Low Horn Etudes and Drills for the Intermediate Player

by Patrick Miles

Method book for the Low Horn player.

SKU: 921011 Categories: , ,

 24,95 Incl VAT


A much needed method book for the development of the low register. Aimed at the intermediate player who wants to expand their range. Written and compiled by Patrick Miles, a well established and much experienced hornist and educator.

Additional information

Weight 180 g
Dimensions 626546306 cm

Miles Patrck


Horn Method





Pages in Score



Phoenix Music Publications

Year Published


Forward to Book

In my thirty-plus years of teaching horn at the collegiate level, I almost always found that the most neglected area of an incoming student’s horn playing was their low register. Most young players never see a bass clef in their high school band music and few have encountered it in orchestral or chamber settings. Some may be able to read bass clef because they have played piano or another instrument doubling, but being able to read bass clef and having facility in the low range on the horn are two separate issues.

There are few etude books that specifically address the low range and many of those that do, approach it from the standpoint of an already advanced player.  In discussions with other horn teachers, I found that we mostly tend to do variations of the same thing: have students play out of low brass books, transpose the Kopprasch etudes down an octave, or constantly devise new drills.  I hope that this etude book will serve as part of a disciplined approach to confronting the many problems horn players face when working toward mastery of the low horn.  The drills included are similar to what many players use.  The etudes are not mine, but those of Concone and Endresen, and have been transposed to various keys and bass clef.  All drills and etudes are in new notation, to be read as written. I also recommend Randy Gardner’s excellent “Mastering the Horn’s Low Register.”  

I feel there are several key components for players and teachers to address when playing in the low register:

  1. Make sure to keep the corners of the embouchure firm and focused toward the center of the aperture.  Many young players purse their lips and hope for the best, but, as with any successful embouchure, the muscles around the lips must be firmly engaged.
  2. It is necessary for the lower jaw to come forward a bit when playing in the low register. Experiment with octave slurs and jumps in front of a mirror to see how much your jaw moves.  Remember to keep the corners of your embouchure firm.
  3. Make sure to focus the note in the center of the pitch immediately. Many players attack the note too low then have to lip it into place. Use those firm corners, and clean attacks, to achieve the center of the pitch right at the onset of the note. Using a tuner can help confirm the correct lip setting.
  4. Experiment with fingerings. There may be several fingerings that work but few give optimum tone, intonation and ease of playing. Each horn is a bit different, so play with this. (I have included a fingering chart with what I consider to be the best options on the double horn).
  5. Be very insistent with articulation. Often, players try to begin the note by tonguing through the teeth, but avoid this at all costs. In the middle range, the tongue will attack near the back of the top teeth (think of the spot where you burn your mouth when you bite into a slice of pizza that is too hot).  As the notes proceed lower and your jaw drops, the oral cavity needs to open and the tongue will move down accordingly. 
  6. Play at all dynamic levels. A long tone may sound quite lovely at pp but very wobbly at FF.  Use a metronome when playing long tones and see how long you can hold those notes at every conceivable volume level without a change in pitch or tone. This can be more difficult than it sounds.

I hope this book will fill a niche for those players who are looking to bolster their low horn playing abilities.  As with all aspects of horn playing, a dedicated and diligent approach is the best way forward.


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