French Horn


I am a French horn player. I have played most of the instruments out there, and by far the French horn was the most difficult to me! However, my mom said I always had a natural thing with French horns, not to mention, all of my family has played the French horn; so I was kinda born into it! I have worked with a handful of major league conductors, and they all claimed that the French horn is the hardest instrument to play! And this is why. French horns have a tendency of close notes, now everyone is probably questioning it. Close notes on a French horn is probably the most hardest, because there are three keys. That's not it, because you have to use your lips to adjust the sound on a small mouth piece, however, on a violin there are strings and they don't have to use your mouth nor a mouth piece! Not everyone has the lips to play a French horn. Most techniques such as, articulation, pitch, rhythm, skill, and much more is probably other difficult and most hardest parts of the French ...more

The Horn is by far one of the harder instruments to play however the hardness of a instrument is only measured by its players preference you put forth the effort it becomes easier you practice sloppy you skimp out on practicing it stays hard and difficult. Though I will give kudos to also the Tubas it takes just as much as even more air to play tuba than Horn.

Even though I don't play horn I play tuba but my friend plays horn and my music teacher says that they are the most difficult instruments for horn it is because their notes are so close in sound and there is a lot of tubing - lbelle0527

Oh yeah, I started horn just last December. I have a 2 octave range.

As a person who plays both horn and piano, I have to say horn takes quite a bit more effort. I have to build up strength over days, and if I can't practices for more than three days I can loose the top 5 notes and bottom 3 from my range, plus my tone goes out the window. It's really a commitment to play well. Also if you have braces like I do, plus that tiny mouthpiece, they cut into your lips at the slightest pressure, so you have to have a really strong embouchure, just so that you don't need to press the high notes.

They're fairly expensive, and there aren't really many lower priced student level instruments like with many other common band instruments, but you also usually start on it, instead of graduating to the more expensive and difficult instruments (like how many students who play oboe start out as clarinet players, at least where I'm from). Because of that, I've been playing for 6 years but I know I won't get my own horn until I graduate (another year and a half from ...more

I can relate to that. I am both a pianist and horn player myself. I started horn in 6th grade and am currently in 8th grade. Horn does take more effort and requires a keen "intonation ear". - kkang

French Horn is the hardest instrument for brass. No doubt. I don't understand why flute and piano is hard, many people can play them.

I am now a college horn player, and there is a lot of aspects of horn playing that are extremely difficult. When you are playing for the first year, you typically sound like an elephant because all of the partials on the instrument are so close together. Because of this, if you don't hear the note in your head before you play it, then you will hit the wrong note. As you progress in your years of playing, you start having to deal with the extremes of the range, which is four or more octaves. The low range is very difficult to control, and especially hard to tune and make sound acceptable. You have to use an immense amount of air to get the notes to speak, and there is nearly zero resistance to give you feedback as you play. On the other end of the spectrum, the high range is also very difficult. As you go above the middle of the treble clef, you have to deal with partials even more. You can literally play seven notes within an octave with the same fingerings. Near the top of the range ...more

4 years ago, I picked up this instrument for the first time. I was in Middle School, my first time in band, I had gotten a trombone and I played it for a couple of weeks, but my arms couldn't reach past 5th position or something. No one at my school played the French Horn, so we had quite a few to spare. Before starting band I already played piano, for 5 years, in fact. I was pretty good at reading notes and in musical theory aspects I was more advanced than most of my class. The band director proposed to me a challenge: to play the French Horn. He warned me about its difficulty but I said to myself it couldn't be that hard. One of my classmates told me he knew a kid who tried playing the French Horn for years but was never able to make a sound with it. TLDR, It was HARD.

I'm in high school now, I'm first chair French Horn, I'm in the Pep Band, the Marching Band, and I will soon be part of a Brass Quintet. I think this instrument is difficult compared to other wind instruments. ...more

As a trumpet player for 1 1/2 years, and then breaking my wrist and switching to the French horn, I can vouch that it's a much more complicated, I, for some reason, am excelling at it, having played for 6 months, and playing 3 octave scales. But I'm a special case. One of the hardest things about it is how small the mouthpiece is, which makes you have to keep your embouchure extremely steady, or you could jump all over so many notes in a short period time, and then have to go back to try to find the correct pitch. Before you even put your mouth on the mouthpiece, you have to have the note playing in your head, or else you'll be extremely out of tune. Another difficult part is how you have to keep your hand in the bell. A few millimeters off and you could go from a F# to a B♭, without even realizing you moved your hand. Also, you need to have a good set of lungs, considering when you play the bell of the horn is going behind you most of the time, so you need to play VERY loud at ...more

I've played french horn for 4 years and it's always been considered the hardest instrument ever because you need to almost "sing" the note to make the right sound come out. Not just press stupid buttons.

