Horn Studios of Caroline Kinsey and Daniel Vidican
Before you start to play please be sure the following are correct:
1. Hand Position
3. Sitting position
1.French Horn Hand Position
The photo directly below is an example of good right hand position
Below is an example of the most common mistake I see in young students. There is no musical
situation in which this is a good hand position. There is no possible way for you to affect the sound
and/or pitch of the instrument from this position.
The embouchure is the way in which we set the mouthpiece on the lips, and the way the lips are
used. There are several important aspects to consider about a horn embouchure.
1. Mouthpiece Placement - For the horn the standard placement is centered under the
nose, with about 2/3 of the mouthpiece on the upper lip, and 1/3 on the lower lip. For most
people this means that the lower edge of the mouthpiece is either in the red part of the
lower lip, or right on the edge. This will vary by individual according to size and thickness
of lips. It is the percentage that is important, not where that puts the lower edge on the lip.
2. Lip Setting - This should be very natural. Don't try to roll either lip in or out. One very
common bad habit is rolling the lower lip in, Set you lips as they are when your mouth is
closed and you are at rest, and tighten up the muscles at the very corners of your mouth.
Two good ways to get the feeling of which muscles you should be using are to whistle, or
to hold a light pen or pencil just by the lips (no teeth allowed) and keep it parallel to the
3. Mouthpiece (lead-pipe) angle - If you look at any horn player from the side the lead-
pipe should not come out at exactly 90° to their face. It should instead be angled slightly
downward , allowing the upper lip to vibrate more freely.
4. Jaw / Mouth Position - Relaxed and open are the operative words. I often use 2
different descriptions of this with students, as each description works well about half the
time. 1. Say the word paw, as is cat's paw. Feel what your jaw and tongue are doing. They
are both moving slightly down and forward. This is actually more motion than you want
from either, but it is in the right direction. 2. Think of pointing you chin towards the
ground. Don't allow the chin to "bunch-up".
5. Relax - This is actually the big trick. Can you do all those things at once without tensing
up. Make it feel like the most relaxed and natural thing you do. No, it may not feel that way
at first, but anything that you do repetitively will begin to feel natural, so try to repeat a
good technique as early as possible. If you start off allowing yourself to do something that
feels a little easier the first day, your first day will be easier, but every day after that will be
much harder than if you'd focused on doing it correctly from the beginning.
- Compiled by Bill Schaffer, Horn Instructor, Auburn University
4. Sitting Position
Off the leg
PhotoBelow : Correct Leadpipe Angle