3.11 French-horn Ergonomics

There are, in general, two basic positions for the French horn:

  1. Sit with the shoulders completely symmetrical, without rotating the torso. This requires turning the head to the left in order reach the mouthpiece. In this position, it is possible to support the instrument on the right thigh. Make sure both arms have a little space between them and the torso, so there is room to breathe freely and expand the trunk of the body.
    Valthorn_3.11.1.jpg
    Illustration 3.11.1. Adopt a position where the shoulders are both at the same level and the torso is upright and not rotated.

    Valthorn_3.11.2.jpg
    Illustration 3.11.2. Now take the instrument to your lips; you no longer need to rotate the neck in order to keep the body in the same position.
     

  2. In order to avoid twisting the head around, begin by holding the arms with a 90-degree bend in the elbows, and feel the torso rotating from all the way down in the pelvis – a little twist to the right, so that the right elbow ends up a little behind the body. The head follows this movement. Now take the instrument to your mouth.

    Depending on the size of the instrument, it can occasionally be easier for a beginner to stand with the instrument while playing.

    The instrument is held up by both left and right arms. The left hand functions best when you do not stretch between the middle finger and the little finger.

    Stable distribution of weight is achieved by a “duck foot”, for example, or another means of assistance, which will place the weight between the thumb and index finger. How you place the thumb on the valves is also important for how the weight is distributed on the hand/arm/shoulder, so that your position of rest is one in which the thumb is relaxed, i.e. with a slight bend in all its joints. The right hand is placed inside the bell, both to affect the sound and also to hold the instrument up. It is also possible to place the weight of the instrument on the right thigh, even if this results in a static position. It is important for the distance up to the lips to be correct so that the neck does not become strained. A leg support or a firm cushion can also offer support.