frustration on re-starting cornet

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by ten left thumbs, May 24, 2014.

  1. I have no idea what kind of progress to expect, so if someone can tell me this is normal, then fine! :)

    I am re-beginning cornet. As a kid I had many years of lessons, played in the front row of the school band, and I even have a grade 5 certificate somewhere, gathering dust.

    After several decades of not playing, I remember what to do, it just seems that the muscles are unwilling. I have been practicing most days now for around 6 months, now up to half-an hour practice. My general routine is:
    1 - breathing
    2 - lip buzzes, up, down, up down
    3 - buzz in mouthpiece
    4 - long notes, loud, soft, cresc, dim, etc
    5 - tunes from book, or transpose anything into anything (within range) to stop brain rot

    The upper range has been a question of 1 step forward 2 steps back. I'll consistently get a B (middle line) but really struggle with a C. That is, I can squeeze it out but I'll knacker myself. That's fairly much where I was around January.

    I'm being really strict with myself about using lots of air and not lip pressure.

    I remember as a youngster getting D, E, F, way above where I am now. What I don't remember is how long it took. And I don't know, does age have something to do with how the muscles develop? Is it possible I just can't do it? What I really struggle with is how much to push myself. I know I could really do with a teacher, but finances won't allow that just now - maybe next year.

    Help appreciated!
  2. euphoria

    euphoria Member

    The only advice I can give you is to get a teacher - he/she will be able to tell you what your problems are and more importantly - how to fix them.
    I would say that after 6 months of practice you should definately have no problems with middle C (or D, E or F for that matter).

    Just out of curiosity - have you tried other cornets? could be that part of the problem is the instrument.

    I know that my answer doesn't help you very much, but noone in here is able to tell you what you should do without hearing (and seeing) you play. So even a few sessions with an experienced teacher may help your progress very much.

    Cheers Erik
  3. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Some teachers can be expensive and some are more reasonable, some are very good and others less so, it's all a mix. In my experience good might not be expensive and lessons do not need to be every week so you can spread the cost over several weeks. You could also agree a small fixed number of lessons to get you started. Locally (here anyway) many bands have training bands that welcome adult returners, typically there is someone (an experienced helper) in those bands who will offer some advice - which might well be free or virtually so. Find some local groups via a web search and ring some secretaries to see what they say / suggest as a way to move forward via group playing. If it's possible visit several groups, to find a good fit for both your and their needs, before settling on one.
  4. Many thanks, that is really helpful. I am right to be frustrated, possibly less right to have been so patient. Will try to get a lesson with a relative who happens to be a teacher - not sure how good he is, but if that doesn't pan out I'll look for a teacher. Will also trying blowing another cornet in the shop later. I think my cornet is OK, but it's worth a go.
  5. Rob

    Rob Member

    Have you also considered possibly moving to another instrument with a larger mouthpiece? During those decades off your chops will have changed and it may be now you are more naturally suited to a bigger instrument - as another poster said after 6 months you shouldn't be having to squeeze out middle Cs. If this is really a problem changing to another cornet and/or mouthpiece is not going to make much difference at all. Best of luck with it :)
  6. Matthew

    Matthew Active Member

    I thought that too, try Baritone? :)
  7. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    I am a returning player having had 15 years away. I found getting a reasonable range back has taken be about 3 or 4 weeks so I would agree you have been very patient. I have been using a teacher for the last 3 weeks and although we are not working on range it has helped to improve a number of things so I would certainly suggest a teacher. I like the suggestion about giving a different instrument a try. Good luck.
  8. Does that happen over time? I've been wondering. Over the years my lungs will have expanded (having kids) and my voice deepened (age). Does the embouchure change also?

    I've developed an interest in jazz, and part of wanting to play cornet is to do with soloing - I can't say I'm really attracted to horn or baritone (though I suppose they would be great for band playing), but I feel if I really can't play cornet I'd rather play sax or clarinet. Jazz trombone would make me super-duper popular with the neighbours, who, in fairness, love me already. :D
  9. Update: Well I had a good chat with my brass-teacher relative, including asking him for a lesson however that can't happen any time soon. After assuring him I am blowing from my 'core' and not using mouthpiece pressure, here's what he suggested. Play 'the Grand Old Duke of York' rhythm on one note only, using those notes at the very top of my range (second space A to 3rd space C). Aiming to knacker myself in 5 minutes, put the instrument down, go do something else, then come back and do it again. I've been fitting in 3-4 of these 5 minute bursts most days, except band practice day - and notice a huge difference in my playing. I am blasting these notes much more confidently now - and played better at band than I have ever played (this century, that is). :D

    I think previously I was knackering myself too much playing now notes. Practice low notes, I will get good at low notes. If I want to get good at high notes, I've got to practice high notes. Now I am really looking forward to widening up that 5 minute window just a little, and playing something worth playing!
  10. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    This statement flies in the face of most "best practice" teaching methodology; The vast majority of competent teachers will tell you that developing a solid high register involves developing a solid breathing technique, and a strong flexible embouchure. Lots of free-buzzing, lots of pedal exercises, lots of lip flexibility exercises. At best, practising lots of high notes will give you a "strong" embouchure with extremely limited flexibility. At worst, it could damage your embouchure beyond repair. Think about it: do you think that Usain Bolt trains for running 100m in under 10 seconds by repeatedly practising running 100m as fast as he can? There is enough evidence just by looking at the most often recommended training methods (Caruso, Schlossberg, Gordon, Maggio, even the infamous "double-high-C-in-37-weeks" book), all of which emphasise the need for developing a strong high register by means of practicing things other that high notes.
  11. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    I would ditto what both Rob and Gareth have said.

    Is there a training/junior/youth band anywhere near you that you could pop along to, to get some feedback/pointers and try a few different instruments?
    I honestly believe everyone has their ideal pitch/instrument (and we're all different - otherwise we wouldn't cover the range between so-high-only-dogs-can-hear-it trumpets/sops and BBb bass pedal specialists!); it could be that yours has changed over the years, or it could be that cornet was never quite right for you.... either way I do think its worth having a blow on a few different instruments to see which embouchure feels most natural (or least difficult!)
  12. Hi Gareth, I hear you! My practice routine since Christmas (outlined above) has covered that, I believe. It got me so far, but nowhere in the middle-upper register. It would be insanity to do it over and over and expect a different result. ;)
  13. Would just like to add: I don't think anything could be badly wrong when it feels and sounds this right!

    Accidental: Yes, I'm in a band already, some good players there, however no obvious guidance. I would consider trombone (I really want to play jazz) if I really can't get anywhere on cornet.

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