This next year I plan to devote significant time to completing several book projects, and in one of those I plan to include a foreword on the topic of characteristics that make and define great horn players. The list will be more fully fleshed out later, but I thought it would be a good idea as the fall semester starts to post this initial version. Consider it a list of twelve qualities of great horn players that are well worth considering on a deep level by any aspiring horn player. To the list!
1. A great tone.
2. Great technique over the full range of the horn.
3. A great ear.
4. Great knowledge of horn repertoire.
5. Great intonation.
6. Great desire and focus.
7. Great experience.
8. Great rhythm.
9. Great sight-reading skills.
10. Great musicianship and musicality.
11. Great ability to perform at your peak under pressure.
12. Steady and reliable.
Each item is important in the above list. I would add though that I think you can actually have a pretty successful career if you are great at even just nine or ten items on the list and good or OK on the others. The truly great horn players however actually do excel at all twelve. Make it your goal to address the areas that are weak and excel at the full list.
UPDATE: A comment from Facebook: “I clicked on this link, with the expectation of finding something interesting and original to the horn. But no, just a list of things that all instrumentalists should have; great tone, great intonation, great this, great that, blah de blah.” Writing this list I really was only thinking horn. The points as expanded out in my longer draft for the book are very horn related in focus, so the somewhat negative comment is interesting to me, as while not written as a list for all instrumentalists I can totally see the list could be read that way.