French horn by far is the hardest to play. It took my son many months to even get familiar with hitting the right notes. If you are beginning, it might be best to start on trumpet & get familiar with that before advancing to French horn. His band teacher told him this after a year of playing, laugh out loud. This instrument takes a lot of practice & self-discipline in order to really make the sound beautiful, but you can do it. This instrument takes a lot of lip control & blowing or you will be hitting wrong notes remember, there are only 3 fingers unlike that of a flute or clarinet. If a child gets really frustrated with, maybe switch them to a different instrument or maybe they find blowing into an instrument challenging. In that case you always have strings, drums, or piano. Music is beautiful- just don't give up on it.

Having a diploma in French Horn, Violin, Clarinet and Piano, for me, the French horn is by far the hardest at the higher levels.

At first, Violin was easiest, up until about UK: Grade 7 (I'm sorry, I don't know about the US Grading system. ) Clarinet and Piano were easier than both the Violin and Horn by far.

Violin, although one needs to be much more agile, does not require the physical strength needed for the horn. The horn, I would argue, is more technically challenging, owing to the proximity of the partials, the 3-valve pumping system, and the introduction of half-flats and sharps by the hand in the bell, although, for obvious reasons the violin poses different challenges.

When you have progressed onto longer concertos for horn (one of which lasted 30 mins for the solo, when I played for the LSO), the physical strain on your lungs is overwhelming. I am not sure if this is true, but apparently the Berlin Philharmonic uses 2 hornists. Please could someone ...more

I can say that horn is definitely no trip in the park. I've played for 8 years and it's not easy, there are not many people who I can tell who have mastered the instrument. Horn takes so much hard work and determination. I was the last player out of the eight who started to make it to my senior year because they all became flustered by all the hard work it takes to even get a good sound.

There is just so much to worry about when playing, intonation (hand placement, tuning slides), embouchure, fingerings, being able to read treble and bass clef, sometimes transposition, breath support, endurance, etc. I could probably go on forever, there are many things a horn player has to worry about when playing. Opposed to string/percussion instruments, we actually have to breathe when playing and you'd be surprised how difficult one of the easiest things becomes when blowing through 12 feet of tubing.

I play both horn and violin. I have to say, violin is easy. Horn takes dedication and practice. Playing in the upper harmonic series demands twice the accuracy of a trumpet. The violin is given more difficult music most of the time. Because the horn players would murder the composer if they had 16th note runs. The horn sounds better anyways. So why would you vote for violin. Absolutely disappointing results for this vote. I think I must break my violin after looking at this page. I might get a friend so him and I can have a string fight. I would let him wield my viola. I play piano too, and trombone, and viola, if you were too dumb to assume, as well as trumpet. Every once and a while I might touch a guitar. French horn is the most difficult. Period. The end. No exceptions.

The French horn is a lot hard to play you only have three keys and if you play a double horn you have four keys. You have to play a lot of notes and some have the same fingerings to get a high note you have a lift your tongue and make your corners strong and to get a low note you have to open your jaw. Then when you have been playing for a long time your lips hurt really bad and you have a circle on your lips because of the high notes. I am an 9th grader well going to be but when I started to play the French horn in 6th great and I have the best tone and sound quality of all the other French horn players and I have the best one it didn't take me that long to get a warm sound but I put all of effort into the French horn. I am done but I think the French horn is the coolest instrument to play

I am an avid French horn lover and advocate and can say that without a doubt this is the most challenging instrument to play, next to the oboe. The violin and piano have no place on this list, I know 7 year-olds who play those instruments. The horn is so varied in it's ability to perform musically. As mentioned previously, it can play practically every note with out pressing a single key which is more than any wood wind instrument can say as they can't play any. Since the horn can play so many different styles of music and fill so many parts, it can be heard playing along with anything from a clarinet to the tuba. The French horn is a beautiful instrument with a sound even more so stunning. It is by far the most complicated and intriguing unrivaled even by the oboe as it is far more versatile and aurally pleasing.

French Horn is very challenging instrument to play. It is very easy to play the wrong note because one fingering equals LOTS of different pitches. It is also easy to 'dip' when you go from a high to low note. Tuning is difficult because it depends on hand placement, embouchure, etc. Playing the French Horn does require a lot of air. You also have to be very confident in yourself and not just sit there too afraid to play. You have to play out. For the first months of learning the French Horn, your lips and mouth will definitely ache. One more thing, spit. When you accumulate spit in the tubes, it is not as easy as trombone or trumpet. You can't just open the spit valve and blow. You have to open just about every single tube to find it. My French horn doesn't even have a spit valve so I have to open it and turn it upside down. Let's just say French Horn isn't the easiest.

