HORNS LOUD AND PROUD: The importance of dynamics for young horn players

HORNS LOUD AND PROUD: The importance of dynamics for young horn players

Beginners who are encouraged to play with a big, relaxed sound will eventually develop a more refined tone as they progress. Even though the first sounds may be a bit raw or “primitive”, the concept of playing loud and blowing air through the horn is important for the development of a beautiful, characteristic sound.

As teachers, we may be initially alarmed by the unhindered sounds emerging from our young horn players. But, if we stress “control” over “air” then both the teacher and student will ultimately lose. Horn is a difficult instrument to play, especially at the beginning. By allowing your students to play with a big, full sound, you are giving them the freedom to conquer some of their fears of the instrument. Horn players must be brave and fearless! 

Pedagogically, when playing loud (especially in the middle/low range), the corner muscles are required to support this increased air flow. The result is firmer muscles and increased embouchure stability. 

Finally, have your young students play exercises that repeat one note at varying dynamics, such as quarter note crescendos. A note will feel and respond a little differently when altering the amount of air. Students that always play at one dynamic level limit their capacity to play accurately at other dynamic levels. Repeating a pitch while getting louder presents a perfect opportunity to challenge your students to be accurate at different dynamic levels.

One of my mottos as a private teacher is, “Life is too short to NOT make music.” I believe even very young students can be encouraged and taught to play musically by shaping phrases and utilizing a variety of dynamics. By allowing your beginners to cultivate a big, healthy sound, you are laying the foundation for their growth as musicians. The key is AIR! It is much easier to refine a big, unhindered sound than to constantly be begging a student to play louder and fill up the room. 

I hope this article has been helpful and encouraging. If you have questions, please leave feedback below or contact me at: karen@houghtonhorns.com

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