French Horn: Producing Sound

To produce sound on a French horn, the player makes a buzzing sound by blowing through closed lips. The embouchure can be formed by saying the letters E - M - P. The vibrations from the mouthpiece pass through the horn and out of the bell. The player changes the pitch of the sound by pressing the three valves in various combinations, in effect changing the length of the tubing the air flows through. The pitch on the French horn is also changed by increasing and decreasing the intensity of the air stream from the player's embouchure.


Care and Maintenance


Diagram of French Horn Parts

Before you play:
  • Lift your French horn from its case by the bell and large tubing.
  • Every two or three days, apply rotor oil to the valves.
  • For each valve, hold down its lever and remove its slide.
  • Turn the French horn up, and put a few drops of rotor oil into the rotor, making sure not to drip the oil down the sides of the slide because this can gather slide grease into your rotors.  Then work the valve lever to distribute the oil. 
  • Replace the slide and repeat the process on the next valve.
  • Place the mouthpiece into the mouthpiece receiver and gently twist it in.

Student Playing the French Horn


After you play:
  • Remove the mouthpiece and put it in its compartment in your case.
  • Rotate the horn and let the spit and condensation roll out of the bell. 
  • If moisture is still present, pull out the slides completely and shake them to release contents.
  • Wipe the fingerprints off your French horn with your polish cloth.
  • Put your French horn in its case and fasten the latches.
  • Check for loose items in your case that could bounce into your French horn and dent or scratch it. 
  • Don't store anything on top of your French horn in its case as it could push on the levers and slides and bend them.


  • Clean your mouthpiece with a mouthpiece brush, dish soap, and warm water.
  • Thoroughly clean your French horn's finish with your polish cloth.
  • Apply a little slide grease to the slides. Pull them out one at a time, wipe them clean with a soft cloth, rub a small amount of slide grease on them, and carefully insert them back into your French horn.Picture of a French Horn
  • Oil the rotors. Remove the valve caps and apply key oil to the bearing shaft and pivot points, rotating the valves to work it in.
  • Every few months, wash out the insides of your French horn to keep it sanitary and working smoothly. 
  • Disassemble your French horn (except for the rotor valves which only a technician should disassemble) in a large sink or bathtub of warm water and mild dish soap.  
  • Be very careful with the disassembled parts as the smallest dent will prevent them from fitting back in your French horn and moving properly. A soft towel on the counter and at the bottom of the sink or tub will cushion any falls. 
  • Use your cleaning snake to gently scrub inside the tubes.
  • Rinse thoroughly and completely dry off the parts.
  • Apply a small amount of grease to the slides and put them back into your French horn.
  • Bring your French horn to the Amro repair shop at least once a year and any time you feel it's not playing its best.  We'll inspect and test it free of charge, usually while you wait.  And if you have Amro’s maintenance & replacement plan, any adjustments and repair it needs are free.