Late starters/Mature learners

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by YorkshirePudding, Nov 28, 2002.

  1. YorkshirePudding

    YorkshirePudding New Member

    One of my children joined our local training band a couple of years ago. Being the good parent I am, I often stayed to listen and was finally persuaded to have a go on a cornet.
    A year or so later I am loving every minute and have steadily progressed to be one of the better players on the front row.
    Of course the youngsters, if they keep it up, will far surpass me, but I just wandered how many players out there started late (in their 30s or 40s). How far can you expect to progress. Were all players in top section bands child prodigies?
    Jack E likes this.
  2. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    To be honest I think it is all down to practice. You might find it more difficult than a child but that is no reason why you couldn't make it to a 'good standard' if you put the work. Children have a big advantage not only are their minds at the peak stage for learning but they also normally have the cute factor! It's not so cute to see an adult farting around at the little f and g march! I started to play as a young child and I still am not very good now. There are exceptions to all rules!

    Just remember you get out of it what you put it!! welcome to the banding world!
    Jack E likes this.
  3. Di B

    Di B Member


    I started young, but I would think the hardest thing to learn whatever age you are is how to read music. Someone coming to a brass band with this ability will progress much quicker than someone who cannot read music!

    I have known a couple of older gents who started at a late age.... one in his 60's I believe!!! They never made Championship section players, but did thoroughly enjoy what they did, and one used to teach children too! They were not brilliant players, but were good bandsmen and were well respected.

    Keep at it, and make sure you get confidence.... (looking and feeling the part is a big thing) and make your kids proud of such a talented parent!
    Jack E likes this.
  4. hornblower

    hornblower Member

    I started playing when I was 11 and played until I was 23 after that I spent 3 years without an instument so since starting playing again in April it has been a stuggle to get any form back... think you can start at any age, it is more a matter practice and enjoyment!
    Jack E likes this.
  5. daisygemma

    daisygemma Member

    I come from a very musical family and from a young age I was playing the piano and then the oboe. I gave up both of these when I went to University.

    I got involved in brass bands about 2 and a half years ago whne my partner who plays bass trom asked me if I fancied learning to play the horn as a bit of a joke.

    He got me a horn and and I got a cornet tune a day book and started to teach myself how to play.

    I found reading music hard at first but eventually everything came back to me.

    If i hadn't said yes to his joke then I wouldn't have been let into an enjoyable new life in brass bands.
    Jack E likes this.
  6. billbrass

    billbrass New Member

    :) I came back to banding after some 30yr and really struggled even though I was never a top notcher but after joining my last band before I had to retire with heart probs my site reading came on leaps and bounds because I had good players around me and a certain Trevor Groom in the middle who incedently I have always regarded the finest euph player ever,
    maybe I have started something now how about a poll for the best euph cornet player etc. but I never think you are to old to learn to play an instrument but the secret is plenty of practice

    Jack E likes this.
  7. Di B

    Di B Member

    Keep at it - I neaer enough had a 5 year break after playing in Championship/1st section..... I couldn't play a note! :roll: A year on and I have got the majority of it back..... my sound needs work still... but that was the thing I always used to work on too! (I have a round sound, but not a really velvety euph sound)

    It can be done.... don't give up - it feels great when you play something you haven't played since you were at your best and you can actually play it again! :lol: Only problem for me is to carry on improving while with a lower section band..... a bit of willpower is needed methinks...
    Jack E likes this.
  8. Heather

    Heather Member

    Yorkshire Pudding...carry on enjoying every minute of it!
    Playing music should be something you can enjoy at any age. If you've got a talent there..use it!
    I don't see much difference in starting at an early or later age. If its there, then do it.
    Ageism is in so many things nowadays but luckily it doesn't seem so in Brass Banding.
    I am certainly not a 'youngster' anymore but can't imagine not playing.
    I suppose the day will come but as yet I have no plans to give up.
    Starting at a young age may well have its advantages but you've got maturity on your side!!
    Good Luck!
    Jack E likes this.
  9. Hilary Mateer

