. Although, as with riding a bike (e.g.), most of the skills are never forgotten, regaining the conditioning for sensitivity, technical facility, and endurance, requires many, MANY months of diligent and committed practice. But improvement and renewed competency IS achievable! I think your particular story speaks to this truth for most players.

    The advice and good council of a caring teacher can be essential to making progress for any skill level. And you have, apparently, sought and benefited from such council. There’s little point in my adding to to such council, but I will briefly comment about the choice of an instrument.

    This is in no way a criticism of Hoyer horns, which have a long history of producing quality horns. One also should consider whether the motivations of a seller are necessarily in the best interest of a buyer. After all, we all have are own interests to consider too. So, a Hoyer is a completely professional quality instrument. But there are other satisfying options available at a fraction of the cost of a NEW Hoyer. These options might also include a used Hoyer.

    Alternatives:

    There are several “factory-made” models from long-established makers which are available, in excellent, used condition, at a much lower cost. These would include models from American makers,Conn, King, Reynolds, and Holton…. all of which have been found to be acceptable for professional use by many professional players ,currently, and in the past. I sincerely think that your best interests could have been well served by one of these models…at a fraction of the cost.

    Fine

    Good playing,

    S. Horner

    Like

    • Hi! Thanks for writing.
      I’ve been through quite a few horns over the past four years, the Hoyer being the first one I bought after dragging my old Yamaha out of the closet. I have since had both pre-owned and new horns and I heartily agree that it is possible to find a great horn at a very reasonable price. Somehow, I have been very fortunate that I have not lost money yet buying and selling horns.

      I’ve made some bad choices; I’ve not listened to some very good advice; and I’ve made some some okay choices, including an N series Conn 8D. I am about to get, hopefully in October, one of the best horns I have ever played. Several professional people have played this model horn and all agree that it is a fantastic horn. At some point I may write an article in my blog on the five horns I’ve gone through.

      A big part of the reason I’ve been through this number of horns has been due to different professors in school not liking what I was playing. Although I was never asked directly to switch any horn, it was fairly obvious that my life would be easier if I played a horn with a sound that was preferred in the environment I was in. My newest horn professor didn’t like the horn I am playing now for several valid reasons and has given her blessing to the one on order.

      One of the reasons I bought a new Hoyer in the beginning was that I really had no idea how to go about buying a used horn and making sure it was a good horn. A friend said to get a new Hoyer and that’s what I did. Another friend said not to buy the horn I replaced the Hoyer with and I should have listened. You are correct that an inexpensive used horn would have been a wiser choice back then. With my most recent choice I did test pre-owned horns before I went with a new one.

      Sincerely,
      Tina

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      • Hello Tina,

        Thanks for your rejoinder.

        I certainly understand the pressures a teacher can subject a student to; such pressure can even include changes in fundamental playing technique. But often it will involve a change in tone-concept…one which is favoured by that particular teacher. Once a player has become professionally employed, the tone-concept change may be necessitated by the sectional tone-concept in which he/she will join. This is especially true in quality and first-rank ensembles. Until, and if you are presented with such a “choice”, you should remain free to develop your own tone-aesthetic. You probably have some preferences at this time.

        Re the quality of variously priced horns:

        As an example, most accept that Walt Lawson, among several other makers, made/make high quality, custom made instruments. They’re expensive too. never-the-less, I know of more than one instance where a Lawson-owning professional changed to a less expensive horn, either in order to fit into a section, or because the Lawson, however finely crafted, did not fit the player as well as a particular, less expensive instrument. In one case, when newly hired, the player was quickly”encouraged” to switch to an 8d for the sake of the traditional section sound; this was in a world-class orchestra. And that 8d was also a Texas-made Conn! The point here is that even a well-designed, factory-made horn is sufficient for the requirements of a skilled player. And, despite the reputation of Elkhart 8ds, the Texas horn was not found to be inadequate.

        Remember; the most important and influential component of the horn-playing system is the player.

        Good luck with your new horn.

        S.Horner

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  24. Wow! I thought I was crazy for starting the horn at 52. (Others still think I’m crazy) I have played several instruments but there seems to be almost a romance with the horn. Can’t explain it any other way. I look forward to reading your blog and I am so glad that I’m no alone!!

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  25. Hello Tina, I took a 10 year break from serious practicing (used to play Broadway every night) and am going through many of the same changes. I played an 8D, as most did into the 2000’s but used a Lawson mouthpiece for most of the that time. I laughed when I read how you bounced between Laskey and a Moosewood B! It’s exactly what I’m doing. The Lawson really messed me up. I’m not sure I even know what a good mouthpiece is anymore. Even if I came across it, it would not help me manage the huge pre letter 8D that I feel like being sucked into. And like yourself, I fell in love with a 180K. Although I did not like the JN model, the stock with a hammered bell was awesome. I graduate nursing school in a couple months and will have one soon. Still switching between the 2 almost constantly. I can’t get an orchestral forte out of the B! Anyway-I’m enjoying reading about you. Thanks! Warmest Regards, Don Spaulding

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    • Thanks so much for writing! My apologies for not replying sooner. I still bounce back and forth with mouthpieces. I’ve managed to restrain myself from buying new ones but I pretty routinely check out my collection. I haven’t got a clue what makes I good mouthpiece. I think it’s a pretty individual thing. When I try a mouthpiece I listen for good sound in more than one place and range and comfort. And I make sure my horn teacher also listens. From the very little I know about mouthpieces, if you can’t get an orchestral forte using a Conn 8D you probably need a larger bore and or cup. Again, I could be totally wrong. You might want to go to one of the regional horn workshops this spring where you will have access to numerous mouthpieces to check out. As for the Otto, I absolutely adore my horn.

