Comeback Player Stories?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Gnats Crotchet, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. Hi All,

    A couple of months ago I started playing cornet again after a gap of 27 years.
    My progress is best described as two steps forward, then one and a half steps back.
    My lip and face muscles seem to be saying to me "You want us to do WHAT? Form into an efficient embouchure which allows you to play consistently in all registers, with flexibility and a good tone? After 27 years on holiday? Are you INSANE Watkins?"​

    I was wondering if anyone on this forum has returned to brass playing after a very long lay-off, and how long it took you to reach your former standard of playing, if at all. Or maybe you have surpassed your previous level and are now playing better than ever?

    I am not playing with a band at the moment due to very long commuting hours, so I am just practising when I can. On weekdays this involves sitting in my car at lunchtime blowing long tones and lip slurs into a practice mute with headphones - not ideal, but as least it shows some dedication to getting my 'lip' back! It would be great to hear from any "comeback" players with a success story!


    Huw Watkins
  2. John_D

    John_D Member

    I had a lay-off of around 18/20 years before returning around 4 years ago. How long did it take me to get back to the standard I used to be? I'll let you know when I get there :). Just enjoying it at present.
  3. JonnySop

    JonnySop New Member

    I had a lay off of roughly 6 years, I made the mistake of jumping straight back onto the sop, after 3months of realising this was a crazy idea, i switched back to Bb and have been back playing about 1 1/2 years now. I have been practising really hard and have to say i am close to playing as well as i ever have.
  4. BoBo

    BoBo Member

    I packed in from French Horn playing for 20 years (my single biggest regret) and arrived in brass banding when my kids got involved about 10 years ago now. I started on bass which at least is not so demanding on embouchure as cornet even if it gives your lungs a tough workout. Eventually ended up on bass trombone having been through baritone, euphonium and tenor trombone on the way. Now having a great time, definately a better musician these days because of "wisdom and experience" but it takes much longer to learn something new than it used to so be patient...........

    So there are upsides and downsides but definately persevere with it GC, I have found that the better I play the more I enjoy it and its the practice at home (and I guess in the car would count) that really makes the difference.
  5. Aquaman

    Aquaman New Member

    Keep at it as long as you love it

    Hi all,
    Yes I gave up playing for about 15 years and then my wife persuaded me to go back to it again. I was in the same boat as you - my face muscles were screaming at me louder than my euphonium after about 5 minutes. Perseverence and practice, that's the answer I thought, and I was right. I got back to being about 50% of the standard as I had been when I had stopped. Unfortunately I will never be as good as I once was because when you get to my age some of the digital dexterity seems to depart - old age never comes alone - I'll never play the Albert Hall again. So, I now do it purely for the love of it the same as when I started at the age of 9, some *****ty years ago - back in a previous millennium.
  6. Kaggen90

    Kaggen90 Member

  7. jackocorn

    jackocorn Member

    Hi Huw

    Good to see you're taking it up again. Should never have stopped!
    Good luck with it - any idea of where you're going to play?

    Andy Jackson
    (sat next to you 17 years ago!!!)
  8. DaveBBb

    DaveBBb Member

    It was at least 35 years since I played 'cause of my career path. Coming up for retirement and I wondered what I was going to do. Tried the usual suspects, golf, gardening, walking, dinghy sailing, liked sailing & walking hated the others. Then bingo. Local colliery band advertises in freeby news paper. Band down to about 6 players -- any musicians out there to help out or we're going to fold, "we're desperate". Phoned up, "just how desperate are you?". Next week found myself at the first band practice I had attended in 35 years or more. "Bass player"; "try this Eb..... Hymn books out.... Lloyd". Could not believe it but I got a note out of it and could just about remember the figuring. That was it I was hooked. Five years on and I'm back playing BBb Bass and absolutely loving it. I play in a different band now but I am pleased to say that the colliery band is still thriving.

    Am I at the standard I was 35 years ago? Well, no. How do I know? 35 years ago I played in a Championship Section Band in Scotland. Recently I was raking through a bands library and came across a piece that I played at contests, concerts and even on the radio with the Scottish band; 'The Force of Destiny'. Got the BBb part out and started to blow. No way could I even sniff it.....but you better believe it ....I'm working on it. My ambition is that one day I will play the 'Force of Destiny' again. "Note perfect", as my father would have said.

    What a fantastic life skill playing a brass instrument is, it's a skill like riding a cycle or swimming. Once you learn how to do it you never really forget and its a skill you can come back too years later and still get as much pleasure out of it as ever you did.
  9. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    I played all through my high school years and for 2 or 3 years after that. I was never very good (I've never had any formal lessons). Then I had a 25-year layoff while college, family life etc took priority. Since restarting 10 years ago I'm a much better player than I was before the layoff, mainly because now I'm more interested in getting it right than in playing the "tune" as I used to.

