Main Menu

Brass History
E-mail Me

Holding the Horn

How DO you hold the thing, anyway? I've been asked a few times and the answer is always really "whatever is most comfortable for you and allows you to play with little constraint and maximum flexibility."

Having said that, here's a few photos with some of the more used techniques. If anyone can recommend others (with photos, if possible), I'd be glad to post it!

This grip holds the valve casing similar to the way a cornet player would grip the valves. It is by far the most secure way I've found to hold a tenor horn, giving the right hand all the freedom it needs to work the valves. The down sides are (1) it takes a bit more strength to hold the horn up so you don't crimp your windpipe, and (2) your left arm does wind up twisting at a slightly awkward angle.
This grip puts the thumb under the valve casing.  I've seen it done but have trouble holding the horn securely.
This grip holds the third valve slide rather securely.  It holds the horn up enough so you don't crimp your windpipe, but it makes the horn a little top-heavy, relying on your right hand to balance it some.
This grip hooks your thumb around the main tuning pipe and the rest of the fingers in the third valve slide.  It's similar to holding the third valve slide, but raises the horn up even higher.  The down-side is that it becomes even more top-heavy and unbalanced.
Mikko Väisälä shows here how you can play the Tenor Horn with your left hand.  It might eventually put a strain on your arm, but for those who are more nimble with the left hand, this is how it's done.