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      • Hello Tina,
        Which model of the 180K do you have? Jeff N. or stock? I could not get the Moosewood B to a forte, it would back up too quickly. Are you playing on the “e” version of a laskey to fit the 180K?
        Sorry for all of the questions! I’ve been separated from the horn world for a couple years.
        Don

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  26. I have the JN model with a medium hand hammered bell with a 1″ kranz. My other Otto was a stock 180K in rose brass and a large hh bell. I love the JN but everyone is different. My problem with the stock model was the rose brass which developed a harsh sound at double ff. I was also too new at horn playing to adequately judge a horn and today I probably would have much less issue with the horn. I find the JN extremely easy to play. I love the sound I get out of the instrument and it’s less bright than my other Otto. It also blends very well in horn sections.

    I’ve tried a large variety of mouthpieces with my JN and right now I am using an Osmun L8. I’m getting a really nice sound, good articulation, and I have full range. Before the Osmun I was using a Breslmeir mp. The sound was fantastic but I lost the low end of my range with that mp. My Laskey is a 775G E. It came in a really close 2nd to the Osmun in the last mp test I did. Mostly I went with the Osmun because I can change rims. With the Laskey, the sound difference was subtle and the articulation was a little less crisp. I haven’t used a Moosewood in quite a while but the most success I had with the Moosewood was a Vienna 10 on the old Otto. When I was playing my Schmid the Moosewood, the Schmid it came with, and the Osman mp were not a good match for me with the horn but the Breslmeir was great. No problem with the questions!
    Tina

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  27. Came across this blog surfing the web….. Played horn in school – last touched a horn in 1967. …had a midlife cris 4 weeks ago and bought a new horn on line ($450) – having a ball trying to play scales … I’m already enjoying reading these comments

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  28. Hello Tina!
    I played in highschool and then played 4 years in the Army Band until 2004. I stopped after that and haven’t played since. I am now 33 and have some holes in my soul that I haven’t been able to fill. I was at work today (nonmusical) and restarting french horn entered my mind and I am so thankful this blogg is here. I ordered the books your teacher had you start with. I, maybe naively, think I won’t be near as self concious as I was in my teens and early 20’s. Any mistakes I made in concerts, or even rehearsals, just ate me up. I got to a point where I became so nervous before solos, even though I played for a living while in the Army Band, (and looking back,. was quite good-not to toot my own horn- haha punn intended) that the enjoyment factor was overshadowed. I am hoping I have outgrown that part and will be able to fully enjoy this beautiful instrument that I was so lucky to have be such a big part of my life. I am having trouble finding a teacher in the small town where I live (Southwest Oklahoma)…

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    • Danielle, thanks so much for your comments! It’s great that you are restarting the horn again. Music and playing the horn really does fill some of those holes, at least it does for me. Fear of performing is something many people deal with. I was extremely nervous a few years ago but I’m slowly getting less nervous because I have more confidence and I realized that if I play musically the audience doesn’t even notice the mistakes even though they seem glaring to me. Since you are having trouble finding a teacher I recommend taking lessons thru Skype. It really works quite well. If you email me I can recommend someone for you. Good luck to you! Tina

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  29. I am so glad to have found your blog a few months ago when I picked the horn back up at, shall we say, mid-late 30s, after about a decade of no playing. I’ve missed it on and off, taken it out, but sounded terrible and put it away, but this time, I’ve stuck with it, loved it, been frustrated by it, regretted I ever left it, but most of all am just so gratified I can play at all again. I’m so glad to read the comments from others who’ve returned, and gotten back into it.

    I read through all your posts, and hesitated to comment, but since I’ve written a bit about my own return to the horn at my blog (http://emilyrmace.com), thought I would leave a comment here to say Hi, and thanks, and what an inspiration!

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    • Thanks for your comments! My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I took a look at your blog. Very nice. You certainly have had your challenges but you got to Mozart a lot faster than I did. Keep writing!
      ~Tina

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  30. I’m so glad I found your blog. I hope you are still writing. I just took up the french horn at 66 years old. I last played in high school. But after a very rough year in which I lost both parents within 2 weeks, I wanted to return to the playing the horn in honor of my parents who encouraged my music when I was young. I look forward to reading at this site.

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    • Thanks so much for your comments. I haven’t written anything in quite a while but I was actually thinking about it this morning. My playing changes much more slowly these days but it is time for a catch up post.

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  31. Hi Tina,

    Not sure if controlling the breath/air is still a challenge for you but Steven Mead, the euphonium player, has some tips that helped me tremendously when I was trying to get my euphonium to stop sounding like a trombone. The article title is “Mouthpiece Whistling and Resistance Mouthpiece Inhalation” and can be found here among other useful advice – http://www.euphonium.net/articles.php?revID=6. (When he claimed that I produce a whistle out of the mouthpiece I thought he was punking me – until I produced it.) The beauty of this exercise is that it links the openness and relaxation of the inhalation to the exhalation in a physical manner rather than a theoretical manner.

    The other thing that helped was to visualize the airstream as trying to stretch the sides of the horn outwards rather than forcing it out of the bell. Of course that visualization isn’t going to help when you need to rattle the bell.

    Take care,

    Dave

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    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks so much for your comments! I am doing much better with air these days but I am always looking for ways to improve. I will definitely check out the website. Thinking about stretching the sides of the horn is a very interesting concept and I will give it a try!
      Sincerely,
      Tina

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