Trying Out a New Horn at Home - Houghton Horns

Trying Out a New Horn at Home

So UPS just knocked on your door and dropped off your new horn. Congratulations!


…now what?

Whenever possible, we recommend everyone come in to our physical store and shop for horns with the guidance of a professional musician, to make sure they find the best fit for their playing style. Unfortunately, visiting us in person might not be possible for all customers, so here’s some advice for testing your new instrument by yourself at home during the 15-day return period.

1. Try to find a private space to play. It can be difficult to remain focused if you are in a room with other people, especially when they are watching YouTube or Netflix, or on a Zoom call!

2. When trying out new equipment, change only one variable at a time. Make sure that you play on the same mouthpiece that you regularly use on your current instrument. Follow your normal warm-up and cool-down routines. Play sheet music you already know well and feel comfortable with.

3. Focus on the sound you are creating. This includes the tone quality in all dynamics, evenness of the tone throughout the full range of the horn, the clarity of articulation, and the smoothness of slurs.

4. Although both are important, place your primary emphasis on the sound of the horn over its “feel”. The horns that will feel the best are most likely those that are closest to your current instrument, but that’s not necessarily what you want, or you wouldn’t be trying other things.

5. The ergonomics of most horns can be adjusted, so if you are physically uncomfortable playing the horn, call us and ask for help.

For example, you may be able to move the pinky hook or flipper up or down. Many new horns, such as our Verus horns, come with a hex wrench that allows you to adjust the pinky hook, and the flipper can often be repositioned with the help of a screwdriver. Be careful: these are thin bits of metal that can snap off, so when in doubt, let us walk you through it over the phone or ask your teacher to do it for you.

6.  Don’t be concerned with the look of the horn.  Your audience only cares about the music you create.

If you bought an unlacquered horn, it will begin to tarnish as soon as you take it out of the box. This is normal, and over the coming months your horn will develop a lovely golden patina. Don’t worry: fingerprints on an unlacquered horn will not prevent you from being able to return it for a full refund during the 15-day return period, and it will also not hurt the resale value of the horn when you are ready to sell it in the future.

7. Don’t expect new equipment to solve fundamental problems. Until the day science invents a horn that magically hits all the high notes perfectly each time, you will have to keep practicing. Sorry to be the bearers of bad news.

8. Schedule a time where you can play for your teacher during the 15-day return period, if only over FaceTime or Skype.

9. Read through our articles on horn maintenance so that you can enjoy your horn for many years to come. If you are unsure which tools and materials you will need to keep your horn in good playing condition, please call us and ask.

10. Try to be open-minded and enjoy the process! We hope your new horn brings you joy!

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you with your new horn. You can always reach us by phone (817-993-6400 ex 1) or email, or we would be happy to schedule a FaceTime session with you to explain the various features of your horn.

— Dr. Sally Podrebarac

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