Longevity and the Horn Player


John Q. Ericson

Arizona has a regional IHS newsletter, Horn on the Range. The area representative recently asked area horn professors for their thoughts on the topic of longevity, as in playing the horn for many years. As this is a topic that should interest everyone I would like to offer my thoughts here as well.

As I wrote in Horn on the Range, longevity as a horn player relates to at least three areas that may need adjustment over time in relation to the aging process. While each of these items could be expanded into a full article on the topic, these three are important starting points for thought and discussion.

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The Floating-Jaw Embouchure

John Q. Ericson

Outside of the horn world there are a few concepts and terminologies we could stand to adopt. David Hickman in his recent publication Trumpet Pedagogy defines two types of embouchures. One is the fixed-jaw embouchure, a type that won’t work well on the horn at least in the lower register. The other type, of more interest to us, is the floating-jaw embouchure.

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Release notes or attack notes?

John Q. Ericson

Some brass teachers suggest thinking of the beginning of notes as releases instead of attacks. While you could just brush it off as sort of a use of words issue, that they are essentially two terms for the same thing, actually I see some danger in using the term release for two reasons.

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Fingerings in the low range

John Q. Ericson


During a group warm-up session I attended at the 2009 International Horn Symposium (led by Lydia Van Dreel) a participant asked a question about low range fingerings. This topic is one that is surprisingly hot, as it relates to the use of the F and Bb horn in the low range. Some teachers have strong opinions on the fingering choices.

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Mozart Concerto #1 Alternate Fingerings

Although we now know that this Concerto in D Major was the last that Mozart wrote for his friend Ignaz Leutgeb (whose range and technic may have been “aging”) and the composer died before he could complete it, we generally refer to it as Mozart’s“Concerto No. 1.”

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