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My path: Choosing the French horn

Steve Eddins
Posted on Wednesday, September 6, 2023

How did you choose to play horn? I don’t know whether it’s really true, but I have the impression that horn players, as a group, tend to have unusually strange stories about how they chose to play the instrument. For me, it was all about a girl in my Spanish class.

Before the 10th grade, my only experience with a musical instrument was a few months of guitar lessons in the 6th grade, during which I managed to learn exactly nothing about music. Then came second-year Spanish.

I had a huge crush on a girl in the class. She was a grade older, and we sat next to each other and talked. She played oboe in the school band and violin in the orchestra. At some point during the fall quarter, she talked me into going to see the band director about joining band. To her, the fact that I didn’t actually play an instrument was not an obstacle. She said to tell the director that I wanted to play something called the “French horn.”

I didn’t know what that was, but completely besotted, I agreed to this plan. Surprisingly, it worked out well! Like many high schools, mine was always short on French horn players, so the director expressed no doubt and asked no questions. He retrieved a horn in a battered case from the depths of the band closet, gave it to me, and told me to sign up for the concert band class for the winter quarter. In a happy coincidence, his wife had studied French horn at FSU, and so I started taking lessons with her, using Rubank method books. And I practiced. From the very beginning, I always liked to practice.

A couple of months later, I was in the band! I vaguely recall the constant struggle of figuring out what note I was playing. (Is it a C? An E? Maybe a G?)

I got to be best friends with Robert, the first horn player. He’s the only high school friend that I have stayed in touch with. He’s the one that nagged me into picking the horn back up in 2014, after a twenty-something-year gap, and for that I am most grateful!

Here’s the answer to the question I usually hear about this story – no, I have no idea whatever happened to the girl from my Spanish class.