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How to help with French horn practice?


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#1 mrsmelon

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 16:03

I have a daughter who plays the horn and about to sit G5. I've been trying to help with her practice at home, particularly scales, and I'm struggling. She knows them but it just seems so difficult to get a smooth scale, all the way up and down, without fluffs, squeaks, not being able to find the starting note (if it's a low one), not hitting the highest note (if it's a high one) or running out of breath. I know the horn is a hard instrument, is it usual by G5 standard to be able to play scales perfectly, or not? Her teacher (who I don't get to see or speak to because she learns at school) just says the scales are 'fine'. She will often get it right the second or third time but first time is so hit and miss! She's getting quite disheartened, the exam is a week on Monday. Is there anything else I should be doing or should i back off?!
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#2 corenfa

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 17:10

For running out of breath and not hitting the highest note, breathing exercises helped me learn how to develop better breath support. And lots of long tones, boring as they are to play and listen to.
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#3 mrsmelon

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 12:37

Thanks Corenfa!
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#4 Tenor Viol

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 21:54

I have freinds who play horn ( one ex-conservatoire, the other semi-retired and G7) and it's a demanding instrument and I think @Corenfa's absolutely right. Most instruments that you blow into benefit fomr long tones


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#5 violinlove

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 16:10

As the exam is a week on Monday there isn't time to improve the breath control so your daughter will have to just go for it and hope for the best. After the exam it is time to talk to the teacher about breath control exercises and how to improve it. The teacher saying the scales are "fine" could mean that they are and perfectly acceptable for grade 5. On the other hand maybe the teacher isn't really giving her the relevant exercises in order to enable her to play the scales without running out of breath.

I have been learning for 5 years and preparing for grade 8 and we have spent most of the 5 years working on breath control - long tones, all kinds of warm up exercises and the latest thing my teacher came up with was the Thomann Respiratory Trainer Inspiron (you can google it). He turned it upside down (ie. the other way up than it is meant to be used) but the mouth piece in the tube and then I had to play through it and keep the ball in the air. This has been great for scales and you can set it to different levels to make it harder or easier. It is also great for making sure the air keeps coming through even when playing staccato. I love it. I think it would be fun for youngsters too as you can really see what your airflow is doing and it is quite a challenge to keep the ball up.


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#6 mrsmelon

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 16:43

Thanks so much, that's a really helpful idea! She's changing teachers next term so we'll see how the new teacher approaches things, but great to know about this!
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#7 Clovis

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 17:45

Just wondering how your G5 exam went? My son (10) is also learning horn and has the same issues with scales that you mention. He took Grade 3 last term and was panned by the examiner for not producing a perfect, in tune scale, as well as for lack of articulation, though he was playing in a boomy church with the bell pointing backwards so any tonguing was completing lost in the reverb. Grade 2 was fine, but the G3 result was very disheartening for him.


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#8 mrsmelon

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 10:58

She got 130, so she's happy. Still to find out the breakdown of marks so not sure how she scored on the scales. I agree that the horn in general seems such a hard instrument and the examiners don't seem to cut them any slack! I played flute and had nothing like the problems my daughter has, and she's a much better musician than I was.
I hope your son is not too discouraged, it's a lovely instrument despite it's challenges!
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#9 Clovis

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 11:47

Good for her! Well done.

 

I play flute (and piano) too – the horn just makes ianything else sound so easy.


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