Mr. London is Head
of Music at City of Ely Community School in Cambridgeshire and studied
the French horn at Huddersfield College of Music and at the London
College of Music. Mr. London is 49 years old and started playing the
French horn at the age of 17.
He began playing
the cornet with the school brass band with a maths teacher who was an
“enthusiast but not an expert”.
He learnt within a section of the band. Embouchures were never
discussed even at Music College (only by the trumpet players).
Breathing is the
most important part of playing a brass instrument says Mr. London he
also states that there are many pitfalls in French horn playing. The
horn is left - handed whereas most people are right – handed, the horn
is a long instrument and is played in it’s high part also horns are
seated in the middle of each ensemble with bells facing away from the
audience. These facts can be added to a larger list of factors that mean
a brass player has to build up their musculature to compensate.
position of a hornist is hampered by the left hand being held out from
the body, this changes when the player is required to move their hand
inside the bell, called “stopping”. The left hand is used for
fingering because before valves the right hand was used in order to fill
in the harmonies.
London says that the bottoms of the lungs have to expand greatly and
that the speed of the breath is more important than a smaller aperture
for the higher notes. Bigger mouthpieces are used for a bigger sound in
orchestras and horn players have to play loud in order to be heard - the
Schostakovich 5th Symphony is “all breath”. Finally he
says that a change in embouchure is needed to get the lower notes
combined with power – something that horn players do, but say that