If you’re looking for a gift for a French horn player, you came to the right place!
- Practice Aids
- French horn accessories
General Music Accessories
While I have an entire page devoted to accessories for the French horn, here are some that make great gifts for a horn (or brass player) in your life!
Every musician needs a music stand – trying to play with good posture is almost impossible without one!
For sheet music or tablets
- Wire music stand – If you want something that’s easy to store and very portable, a wire music stand is the least expensive option. Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
- Solid (collapsible) music stand – This stand collapses down into an easy-to-carry bag, and it has a solid music rack, making it much more secure than a wire music stand. Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
- A sturdy stand with storage space – My favorite for a dedicated practice space. Sturdy, lightweight, and it has a second shelf to store accessories like oils and pencils without getting the way of the music. Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
- GoStand portable mic stand – a very small mic stand with a connection to attach tablet holder. Since the tablet holder and stand come apart, you don’t need to upgrade your stand when you get a new tablet – simply replace the tablet holder! Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
- K&M Tablet Holder for mic stand – This fits on top of a mic stand (like the GoStand mentioned above), and can be resized to fit most tablets. Buy on Amazon. Be aware, this holder doesn’t work too well with iPads with a 2nd-generation pencil, though. For those, I recommend…
- Manos Universal Tablet Holder – This model seems to work better with iPads (especially with cases). Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
- Tablet desk stand – This could be used for music reading or as a way to have a tablet set up as a second monitor. Could be especially useful if you’re using a bluetooth keyboard. Buy on Amazon.
French horn stands
There are several options for stands for your horn.
- Guitar stand – I use a simple, collapsible guitar stand to hold my horns. While it’s not especially strong, It does a good job of keeping them stable and up off the floor when I’m not using them. Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
- French horn stand – You could also use this Hercules French horn stand. It looks more rugged, and it collapses down fairly small. Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
- Peak “The Dome” stand – A new product that I’ve not tried, but it looks very promising. From the same company that made the Peak Collapsible stands, this horn stand has a unique design that looks interesting. Buy on Amazon.
Music stand accessories
- Portable LED Stand Light – I love these stand lights. They run on batteries or an A/C adapter, you can set different brightness levels for each light, and the lights can be easily positioned so there are no dark spots. Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
- Music stand wind clips – A must-have if you’re playing outdoors (or underneath an A/C vent)! These are much beter than trying to use clothespins – and since they are transparent, they don’t block the music! Buy on Amazon.
- Music stand tray – A great thing to have for long gigs. Keep your phone/keys/mouthpieces within easy reach! Also comes with a drink holder for…water. Buy on WWBW.com or Amazon.
While most students are using apps, there’s something about a physical metronome and tuner that inspires focus in some people. If you know someone who would prefer the “real thing” over an app, here are my favorites:
- Korg Metronome (KDM3BK) – a basic metronome but with some advanced functions, including 8 different sounds, 19 beat patterns, tap-tempo functionality, and a headphone jack.
- Dr. Beat DB-90 – The grandaddy of all metronomes. There’s almost nothing this metronome can’t do, and the multiple sliders and physical controls make it very easy to adjust on-the-fly instead of diving into menus.
- Super Snark 2 – A clip on tuner makes it much easier to tune in a noisy environment. Even if you’re using an app, this is a wonderful accessory to have if you need to tune quickly and accurately in a rehearsal or concert.
- Peterson StroboPlus HDC – Peterson is known for some of the highest-quality strobe tuners available. This tuner gets you the same accuracy and most of the features of monsters like the Peterson 490 AutoStrobe, in a much smaller (and less-expensive) portable package.
If you’re getting a gift for a musician that likes gadgets or uses apps for practice/performing, here are a few accessories that are very useful for getting the most out of their technology.
- Tablet – I’ve been using a tablet (first a Chromebook and then an iPad) for several years. While I love mine, it’s not for everyone. You can read my blog posts about reading music on a device here. My short list of recommendations is either an iPad Air or the latest Chromebook that has a stylus.
- Portable Recorder – Recording yourself is not only a useful practice strategy, it’s also become more important since March of 2020. Knowing how to get a qualitly recording (and having basic equipment) is now also becoming a factor in auditions and pre-recorded “live” performances. You can spend lots of money, or you can get something like the Zoom H1, the Zoom H4N, or the Zoom H6N (depending on your budget) to get high-quality audio without a steep learning curve.
