Best Horn Sheet Music to Learn With

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Do you want to set yourself up for success as a horn player? You should know how to find and select the best horn sheet music to learn with.

That way, you won’t have to worry about not learning certain notes or other techniques. Instead, you can focus on playing music you love and improving your craft.

What Makes Horn Sheet Music The Best?

To help determine the best horn sheet music to learn with, I considered a few factors. First, I looked at the availability of sheet music, such as if you can purchase it online.

Another critical factor is the level of playing the sheet music is for. This list contains sheet music for beginners through professionals, but it’s important to know what the music covers before you buy it.

I also looked at how popular sheet music is and how you can use it. While the horn has a lot of music available, some pieces aren’t as popular, and so you may not need to learn them.

Finally, I considered sheet music for both the French horn and the alto horn. Most of the music is for the French horn, but there are some pieces for the alto horn that are worth learning if you play that instrument.

Best Horn Sheet Music To Learn With

Whether you’re a beginner or are preparing to audition for the New York Philharmonic, you should know about the best horn sheet music to learn with. That way, you can buy the music that will help you reach your goals.

Fortunately, there are tons of options out there, so there’s at least one piece of horn sheet music for everyone. Before you buy the first book or solo you find, consider if it’s the best fit for you.

Here are some ideas of pieces and books to get you started with shopping for horn sheet music.

Rubank Elementary Method

Rubank Elementary Method

The Rubank Elementary Method is part of a series of books for all band and orchestra instruments. You can use the horn version to start learning how to play the French horn in F or the alto horn in Eb.

It will take you from complete beginner through your first few months or so of learning music. The book covers music theory as well, so you don’t need to know how to read sheet music to use it.

Rubank books are an excellent option for studying on your own or with a teacher. And they’re affordable so great for players on a tight budget but who want good quality sheet music.

Pros

  • Easy to read
  • Great for beginners
  • Works with French horn and alto horn

Cons

  • A little boring

Rubank Intermediate Method

Rubank Intermediate Method

If you finish the prior book or already have some horn playing experience you may want to get the Rubank Intermediate Method. This book works for different horns, so you can use it whether you play a horn in F or Eb.

Since it’s an intermediate book, you will need to know how to read music and how to play some notes. But it’s an excellent choice if you started with the Rubank Elementary Method.

This book isn’t too expensive, and the sheet music is easy to read. However, some students may find that it’s boring or that it moves too fast through different concepts.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Affordable
  • Easy to read

Cons

  • Can move too fast

Rubank Advanced Methods

Rubank Advanced Methods

After going through the intermediate book, you can move on to the Rubank Advanced Methods. The first volume covers a few of the easier keys, so it’s a great place to start.

You can get a feel for the structure of the units and practice going through different types of exercises. Once you complete this book, get the second volume to learn the other keys.

Like the other Rubank books, these work well with French horn and alto horn. They’re also relatively affordable, so they’re perfect if you don’t want to spend a ton of money to improve your skills.

Pros

  • Good structure
  • Suitable for advanced players
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not all in one book

Standard of Excellence Book 1

Another fantastic book of horn sheet music to learn with is the Standard of Excellence Book 1. It’s part of the overall band method, so you can use it on your own or in an ensemble.

These books teach other concepts aside from playing, so you can learn about music history and theory. You can go through the lessons and study different concepts to help develop your foundations as a beginner.

Unfortunately, this book is only for the French horn and not the alto horn. Still, it’s affordable and a great choice for students entering beginning band class.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Great for solo and ensemble learning
  • Easy to read

Cons

  • Not for all horns

Standard of Excellence Book 2

Standard of Excellence Book 2

If you’ve used the first Standard of Excellence, moving on to Book 2 is great. The series follows a nice progression, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on essential notes or concepts.

You get access to a lot of the same extra features to help you learn about music. Even if you don’t have a band to play with, you can play the solos at home or with a teacher.

Then, you’ll be able to prepare yourself for a lot of the best horn sheet music out there. This book won’t break the bank, so it’s a great investment for advancing students.

Pros

  • Progressive structure
  • Easy to read
  • Great for band students

Cons

  • Not for absolute beginners

Daily Exercises for Horn

Daily Exercises for Horn

After you go through some beginner and intermediate method books, you can move on to other books. Daily Exercises for Horn contains a variety of short exercises to help you advance on the horn.

This book is for the French horn, though, so alto horn players may not find it useful. If you play the French horn, you can use these exercises to learn more music, and you can use them as warmups before you practice.

