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Choosing a horn

13 years 8 months ago - 13 years 8 months ago #364 by William VerMeulen
Hello Mr. VerMeulen,

I'm a junior in high school right now and I play on my school's horn which is a Holton 179. I'm pursuing music after high school and I was wondering what horn you would recommend for a college music major.

My best regards,

Mario Gutierrrez

William VerMeulen's answer

Hi Mario - great to hear from you and thanks for the excellent question. When I was in high school I used to play a Holton 180 and was also looking to make a change so I understand your interest. There are a lot of very good horns out there so it can be confusing. The one concept I would like to stress is that a great player can make a less than first-rate instrument still sound good. I know when I was a young player we would always marvel at the professionals who could pick up almost any horn and sound magnificent. Your primary focus should be sounding amazing on what is in your hands and serving the music with the greatest integrity.

That being said, because you won't have your school horn anymore, you'll want to look for something that has the colors of tone that you enjoy within the dictates of what the current marketplace is hiring. In my view, most orchestras are hiring players that show a variety of colors, so I would look for a horn that gives you that. Don't go for anything that is too extreme in any direction, such as choosing a horn that is overly dark or brilliant in color. You want something that allows you to make Brahms sound like Brahms, Ravel sound like Ravel, and Mozart like Mozart, etc. A good centrist timbrel spectrum is smart for today's market in the professional orchestral world. As to the specific horn, you might want to consult with your teacher. Because you will be without your school horn your decision may be subject to your time frame. A top hand crafted horn can take up to 5 years to receive after you place the order. Many of my students will put a deposit down on such a horn when they enter Freshman year so that perhaps could have a professional caliber instrument before they graduate. There are some very fine factory horns that would cut your wait time considerably as well. In the end, rather than going for a "bridge" horn to see as something for college, I would go after the best horn I could with the money I have. Decent horns can range from $3,000 to $17,000 so there are a lot of options. Attend an IHS workshop where many of the makers display their instruments and see what works for you. In addition, find a good professional level player to test your prospective horn, whether new or used. That way you can have some feedback from someone more experienced in sound production. Have a great time with your search and above all have fun! Remember, you PLAY the horn. It should be fun.
Last edit: 13 years 8 months ago by IHS Online Manager.
The following user(s) said Thank You: John Berezney

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