Widely considered as difficult to play as it is beautiful to hear and to look at, the French Horn is a particularly challenging instrument, but is French Horn the hardest instrument to play?

Is French Horn the hardest instrument to play?

Technically, when you’re beginning to learn an instrument, every single one is hard to play! Part of a process of learning any instrument is to struggle with everything from the way you hold it, to a sound you get out of it, and where you put your fingers; if you don’t find any instrument hard to play at the beginning, then you’re either not doing it right or you’re Mozart incarnated!

But, it is true that some are more difficult to master than others, and the French Horn is considered to be up there with the most challenging. By why?

  • The notes are closer together: the fact that the French Horn plays higher up the harmonic series than a lot of other instruments means that the notes played on a French Horn are much closer together. And what does this mean for the French Horn player? It means that the hard-working French Horn player has to develop a well-trained ear, which takes a lot of time and patience.
  • It’s less forgiving than others: the higher pitch and closer notes make the French Horn far less forgiving than other instruments. Make a mistake, and it’ll be beyond noticeable and probably rather cringe-worthy.
  • Cracked notes: yes, the mere idea of it makes each and every musician alive squirm in our seats, but cracked notes are in fact very common with the French Horn and by far probably the most frustrating part of playing this undeniably beautiful instrument. However frustrating it is, though, it’s not uncommon in other instruments either and there are lots of different techniques you can adopt to combat the horrors that are cracked notes.
  • Locating water droplets is impossible: the butt of far too many memes and jokes, French Horns collect lots of water and saliva which, amongst the instrument’s seemingly endless and complex tubing, can often feel impossible to locate and evacuate; meaning any French Horn player can feel like your spending more time taking your Horn apart than you are actually playing it. But the same could be said for almost any and all brass instruments!
  • So, in answering the question: is french horn the hardest instrument to play? We would conclude the following…

    Whilst the French Horn is a complex and challenging instrument, which harbors its own hurdles that any impassioned Horn player has to work hard to overcome, the French Horn isn’t any more difficult to play than any other instrument. And, indeed, all instruments have their pain-points!

    What’s more, as frustrating as the French Horn may feel at times, it more than makes up for it in the way it looks and sounds; arguably one of the most stunning instruments to listen to.

    To browse our range of Horns, please click here.

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