Natural horn hand position & Such

Here is what I teach (first draft) (as someone who specializes in Beethoven era hand horn playing):

1)    Find a horn that you can play an A below middle C stopped without too much effort. I like Lowell Greer’s Austro Bohemian type, which is a big bell, sort of like an 8D. Remember most people 200 years ago were smaller than us today. Our hand are bigger, so we need a bigger bell.

2)    Get a mouthpiece with as much volume in it as you can. I have solved the volume / high range problem by getting a long cone with a narrow (18) bore. My mouthpiece can be ordered from Dave Houser, ) I use this for all my playing & I don’t suffer from a lack of high range. I love the Phil Meyers M-1 & M-4 but I fuzz out up top, but that is the general shape I like. Moosewood make some natural horn mouthpieces, talk to him about one with a very small bore.

3)    I have gotten away from the idea of bending the note down or up. The goal is all notes straight ahead, easily & naturally. Always think of what tone quality you want. In the end it is the listener that will like your sound not your notes.

4)    Tuning for low and high horn is different. Generally push in a little for low & out for high.

5)    The hand is not in as far as in modern playing. You will need to go from G to Ab (stopped) below middle C and high G to OPEN A, so the second note is in tune.

6)    The 7th overtone Bb is done with the hand OUT, as is the F# (top line). In rare occasions you can get away with a low Ab hand-out-of-the-bell. The F# below middle C can be just bent from G. Dauprat also occasionally has F natural this way! It’s hard.

7)    The B natural in the staff is somewhat stopped, but the air can be blown slower and the mouth cavity can be enlarged (puffed out a little). To keep it from getting brassy.

8)    The half stop for A is like the B but tuck your fingers into more of a fist. F will take more upper hand pressure and D even more, like real stopped. Finding F# & Ab, & Lower Eb are touchy echo stopped that should just be done by wrote with a tuner.

9)    Upper Eb should be stopped but this note needs the most tweaking in the mouth & air to keep it from getting brassy. This is critical from the Brahms trio.

10)    I have had as may fights with my students over top space F as with the hand OUT of the bell for Bb. Close the bell a little for this F, just a little!

11)    I am sure there is more. . . . like breathing . . . .(?)

12)    Trill on hand horn - I have a very simple rule for trills on the hand horn ­ Put your hand half way between the positions of the two trill tones and trill.

13)    I have found that in high keys more pitches can be played open with just pitch bending of the lips such as upper Eb on a C alto horn.

To hear my natural horn playing, I have the Dauprat opus 14 duets rerecorded (way better than the 2001 release) but I have not started to advertise them, (write to me about it).

My Dauprat opus 8 & 10 trios & quartets can be down loaded from Itunes,, & other online MP3 sources.

Richard Burdick
1st Horn Regina Symphony
Regina, SK Canada