- External Speaker – Using a tuner or metronome app is great, as long as you can hear it! If your phone isn’t loud (or your playing is), this Anker Icon Mini or JBL Clip 4 are two small, portable speakers that will make it easier to hear your drone or metronome!
- Bluetooth Earbuds – Bluetooth earbuds are a great practice aid, since you can take one out to hear your own playing, while keeping the other one in to hear your metronome. You can also swap them out when one runs low on battery, and they are more comfortable than having a cord (or over-ear headphones). For Apple users, the AirPods are great. The Anker P2 is a more affordable option, while the Bose QuietComfort earbuds are expensive (but have alot of additional features).
- Portable Battery – If you’re using a phone (or tablet) as a practice aid or music reader, then a portable battery is almost essential. If you want something small, the Anker Slim will slip into a bag or case easily. If you need a bit more endurance, the Anker Essential will give you twice the juice.
French Horn Accessories
- Pencil clip – A must-have for all students (especially younger ones)!
- Foot rest – Many younger students rest the horn on the leg, since it’s more comfortable than holding it up. Some students have taller torsos (and shorter legs), which causes them to hunch over when resting the horn on the leg. A foot stool (like guitarists use) solves this problem and promotes much better posture.
I have a wide variety of French horn sheet music and books on my French Horn Music and Books page.
Books include a wide range of topics (horn history, performance training, general productivity) and music includes solos and chamber music sorted by difficulty.
- Yamaha Silent Brass – A neat gadget to encourage more practice. It features a practice mute, which goes inside the bell and makes the horn almost inaudible from 10 feet away. Unlike standard practice mutes, though, the mute also contains a microphone, which allows you to hear your sound more clearly through headphones, to help reduce some of the negative effects of constant practice with a practice mute.
- Practice Mute – If you like the idea of the Silent Brass, but don’t want to deal with batteries and electronics, a standard “analog” practice mute is also a great option. There are lots of different options, but I think either the Shhh! Mute or the Balu Practice Mute are both good options.
A new case can be a useful upgrade – especially for a younger student (who may have trouble carrying the bulky and awkward cases that most horns use). Not only does a new case offer easier storage for things like mutes, pencils, and accessories, but it can also get a student more excited about taking the horn home and practicing.
- Fixed bell cases – One of the best combinations of value and features is the Protec ProPAC (available at WWBW.com and Amazon).
- Screw bell cases – Protec also makes a Pro PAC case for cut bell horns (available at WWBW.com and Amazon). There is also the Protec iPAC, which is a bit smaller than the Pro PAC, but has a bit less storage and the Deluxe iPAC, which is slightly larger but has room for a mute inside.
- Gig bags – For younger students, you’ll want to avoid gig bags (like this Protec Explorer). While they are lightweight, they require extreme care when carrying the instrument, since there is no “hard” protection like you find in a case. These are also called “dent bags” for a good reason!
There are other good brands of cases – however, Protec seems to be a good balance of price and features for most students. If you’ve got the budget, however, some other options include Marcus Bonna, CardoCase, Bags of Spain, and of course my Wiseman case.
- A new (or upgraded) mouthpiece – While I wouldn’t recommend buying a new mouthpiece for a student with their input (or the input of a competent teacher), upgrading from a “one-size-fits-all” mouthpiece to something that fits their facial structure and horn can lead to a tremendous improvement. I have resources on how to choose a mouthpiece, and a comparison chart of just about every single French horn mouthpiece made that can help you in your search!
- Mouthpiece pouch or case – If someone has several mouthpieces, a case to store them is essential. I love my Messina Covers mouthpiece pouches – they are handmade in Louisville, KY, endlessly customizable, and very affordable. You can read a review of them here. You can also find regular (boring!) mouthpiece pouches at WWBW.com (but they won’t be nearly as cool).
- A new (or used) horn – Like mouthpieces, I wouldn’t get a student a new horn without some input from the student or their teacher. Choosing an instrument can be a very personal thing, and buying something without doing proper research is just asking for an expensive mistake! My page on Buying a French horn covers brands to try (and brands to avoid), as well as things to look out for and questions to ask before you decide on a horn to try.