How to Oil the Valves on a French Horn

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Oil the rotor valves on a French horn for better sound; learn how with tips from our expert French horn player in this free orchestra video music lesson on French horns.

Part of the Video Series: How to Play French Horn
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Video Transcript

Hi! My name is Katie and I'm here with behalf of to show you the correct way to oil a French horn. Keeping your horn oiled is part of proper horn maintenance. You want to make sure that you go out and buy rubber oil from your local music shop. And you are going to want to apply it to the keys or what it is called on a French horn, rotors. Now the purpose of keeping your rotors oil is that so that your keys don't stick. That is the worse thing to happen to your when you go to play a certain note, you put down the fingering that you need and you find that the key doesn't budge. So to prevent that it is very important to keep your rotors oiled. There are a couple of key places for you to oil. First of all there is a place where the key meets this bar here, so you go ahead and apply oil to each of those joint. Another key place to oil is underneath where the rotors are visible. Go ahead and apply oil to the other side of each rotor encase this sticking problem is there and as you are oiling it would help to wiggle the keys sort of work the oil into the rotor as much as possible. Another place is to screw off these rotor caps and just a drop or two right on top. Sometimes when you are oiling the keys and you take the cap off just like this you will notice that the rotor is bone dry. If it is bone dry, it means that you have not been good; you have not been oiling your rotors as you should. So you see that it is pretty simple. You want to unscrew all four of the caps and oil them like so. The other place is putting oil inside this tubbing here and you could see the tubing runs directly into the rotor. You see that the rotor is this cylinder; the cylindrical object right here. So for example I wanted to put oil into my middle valve here I would take those slides out, I will put the horn up like so, and I would put about 2 drops inside of each tube. So just like this. One other word of caution is that oil can get all over the place so try to be as careful as possible. Now what you want to do is you want to wiggle those keys so that oil that is just running into the odor, in the rotor excuse me get all around in there. Then you go ahead and replace the slides and you are good as new so you want to do that for each of the keys here. As you could see the tubing for the third valve are these two right here, for the second valve here, for the first valve this two here and then for the thumb key you want to put the oil in this slide and this slide they both run into that thumb rotor. And that is how you oil your keys.


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