There are many reasons why I wish I could observe students’ practice habits at home, but one of the biggest reasons is probably one that they think little to nothing about – their right hand position.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen students playing (either in lessons, in rehearsals, or in performances) with their right hand in a variety of “creative” positions. Fingers spread like they are palming a basketball, balled up in a fist, all five fingers meeting together like they are making shadow puppets, or even having the hand completely outside the bell.
The right hand position does many important things for a horn (and its player) – gives it a characteristic tone quality, reliable intonation (especially for notes below and above the staff), and permits easier slotting of upper harmonics (basically everything above an F or G at the top of the staff). If any of the above have been problems, you may need to look no farther than at the end of your wrist!