This summer has been the best I've ever had on the horn. During the hiatus of the community band I successfully got back the Farkas Very Deep Cup mouthpiece I started with years ago, but moved away from when I had the embouchure crisis and the callus a while back, when I switched to a Medium Cup and then the Deep Cup for a while. I love the tone of the VDC mouthpiece and that its thin rim allows for so much embouchure movement inside the rim. While it might be marginally better for me to stick with a smaller mouthpiece for band music, and to match the first horn player's tone, I'm going with what I like more in the music I'm doing away from band.
One set of pieces I've been working on are the 12 Duos Mozart wrote for horn. I got the music years ago, but the gauntlet of preparing band music drew me away from it, and it's been wonderful music to come back to. Like some of the Handel pieces, they combine simplicity with musicality, with every note perfectly placed. One thing I've really enjoyed has been the detailed articulation, which seems to be the original intent of Mozart. They're making for great exercises as well as pleasing pieces for both me and the brass group. I'm putting them in keys that allow the trumpet and horn play 1st and 2nd voice up and then horn/trombone and Eb tuba down an octave.
Now that I seem to have some basic horn technique to work with I keep noticing an issue of brain rewiring. Having spent my early years on keyboard, there's the tendency to think of a series of notes as mere switches to be flipped in sequence, but on the horn, more than any other instrument I've ever played, every phrase is more sculptural as it moves from one note to the next, with every note's tone and intensity affecting the next and so on down the line. And I keep being caught off guard by how an interval, of say a fourth, feels different up and down the range of the horn, whereas on the piano it feels the same everywhere.
Something else I've had since I got the horn and got back to this summer are books of the hunting horn calls. I can finally play all the high F's and occasional G's called for. The blend of signaling and music is both fun and interesting. One thing I'm trying to arrange for the brass group is the old hunting song "Do you ken John Peel at the break of day" with some of the hunting calls between the verses.
As for community band, having a 1st horn player has made it a much more pleasant experience in that I'm not in the position of having to play music that's really too hard for me. Not playing the higher note in harmonies is a challenge after years of doing so, as is trying to be in tune with the 1st horn more than the band as a whole. But all of that seems to be coming along, and simply hearing how a good player plays band music is a continuing revelation. It's sort of like a dialect I've never gotten the hang of because I'd never heard it spoken.