Help..! Old timer getting back into practice.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Cornet23, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. Cornet23

    Cornet23 Member

    Okay, so I'm not THAT much of an old timer, but I am trying to get back into practice and could do with some advice! I used to LOVE banding when I was younger, but then went to do a uni course and just couldn't fit rehearsals in with lectures. Time ran away with me and it's now 5 years since I was in a band and in practice. I was never really interested in grade exams but could play pieces from the G8 syllabus (if that means anything, I don't know) and held lead positions in bands etc. I'm not looking for leads now, would be more than happy with back row (and would prefer it really) but the REAL challenge is to get my lip and playing technique "back up there" again.

    Last time I got my cornet out, it was a horrible experience. Imagine, I used to be able to make wonderful music, now it sounds as though a 6 year old is playing for the first time..! I still have my favourite pieces that I used to play, but even attempting them makes me sad because I just can't do it.

    I was wondering whether anyone had any experience of returning to playing after such a long break, and how I should start to build things up. I don't want to go too fast, but would LOVE to be able to be involved in some events around Christmas, so ideally want to get my lip in before then.

    My stamina is atrocious, my sound is poor, high register is non-existent, and my patience is the worst of the lot..!

    Encouragement would be wonderful here! Thank you!

    (And I also have the lovely task of actually CLEANING my cornet this weekend to allow the parts to move.. oops.. poor thing).
  2. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I started practicing again last November after not playing for quite some time and I was absolutely awful, just the same as you describe, but I can report that I'm now back to about 90% of what I was many years ago. I advise at least 20 mins practice every day (missing the odd day is not a bad thing).
    Start with lots of boring long notes, and play slow melodies, long notes pushing your range up each day is essential. Then lip slurs (3rds to start with then wider intervals as you improve). Then I do Arpeggios slurred and tongued, chromatic scales slurred and tongued being careful to fully depress the valves increasing the speed as you improve, then, I would have a go at your old favourites.
    I was embarrassingly awful when I first started and I was ashamed that I'd let things slide, but after a couple of weeks things improved from terrible to just rubbish, but as the weeks go by you will feel things coming on.
    I use "Wright and Rounds Complete Method" which I find ideal and challenging.

    The very best of luck, I'm sure you will amaze yourself !

    ~ Mr Wilx
  3. Cornet23

    Cornet23 Member

    Thank you so much for your post. It makes me feel better already that someone else has been there, done that, and sounds good again! I actually still have a lot of beginner books because I taught for a while whilst I was doing my degree, so lots of the technique-y things could be covered in those. I suppose I could do a few pages each session and work through them. Fingers crossed I'll be back up to standard soon, or as close as possible. I forgot how much I used to love Christmas in brass bands, so I'd love to get involved if I can get myself back up there by then!!
  4. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    You definitely will.
    I have seen people come back from ten years off and be back in form in a few months.
    Lots of hymn tunes, lots of quiet playing to build up control.
    Kopprasch Studies are quite good as they are melodic but have a lot of lip slurring in them.
    Similar exercises are in the Arban too.
    Don't worry about upper register, and don't strain yourself.
    it will all work out fine and you should be playing lower Christmas carol parts at Christmas.
  5. Cornet23

    Cornet23 Member

    Thanks :) I do hope you're right! I am feeling positive about it! Also I think I can get myself back to basics a little bit, and hopefully get rid of some bad habits I'd picked up when I was younger. As I remember, when I started uni I was considering a mouthpiece change so that's something I'm going to have to think about again!
  6. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I returned to playing after decades out, many people do and go on to play very well ..... someday I hope to join them :). Working through 'Tune a Day' provided a great structure for me; get hold of a Solo Cornet Hymn book too as they're very helpful yet 'easy'. Complete Method is a good book too for someone of your experience but I suggest TAD books 1 and 2 first. Keep an eye on the threads here too, some great advice 'pop's-up'.

