Don’t Sweat Marching Band – Part 2
In the first installment of this article we looked at alternate instruments to use in Marching Band that will save your chops and blood pressure. But the cold, hard truth is that in most bands you’re going to have to use a regular Mellophone in lieu of some newfangled Marching Horn that takes a normal Horn mouthpiece.
Fear not. These little beasts are not to be feared, or even disliked. Actually, Horns and Mellophones can coexist quite pleasantly if you allow them to. A good Mellophone can become quite the guilty pleasure.
What will make your experience with your Mellophone change from bad to good boils down to your mouthpiece. There have been many breakthroughs in mouthpiece development to where they expect horn players will be using the horn, so the mouthpieces are designed with horn players in mind, specializing in a V-shaped cup which will give you a more French Horn-like experience..
Before we even go down that road, all Mellophones usually come with a horn mouthpiece adapter. Yes, they can be used in pinch, but there’s normally some sort of compromise – usually with tone or intonation.
Karl Hammond has designed their Mellophone mouthpieces specifically with horn players in mind so their transition will be seamless. Their mouthpieces are the most widely used by the top 12 Drum Corps. Additionally, the IYM, though a heavyweight, has the internal feel of a horn mouthpiece, and many bands and corps have adopted them. Another very popular mouthpiece is the Curry 1HTF. Okay, it’s actually a trumpet mouthpiece, but internally it, too, is more like a horn mouthpiece.
More important than what mouthpiece you use is what mouthpiece NOT to use. Though a Mellophone CAN use a trumpet mouthpiece, they absolutely should NOT use one. Trumpet mouthpieces are designed for the trumpet. End of story.
Also, avoid the Mello 6. Finally, as a rule, don’t use the mouthpiece that comes with the horn.
All in all, with proper care and hardware, Marching Season shouldn’t stress you out in any way. Enjoy the experience and, above all, make peace with your instrument.