Although the very word strikes fear in the heart of most students, transposition is one of the most useful skills to have. Transposition is especially important for French horn players, since we are commonly asked to play in different keys in a single concert (or sometimes a single piece).
To help my students (and other horn players) come to grips with transposition, I made this chart which has just about all the transpositions you’ll ever need!
French Horn Transposition Chart:
You can also download a PDF copy of this chart here:
After you have a good grasp of the mechanics of transposition, make sure that you take the time and include it in your regular practice (especially if you don’t play orchestral repertoire in other keys regularly).
Some of the best transposition practice is just picking out simple songs (preferably in the key of C) and practicing them in different transpositions. Using familiar tunes will let you know prety quickly when you make a mistake, and working on songs in the key of C means you don’t have to deal with too many weird key signatures.
Once you get comfortable with several songs in different keys, the Kopprasch studies (also available on Amazon or WoodwindBrasswind.com) make excellent transposition practice pieces. I like to spend a lot of time on the first 15 studies (not all in one day!), since those cover a lot of common scale and arpeggio patterns.
Once you have a good grasp of the skills involved in transposition, you’ll find that it is easy to flip the “transposition switch” in your brain and read in E, or D, or G, or any other number of keys as naturally as you read horn in F. However, just like learning a language, 5 minutes of daily practice will do more good than 2 hours once per week.