I'm wondering if many of you especially you pros out there could shed a little light on just what I can expect in the future.
If you want to know [some of a zillion!] possible scenarios for hornists, I offer these from real life examples:
Disclaimer: Don't think you have to fit the mold of any scenario that I anyone tell you. You are asking someone to [decide] or [foretell] your future. This is impossible.

Scenario 1.

Young talented horn player, practices hard, loves the instrument, has lots of money to fly and take auditions; takes enough auditions and does well enough that he gets noticed by some important folks and eventually hired, first as a sub, then into a permanent position (perhaps as 3rd horn) in a major gig. He or she eventually progresses to become principal horn in that gig; then branches out, taking any audition and winning a few here and there; having his pick of the orchestras.

Scenario 2.

Young amazingly talented horn player, has every possibility for success; however suffers a tragic accident that permanently disables him/her from ever performing on the horn again. Tries hard to get back with therapy; fails, and eventually becomes a systems analyst.

Scenario 3.

Young talented horn player, has every possibility for success; however is recruited into a scientology cult that forces him/her to give up ALL possessions, including the horn. This person disappears from the face of the earth.

Scenario 4.

Young, medium-talent horn player, is so friendly to everyone that folks like to hire him/her to help out in section. Eventually, in a small town, this player's name becomes a household word and he/she gets gigs at the drop of a hat. However, this person does not make enough money on gigs to earn a living; therefore, must take a day gig and work 8 hours a day, practicing when they can. Eventually, this person marries, has kids, and settles into a peaceful life of day gig and regular gigging-about-town.

Scenario 5.

Young, amazingly talented horn player, gets scholarship, has the world at his feet, and is killed in an auto accident before he or she can begin this career.

Scenario 6.

Young talented horn player, gets scholarship to local college, however, due to long-standing prejudice within the township he or she grew up in, is refused every gig that comes along, although this person is perfectly capable of handling any assignment. Said person tries every means to communicate with those in power without success; eventually has a nervous breakdown and quits the horn for a time. Later, this person recovers, picks up the horn and decides to play in community orchestras for pleasure, rather than begging others for a gig. To support this habit, the hornist must take a day gig. Later, the hornist auditions for, and wins, a major league job.


Scenario 6.5

The hornist never auditions for any gig, due to a long-standing fear of failure.

Scenario 7.

Completely mediocre level horn player is friends with all, and not considered a threat to the job security of his or her currently-gigging counterparts. As a result, this person is ALWAYS hired to sub for his/her friends, since they know that the person will NEVER attract the attention of the conductor, and, perhaps, take their job away.

Scenario 8.

Very talented horn player is never hired for local gigs in township orchestra because the mediocre players who do these gigs are insecure with their own positions and do not want the conductor, or the orchestra committee to know that there is someone BETTER than they are in town...

Scenario 9.

Amazingly talented hornist, gets a scholarship, goes away to study with famous teacher; famous teacher CHANGES the player's embouchure, plus some other things, totally ruining the player. This person quits the horn out of frustration after a year or two; and is too embarrassed to talk about it.

Scenario 10 to (whatever)

This is your scenario. Do what you want with it.

The important thing is not to play the horn JUST to make a living. When playing the horn becomes too much like [work] like it was for me in Mexico, then it is time to step back and decide if you are really playing this gig because you love your instrument, rather than the money you make. When you play because you love to play, this projects to your audience and makes you an even better player than you realize.

I wish you the best of luck in your career!

Whew, what a broad topic! The horn list has been lacking a little in substance lately, so here are my thoughts on a few of your questions, even at the risk of going into my lengthy life story! Since graduating with a BM in Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where I studied with Doug Hill), I have played what could be called 'professionally' for the past 3 years in the New World Symphony in Miami, FL. It's kind of an odd situation- the NWS is designed as a place where the top recent graduates of colleges and conservatories around the world can get orchestral experience. It's actually considered a kind of graduate fellowship, but the experience is very much like that of a "real" orchestra. We have to win an audition to get in, we get a paycheck every 2 weeks, we play at a extremely high professional level and about 90% of us end up getting good orchestral jobs eventually, so for all practical purposes I think I'm qualified to answer your questions.

In a typical week we rehearse twice a day (5 hrs total) on Tuesday and Wednesday, a dress rehearsal (3 hrs long) and concert on Thursday, the day off (or sometimes a concert) on Friday, and concerts on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Monday is another day off. Then we go through the whole cycle again with a different program the next week for the entire season (September-May), with an occasional run-out to a neighboring community or an international tour (FUN!!).

I think I have a unique perspective on this whole situation in fact, because I'm a young (25) hornist who's been playing in a fine orchestra, but has been making the semifinals and finals in US auditions and hasn't won anything yet, and is still trying. I can tell you how difficult it can be today to win an orchestral job, even for the finest players. It's extremely tough to win an orchestral audition for a fine orchestra. It's even difficult to get accepted INTO auditions sometimes if your resume isn't "good enough". It's not unusual for 80 people to show up to audition for a so called "secondary" orchestra like Colorado or San Antonio and 150 for a "big 5" or "10" orchestra. It's also not unusual for committees to subsequently not hire anyone for the job, and this has been happening more and more lately. And it's not unusual for a musician to take literally dozens of auditions before they win something. You know what Farkas says in his book about 3 hrs/day of practice for an aspiring professional? I think that in these times 4-5 hrs./day may be more reasonable if one wants to become good enough to win an audition for a full-time professional orchestra.

Since I'm still on the "audition warpath," I'm still practicing a lot even though I'm not in school- I think more than most professionals probably- and taking any audition that interests me. In school I practiced 4-5 hours a day (not including rehearsals), although I have to say that some of that practice time was not as efficient as it could've been. While at NWS I practiced a good 3-4 1/2 hours a day, depending on the amount of rehearsals and concerts that day. Now during the summer I'm still practicing 4 1/2 hrs. a day (interspersed throughout the day, of course). This does not include rehearsals or mental practice like listening to recordings or studying scores. And even after all of this, I've decided to leave the NWS and go back to school next year (I'm getting an Artist Diploma at McGill University in Montreal, Canada- studying with John Zirbel) because I'm taking responsibility for the fact that I don't have a full-time orchestral job yet, and there's some stylistic things that I'd like to improve in my playing by working further with a teacher before I can win a good job! It's what I feel I need to do.

This may sound frightening, but I'm enjoying every minute of it!! I'm having the time of my life. I'm young, this is what I love doing, so I need to do this right now. You have to truly love music, be a perfectionist, take personal responsibility for your successes and failures, and have the persistence and stamina to keep practicing it if you want an orchestral job. But it's not difficult at all if you truly love what you're doing. So PLEASE be sure this is definitely what you want.

So I think it's time for me to shut up now- sorry for the length! Can any of you "real" professionals (ha ha!!) please add anything to what I've said? I think it's very important for young musicians to know what they're getting themselves into. Thanks for listening, y'all!

Addition to the above article......
.....I won the audition for the 3rd/Associate Principal Horn opening in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in July, so I'm not in school and I have a gig. Maybe you could add that at the end as a footnote, to maybe show people what it takes?

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