    There is an on-line map of all (?) brass bands in the UK so seek out a group local to you through that or your area brass band association, etc. Good luck.
  7. Cornet23

    Cornet23 Member

    Thank you! My most local band is a championship section band which is a shame because it's almost next door to where I live. I am confident I'll be good enough for back row someday but probably need a lower section band for a good few years before I get to that point!

    PS I love all the beginner books. To be honest, sometimes I used to play through them just for fun away.. the mature individual that I am.. I also used to volunteer my services helping with youth bands for the same reason!
  8. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    Welcome to the forum Cornet23.

    I returned to playing again in March of last year after about 10 years out, and I am only now at a level where I don't feel completely self-concious sitting in the back row of a 2nd section band. Admittedly, I was a decidedly average player to begin with, and played almost all instruments, except the trombone, because the conductor recognised that I was a through and through tutti player. You, clearly are starting from a level far superior to mine ever was.

    I practice for a half hour, six days a week. I decided at the time of my return, to make changes that had always held me back before: particularly, range and speed of tonguing. So, I resolved to completely reinvent what I had been doing, and came across some Claude Gordon books about KTM tonguing and no-pressure playing. I have adapted these methods to my needs, and I must say that I am now a much better player than I was when I was full-on in band before. I practiced on my own for about 10 months before joining a band. I am still average, but I don't think I have hit a plateau like I had in my earlier banding days.

    Anyway, that's my story. Hope it helps
  9. tat

    tat Member

    I'm sure if you let people know your location you'll get a number of invites to sit in at rehearsals
  10. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

  11. Cornet23

    Cornet23 Member

    Thanks :). I don't know that I was ever a fantastic player as such, but for back row I believe my practice ethic makes up for anything I lack in talent. If I can get back into it properly of course. There was a time when I'd practice for hours every evening but obviously life gets in the way and that slips, but it's a shame it's been this long now. It's great to hear that you feel you've improved in comparison. That's exactly what I hope to achieve with any luck, but you've given me a bit of confidence! As soon as the thing's clean I'm going for it!

    I will do once I've had chance to sort myself out a little but that's a great idea thank you!

    I know they don't have a youth or training band but I will get in touch anyway. They may be happy for me to come for a blow just so I can get a feel for the standard - at the very least I should be able to tell whether it's something I feel I could work towards or whether I'd be better aiming lower. I'm not a section snob by any means, it's only because it's a 2min walk from my house whereas the next nearest band is a 20 min drive, so obviously the local one would be easier!! I'd also be happy to play in concerts but sit out of contests if that would help - though as I said above once I'm back to my old standard I'm totally prepared to practice as much as it takes to get to the right level with a piece. I guess I just need to get into it and see what kind of standard I can drag myself up to :).
  12. smaca

    smaca Active Member

    In a similar position. Had about 5 years out, apart from the odd helping bands out 2 days before a contest, which is not ideal. Became a bit disillusioned with banding( 14 at rehearsals with amazing excuses for absence, people leaving instrument at bandhall and everyone wondering why band was out of tune:mad:, last minute sagas then trying to get guests to fill band for contests), however since now working from home and family REALLY fed up with seeing my face, I started practicing again since summer and joined a band.

    Taking it slowly, and seeking advice from many on how to improve, but twice weekly rehearsals is helping with band, plus reheasring cornet part 1&2 on Cantata certainly helping the stamina and higher register:clap:(I thought St Magnus was hard till I started on this....but a super piece!)

    Anyway, good luck with the return, and hope most of all you get enjoyment and have fun.

  13. Cornet23

    Cornet23 Member

    I work from home too, and am a bit of a workaholic, so that's a huge reason I want to get back into it as well! 2 evenings out a week would be wonderful! I'm glad you're back into it, good luck!!
  14. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Aim to get back to where you were.

    I got a call in December asking if I'd play at the 2014 areas having not played for easily 4 years... after warnings that I'd probably be awful (due to this) I said I'd give it a go.

