The Return of the Horn

Way back in the Summer of '08, I accompanied my daughter to the high school. She was "trying out" for band. I use sarcastic quotes because it wasn't really a tryout; it was "let's get you to try several different instruments to see what you like and, oops, you can't play that one because we already have too many kids taking that instrument up and here is a contract for instrument rental that will mean spending two to four times as much dough over the course of your school career than if your parents just ponied up and bought one for you at a local music store."

But, I digress.

She tried out the French Horn, my particular instrument of choice. I was kinda hoping she'd take to it since we already owned one. She didn't like it. She tried flute, clarinet and baritone. She had her heart set on clarinet, but was told that too many kids had already taken that (WTH?) so she had to do something else. Her second choice was alto sax, which fingers quite simlarly to the clarinet (so I'm told by the salesman with honest to god slick backed hair). And she's quite taken with it. It really has been a joy to see her progress from goose honking to quite mellow, almost sultry tones over the last year and a half. I don't think she'll be moving over to the clarinet section after all.

While I was there, I asked if I could try the Horn. It had been several years (8?) since I last played, but I was eager to see if I "still had it." I didn't. My embouchure was all over the place. Horns are quite harmonic in nature and it doesn't take much to slip between notes if your control isn't very good. I couldn't find my place along the scale and just made an embarrassment of myself.

I bring this all up because recently I happened to be in the room next door while my daughter practiced the melody to Beethoven's 9th. I also happened to know where my own Horn was, having just moved everything from the storage shed and unpacked it in the furnace room of our new house. And I thought to myself, what the hell?

I got out my Horn, made sure the valves still worked, then started playing from the other room in harmony with my daughter's sax. She came running out, with the biggest smile on her face. And I had one too. I still "had it." I just needed my own Horn to find it. My ombouchure was fried about 5 mins after playing with her, and I could tell that I'd never play Carnegie, but I played, damnit.

It just felt soooooo good to do it. Both for myself, and to make music with my daughter.


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