French Horn Support
When standing up, the belt takes all the weight. Easily adjusted, ERGObrass support encourages a good performing posture and better breathing.
When sitting down, the weight is transmitted to the chair. The horn floats lightly from the center of gravity on a spring. You can turn the horn smoothly anywhere while you play.
The ERGObrass might seem to require a very radical change in the way a horn is played and therefore it is especially important that you read and look at these pages with an open mind without any prejudice.
After all the needed changes are only very slight.
We firmly believe that playing the French horn with the help of the ERGObrass gives a player benefits that are well worth the effort of learning a few new habits in holding and handling the horn while playing or resting.
Today, we pay much more attention to how the tools and equipment we use every day affect our health. This is the science of ergonomics. The French horn is not a small and light instrument. Today, we pay much attention to how the tools and equipment we use everyday affect our health and comfort. This is the science of ergonomics.
Over the years if the horn is held with statically tensed hands, many players suffer various consequences. First the hand and arm gets tired and stiff. Later one often acquires many kinds of pains in the wrist, arm, elbow, upper arm and shoulder or in the upper back and neck.
And what is most important, is the breathing. When there is static tension in the upper body, we cannot breathe as freely as when we were relaxed.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO FEEL RELAXED AND COMFORTABLE WHEN MAKING MUSIC.
The horn, while a marvelous instrument, does pose special ergonomic challenges because of its size and weight. The bigger the horn (especially a triple horn), or the smaller the player (especially a young player), the more important ergonomic considerations become.
The ERGObrass support is specially designed to be a handy medium to enable the player to keep his or her hands and upper body completely relaxed by removing the need for the body to support the weight of the instrument. Instead, the ERGObrass support will transmit the weight of the horn to the chair or through the belt to the legs.
Freeing up the upper body can also help the most important aspects of brass playing: breathing and air flow. With the ERGObrass, the only task remaining for the left hand is to balance the horn and keep the mouthpiece in the right place and angle for each situation. Then, of course, your fingers can act relaxed on valve triggers. With the weight of the horn taken off of the body, the player’s touch and feel for playing are improved and stresses are reduced.
A plate made of stainless steel is attached near the center of gravity of the horn. The support rod has a special round head. It shall be put one of the holes in the plate.There are many holes, you just experiment which one gives you the best feel of balance.
The height adjustment of the instrument is done with a quick fingerscrew with your right hand. Simply open the screw, adjust the instrument in the desired height and lock up the screw. Nice and quick.
The horn is now floating in a desired height on a smooth spring. It is very important that every player experiment all possible alternatives to find the best and convenient way in their personal needs to use the device.
Even if the height screw is locked you can easily turn your instrument in any direction at any time.This enables to play the horn without any tension in hands, shoulder, back and throat - quite a relaxing feeling!
The problem for children - as every teacher knows - is the wrong posture while playing because of the weight of the horn. This reaction is understandable. The body tries to find a position where it can tolerate physical stress. But, of course, at the same time the physical precondition of being able to breath and play efficiently diminishes radically. How could anybody develop a proper technique and efficient breathing and blowing in an uncomfortable position?
Below are the two most typical ways of trying to cope with the problem.
The girl has a tense posture and tense hands. Playing is neither comfortable nor efficient.
The girl has become hunched, She is drooping over the horn. Spine and upper body are curved and constricted. Her cannot breath efficiently.
When adjusted appropriately with the teacher, the ERGObrass automatically holds the player in a good, supportive playing position.
Now the back is better aligned, the body feels relaxed and playing is easier. With the ERGObrass the young player can concentrate all the time on essential elements of playing. Also, a relaxed and light feel allows more comfort and enjoyment for practice and performance.
ERGObrass horn support makes it virtually impossible to play in a wrong posture!
With the ERGObrass playing is easy, efficient and enjoyable!
The player can also turn and move quite freely while playing as the ERGObrass enables very flexible movements.
Professor of Horn
Central Washington University, USA
- I began using the ERGObrass horn support a few months before back surgery, in anticipation of having to perform soon after the surgery itself. After a short period of adjustment, I discovered I was able to play with less tension in my whole upper body, with better posture and more relaxed airflow, whether I was sitting or standing. I also found I experienced less pain and fatigue after long rehearsals, performances, or days of constant playing. I told my doctor about this device and as a result was allowed to begin practicing one week after surgery, and performed two weeks after that. Now that the surgery is behind me and my back has recovered, I have decided to continue using this horn support into the foreseeable future. I highly recommend it, not just for people with back problems, but for young players, marching bands, and anyone who wants to extend their playing careers, or even just get the horn off their legs.
American Horn Quartet
Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg
- For years I struggled with playing demanding solo and quartet literature while standing. I was always frustrated that my playing was so much better while sitting. I could never really show off to the public what I was really capable of doing, nor could I express musically and in minute detail the things I had practiced so hard. This was mainly due to the heavy weight of the horn (Paxman Triple), as well as a natural tendency to tension while playing. After having received the ERGObrass, I could tell immediately that this device would have enormous potential for me and my situation. I am very aware that everyone plays differently and we all have different problems. But mine has always been this problem with the weight of the instrument. It takes a bit of experimentation and getting used to, but I have already seen a huge improvement. I have been working with the ERGObrass stand now for several weeks and plan to use it at upcoming performances in Spain, Singapore, Australia and Rome.