While you can buy a Kindle version, I wouldn’t recommend it. You won’t be able to print or export the file from your Kindle app, which can render the book pretty useless for practicing.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Great for advancing players
  • Exercises are short

Cons

  • Doesn’t teach music theory

335 Melodious, Progressive, & Technical Studies for French Horn

335 Melodious

Another French horn-specific book, 335 Melodious, Progressive, & Technical Studies for French Horn contains some great exercises. The studies come from composers such as Mozart and Strauss.

Two professional horn players compiled all of the etudes into one nice resource. That way, you don’t have to buy a ton of horn sheet music to learn all of the works.

It is a bit more expensive than some books, but you get a ton of value for the price. All serious horn players need to own a copy of this book.

Pros

  • Comprehensive
  • Great for serious players
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Not for beginners

Kopprasch Sixty Selected Studies

Kopprasch Sixty Selected Studies

Kopprasch composed a lot of fantastic horn etudes, including Sixty Selected Studies. This collection of pieces for the horn is great for advancing students and professionals.

In the book, the composer suggests that players practice each study in different keys. That can be a great way to build up your transposition skills in case you ever need to transpose other works.

You can use these studies as part of your daily practice routine. Choose one etude to work on each week and rotate through them when you polish the prior study.

Pros

  • Great for warming up
  • Practice transposition
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Not for beginners

Kling 40 Characteristic Etudes

Kling 40 Characteristic Etudes

Another collection of etudes to add to your horn sheet music library is Kling 40 Characteristic Etudes. These studies come from a famous horn player named Henri Kling.

The horn player Lorenzo Sansone compiled the etudes into one book. That way, you can reference all of them in one place to help develop your horn playing.

If you’re a more advanced player, these etudes can help you play even better. Whether you want to become a professional or not, you should add this book to your collection.

Pros

  • Great for advanced players
  • Variety
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not for beginners

Hindemith Sonata for French Horn and Piano

Paul Hindemith wrote sonatas for every common instrument, including the French horn. His Sonata for French Horn and Piano is a standard part of the instrument’s repertoire.

If you’re tired of playing short exercises and etudes, give this sonata a try. Now, you’ll need some playing experience, and you’ll need to hire a good pianist to play it with you.

However, this is a great piece to learn when you reach an advanced level. Whether you want to learn it for fun or a recital, you can’t go wrong with the sonata.

Pros

  • Great repertoire
  • Perfect for collegiate and professional recitals
  • Standard piece

Cons

  • Requires an advanced pianist to perform

Hindemith Sonata for Alto Horn

Hindemith Sonata for Alto Horn

Another part of Hindemith’s series of sonatas, the Sonata for Alto Horn is a great piece to learn. If you want something specific to the instrument and not just for any type of horn, you should study this piece.

Like with Hindemith’s other sonatas, you’ll need to find an advanced pianist to accompany you. However, doing so means you get to play an excellent piece for yourself, a recording, or a live audience.

The piece is the same as the sonata for the alto saxophone. So if it sounds familiar, consider if you’ve heard a saxophonist perform the sonata.

Pros

  • For alto horn
  • Great repertoire
  • Suitable for advanced players

Cons

  • Not the best first solo to learn

Persichetti Parable VIII for Horn Solo

Persichetti Parable VIII for Horn Solo

If you prefer to play unaccompanied works, learn Persichetti’s Parable VIII for Horn Solo. Like the Hindemith sonatas, this work is part of a series of Parables for different instruments.

This is an excellent piece to learn if you can’t play with a pianist. You can use this work as part of a recital or as an encore to another performance.

Once you reach an advanced level of playing, this can be an excellent addition to your sheet music library. Just make sure you work on your chops so that you’ll be able to tackle the piece when you get the music.

Pros

  • No piano required
  • Great for advanced players
  • Easy to perform

Cons

  • Requires some playing experience

Mozart Concertos for Horn

Mozart Concertos for Horn

French horn players should at least learn one Mozart concerto. If you get Mozart Concertos for Horn, you’ll have the sheet music for all four solos in one place.

Then, you can learn the pieces or start with just one. Whether you want to participate in a concerto competition or give a solo recital, any of the concertos are great.

Plus, this edition contains historical comments to help you play the piece. That way, you can understand what Mozart wants the music to sound like, and you can avoid sounding too modern.

Pros

  • Multiple pieces included
  • Historical comments
  • Standard repertoire

Cons

  • A little expensive

Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 2 in Eb Major

Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 2 in Eb Major

Maybe you don’t care for Mozart’s music, but you still want to play a concerto. You should buy sheet music for the Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 2 in Eb Major.

This piece is another major work that you can play as a soloist with an orchestra. However, the music comes with a piano reduction, so you don’t need an orchestra to perform the piece.

