We hope you enjoy your newly hired instrument. Please take the time to read the following guidance in order to keep the instrument in its best condition.

Caring for your instrument

  • French horns are expensive instruments and great care should be taken when handling them.
  • Always return the instrument to its case when not being used.

After Each Use

  • Use a ‘lacquer finish polishing cloth’ or a household duster to wipe off fingermarks.
  • Do not use any type of cleaning solution and do not use any harsh or abrasive cleaning materials as this may damage the finish.
  • Remove the mouthpiece and put it in the appropriate compartment to avoid it damaging the instrument during transit.
  • Should you find the mouthpiece is stuck, do not attempt to force it apart!
  • Take it to your teacher who will have a special tool to remove it easily.

Periodic Maintenance

  • General cleaning
    • About once a month, the instrument should be cleaned internally, by running warm soapy water through it (hold the valves down whilst pouring water into the bell).
    • Rinse thoroughly with cold water and allow to dry.
    • Do not use hot water as this may affect the lacquer.
    • The rotary valves should be regularly oiled with a drop of rotary valve oil (do not use other oils).
    • You should ask your teacher to show you how to do this if you are not familiar.
    • If the instrument is left unplayed for any duration it should be regularly oiled to keep the valves from sticking.
  • Slides
    • Slides should be greased with either Vaseline or slide cream so that they don’t jam.
    • You can use a flexible cleaning brush to thoroughly clean out the slides and tubing.
    • Use the brush carefully and replace it regularly to avoid the possibility of it breaking whilst inside the instrument.
    • Unless you clean the inside of your instrument, a coating of saliva and dirt will form which will greatly interfere with its playing qualities.
    • If it is not cleaned for long periods corrosion of the brass can occur.
  • Mouthpiece
    • Always clean the mouthpiece thoroughly with warm water and a mouthpiece brush.
    • An accumulation of deposits in either mouthpiece or mouthpipe can have a very adverse effect on the performance of the instrument.
    • Once cleaned, gently place the mouthpiece back into the receiver and twist lightly to seat it properly.
    • Do not force the mouthpiece by hitting it with the palm of your hand as this can cause the mouthpiece to become stuck or ‘frozen’.
    • An easy twisting motion is all that is needed to ensure a firm fit.
  • If you find that after leaving your instrument for a length of time that the valves have become stuck, do not force them to open or close as you will likely either snap the string or bend the mechanism.
  • In this instance please call Essex Music Service for advice.


  • The hirer is responsible for any loss or damage to the instrument and as a result we recommend taking out insurance.
  • You may be able to insure the instrument under your household policy, alternatively there are many companies specialising in musical instrument insurance.

Damage and Repairs

  • In the unfortunate event that your instrument is damaged, Essex Music Service should be consulted to seek approval and advice before any repairs are undertaken.
  • The hirer is responsible for any costs incurred to repair the instrument through a result of misuse, accident or neglect.
  • We may either ask to receive the instrument back whilst it is repaired, or alternatively we may be able to recommend a repairer for you to take the instrument to.

Returning your Instrument

  • Please contact the Music Service to arrange the return of your instrument.
  • Please ensure the instrument is clean and that all accessories that came with the instrument are present to avoid any charges.
  • If any accessories are missing we encourage you to purchase these yourself before returning the instrument.
  • The accessories included with a French Horn and their respective replacement costs are as follows:
    • Rotary oil £3

Lessons and Ensembles

Essex Music Service provides quality music tuition and ensembles to schools and colleges throughout Essex, covering all major orchestral and band instruments and musical styles. Playing or singing together with other people (ensemble) is one of the most exciting and enjoyable musical experiences. We provide a whole range of opportunities for young people of all ages and abilities, covering almost all instruments and voice. Many of our groups offer students the chance to tour in the UK and abroad!

If you’ve never played or sung in a group before, one of our workshops would be a great way to get started. In collaboration with our partners, we offer regular workshops in singing , jazz , strings, wind, brass, guitar, percussion and rock – sign up to our newsletter mailing list to receive details.

If you’re a bit more experienced you could join one of our groups that meet regularly, either monthly or in the school holidays.