The hand in the bell is used to keep the horn from going sharp, which without said hand it would tend to do. There are also other lengths of tubing you could add to make certain registers easier to play, ie, a Bb side is standard on most horns to faciliatate notes above the staff. The horn is probably one of the most difficult instruments to play, owing to its tiny initial bore size and, as a function, closeness of notes on the harmonic series.

the french horn is a left handed instrument with three valves derived from multi-coiled hunting horns first seen in france in the late sixteenth century. if the horn has an additional trigger (as most modern horns do), it is a double horn; the trigger allows the musician to alternate between the keys of F and Bb (B flat) (and can help extend the range of experienced players). horns without the Bb trigger are called single horns.

most french horn players will insist that the proper name for the instrument is simply horn, and that they are hornists, however most non-musicians associate the word horn with a broad classification of musical instruments.

The right hand of the musician is held inside the rim of the bell primarily to soften and round out (or de-brass, if you will) the sound. The tuning is adjusted by slides and the instrument is tuned with the hand in the bell. The hand should be held in a c-shaped cup, to deflect the air, rather than actually muffle it. the hand position can be changed during play to mute, change the tone colour, and alter intonation, but these techniques are difficult for all but experienced horn players.

daily maintenance:

remove "water" (spit) after each use. remove skin acid from the valves and bell with a soft cloth.

weekly maintenance:

unscrew the caps near the valves and oil the bearing. oil inside the valve slides and spin the horn to oil the valve itself. grease the slides and mouthpiece. wipe mouthpiece with silver cloth to prevent tarnishing.

monthly maintenance:

run a bathtub or deep sink full of warm water. remove all the slides and pour some dish soap into each. flush the horn with water, spinning it to circulate it, until the water comes out without bubbles. let the horn dry as you clean each of the slides. dry and regrease the slides, reassemble the horn and oil the valves.

periodic maintenance:

check the strings which control the valves for weakness and fraying and replace them when these are noticed. otherwise replace strings twice per year with braided nylon. check the rubber or cork of the spit valve (if the horn has one, many don't), if it isn't seated properly the horn can sound airy.

The french horn is an extremely diffucult endeavor for the high school band student for the simple fact that you cannot march in marching band with your instument. You are forced to switch instruments, usually to pit percussion or mellophone.

The reason for this is quite simple. Horns are expensive, a decent one costing approximately six thousand to ten thousand US dollars.

So what's so difficult about the switch? The mellophone is played like a trumpet, which is right handed. So your marching french hornist has to learn new fingerings and develop new muscles in both hands.

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