Keeping the horn from sliding off your knee
by Phil Myers, Cornucopia, December 1998
For several years now I have been using a sheet of rubber on my leg to keep the horn from sliding around. I had tried using a chamois and a wash cloth, but while I found effective in cleaning the horn, neither kept my horn from sliding.
This became a problem in 1982 when two things happened: (1) I gained weight, which moved the horn farther out on my leg, and therefore (2) I had to close my hand in the bell more than I wanted to just to keep the horn on my leg. This accidental closing of the hand seemed to have a bad effect on my attacks and sound. It took me a while to realize my right hand was the culprit, but then I knew I had to find something that would hold the horn by itself without me having to use my right hand to do it.
What I found was the kind of rubber that is used on a ping pong paddle. It is purposely made real grippy and the horn just won't slide around on it. I could put my right hand on top of my head now and the horn wouldn't slide.
There are several kinds of ping pong rubber; what I use is: pips out, 1.5 mm, black, usually Chinese.
Pips out means that the pimples are facing out. Pips in means that the pimples are facing in and the rubber is smooth and flat, but for me that type deteriorates.
The foam comes in several thicknesses: none, 1 mm, 1.5 mm, 2 mm, sometimes more. I've tried them all and I now usually get the 1.5 mm because it conforms to the shape of the leg well but also is substantial enough to hold up. I put the rubber in the bell of the horn when I put it in the case with the pip side out to help the rubber get used to wrapping in that direction so it fits the leg.
I usually get the black color because I think that maybe in an orchestra full of tuxes or tails, red or blue might look a little crazy. I buy the Chinese brands because they seem to hold up better than the Japanese brands. I get about nine months out of a sheet of rubber, if I don't lose it (a regular problem for me).
All of this can be seen and purchased at your local sporting goods store or at www.paddlepalace.com. You want only the rubber sheet, not the paddle.
On the web site, click store, 1) rubber sheets, 2) Pips Out Rubber Sheets, 3) Double Happiness Pips Out Rubber, PF4 651 - attack pips, then black, 1.5, and place the order for a cost of $20 each. No, I don't know the owner; you are donating nothing to Phil Myers, I promise.
Better get two; once you get used to how secure this makes the horn feel on your leg, you'll be hooked. I keep extras at work, extras at home, and take extras on tour.
I hope someone finds this helpful. I've often wondered if it would also help young players for whom the horn still fells quite large.
Phil Myers is Principal horn of the New York Philharmonic. Email Phil Myers
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