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French horn camp challenges even the most fearless Hillsborough County high school students

Brass instrument long considered a "difficult" instrument
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Posted at 5:17 AM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 07:31:31-04

TAMPA, Fla. — William Davis decided to try playing the French horn for a very superheroic reason.

He wanted to play the Avengers theme.

How hard could it be?

"Oh, it takes years of practice," he said with a smile. "Like, a lot of practice."

Davis still hasn't learned the music for Iron Man & Co., but there's time this week.

Davis, a rising sophomore at Sickles High School, is at French horn camp, where the most fearless Hillsborough County high-schoolers tackle what many consider the most "challenging" instrument in the band.

Dozens of students from all over the Tampa Bay area are at Tampa's Leto High School this week, trying to master an instrument that requires a perfect ear, careful mouth and finger precision, and more.

"It can be difficult," said Allison Synnett, a teacher and camp instructor. "It definitely has its challenges. But once they get the hang of it, they realize it's really the coolest instrument out there."

If you like the music of John Williams and Star Wars, that's a whole lotta French horn you're hearing.

It's cinematic, and bold, and shiny.

And very, very tough.

Because of the steep learning curve, French horn players are always in demand in high-school bands, and it takes a special kind of student to tackle the beautiful brass instrument.

"It's like anything in life," said Davis. "You just have to keep practicing."