The BEST Etude Collections for French Horn


This is a continuation of my article from a couple of weeks ago about some great solo collections for middle and high school students.

With just about all band rehearsals, concerts, and festivals cancelled, students are needing to be more self-directed in planning and executing their practice plan.

To that end, here are some of my favorite etude collections to use with your students (or with yourself).

Etudes for Middle School Horn Players

Most middle school band musicians already have at least one etude book – their band method book. You should definitely be practicing out of that book, whether or not you use it much during band class.

Generally speaking, these books do a good job of introducing new concepts like notes and rhythms, and if you’re using the “Horn only” version of etudes, the range is usually not too much of a concern. Plus, many of these books now have recordings of the etudes available to students, so you can listen to a recording of the study or song and make sure you’re playing it correctly.

If you’re looking for something extra, though, or you’ve already finished your band’s method book, here are some other etude collections that can keep you moving forward in your horn studies:

  • A First Book of Etudes for French Horn – Goldstein: A good book for a beginner. These start off very easy, but cover a variety of skills in the first few pages. Things like 6/8, sharps, and various articulations are tackled early, providing a nice variety.
  • A Second Book of Etudes for French Horn – Goldstein: A good companion book for a second-year player. Builds on the previous book very nicely, and introduces more advanced concepts (like transposition) in an approachable way.
  • Practical Studies for French Horn, Book 1 – Getchell: A bit more advanced than the first book of the Goldstein, these are good for a younger student after they have a good grasp of the basics, and a range of at least one octave (study 1 covers middle to third-space C).
  • Pottag-Hovey Method for French Horn, Book 1: A classic, and still a good option for young students. Like the Goldstein, it does a good job of introducing different time and key signatures early. The end of this book is great for a 3rd year player (or a strong 2nd year player).

Etudes for High School Horn Players

Although middle school students all (generally) start at the same level, high school players can vary quite a bit in terms of their playing abilities. Like my blog article a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to try and rank these from most approachable to most challenging, although since each of these books are progressive in difficulty, this is just an approximation.

  • Practical Studies for French Horn, Book 2 – Getchell: This book is a great bridge from simpler to more advanced music. The first few pages have a relatively limited range (not too high), but lots of musical considerations (different styles, keys, accidentals, etc.).
  • Melodious Studies for French Horn – Miersch: Another book that strikes a nice balance of progressively increasing the technical difficulty while maintaining the musical difficulty throughout the collection.
  • Preparatory Methods to Solo Work (from Schantl): One of my favorites (as my students know). Lots of musical challenges in short (2-5 line) etudes. Not too demanding in the high register (at first), but good for strengthening the mid-to-low range (first etude goes down to a low C!).
  • Kopprasch 60 Selected Studies – Book 1: A classic for good reason. Many of these etudes (especially the first 5) are simple but not easy. Best for more advanced students, since how you play these is important to establishing good fundamental mechanics in many techniques (articulation, large intervals, fast tempos, etc.).
  • 335 Selected Melodious, Progressive, and Technical Studies: A giant collection of a lot of different etudes. This is a great collection if you’re looking for wide variety of etude styles and challenges. This first book is great for a strong 4th- or 5th-year player looking for challenges. There is a second volume, but the first volume is more than enough to start off with.

More Etude Options

While these are some of my favorite etudes that cover a wide variety of playing challenges, these are far from the only options for good etudes! I left out some Gallay, Maxime-Alphonse, Kling, and many others. Not because they aren’t good (they are), but because I simply didn’t want this list to get too long!

If you’ve already been through the etudes above, or you’re looking for something a bit different, I’ve got quite a few other etude (and solo) options over on my music page.

If you have any questions ask below! Also, if you’re a middle or high school student without a teacher, and you’re looking for some etude/solo recommendations email me and I’ll recommend some etudes and solo ideas for FREE!


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!