Out of all the special or “extended” techniques available on the horn, stopped horn is probably the most frequently requested. One could even argue that stopped horn has now become so common place that it isn’t even really an extended technique any more. However, lots of students have trouble with this technique, and for the busy school band or orchestra director, stopped horn can be a real headache! Helping directors and students sort out stopped horn is a big interest of mine, and recently I’ve been reworking some handouts and exercises I have for an upcoming presentation at the annual Midwest Clinic. One part that I will definitely be including is this set of exercises for developing stopped horn. They are very straightforward, and should work for players of varying abilities. Feel free to edit them as necessary to suit you or your students. However, I do recommend the following.
- Check intonation frequently with a tuner or drone. Compare intonation from stopped to open positions.
- Insist upon a brassy, compact, and nasal stopped sound.Producing this sound quality, especially in the lower register, will require huge amounts of air!
- Check hand position frequently to check for air leaks.
- Rely solely on the ear for pitch accuracy at first, until muscle memory is developed.
- Take frequent breaks until endurance is developed.
If practiced daily, they can help establish a solid foundation for more advanced stopped horn effects. Simplicity is the goal in these brief passages, and they progress from easy to difficult techniques. Download the PDF here: Stopped Horn Exercises
If you’re looking for more information on stopped horn, check out these previous posts.