Any advice for how best to add French Horn to my arsenal given that I already play trumpet and flugelhorn? I'm quite proficient at the two and want to add a third instrument this year.

  • I play the trumpet and the flugelhorn, and would not say that it qualifies for playing two different instruments. The technique is so much alike. You seem to disagree?
    – Gauthier
    Oct 7, 2012 at 8:19
  • The technique is alike but there are several differences such as breath support and much different slotting, not to mention that while the mouthpieces are similar, they are not identical.
    – segiddins
    Oct 7, 2012 at 12:07

2 Answers 2


It's very different! The mouthpiece is smaller than a trumpet's, yet the instrument's range covers that of a trombone. And, while you can get away with playing flugelhorn like a trumpet, if you play the horn like a trumpet not many people are going to want to listen to you.

My advice would be to essentially relearn the horn fingerings from scratch instead of trying to transfer them from your existing valve chops (not to mention they're on a different hand).

The middle range of the french horn is two whole partials above where it sits for other brass instruments, and that means all of the partials for much of your playing are going to be MUCH closer together. It will be great training to have to really zero in on the partial you're trying to play more than you would have to if you were playing trumpet.

Other things to watch out for in basic french horn technique:

  • Typical mouthpiece placement is 2/3 upper lip, 1/3 lower lip (most trumpet embouchure is closer to 50/50).
  • Right hand position inside the bell is essential for playing technique, posture, and tuning. If you tune the instrument without your hand in correct position, the entire instrument will be out of tune. Try supporting the instrument with the top of your hand between the 2nd and 3rd knuckles.

You will need to train your brain to go from "french horn mode" to "trumpet mode" and back. Skills will transfer from one to the other, but you should keep them distinct and integrate technique into them separately.

If you are playing a double horn, you may realize that the Bb side can be played just like a trumpet. If you're just goofing around, then fine, but DON'T do this as a way to learn french horn. The names of the notes are different since transpositions are still for F horn, and you need to learn the appropriate spots to switch from one side of the instrument to the other while staying in "french horn mode".

  • Arban suggests 1/3 upper, 2/3 lower for trumpet.
    – Luke_0
    Oct 7, 2012 at 19:27
  • Don't forget though that Arban focuses more on older trumpet composition. I find that the more contemporary the piece, the more towards 50/50 I end up playing.
    – segiddins
    Oct 8, 2012 at 3:04
  • @AmericanLuke Arban's is a cornet method, isn't it? :-)
    – NReilingh
    Dec 24, 2015 at 22:52
  • Yes. It is. Three years later :P
    – Luke_0
    Dec 31, 2015 at 4:55

Adding French Horn to Trumpet and Flugelhorn? My advice woud be absolutely "yes". But try to think as a french horn player. Requires practice to change the mode. That's a great exercise for your brain. Have fun!!!

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