Trying to find the perfect gift for a French horn player? Student or professional, we have eight ideas to point you in the right direction:
1. Yamaha Silent Brass – For about half the cost of an iPad, you can win over even the most curmudgeonly hornist with this fancy piece of technology. It’s a practice mute on steroids. Put it in the horn, plug in the headphones, and the player is in his or her own heavenly bliss — while keeping loved ones ears from splitting thanks to its silencing effect. It’s also our most passive aggressive gift idea on this list. Don’t let that stop you.
2. Book: A Devil to Play – Horn players love reviling in the fact they play “the most difficult instrument.” A Devil to Play is a funny, well-written account of the challenges faced by Jasper Rees who is returning to the French horn after some 20 years away. His journey takes him to the backrooms of concert halls to find famous horn players to the stage of the horn society’s annual competition. A fun read even for non-horn players, this story has also been turned into a theater production.
3. Mel Bay’s Anthology of French Horn Music – This sturdy, spiral-bound cornucopia of orchestral excerpts and helpful annotations is sure to be a prized possession. While many horn players may obtain experts from the web for free, they will be surprised and delighted to see expert guidance from the author with tips, tricks and suggestions to make even the must treacherous passage come out beautifully.
4. Blow Your Own Horn – This book by Berlin Philharmonic horn player Fergus McWilliam will hook you right away with its incisive and trenchant observations on practicing horn. Going against much of the conventional wisdom, he suggests that to be successful you must chart your own unique path.
5. The Art of Horn Playing – This bible of horn playing by Phillip Farkas is a must have for novice and professional horn players alike. Complete with photos of different mouthpiece placements and packed with detailed instructions, you’ll find yourself coming back to it over the years again and again.
6. CD: The London Horn Sound – There are hundreds of horn CDs out there. The London Horn Sound stands out: it’s a giant horn choir of top London pros playing some screaming fun music, from classical to more modern hits. If there’s one CD a horn player will remember you for, it is this.
7. CD: Vienna Horns “Director’S Cut” – Consider this Vienna’s answer to the London Horn Sound. If you’ve ever watched the Vienna horns on YouTube (look up Jurassic Park or Pirates of the Caribbean) and loved what you heard, this is the CD for you. Includes 15 fun tracks ranging from Independence Day to Romeo and Juliet. The Vienna horn has a unique sound that you’re sure to fall in love with.
8. French horn stand – Due to its awkward shape, the french horn does not sit well on chairs and can easily be pushed off other flat surfaces by “inadvertent” trumpet players. Hercules has developed a great French horn stand that wins rave reviews from users who praise its small footprint and protection of your horn.
9. French horn wine bottle holder – For those classy adult horn players who like a well-aged Chateauneuf-du-pape to accompany Mozart horn concertos, look no further than a French horn-shaped bottle holder. It fits only one bottle, so you won’t be encouraging over consumption. A great center piece or way to spruce up a kitchen.
10. French horn-themed jewelry – Horn players typically go for the understated look, so something small but tasteful is in order. We recommend a small gold necklace by Harmony Jewelry. It’s cheap.
11. Backpack case – Especially if you own a fixed bell horn, chances are you lug it around by hand. This is not healthy for even the most in-shape backs. Thankfully a number of cases allow you to put it on your back. For combination of cost and quality, we recommend the ProTec backpack case.
12. A t-shirt – Horn players love to be thought of as “one of a kind,” so why not let them broadcast this message to the world with a witty t-shirt? The right message could make their trumpet player friends’ blood boil, a commendable achievement in the French horn community.
13. Julius Watkins CD – Looking for something non-classical? We recommend checking out Julius Watkins, a pioneering jazz French horn player who’s considered one of the world’s best.
Want more ideas? Check out our list of top-rated French horn accessories.