The French Horn is a magnificent instrument – and one of the most difficult to play well.
It consists of 12-13 feet of tubing that is coiled around, ending with a large “bell”. The tubing is actually divided into two separate sets of tubing that are chosen by a “thumb valve”. One set of tubing is used for the higher notes and the other for the lower notes. The player operates this thumb valve and three other valves with the left hand, and places their right hand in the bell. Changes in pitch, tone and volume are produced by changing the configuration of valves that are pressed, the placement of the right hand in the bell, and the size of the embouchure (position of the lips and mouth). A French Horn player, then, needs to have both a good sense of pitch and good coordination!
In addition to being a solo instrument, the French Horn is used in bands, orchestras, and chamber music. It can produce a large range of dynamics and tones and can serve in a variety of roles in an ensemble by playing either melody or harmony or by providing rhythm. In orchestras, French Horn players sometimes specialize in either playing in the high range or low range.
Sample French Horn Prices
$800 – 1,200
$1,500 – 2,500
If you are buying your instrument from a specialty music store, inquire about a trade-in policy. When your student is ready for a larger or higher quality instrument, they will often give you a good portion of the original instrument price back when you trade it in.
The tuba is the largest and lowest-sounding brass instrument.
The tuba isn’t used much as a solo instrument, but it provides an important foundation or “oom-pah” role in orchestras and bands. In marching bands, a variation of the tuba, the Sousaphone, which wraps around the player so it can be carried, is used.
Because the tuba is so large, requires a lot of breath, and is relatively expensive, younger players usually start in band on a Baritone, which is similar to the tuba, but less expensive and much more manageable in size. Also, student tubas are available in 3/4 sizes.