    Hilary Mateer Member

    Yorkshire Pudding
    You are not the only player to have started late in life. There are at least 5 players in my band who have started playing in their thirties or forties and although not world beaters are quite competent to play in a 3rd section band.
    I started playing a brass instrument when I was 40. I took my son to a training band to learn cornet and they asked if I could play. I admitted to being able to read music (piano and clarinet) and they spotted I had an estate car so gave me a BBb bass. I became reasonably competant but it wasn't till I moved to a contesting band nearly 4 years ago and started having lessons and practising that my playing really started to improve.
    I think one thing that might hold back mature learners is having the time to devote to practice. My family already think the amount of time I devote to banding is antisocial, and that I neglect them, so I have trouble doing the amount of practice that I would like.
    Anyway I am sure that if you are willing to put in the time and practice that age is not a barrier to becoming a good player although it probably is to playing in the very top bands. Most of them tend to be under 40 anyway.
  10. hornblower

    hornblower Member

    thanks Di B am really enjoying it, and getting better all the time!!
  11. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Coming back to banding

    I played for a very good "Name" top section band for eight years, we won the B.Open and the Area etc etc, and then I gave up banding for 18 years.
    My big problem when I came back was that I had forgotten how to read - especially rests!!
    It took me a good 2 years to get it back - I can't understand how I lost the skill - I thought it was like riding a bike.
    Anyway I've been back in banding 14 years now so I think I've got the hang of it again though others in the band may not agree !!
    Jack E likes this.
  12. I've just joined a local band 30 years after I played my last meaningful note. OK....I don't really understand what the fourth valve does on the BBb bass that I've been given (OK.....I allows for lower notes and/or alternate valve permutations). Two and a bit ledger lines below treble clef is plenty low enough for me.
    Jack E likes this.
  13. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I didn't start in my 30s or 40s; I was 68 - allowing for time off with heart surgery, and post-surgical problems (mainly down to my rabid allergies to some of the pills I was given!), I've probably been playing for about 18 months total. I was put back a bit, because I started on Baritone, but then had lung problems kick off last winter, which left me really struggling to fill it, so switched to Tenor Horn (which felt like trying to spit through a pea-shooter!). Switching from Bb to Eb was tricky enough when playing a melody in one of my training books, but even more so when playing Eb Tenor parts, which are quite different from the main melody - so I find myself playing a certain note, and not being sure whether it was supposed to sound like that, or did I play a dud note! But I'm slowly getting the feel of it, and hope to be playing with the junior band by September.

    Re. your experience of getting drawn into it; a friend used to bring her son to practise when he started, as he was too young to drive, and there was no bus service where they lived. Rather than sit outside in the car, she came into the band room and sat at the back. Her son progressed to where he was in the main band, so she found herself attending main band practises, and picking up all sorts of hints and tips about how to play, and how not to play! By the time her son was old enough to have passed his driving test, and she wasn't needed to ferry him to and fro, she'd made a number of friends in the band, and realised she didn't want to lose touch with them.

    "Come and join yourself, then!" they said - so she did, and found that all the knowledge she'd picked up whilst attending rehearsals with her son really helped. She now plays 1st Baritone in the main band.

    As to why I never tried playing brass sooner; as a nipper, I'd tried piano and violin, and couldn't get on with either; in my 20s, I tried playing acoustic guitar - and found enormous difficulty in pressing the strings down to make a chord (probably because the action on the cheapo guitar I had was way too high), but most of all because it was strung with round-wound strings, and I couldn't bear the horrible scratching sound they made when sliding up and down the strings. Funny, the way even such a small point can put you right off . . .

    The annoying bit is that, nearly 40 years ago, two good friends of mine played with the Sussex Brass, and I've no doubt that if I'd expressed any interest in playing, they'd have been happy to let me have a go on their instruments, and take me along to their band on learner's night - but, by that time, I just 'knew' that, much as I loved music, I just wasn't cut out to be a musician myself. I could KICK myself now, for all the enjoyment and satisfaction I've missed out on - including the friendship in a good band - and I can't help but wonder; what sort of stuff would I be playing now, if I'd only had a go on brass back then?

    So, is it ever too late to start, however old you are? NEVER!! You never know what you might be capable of until you give it a go! And I've read of several people on here that started playing even later in life than I did.

    Oh, and I've started learning bass guitar, now, too . . . I've always liked the sound of a bass guitar much better than a regular one, so why not? :cool: It keeps me from hanging round on street corners . . .

    With best regards,

  14. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    When I had to stop playing for a bit, due to heart surgery and associated problems, that was the first thing I noticed - but a friend in the main band told me that, even if you only stopped playing for a couple of months, sight reading was the first thing to go - and that certainly matches my own experience.

    Oh, poooh!! If they complain, tell them you're only doing it so as to make them seem better than they actually are!

    With best regards,


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