By James Boldin


Although you might not be required to perform each of these techniques every day, it is essential that you keep them in good shape so that they are ready to go when you do need them. I’ve found that even just five minutes or so of dedicated practice in each area helps to maintain proficiency. If your regular daily routine doesn’t already include patterns for developing the following skills, you can choose from among the many excellent resources already out there, or create your own.

Lip Trills: Whether you already have a solid trill or are still perfecting your technique, daily practice is crucial to improving and maintaining this important part of our playing. If you get bored doing the same trill exercises every day, change them up or create a rotation so that you are covering a range of materials. Here’s a short list of publications with excellent trill exercises.

William R. Brophy, Technical Studies for Solving Special Problems on the Horn,Carl Fischer, 1977.

Bruce Hembd, “Exercise: My Lip Trills Stink,” published on Horn Matters, 2009.

Douglas Hill, From Vibrato to Trills to Tremolos...for the Horn Player, Really Good Music, LLC, 2003.

Douglas Hill, Warm-ups and Maintenance Sessions for the Horn Player, Really Good Music, LLC, 2001.

Sam Pilafian and Patrick Sheridan, The Brass Gym: A Comprehensive Daily Workout for Brass Players edited for horn by John Ericson, Focus on Music, 2007.

Wendell Rider, Real World Horn Playing, Wendell Rider Publications, 2006.

Multiple Tonguing: As with lip trills, I’ve found that unless I practice double and triple tonguing daily, fluency and clarity are lost over time. You want your multiple tonguing to be as reliable as possible so that when playing rapid articulations you have the option of seamlessly switching over to double or triple if necessary. Here are some resources.

J.B. Arban, Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet edited by Edwin Franko Goldman and Walter M. Smith, annotated by Claude Gordon, Carl Fischer, 1982.

William R. Brophy, Technical Studies for Solving Special Problems on the Horn, Carl Fischer, 1977.

Douglas Hill, Warm-ups and Maintenance Sessions for the Horn Player, Really Good Music, LLC, 2001.

Ifor James, Warming Up, Editions Marc Reift, 1999.

Sam Pilafian and Patrick Sheridan, The Brass Gym: A Comprehensive Daily Workout for Brass Players, edited for horn by John Ericson, Focus on Music, 2007.

Wendell Rider, Real World Horn Playing, Wendell Rider Publications, 2006.

Milan Yancich, A Practical Guide to French Horn Playing, Wind Music, Inc., 1970.

Stopped Horn: I think one of the main reasons why stopped horn doesn’t stay consistent unless practiced daily is because of the drastically different resistance and resulting sensations at the embouchure. Virtually any long tone, scale, or articulation exercise can be modified for stopped horn practice – the important thing is to put in the time every day. Practice both F and B-flat horn fingerings, but practice the best options for your instrument more often so that they become automatic.

You should of course practice other things every day, like long tones, high/low range, flexibility, scales, etc., but practicing your trills, multiple tonguing, and stopped horn daily will set you apart from many players.

James Boldin is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and currently holds the Dr. William R. Hammond Professorship in Liberal Arts. At ULM he teaches applied horn and music history courses, and performs with Black Bayou Brass.