    Having said that it did take a long time, more than a couple of years, for me to feel that I was making a halfway-decent contribution and a large part of the enjoyment for me now is the fact that there is a lot for me to learn from accomplished players and MDs. Long may that continue and I certainly won't be taking any more layoffs!

    It really is a skill for life.

  10. Johncornetflugel

    Johncornetflugel New Member

    Came back to playing about 4/5 years ago (after a break of around 28 years) thanks to my wife who when listening to a brass band while on holiday told me that I could play as well as if not better than them. We came home, I joined a band and haven't looked back. Wife got fed up waiting for me to finish rehearsals and starting learning the euphonium about a year ago. Practice, rehearsals and more practice is the key. We have just been fortunate to spend nearly four weeks in North Cornwall/Devon and managed to fit in 12 rehearsals and 7 gigs with four different bands. ( Thanks to Bude Metric Brass, Holsworthy Town Band, St.Gennys Silver Band and Hartland Town Band for making us so welcome). My wife reckons her playing has moved to the next level after this marathon. I was grade 6 when I left school and now reckon I'm playing around grade 7/8. How fast you improve is down to how much you practise and how many rehearsals you can fit in with bands. All the best with your playing. It is well worth the effort!
  11. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    Good topic. I appreciate the problem.

    I came back after a break. I think I picked up ok where I left off, after a short settling in period. What I did notice though, was that general standards had risen. Brass Band degrees were hardly in existence in my day but the band now had 2 or 3 people with Drinking, sorry I mean Brass Band Degrees. And they didn't mind letting me know either. The university had taught confidence in abundance alright.

    I think my point is, even after a relatively short break of 5 years or so, the world moves on, and it is possible to get left behind a little.
  12. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I had a year off after college. Not long compared to the stories above, but I was lucky enough to have a playing job to go to. A year off followed by five months of solid sackbut playing isn't quite the right way of doing things, but it was really just a case of getting on with it.

    Nowadays if I've been away or had a week or so off, I tend to start slowly with lots of long notes before try to be clever!
  13. KenIrvin

    KenIrvin Member

    I started playing again after 40+ years break. It took a lot of determination to get back into it but glad I stuck with it. Have been playing now for about 4 years and think I am better than when I played before (although my MD may challenge that statement).
  14. Andy,

    Great to hear from you. You are right - I should never have given up playing, I realised that as soon as I started again. Still, no use in looking back now - onwards and upwards as they say!

    In answer to your question, I might be playing with a second section band in the National Finals in Cheltenham. How about you - are you still playing?

    All the best,

  15. worzel

    worzel Member

    I had 20 years off. Got back into it after hearing a band in Tunbridge Wells playing Sussex by the Sea, which I remembered playing with my school band back in New Zealand.

    20 years on with no stamina I ended up developing very bad habits due to impatience. I had to start all over, and get it back slowly. I used to play cornet but I'm now on tenor horn due to not being able to get the range back (maybe due to tooth structure changing?). I think I am musically much better than I was before, just less gymnastic.
  16. Mark Time

    Mark Time New Member

    I had around 15 years off, after playing cornet for Colliery bands in the Doncaster area during my high school years through to my late '20s. Then I started teaching my young daughter the basics a couple of years ago, and found I myself was enjoying playing along. We are both now on cornet in a Colliery brass band we joined recently, and enjoying it. I am not at the standard I used to be, however have noticed a gradual improvement in my playing since taking it up again and hope to get back to my previous standard over the months/years ahead! Cheers.
  17. rikster

    rikster New Member

    I have gone the other way, I have just left playing after 30 odd years due to other commitments, and am missing the whole banding thing like crazy.
    I have played in several bands mainly in Sussex, and I know I wasnt the best player in the band but practiced and tried hard to keep up with the rest of the band, and usually had a great time especially with the fantastic people I met.
    I say "Good on yer" for getting back into it and I wish you many years of enjoyment. Rik
  18. toptutti

    toptutti Member

    I had an enforced break with ill health for some six years but missed banding a little bit too much. I'm lucky that the bands I've played for since starting again have shown a lot of patience. It’s been a long frustrating road with many stumbles along the way but I’m determined to keep going as long as there’s a band who wants me

    I don’t know about reaching the same standard but I’m enjoying playing a lot more
  19. Started playing trombone again this year and although it's taken a while I'm truly enjoying it. Will never be a Brett Baker but hey ho. Have caught up with a lot of my old banding buddies from Bideford and a few more besides. So long as it's enjoyable your 70% there.!!

  20. That's what I get for leaving my account logged in - my wife starts posting in my name!

    She seems to have picked up the trombone after 25 years like she never put it down - I'm jealous!

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