Never stop playing!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by flugelgal, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    If any of you have ever stopped playing for more than a few weeks you'll know where I'm coming from...

    I hadn't touched my flugel (apart from moving the box from one house to the other) in a couple of years until last Monday. I decided that this was the time to start actually playing the thing instead of making excuses, so I got it out. I was amazed that the valves were still working perfectly - just had to give them a wipe and stick some oil on, and all the slides are still grand too (I guess Courtois really do make good instruments).

    Unfortunately, what wasn't working perfectly was ME! After days of exercises and buzzing I finally managed to play something melodic yesterday, but I still have a long way to go before it's all second nature again, and my sound is still very rough. I think this is worse than learning to play the first time, since I can remember how easy it all used to be rather than it all being new and I didn't know any better!

    So, has anyone else been through this? How long did it take before you felt able to play in front of other people again? Do you have any tips for me? I'm being really careful about not overstretching myself, my range seems to be okish up to G above the stave so far, I'm spending time working on my sound and production, and doing loads of flexibility exercises.

    Also: woot, I'm a flugel player again (sort of)!
  2. HornMaster

    HornMaster Member

    I had a very similar experience recently as I started to play the tenor horn again 2 months ago after not playing for a band for just over 7 years (and hadn't been out of its case in nearly 4). The first time I played it was like being 8 years old again! Sound and production were definitely the worst things initially and I'm also still finding that for my lip to last more than an hour I have to do a much longer warm up than I ever previously needed to.

    I figured the best way to get back to anything approaching good was to just get straight back into it so I joined a local band the following week - and the first rehearsal was a rather amusing disaster (never split so many notes in my life). However, I'm glad to say that the progression so far is very good and I'm comfortable now with my whole range.

    You mentioned flexibility exercises and this would be the main thing I would recommend you stick with as it has been a huge help to me - the Dr. Charles Colin Trumpet Lip Flexibilities book I have found particularly beneficial, although some exercises go to ridiculously high notes that most people would struggle with (G above top G!!) but there is plenty in there to start off with.

    The exercises in the Arban are good for sound and production as well as just playing a hell of a lot of long, long notes - which can be pretty boring but well worth the effort.

    I think you might find that a lot of things seem to come back to you on their own over the coming weeks as you start to gain more confidence again. Hope this helps and keep me posted on how your getting on.
  3. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    Yep, those are the books I'm using, used to use them for warmups and workouts. Some of the exercises that used to be relatively easy are a big struggle just now though. Long notes are something I probably haven't done enough, so thanks for the pointer!

    Hopefully in a few weeks' time I'll be better than I ever was! (Yeah, right!)

    Edit: I see you're in Dublin, I live in Louth, what band are you playing with?
  4. HornMaster

    HornMaster Member

    I'm playing with Steadfast Band in Blackrock, Dublin
  5. Di

    Di Active Member

    Welcome back Kirsty!

    I haven't touched my baritone (except for Whit Friday last year) in two years. I'm dreading the day I actually get to join a band and play properly again. It's gonna be ruff! :-?
  6. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Harrumph! And I wrote you and Keppler that duet specially! :wink:
  7. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    Thanks Di! Let me tell you, do it now before you lose the will to relearn...

    I know I know! I really want to be able to play that. Of course I need him to get the cornet out of the box too... for some reason he won't play with me in the house. Something to do with putting him off or something. :biggrin: (They would be constructive comments, honest!)


    Why not take out Jamsie's collection of excercises?;) There is an excercise for every occasion in there. Those and arban no 6 keep me going on BBb Bass

    At times I wish that I managed to take a couple of years off. (not half as much as Jill wishes I would!)
  9. BrassFlyer

    BrassFlyer Member

    I once had 10 years off and the cornet stayed in its case for that time. When I did get back into banding again, I did just that...I joined a band and with regular rehearsals and home practice it took me about, I guess 6 months. Mind you I was playing in front of people almost straight away on front row...last man down....did my first competition 6 months later on all the hard work is defo worth it.
    I am currently not playing and its been 18 months this time!!!!!
  10. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Yay Kirsty's back!!

