I’m on my way to the International Horn Symposium by car so I have several nights in hotels on my way. I’ve never used a practice mute before. I borrowed one (Yamaha silent brass mute without the electronics) and used it for the first time two days ago. It was weird. Very, very weird. The first thing – how to hold the horn. The mute takes up all the space in the bell. No room for a hand. This is pretty obvious but it didn’t occur to me until I stuck the mute into the bell. I tried holding on to the end of the mute, holding the edge of the bell, shoving my elbow against the mute – nothing really worked.
The second thing – really bad posture which is a consequence of the the hand problem. I found myself fairly hunched over once I found a somewhat comfortable place for my right hand.
Then there’s the sound or lack thereof. I was surprised how quiet the mute makes the horn. It’s hard to describe the sound. It’s not just softer, it’s got kind of an edge to it. I also found that if I wasn’t careful, I would play a ‘wa-wa’ sound similar to a trumpet with that kind of mute. I practiced for about a half hour – mostly slurs and scales – and that was about all I could stand. Trying to play real music just didn’t work for me.
Yesterday the horn gods were looking favorably on me. I was originally planning to stop in Columbus, Ohio but when I got there I wasn’t very tired and I decided to push on. I went a little past Dayton and saw one of those exits with a bunch of hotels listed. One was a Hampton Inn and I like those so I decided to head there. I followed the signs and thought I had gotten lost. I had to follow this long, winding road (remember this is by an Interstate exit) up a hill. I had past the other hotels on the highway sign before following this road. I finally got to the hotel and at first I thought it wasn’t open. There was only one car in the parking lot. I checked in and asked how full the hotel was. Only 10 registered guests (Hmm – I wonder why?) I explained that I wanted to practice my horn and asked the desk clerk if she could put me far away from the other guests. “Yes – I can put you on the noisy side of the hotel by the highway. All the others are on the ‘quiet’ side.” Two hours of practice – yes!