From the Mailbag: What Horn Do You Play? [2011]

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One question that a reader had is what horn do I actually play?

[UPDATE: Before I get to the original article, right now I am playing a Geyer style horn. But read on for more.]

If you look around in my sites you can see me with several different horns. In Horn Articles Online on the main page the horn is a Paxman 25AND double; in Horn Matters it is a Hawkes piston valve single horn; in my main bio in Horn Articles Online the horn is an older Paxman descant. [But Update: Now all locations are with the Geyer style horn.]

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What I play depends on what and where I am playing. Two weeks ago I was playing second horn on a series with the Phoenix Symphony and for that I used the big Paxman 25AND with a smaller mouthpiece than I had been using (more about that another time). Last week however I played the Bach B-Minor Mass with the Arizona Bach Festival and for that I played on the old Paxman descant with a small mouthpiece. For sure this is the right horn for this work.

In short though for all practical purposes the big Paxman 25AND is my go to horn for lesson teaching and general playing. It is the horn I used on both of my Summit solo CDs. I keep coming back to it and it has been the main horn used in my main other ongoing practice project, proofreading two upcoming book projects (more on those soon, too; one of the books is going to the printer for a final test copy today, the other in the next week or so I expect).

Among other horns I own, I use an older Alexander single B-flat often in a church setting and I play a bit of natural horn and Wagner tuba as the mood hits me as well. I also have a Paxman compensating triple that I used to use a lot. It was really ideal for the principal horn playing I used to do at the Brevard music center, but in the last five years I have not done a lot of that type of playing. And this fall I played quite a bit on an older Hoyer horn that belongs to ASU and I always have my eyes open for something better.

(A side note on the triple being that it actually sat for almost two years being played very little and on getting it out again over the holidays it smells! I tried to clean it well but it still smells; an ultrasonic cleaning will be happening soon, I will have a report on that after it comes back.)

Going back in time a ways, I won the Third Horn position in Nashville playing a modified Yamaha 667 but during my tenure there switched back to an upgraded classic Conn 8D. I have pretty much played it all. [UPDATE: With that 667 in the past, the Geyer type horn is a nice reminder of what I liked about that horn.]

So what about that piston horn in the Horn Matters photo? [UPDATE: It was in my main bio page but is not there now. The pose was in imitation of a photo of Dennis Brain.] I don’t play it much at all (it belongs to ASU) but it is certainly cool looking and similar to the type of horn Dennis Brain played. More on that another time as well but as a final teaser I will be presenting a session related to that piston horn and the Alexander at IHS 2011, more details as that is closer at hand.

University of Horn Matters