PSA: Clean Your Horn!


A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Pennsylvania to play assistant principal for a good friend in the Reading Symphony. These trips are fun both from a work and a personal perspective, since Pennsylvania is not exactly close to Louisville, and any excuse to see a friend (and get paid) is welcome!

While I was there, my friend (who does a bit of horn repair work on the side) asked me if I wanted my horn chemically cleaned. I’ve had my current horn for about a year and a half, and although I’ve kept up with the basics, I had not done any sort of cleaning of the inside of the horn aside from the weekly-or-so leadpipe cleanings. I figured this cleaning was probably needed.

Well, it certainly was. In fact, despite the fact that I have cleaned out the leadpipe regularly, brush my teeth before I play, and am more paranoid about cleaning with my Paxman than I was with previous horns (valves in the leadpipe can be a nightmare if you don’t take care of them – I had a Finke triple once that was…an ordeal), it was gross. Like, really gross. Lots of little grey/green globules came out of all three sides of the horn, and a couple of loose braces were discovered. To be fair, since I bought the horn used some of the ick could have been from the previous owner(which likely makes it more gross, not less), but it was likely all me.

The horn plays noticeably different (in a good way) now, but I really should not have gone so long between internal cleanings.

Let this be a lesson – clean your horn! If you haven’t at least given your horn a bath (it’s easy, I’ve got a how-to right here) within the past 3-6 months, make sure you do soon! If you don’t know the last time your horn was either professionally chem- or ultrasonically-cleaned, you should consider getting that done – about once every year or two is a good interval to shoot for. Once you’ve got your horn clean on the inside, take a look at my recommendations on valve careslide care, and leadpipe cleaning to keep it in good working order!

As always, if you have any questions – let me know!


About Colin Dorman

Colin is a freelance horn player and teacher, as well as a fan of tech of all sorts, aviation, and increasingly complex flight simulators. He also enjoys beer, bourbon and fitness - but not at the same time. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, as well as right here at ColinDorman.com!