I know this is an question for every horn player. We will not play forever and with the age things will get harder and harder. What is your advice to keep at least the same quality as before?
All the best
David Johnson's answer:
I was not expecting to get a question from a hornplayer that I already know personally. I will try to answer your question as best I can.
I am 53 years old and certainly do not play as well technically as I did 20-30 years ago. I do try to practice a bit every day to maintain a standard of playing that is both helpful to my students and still musically acceptable to me. I still do gigs with orchestras and play chamber music and for this type of playing a professional level is required, especially now that I am once again a freelancer.
I would say that an embouchure like mine, that has at one time or another played most large orchestral works, needs more maintenance than actual hard practice. By maintenance I mean a good 20-40 minutes of warming up before actual practice, depending on individual needs, and then 30 - 60 minutes a day comprising etudes, orchestral passages, solo repertoire work(s) and chamber music. More practice than this per day will actually improve most hornists, but, quite frankly, as a full time teacher, I rarely can afford myself this luxury. I do, however, play during some of the lessons, so this is also a bit more playing a day as well.
I think slow legato passages on the horn are more helpful to an older embouchure than technical acrobatics. Most of what we do on a daily basis with the horn is not super technical, ergo it seems logical to first cater to the daily needs before the exceptional ones. I hope this has helped you in some way.