International horn artist
Professor of horn, Madrid, Spain
- With this system a child of any age can play a horn without any physical problems. Not just for the sake of using air, but also to maintain good posture without any tension. I am not saying this just as a spectator but as a father of two "fantastic" hornists, age 7 and 9 years. With the ERGObrass support they never have any tension, and they never get tired in any part of the body, except in the lips, of course! Without any doubt the ERGObrass support should be an indispensable tool for every young hornist and also for every horn professor.
Hornist, Hong Kong Wind Kamerata
Horn teacher, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (Junior School)
- I have been teaching little students for years. I found they always have problem on keeping good embouchure and posture of holding the horn. With Ergobrass, the little students can maintain good posture no tension and control the horn very easy. My youngest students who is just only 5, she can play the horn very relex and good air flow. It's no doubt that the Ergobrass is a good invention for the young players.
Meridian Arts Ensemble, New York
- I use the ERGObrass whenever I play, and I love it. All the tension that used to travel up my left arm is gone. The ERGObrass is also quite a conversation piece in the New York freelancing scene - everybody wants to know what it is, and wants to try it. It is a wonderful solution to the problem of the awkwardness of holding the horn.
- When I play with the ERGObrass, my breathing comes easier, because my whole body is more relaxed.
- The biggest side effect of using the support was figuring out how to cue in a chamber music setting. My normal cuing motions were not possible, and I had to figure out a new way to communicate physically with my colleagues. I was able to solve this issue in a few rehearsals.
Professor of horn
Sibelius Academy, Helsinki Finland
- A player needs only a little time to get used to the ERGObrass, a support device that works well in practising at home and in the concert hall. It helps prevent many stress injuries. With this support one can avoid problems caused by bad performing posture -- the device encourages correct body alignment for horn playing. The ERGObrass makes it easier to hold the instrument; it frees a player from physical tension, not just in the hands and back but also in the throat. It helps relax the player's breathing. I recommend the ERGObrass for every horn player!
- Playing with the ERGObrass is much lighter. You notice it especially when you have to play more demanding material. I have tested other horn support devices, but they have not convinced me. With the ERGObrass you can use your energy for the music as you do not need to worry about holding your instrument (I use triple horn, 5,5 kg). The ERGObrass makes a big difference! No more pains or tiredness in my neck, shoulders or hands. I have also tested the ERGObrass with my students and they find the right playing posture readily: with a straight back, and they do not turn their head unnecessarily. I wholeheartedly endorse the ERGObrass for both students and professional players.
Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, alternating principal hornist
Professor of horn, Tampere Music Academy
- When you don't have to hold the instrument with tensed hands you can breathe freely, more efficiently, and you also get rid of the unwanted pressure in the embouchure, which is often a consequence of struggling with the weight of the horn. This is very important for good tone quality. With the ERGObrass you do not get tired so you can practise a lot longer; you do not bend under the strain of carrying the horn's weight
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
- ERGObrass has solved problems I had in coping with the weight of the horn. The ERGObrass support makes performance a light and comfortable experience. A good posture is easy to maintain and therefore breathing is more efficient. What more could a horn player ask for? I will never play without this marvellous tool.
Attaching and testing the ERGObrass horn support
See in this 5 minute video what's in the package, how to put it together and how to use the support.
Watch how the ERGObrass plate type A should be installed permanently to the horn. More
info about the two different plates fitting different horns can be found in FAQ page
Watch how the ERGObrass plate type B should be installed permanently to the horn. More
info about the two different plates fitting different horns can be found in FAQ page
Fokke van Heel, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands
Chamber Orchestra testing the ERGObrass for the first time.
ERGObrass brass supports in a research project in Cardiff Wales UK where all
different ERGObrass supports are in test
Is it awkward?
It is quite natural that a player, who has been playing for years, will go through an experiment and adjustment period when first using the ERGObrass support. Most of players have developed some tiny little movements during playing. The player does not need them really anywhere, in fact he or she does not even know about most of these habits. That is why it might feel strange to play with the support. But it is only a matter of some days or weeks, and a player will get used to ERGObrass and finds a new way to make his or hers typical movements, only now ERGObrass will be supporting the weight of the instrument. Now you can discover new and healthier ways of playing. You’ll find out very soon that you can turn and lean your horn with minimal effort. In fact the only real difference is that you feel more relaxed and playing is lighter and more comfortable.
Does it fit any horn?
Practically yes, although the structure of different horn models can be very polymorphic so we cannot give any guarantees for every horn model. Most horns are, however modifications of two different basic structures and there are available one attaching plate for each of them. The first one, the plate type "A" is designed originally for Alexander 1103 horn but it fits also on most Hans Hoyer horns, Schmid horns, Dieter Otto Horns, Paxmans and many others.
Here are a few example horn models and the needed plate type attached.
First four photos with plate type "A"
Below the plate type "B" designed to different horn models like Alexander 103, Holtons, Conn 8d and similar structured horns:
Will it fit in the horn case?
As there is only the little plate attached permanently to the horn, it shall fit easliy in most horn cases. The support tubes and rod are approx. 30 cm long and easy transport.
How is the height adjusted?
It is most important that the instrument is at the right height - where you find it comfortable - when you play. You lift or descend the support rod into its counterpart. And as the horn is on a top of the spring, you can also smoothly and with a minimum force move it up and down a little bit while you play.
The support rod should always be close to vertical upright position when playing. If it is not, it might feel little unstable and pinching. So in the beginning do give attention for learning to keep the rod as carefully upright as you can. Soon it stays there automatically.
What does it look like?
The ERGObrass is designed to be as invisible as possible, it is simple and non-obtrusive.