How children starts hornplaying?

07 Mar 2008 11:37 #65 by Martin Künkler
How children starts hornplaying? was created by Martin Künkler
Hello everyone,

how children starts hornplaying in other countrys? Here in Germany, most kids starting on a Bb-horn by early use of the valves. E.g.:
f-e-f (concert-pitch; written in F: c-h-c; in english: c-b-c) (A german h is english b; a german b is english Bb). In Germany, the Bb-Horn traditional is more in use then e.g. in Austria. Most privat or public musikschools teach on the Bb-horn first, because its easier to play than a F-horn. So the kids have an earlier success experience than on a F-horn (very important for them!). On the other hand, a late change from the Bb- to the F- or doublehorn is more difficult. But in the amateur sector, Bb-horns are standard and a lot of profis play most of the parts on the Bb-side of their double. In contrast to that, a lot of privat teachers (mostly profis) prefer starting on a double-horn. I myself dont like this! A double is to heavy for a children in age of 8, 9 or 10! For such young kids, so called "Kinderhorns" are made by some manufactors. They have a closer wrap and the bell is some centimeters (may be one inch) smaller in its diameter. I also prefer the learning with "Horn in C-basso" (Vioninclef) first instead of "in F". The benefit: "Horn in F" only is a transposition (like all others) between "C-alto" and "C-basso". "In C" is the mothertongue of all musicians, no matter what kind of instrument is used. I know a lot of hornplayers (amateurs and profis) who learned "in F" first. This horn-specific kind of reading and thinking prevents, that those players are not able to think in concert-pitches and they mostly can not read and play a trombone-, trumpet-, flute-, string- or pianopart prima vista! And learning transposing is more easier with "in C" as basic! In our Posaunenchor (brassband of the lutheran church) all instruments are written in C. We also have no instrument-parts, we use piano-scores. This makes it possible, that each player can play each other part without changing sheets or without the need of transposing! (Easy living!) Out of the Posaunenchor, "in F" is standard for the horn, of course! But not only in orchestral-parts transposed parts are standard. So the need of transposing is very impotant! As far as I know, american horn-parts (sheet music editions) mostly written "in F", no matter how many accidentals you get. E.g.: E-major (concert) is written as H-Dur (B-major). Thats terrible! More easy: Write down the hornpart in C-major with the note "Horn in E", switch down the Bb-Horn to A and play it as "Horn in F".
How do You teach hornplaying and/or how did You learned it?

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08 Mar 2008 16:48 #66 by Artturi Lehtiö
Replied by Artturi Lehtiö on topic Re:How children starts hornplaying?
This is a very interesting subject!

I am still only studying hornplaying so I can't really say which method is overall the best, however, I will share my experiences. I started hornplaying while living in China when I was 10. The horn I had was a doublehorn but I was only taught to use the Bb-side and so for two years I played everything on that. After those two years, my family and I moved back to Finland where I continued to have hornlessons. The first thing that happened was that my teacher taught me to also use the f-side of my horn and since then I have used both sides. Since I started on the Bb-horn which is harder to finger and since the teaching in China is very technically oriented, I have never had trouble with my finger-technique, however, I have had to spend time working on my sound. I might be biased because I personally prefer the f-side and use it as much as possible but in my opinion, it is better to start on the f-side since the student immediately is able to develop a "proper horn-sound" (which is ofcourse a very personal thing and no doubt no two people will ever completely agree on the subject). Also, it might be more difficult at first to play on the f-side compared to the b-side but, in my opinion, it is something that must be learned at some point anyway and it is an integral part of hornplaying so therefore I would think it better to start learning those things straight from the start.

On the subject of learning to play in F or in C, I would prefer to learn first to play in F because the horn is after all an instrument in F. However circumstances might cause reason to first learn in C as you stated and in my opinion, that is the up to the person with personal knowledge of the situation. Transposition is a skill that all hornplayers need to learn but since parts written in F are (as far as I know) the most common, I would think it better to learn to play in F and then transpose from that. I don't see the difference in transposing from C compared to F.

However, this is a subject that seems to very much depend on the teacher and the methods commonly used in the specific country or area. A good example being that you say in Germany most start on the Bb-horn and professionals mostly use the Bb-side whereas in Finland most start on the F-horn and professionals mostly prefer the f-side.


Artturi from Finland

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08 Mar 2008 17:26 - 10 Mar 2008 06:01 #67 by Ricardo Matosinhos
Replied by Ricardo Matosinhos on topic Re:How children starts hornplaying?

In Portugal most of the children start to play in F and then start to mix double horn. Unforunelly most of the them start to play the horn with 10 years old without previous music knoledge. I also started in F for a year and then mixed both horns.
As a teacher, my students allways start from the F side, playing simple melodies between F horn 3rd and 8th harmonic, If they practice a lot and they start developing skils I keep them only in F till they play the low C and the high G. Of course, as you said, if they start to have much dificulties on the horn, I start to mix also the B-flat horn, in order to motivate them by missing less notes.
About transpositions, for me I think there's no problem on reading in F, what I find important is to develop the transposition. Playing for example simple children songs starting from different notes, like a game.
Last edit: 10 Mar 2008 06:01 by Ricardo Matosinhos.

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11 Jul 2008 19:08 #134 by Olivia Queathem
Replied by Olivia Queathem on topic Re:How children starts hornplaying?
I live in a small town in the USA. I started playing when I was 10, in fifth grade; that's when kids here start middle school (junior high). I had already been playing piano for a few years, so I could read music. All of us started on the F horn, and we wouldn't have been able to switch to a double horn until high school - but the high school passed down some old doubles and we started just after we entered 7th grade. I've never had much trouble transposing, but I'm still a young student and I've never played music that I had to transpose; however, sometimes I try transposing my choir music for horn, just for fun/practice.
I didn't have much choice as to what horn I started on or switched to because of our limited supply of instruments. Therefore I wouldn't know whether this really was the best method, but it's worked for me.

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