    Never given up totally, but I'm currently going through a stupidly busy period at work meaning some flaky rehearsal attendances and zero home practice. I'm really noticing it too - the first thing that goes with me is my intonation suffers - I don't centre notes well when I'm out of practice, then what little technique I have disappears, and finally my sound suffers. I'm well into the "sound suffering" stage now :(

    As for advice to get back to your former self I can only suggest what you are doing already plus some long note practice - basic first page of the Arban stuff - and maybe try low notes too. Lots of hymn tunes, slow melodies - you know the score and I'm sure I don't need to tell you! And as you say - don't try to push it too much initially.

    The only other thing I can suggest is to spend some time with a decent teacher to work up a practice regime with some goals to go for. This is something I intend to do when I get over this phase at work (probably about 2015 the way its going at the moment! :-?).

    Oh and join a band! You're far too good a player to be sat at home of an evening!
  11. Jerry

    Jerry Member

    I had about 5 years off before I joined my current band - on top of the time off, I had never played the cornet in a Brass Band before, only trumpet in Wind Bands, Swing Bands etc and Symphony Orchestras. When I went to my first practice - to sit in the back and listen - they just shoved a cornet in my hand and told me to get on with it at third man down and said "By the way, we're doing a contest in about 8 weeks' time, can you make that date?" Six years on and I'm still wondering what I've let myself in for! ;)

    In terms of recovering some semblance of form, I agree though that joining a band and jumping in at the deep end is a good thing - supported by some steady home practice to gently build your lip muscles back up from scratch. I noticed quite soon that some things I expected to be able to do (because I used to be) I couldn't straight away, which was frustrating. However, playing with a band gives you an incentive and something to aim for (and hopefully support from band colleagues), whereas just starting on home practice to get you to a "decent" standard before joining a band after a break might just make you feel more despondent.
  12. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Is Brian Daly still conductor there?
  13. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    Try 25 years... and yes, I wish I hadn't stopped for that long. It took
    me a couple of years to feel I was making a proper contribution. Seven
    years later I think I'm better than I was when I stopped but will never
    be much better than now - too many years have passed; but I'm happy.

    So I guess my message is: it's never too late !

  14. Di

    Di Active Member

    Ah heck, spoke too soon. I've just been asked to play a week tomorrow! :eek: Better get it out and dust the cobwebs off and see if I can remember which end to blow in. :-? I have given fair warning ear plugs will be required!
  15. HornMaster

    HornMaster Member

    He is. I guess you know him?
  16. RobBari

    RobBari Member

    stopped playing for 18 ish years. got back into bands 7 years ago changed from cornet to baritone and just practiced. now wonder why i stopped?
  17. bbg

    bbg Member

    I had a twelve year gap, from playing horn week-in, week-out to stopping suddenly (planned, but sudden nevertheless) . Got involved in a "supporting parent" role when my son started firstly on trumpet at school, then on percussion with our Youth then senior bands .......after writing out some parts for him it was discovered that I was an ex-player and so was invited along for a blow.
    That first night, on baritone, was murder - intonation all over the shop, breath control ditto.
    A move to 3rd cornet quickly followed, and I reckon that it took a good few months before I was anything like happy with how I was playing (although some would say they've yet to be happy with me!). Like previous posters, I found that there was no shortcut - lots of low, long notes then basic scale/arpeggio exercises.
    After six years on cornet, I am currently embarking on a fresh voyage of discovery on EEb bass - this old dog is still willing to learn a few new tricks!
    All the best Flugelgal - I can't imagine not "blowing" again now, enjoy.
  18. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Do indeed. I'm from Waterford where he studied. He conducted band I played with in Waterford for a year or so. We also played in quintet, orchestras, ensembles, NYOI etc ... good mates with his brothers Liam and Lorcan too.
    Haven't seen them for years!!

    Say Hi from me...
  19. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    Thanks all for your advice and support! Kepps and I got in touch with the band I had played with before here briefly - they're in the same town that we live which is awesome, and we went to a rehearsal tonight. Seems we're signing for them (again for me, first time for him) so our squeaky thin out of tune noises must have been better than expected given a week and a half of playing!
  20. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    When will the world premiere be then, Kirsty? :wink: