Are you starting to feel like you might do something drastic to your horn if you have to play the same etude one more time? We hear you. Take a break, and please don’t defenestrate your poor defenseless instrument! Here are some lighthearted and upbeat pieces that will remind you why you love to play the horn.
(Titles are in alphabetical order by composer.)
Fantasy for Horn, Op. 88 – Malcolm Arnold
It’s too bad we just missed Talk Like a Pirate Day, or you could play this lively sea shanty while you hoisted the mainsail and swabbed the poop deck, arrrr!
Folk Songs – Paul Basler
You’ll definitely recognize a few of these timeless melodies from around the world.
Glass Bead Game – James Beckel
This concerto is based on the Herman Hesse novel of the same title, in which the author posits that “man exists as an individual in a purposeless universe that is basically hostile”. But you don’t have to be a philosophy major to enjoy this mysterious, sci-fi-esque piece.
This is the most difficult piece on the list, best for more advanced high school students.
Hornswoggles – Mary Ann Griebling
This collection of duets was written by a private teacher to be short, enjoyable breaks from difficult technique sessions.
Movie and TV Music for Horn – Hal Leonard Instrumental Play-Along Series
This book contains solo arrangements for 13 smash-hit TV series and movies: The Avengers, Beauty and the Beast, Captain America, Doctor Who XI, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hawaii Five-O, How to Train Your Dragon, Outlander, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Up, and The X-Files. It also includes a download link for an audio demonstration and a backing track so you can get your John Williams on.
Video Game Music for Horn – Hal Leonard Instrumental Play-Along Series
This book contains songs from 14 popular video games: Angry Birds, Assassin’s Creed III, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Battlefied 1942, Civilization IV, Deltarun, Elder Scrolls IV, Elder Scrolls V, Fallout 4, Final Fantasy VII, Fullmetal Alchemist, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, Splinter Cell: Conviction, and Undertale. It contains a download code to an audio demonstration of each piece as well as the backing track.
Recipe for Success – Karen Houghton and Janet B. Nye
Wait, aren’t these pieces supposed to be fun? Why is a textbook on here? Sure, Recipe is primarily a curriculum for beginning horn players. But there’s also dozens of solos and duets sprinkled throughout the book that will provide a refreshing break from the TMEA grind. Our favorites include the spooky Halloween duet “Ghost Hunt”, “Jupiter” from Holst’ “The Planets”, and the Christmas carols.
Divertimento for Horn Quartet – Kazutaka Kawai
Retro video game fans will enjoy this dose of old-school 8-bit nostalgia from Japanese composer Kazutaka Kawai.
The Pink Panther – Henry Mancini
We’re all old and out of touch here at Houghton Horns — do the cool kids still watch The Pink Panther these days? If not, tell your parents you need to break out the popcorn and have a family movie night, because it’s great. And then enjoy the classic theme song.
Espionage for Four Horns – Susan Mutter
It’s not quite like racing along a Mediterranean beach in a stolen sports car while dodging bullets from a pursuing helicopter, but this piece is the next best thing to being James Bond. We’ve seen performances of this 70s spy movie-inspired piece performed by people in costumes, sneaking their horns stealthily up onto the stage under a trenchcoat, so there’s opportunity to really ham up the cheesy 007 vibe.
Morceau de Concert, Op. 94 – Camille Saint-Saens
The exciting and animated first movement has been a huge favorite with horn students for over a century.
Just Desserts – Lowell E. Shaw
Shaw has composed dozens of short, cheerful, jazzy tunes for 1-6 horns. This particular book contains 15 fun little ditties for solo horn. Check out his other works here.
Hunter’s Moon – Gilbert Vinter
This piece takes you back to the horn’s roots as a hunting instrument, sending you racing through the forest in pursuit of your prey.
Did we leave anything out? Let us know your favorite palate-cleansing work for horn in the comment section.