Date: Sat, 09 May 1998 20:26:02 +0200
From: "Ole J. Utnes" <>
Subject: Re: Trumpeter on French horn

Sian Smith wrote:

<<I took up horn last year. I was enjoying it, but then after about 6 months of playing I recieved a message from a brass teacher saying it would damage my trumpeting. I took up trombone, didn't enjoy it and am now solely a trumpeter. I now want to know the general opinion - would my trumpeting be affected by playing F. Horn?>>

Sian and the rest who is interested in the "doubling" business:

I try to become a better brass player and therefore practice each day on all my horns, starting on the tuba, then the euphonium, then the french horn and finally the trumpet.

Playing a brass instrument is IMO mostly a mental thing. Those of you who have read the "Inner Game" books will now that they talk about Self 1 and Self  2. Now Self 2 is the "Musician" and getting in touch with "him" is what the (inner) "game" is about......

Other people or "Self 1" will tell us that it is impossible to double on brass. But there are people out there who prove that it is possible. (like our own TPIN'er Nick D.)

There is a different feel on each instrument and you place it differently on the lips. The tuba, euphonium and horn with more upper lip (2/3 - 1/3) but the trumpet more 1/2 - 1/2 (at least for me).

After starting on the French Horn I feel I understand Philip Farkas book better: It is easier to play French Horn with the "Farkas Embouchure" than to play trumpet that way (topic for another tread).

Well there is a lot to learn about embouchure and breathing (especially playing tuba - you need a lot of air)
- - but for me the big trill with these different horns is *the music*:

Right now I'm working on Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 3 - the slow middle part is so beautiful and I keep listening to Dennis Brain. Also Bach's Cello Sonatas is is a pleasure to play on the "Corno". (btw, French Horn is IMO a stupid name...). I used to play some of those sonatas on Classical Guitar when I was a music teacher (some 15 years ago).
I have tried to play them on trumpet but I really like to play them on the Horn - I like the sound, and it is easier.

I like to tell myself that as brass players we are training our lips to be the vocal chords and that we are "singing" on the horns. On the tuba, I try, right now, to "sing" Negro Spirituals like O'l Man River, Go Down Moses, etc. imagining that I am Paul Robson. It really helps me play better on that big horn.

But it is difficult to play a tuba (for me) so I have to practice a lot of flexibility in addition - but for those flexes, I also use J.S. Bach, the piece for piano i C-major, that Gounoud added a beautiful melody to, called Ave Maria.

Does it work for everyone to double? I do not know.
It all depends on the situation, and as I have said your mental attitude.

But it is not the same thing to play a big Bb trumpet and a small Bb piccolo, is it?
Maurice Andre has this view on that:
"The instrument must immediately form a whole with the musician playing it. Perhaps that's just a gift. For example, play the same way as on the C. You see, I play the C — pfffff — pushing with the diaphragm right in the center, as the experts say [laughs], while I feel the Bb piccolo higher up, more in the chest. Just try and explain that! The attack is different, too. As soon as I have the instrument in my hands — I don't know whether it's because of the size or the mouthpiece or my lips—I immediately adapt to the instrument, because you have to play them all differently, don't you? You get some guys who play the C trumpet very well but get screwed up on the Bb piccolo. I'm convinced that it's as a result of not being able to make this change." 
(from an interview in Brass Bulletin, No. 26. - 1979)

Another great player, Allen Vizzuti told me he tried the French Horn but it did not work easy for him, so he was not doing it any more. (but he plays Fr. Horn on a CD).

Time to stop rambling.....

- --
Ole Jorgen Utnes  --  "Oulee the Gentle Viking"