Strauss was one of the most well-known composers of horn music. If you want to take your playing to the next level, you should give this piece a try.

Pros

  • Major work
  • Sounds great
  • Suitable for advanced players

Cons

  • Not for beginners

Villa-Lobos Quintette en forme de choros

Villa-Lobos Quintette en forme de choros

 

Despite being a brass instrument the French horn is a standard member of the woodwind quintet. If you’re in such a group, you can play Villa-Lobos Quintette en forme de choros.

Choro is a Brazilian form of music, so this is the perfect piece for musicians who love Carnival. You can play the piece the same way you would other woodwind quintets.

Of course, that does mean you’ll need to find people who play the flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon. Get together to rehearse the piece, and you’ll have a quintet worthy of performance.

Pros

  • Great for groups
  • Different from other pieces
  • No piano required

Cons

  • Requires a specific instrumentation

Thompson The Orchestral Audition Repertoire for Horn

Thompson The Orchestral Audition Repertoire for Horn

If you want to join an orchestra, you should know some of the common excerpts from orchestral music. The Orchestral Audition Repertoire for Horn by Thompson contains standard pieces you should be able to play.

This book also covers pieces you won’t find in other orchestral excerpt books. Plus, there are full pieces that allow you to learn the horn solos in the context of larger works.

Whether you’re a college music major or are preparing for a round or professional auditions, you need this book. That way, you don’t have to spend time searching for orchestra parts.

Pros

  • Comprehensive
  • Great for advanced students and professionals
  • Includes more than just horn solos

Cons

  • Very expensive

How To Choose Horn Sheet Music

You know about the best horn sheet music to learn with. But that doesn’t mean that all of the pieces covered are right for you and your needs.

Before you go sheet music shopping, consider a few factors to help choose the best horn sheet music.

Level

The most important factor to consider is if the sheet music is too easy or too difficult for you. As a beginner, Rubank and Standard of Excellence books are great.

However, they’ll bore other players to tears. As you advance, you may want to try an etude collection, such as Daily Exercises for Horn, so that you can challenge yourself.

Goal

Another thing to think about is your goal for the sheet music. If you want to reinforce your fundamentals, you may want to stick to playing etudes.

But when it comes time to prepare for a recital, concertos and sonatas might be better. That way, you’ll have the best type of sheet music to use.

Instrumentation

The most common horn by far is the French horn in the key of F. However, you can find music for the alto horn in Eb. So make sure you buy sheet music for your instrument.

And don’t forget about other musicians that will play with you. Consider if you’ll have access to a piano and piano player, or if you need to choose an unaccompanied piece, like the Parable by Persichetti.

Style

You should also consider if you like a particular style or era of music. Then, you can look for pieces on and off of this list that you’ll want to practice and play.

Fortunately, there are tons of pieces available for the horn. So you can probably find something that you enjoy, especially as you advance.

FAQs About The Best Horn Sheet Music To Learn With

Question: How much horn sheet music do you need?

Answer: When you first start to learn to play the horn, you only need one or two books of sheet music. But as you learn more notes and move on to advanced books, you can collect more sheet music.
Keep those books on hand even after you finish them. That way, you can refer to the exercises whenever you need something to use for a quick warmup.

Question: Can you teach yourself the horn with sheet music?

Answer: You can use sheet music to teach yourself the horn. Rubank and Standard of Excellence both provide progressive lessons, so you can stay on track as you learn.
While having a teacher can help, a self-disciplined student can make a lot of progress on their own. Just make sure to add practice sessions to your calendar so that you play consistently.

Question: How much does horn sheet music cost?

Answer: You can find a lot of horn sheet music for about $10 or even less. If you look for music in the public domain, you may be able to find PDFs available for free.
However, other pieces of music can cost up to $100 or more. More expensive books tend to have more pieces in them, and they may contain music that’s still under copyright, so the price has to reflect copyright royalties.

Question: How can you save money on horn sheet music?

Answer: Look for compilations of etudes and pieces when you can. Collections like Mozart Concertos for Horn are great because they cost less than all four pieces would if you bought them separately.
You can also look for free PDFs of public domain works. However, some editions can have errors, so consider buying them to get the best version possible.

Final Note On The Best Horn Sheet Music To Learn With

The best horn sheet music to learn with should challenge you without making you want to quit playing the instrument. As a beginner, you should look for a progressive method book series, such as Rubank.

If you have some playing experience, check out Daily Exercises for Horn or the Mozart Concertos. That way, you can expand your repertoire and improve your playing at the same time.

For more reading:

  • History and Types of Horns from Early Times Till Now
  • How to Play the Horn Even If You’ve Never Played It Before
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