There’s a french horn in my closet.
It’s collecting dust. The keys have frozen with years of neglect, time, and valve grease but I’m sure it could sing again with enough care.
For kids in my elementary school, fifth grade band was a big deal; it was practically a rite of passage. Besides chasing boys and girls, fifth grade band was the most exciting thing in the world. One special day in class, our teachers gave us the opportunity to write down two instruments we wanted to play. Then, we met privately with the band director who let us try them and discerned which one we got to play.
I had listed the oboe and french horn as my top two choices simply because I had heard they were difficult to play. Always a little overachiever. Then, at my little Sorting Hat ritual of sorts with the band teacher, I couldn’t make a sound on either instrument. “You seem like a french horn player,” the teacher determined and off I went, french horn in tow.
She was right, you know.
We french hornists are odd ducks. Once I Googled personality types + french hornists. I unearthed a lot of s*** talk. I guess it’s no surprise that musicians can also be competitive and snarky. This blogger begins his paragraph about horn players by writing, “Regarding the French horn, I have only two words of advice: Stay away. Horn players are piranhas.”
I can’t read this and not roar with laughter.
Our instruments are equally particular. Playing the french horn was partly making music and partly playing “find the spit” hidden in the instrument’s vast, tangled web of tubing or lubing up the valves. My teachers recommended smearing Lansinoh nipple ointment on the valves & Preparation H on our lips to reduce swelling.
One afternoon my college horn teacher shared his observation of french hornists with me: “In all of my years instructing french hornists, I’ve noticed a couple of things; Hornists are often above-average in intelligence but also lazy.” My eyes widened. “Let me explain!” he continued. “French hornists approach situations in a way that they think saves them time, but actually creates more work in the long run.”
Years later when I catch myself ironing one outfit at a time or hand-washing dishes because the dishwasher is full from the time I didn’t put the clean ones away, I laugh.
Because it’s true you know.