Instrument Exploration: French Horn

CN Instrument Thumbnails
Asher Legg/Unsplash

Age Range: Elementary

Learning Objective: Students will learn to identify the French horn by sight and sound.

Free Download: Printable Lesson Plan: French Horn

ENGAGE students

ASK.   “Raise your hand if you’ve heard about an instrument called the ‘French horn.’ (Pause.) Did you know that most of the world just calls it a horn, and it’s actually not French? Today we’ll listen to and learn about this instrument!”

EXPLORE sounds

LEARN.   Listen as Karen from Concordia Wind Quintet demonstrates her instrument.

EXPLAIN. “There are four main parts of the French horn: the mouthpiece, tubing, valves, and bell. Can you locate each part in the picture below? Each part has a function, or job. The mouthpiece is where the player puts their mouth and buzzes their lips. The tubing is the big long brass tube that is all wrapped up in coils. Air travels through the tubing. If the tubing was unwrapped, it would stretch out about 18 feet! The valves are three levers that change the length of tubing that air travels through when you press them. The bell is the end of the instrument, where the sound comes out.”

Members of the brass instrument family
Wikimedia Commons

EXPLORE. Watch Horn player Sarah Willis play the French horn in some unexpected ways, such as: an airplane hangar, a horn made of ice, and with Cookie Monster!

EXTEND learning

Choose one or both of the following activities to extend learning.

REVIEW.  For younger students, ask them to whisper three things they learned about the French horn to a neighbor. For older students, ask them these comprehension questions:

  • To which instrument family does the French horn belong?

  • What does a French horn player need to do with their lips to make a sound in the mouthpiece?

  • How many valves are on a French horn?

LISTEN.  Watch a young horn player named Lauren perform Romances No. 2 by Robert Schumann.

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Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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