The French horn is definitely the hardest instrument to play mainly because of the size of the mouthpiece which is very small in comparison to a trumpet or any other brass instrument. Hitting the right note is also extremely difficult. and it is easy to make very small mistakes that will make the sound uneven or sometimes crackled. Hitting the higher notes also takes a tonne of practise and years to master and tuning it isn't easy either. I know this because I have 4 years of experience with a horn and also tries a violin and I definitely think the differ cults of the French horn totally overalls any other instrument and you have to be so dedicated to master this instrument

I have been playing French horn for 4 years now and it is the hardest instrument, it's complicated, requires a lot of air and is really important that you know your part because if you don't, then the entire band can here it because the section is often only 3 people. You must have a good tone and know all of the fingerings for the notes because if you don't you will get really strange sounds. There are only 3 keys so the French horn player must know the pitch that they are playing before they start. This being said: Don't be afraid of the horn! It is a really rewarding instrument that is unique and fun to play.

I have played the French Horn for about 5 years now and I still struggle to get correct notes. I have to say French horn is pretty hard because your hand is pretty much one of your "tuning slides" if your hand isn't correct, sometimes it will sound sharp or flat where on a lets say Trumpet you just have to adjust your slides not your hand. Your embouchure also has to be tight when play in high notes and that tends to hurt after a while. Also the notes are close together and you can practically play a scale without the fingers... During the later wars when they used French horns sometimes they didn't have faulves, all they had was a hand and their lips but we got lucky and they made it easier for us. The mouth piece is also the tiniest thing!

I do not mean to sound biased here, but anyone who disses this instrument will ultimately get beaten up by me. Of course the violin is a very difficult instrument to play, but the French Horn is definitely harder. Not only do you have to have very good pitch (and a high tolerance for gurgling spit in the middle of a concert), but you have to control the pitch with both hands and your mouth.. Violin players do not have to put up with mouthpieces at all, and with the horn mouthpiece being especially small, it seems to be more difficult to play. I could be wrong, but there really does not seem to be any contest here.

Hardest instrument in a concert band! Nobody else seems to realise how much effort horn players have to put in to get a good sound. And the range as well. Beginer horns have to jump over half an octave from where they started learning to play proper horn music. This instrument has one of the longest ranges, seconded only to piano. And that is all done with your mouth and a bottle cap sized mouthpiece. (The best horn players can play flute and tuba parts if they can transpose)

I play the French Horn, and I am in 7th grade. I would have to say, it is easy at sometimes and hard at others. That is because, in order to hit a high pitch you have to buzz really fast, and make the hole in your lips (your embouchure) really, really, tiny. So it is hard to get air to come out smoothly, and evenly. Also I have heard from my band teacher that the French Horn is really hard to play. So right then I knew it was going to be hard...

Havung played the French Horn for 3 years, I have to 100% agree with this. Through the years, me and the other French Horn player have had to skip around awkwardly, when everybody else just plays normal scales and songs. It's definitely tough! But, once you can get to the right notes and have good tone, the constant practicing pays off. The small mouthpiece, and tons of tubes throughout the instrument make it tough to get a good sound out. Buzzing through the mouthpiece helps a LOT. That was one of the exercises that we used in 5th grade when I started playing. At first, it seemed stupid, I mean, how could making duck noises help? But it did. That's really all. There is to say, honestly. Practice makes perfect. And whereas perfect is near impossible, better is within reach.

I've played horn since 4th grade. I'm a college freshman now. I have played some very difficult pieces and then some very simple, yet complex pieces. It is an extremely difficult instrument because you can play every not without the keys. Think about how small the movements are to change notes, if you mess up even slightly it will come out wrong. Sometimes you just can't "hear" the note. Playing low takes tons of air, playing in general takes tons of air. Also, we switch fingerings about 4 years into playing, so there is a new learning curve in the middle. French horn is an exceptional instrument.

The biggest challenge in playing the horn is that there are very few exceptional teachers out there. Anyone who can handle the instrument with enough fluency is in some orchestral job somewhere, and just because they can play it well doesn't mean they can teach it well.
Composers of Orchestral music have traditionally enjoyed writing in solos for horns, which are often high-risk and exposed.
Unfortunately, the Wind Band repertoire for hornists is lackluster. We are often forced to imitate the snare drums and cymbals. This tradition dates back to Early American band history, and is often attributed to the fact that the only horn players available for hire (who had not already been swept up by better-paying, more musically challenging orchestras) couldn't play!

I play the French Horn. While I have braces, I must tighten my lips, so it hurts a lot. I once played the viola, a larger violin, and it wasn't hard at all. I barely practiced at all. With my horn, I must practice a lot, and very little errors with your lips can set you off on the whole song, while with strings, you can recover in the snap of a finger. Also, you must deal with things like spit clogging your horn. Seriously. There is also an interesting fact. The version of the French horn we often play today (the double horn) was made in Germany.