Mellophone for French Horn Players

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Crown Alto 1990
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Mellophone for French Horn Players

Post by Crown Alto 1990 » Wed Apr 23, 2003 6:34 pm

If you are a french horn player (or better still a french horn music major) how does one keep their horn embouchure in shape playing a mellophone in a drum corps. Do any corps allow horn mouthpieces with adapters?

I had to deal with this problem thirteen years ago. Playing on a mellophone mouthpiece all summer really messed up my freshman year in college (spent the whole year trying to find my horn embouchure again). How do people handle this today?
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Post by pitn0926 » Sat May 17, 2003 6:17 am

I was allowed to march with an adaptor. I was a performance major and being allowed to play on my regular mouthpiece really helped when it came to auditions in the fall. My studio professor hates any and every form of marching and he would've ripped me a new one if I had come back sounding like a mellophone, so I made sure I kept up my horn chops.

My caption head said that he didn't care what mouthpiece we played on as long as we had a good sound. Not very many corps take this approach, which is unfortunate because some horn players don't do well on the mellophone mouthpiece and many of them don't do corps at all because they feel the mellophone mouthpiece screws up their concert horn chops.

A good thing to do if the corps doesn't allow adaptors is to bring along your concert horn mouthpiece and get some good buzzing time each day (I know that's not going to be much, but it's better than none at all). Also, bring your audition music and finger through it.
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Post by Crown Alto 1990 » Sun May 18, 2003 6:15 am

Seems a shame when corps instructors aren't flexible about this. I've known many horn players (music majors) who wont go near a drum corps simply BECAUSE of this.
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Post by pitn0926 » Sun May 18, 2003 8:28 am

That's why most mello lines are almost all trumpet players, which is very noticeable in the sound. A member on another forum mentioned that the Cavaliers' brass staff will only allow concert horn players into the mello line, with the exception of the remaining few trumpet playing vets who were already in the line. Maybe they can start a trend.
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Post by Crown Alto 1990 » Tue May 20, 2003 5:49 pm

Interesting, I wonder if these "concert horn players" are allowed to use an actual french horn mouthpiece.
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Post by pitn0926 » Fri May 23, 2003 6:17 am

I didn't even think to ask. I will definitely try to find out.
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Post by CCAlto » Thu Jun 19, 2003 9:05 pm

I was a horn player who went straight from a drum corps. season (on a trumpet mouthpiece) to playing horn again a few days after tour. For some reason this has never been a problem for me. I just prefer to play with a trumpet mouthpiece in a marching outdoor environment. I think a lot of it might be psychological. You can adapt if you need to....just takes more warm-up time maybe.

Although someone commented about the Cavaliers requiring mellos to be horn players, i find that quite ironic. I've always thought their mellos were a little more harsh than other lines (Star, Cadets, BD, etc.) Maybe that is why they decided to implement the rule now.

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Post by Veles13 » Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:41 am

I found this thread searching for DCI audition music, and I know it's an old thread but here goes:

For their "Machine" show and the year before that the Cavalier's used the IYM Larry Kerchner M-1 Mellophone mouthpiece, which is more like a french horn mouth piece than a trumpet mouthpiece, with a deep cup but a rounded rim like that of a trumpet.

I also have had no trouble switching from mellophone to french horn, and I have to do it daily for marching band and wind ensemble. I actually find that playing on the mellophone mouthpiece and horn mouthpiece and switching back and forth have helped both instruments. On the mellophone, I have developed a better tone, and my upper register (high C and up) is beginning to speak easier on my horn (I'm a mello-screamer ^-^). I believe it is because my lip muscles in general are being worked more often because I switch back and forth, so it strengthens a larger mass of muscle.

Although, I have been playing horn since 6th grade and will be a college sophomore this fall, and played trumpet in HS jazz band 11-12th grades, so I have more practice switching back and forth.


I use a King Mello 6 on my mello (not spending $90+ on a Hammond or a Kerchner until I have the money to march in a corp) and a Denis Wick 5N on my horn.

Oh and don't tell my studio teacher, he hates marching band as well :)

Go Phantom!

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