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!

International Horn Symposium Day 1 –>

International Horn Symposium

I’ll be attending the International Horn Symposium in Macomb, IL early next month. This will be my first symposium and it will be a fantastic learning experience for me. I’m really looking forward to going.

Their website says: Study horn playing with guest artists and distinguished horn teachers.

  • Enjoy directed playing experiences in classes, clinics, and horn choirs
  • Visit exhibitors to discuss horn study and playing
  • Compete in solo performance, orchestral playing, horn ensembles and jazz solo performance
  • Participate in clinics on specialized topics of technique, literature, and performance
  • Experience outstanding performances and presentations by guest artists and contributing artists of solo and chamber music for the horn


If any of you are planning to attend and would like to meet at the symposium please leave a comment and I’ll come up with a plan.

A really good lesson –>