    Looking backwards as the awful player I was in December and January to how I'd been able to play in the past pushed me to practice more and try to get that ability back. That practice got me in OK shape for the areas (fortunately an easy sop part in 2nd section this year), but not quite my past self.
    Fast forward a few months and I'm playing comfortably better now, and practicing a lot - that drive to "get it back" got me into much better (and more regular) practice habits than I had in the past and I'm really feeling it.

    From the sounds of it, you were a good player and aiming to be an acceptable back-row player may give you less motivation to find the time (and discipline) to practice the right stuff regularly...
    Yes its frustrating being **** (by our own standards) but doing the work towards a goal you know is achievable (albeit some months off) gets you to where you want to be much more quickly.

    Out of curiosity - how long is it since you last played? And whereabouts are you based (maybe someone here can suggest bands)?
  15. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    Your cornet might sound better when cleaned and oiled. Being unused it will have dried out and be leaky. so the sound would suffer to start with. Good Clean and Lube and I am sure all the practice hints will work wonders
  16. KenIrvin

    KenIrvin Member

    In my opinion the quickest way back is to join a band. I started playing again after 40 years off!. My local band were very encouraging and after a couple of weeks in the learners group they had me sit in at practice. I was playing back row within 3 months and 7 years later still enjoying playing.
    Its all a matter of confidence and the will to do it (and a bit of practice).
  17. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    See this map: . You can pan and zoom on the map and the flags for each map also give web sites - IMHO it's great. In the top RHS of the screen there's also a search function in which you can enter your location.

    I wouldn't base the best band for yourself too closely on location, be prepared to travel a bit for the match that will support you well and make you 'happiest' in the short and mid term - some of my friends drive between 15 and 60 mins for the right match for them. The travel time and its longer term supportability is a personal choice and the need for it varies too. I note that some Flowers players (CS, Cheltenham) writing on this forum live in Cardiff and Bristol - their drive must be mostly 'easy' Motorway but it's not short.
  18. georgie3035

    georgie3035 New Member

    What section band would you suggest would help with a beginner up to 2 1/2 years starting back after a very long time out where the level was only up to finishing the tune of day in the first place. I don't want to hi jack the thread but I do think for the long term motivation its relevant. I myself am already on my 4th band, the main reason for a couple of changes was mainly due to conductors who were sarcastic rather than helpful at my playing and these were all 3rd section. I then went into my 4th band which is second section because I was told a higher section band would help with tuning and being more focused.

    The main problem I find as a learner only playing 2 1/2 years is I need to practice daily (from Claude Gordon Books) I need this to improve range, articulation and technique. Unfortunately due to the contesting nature of brass bands this means I'm restricting my practice from my books to learn a test piece for six weeks at a time. I can normally quite happily play these 3rd cornet parts for a contest without any problems so that is the standard I'm at.

    Do people believe that by playing the test pieces will eventually help overall playing or would it be more beneficial to join a concert band where there are less pressures and more time can be given to individual practice. I think even motivation can be affected by contesting as we were given Plantagenets to play which is a 2nd section piece so should be ok for the band. I lost sleep over it and to this day I am unable to play sections of it at the speed required. Struggling on this piece has really taken away my motivation and now really have to force myself to practice and I don't always succeed.

    be interesting to hear other peoples thoughts on this.......
  19. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    You have almost answered this question yourself. Second section stuff is rather hard for you and third section conductors have , effectively, 'moved you on' after 'trying you out'. The part of the world you live in (Glamorgan's in your profile) has, mostly and a large number of, really good brass bands which would be great for some people but not me and, I suspect, not for you either. Move down the sections to a fourth or non-contesting band - or even outside of brass banding into a wind band - and maybe you'll be given a greater variety of suitable stuff to play and move up with-in the band over time. Playing should be enjoyable and if it's not you're in the wrong place.
  20. yorkiej

    yorkiej New Member

    Hi georgie 3035, reading into your post, Wind Bands will be too hard for you, my thoughts are that you should find a non-contesting Band, they have Learning Bands and from there, after assessment, they will move you onto a seat. I should not try and join a Band that is pushing you past your limits. not good for confidence.
    Not having heard you I am only assuming on your ability.

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