Returning after 14 years

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Agna, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. Agna

    Agna New Member

    Hi Ive finally taken the initiative and returned to brass banding after 14 years away. Having played for 14 years before that. What is the best approach should I go for lessons or practice on my own hoping that itll all come back to me. So far Im struggling reaching the top notes or they sound flat when I reach them. Does anyone know of any good teachers in the surrey area or should I just re-educate myself. Ive been back playing one week and found reading the music ok.:tongue:
  2. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    I guess it all depends on where you are now and where you want to be in 'n' months time. I am sure you'll get there though as you've been there before, it just takes time. You simply need to regain your stamina and your embouchure, the rest will follow. You will probably find that you can quickly resume where you left off and your maturity and experience will take you beyond where you were previously.

    If you do want lessons though, there are several tutors here and posting regularly on tMP, trumpetmike is one and is from the Surrey area too - perhaps you might like to PM him if you are interested in improving and taking lessons.

    One thing is certain though... where you go and how you get there from here is totally up to you.

    Good luck!
  3. madsaz

    madsaz Member

    I did this after a nine year gap. I just got on with it myself - excercises from the Arban etc and playing familiar pieces.

    My technical ability in terms of reading and finger wiggling came back very quickly - but I have never got my sound back. Stamina came with time.

    I could have done more to get a decent sound but found my Brass Banding is very different now - when young I desperately wanted to do better & be better all the time. I tried when I came back to be the same but in fact having a life and an extremely busy job meant I needed to reassess. I do get bored with some of the second cornet parts for testpieces though...

    If I were advising you I would suggest a time limited period of getting your self going - maybe 4-6 weeks of building up your stamina, doing technical excercises etc. As soon as you feel able join a band - ensuring they know what you are up to.

    If at the end of that time there are particular areas of your playing that just aren't coming back to you you could get specific lessons with that in mind. I think many Brass players just need time & you learn plenty in a band room anyway.
  4. tillie

    tillie New Member

    I came back to playing after a 12 year gap as well. I do not play at the same level as I used to but am happy with this as I know I could not put in the same amount of rehearsal time as was needed (3 kids and a husband who is now disabled following an accident beong the reason not my lack of drive). I found that everything came back quite quickly with band and home practise, although my breathing stamina ain't what it used to be! Stick with it and welcome back to banding. Before long you'll wonder how you managed (and what possessed you) to stay away so long.

    Elaine, cornet/flugel ELB,dep for anyone.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  5. Agna

    Agna New Member

    Thanks guys Ive joined a brass band and explained ive been absent from playing for so long. They were really helpful and encouraging. Im gonna take your advice and give it about 3 months playing with the band and practising by myself as much as I can. If Im still struggling then Ill book a few lessons to try and sort out those aspects. I would love to get back to the standard I was before. Keep you posted.
  6. tillie

    tillie New Member

    Good luck and happy banding. Could be seeing you at contests soon!
  7. alanl58

    alanl58 Member

    I came back to brass playing after a gap of 38 years, and had to practice scales really hard to regain embouchure and tonal balance.

    Then I played along with a Silent Brass mute to CDs of simple hymn tunes to get the feel for reading music and counting bars rest!

    Finally I found a fantastic guy who tutored me with the changes in style and content that had taken place in the intervening years (it was all marches and tunes from the shows when I stopped playing).

    So good luck, you will find the experience totally rewarding if you work at it and hang in there.


    PS anyone else tried contacting the BBC "Play it Again" website to register a protest at the lack of brass tuition?

    In the South West the Making Music contact is Veronica Lee
  8. Agna

    Agna New Member

    Thanks Alan

    I definitely feel more encouraged now I know theres so many other people have returned after so long. It is quite frustrating when I cant reach the notes I used to but I know Ill get there in time and it takes patience which I lack in some time ha ha. Sound like a good idea with the mute.
    Thanks again and well done returning after a gap of so long.:redface:
  9. davidwalton

    davidwalton Member

    Hi Agna,

    I don't know where in Surrey you are, but Yiewsley & West Drayton Band (just around the M25 a few miles) do provide tuition to Adults on Wednesday or Friday evenings, before main Band rehearsal. See for contact info.

    I also had a Gap of some 20 years playing brass. Now play Tenor Horn and can play up to A above Top C. Not tried to go much higher as not needed, but does make normal range required far easier :)
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Some good advice given in earlier posts but it really depends on what standard you were playing at before and the expectations of the band you are rehearsing with. If playing at Championship level, you would have to have a very patient and understanding conductor/band to allow you to rebuild securely but do not rush it! Tonguing and finger coordination recovers more quickly than embouchure and air support. It is too easy to slip into bad habits using pressure to maintain performance but it will undermine your ambition in the long run with the possibility of dental problems as well. It might be better just borrowing the instrument for a few months with careful planning to overcome limitations a bit at a time. Much more research has developed recently with regards to production and pitch and maybe it might be worthwhile looking at this. Maybe there is a way that could make you a better player than you were before! Saying that, get a tutor (remedial if possible) to give you a quick assessment and tips. Best of luck with your crusade!
  11. hellyfrost

    hellyfrost Member

    Hi Agna,

    I'm in a similar position to you and I'm returning after seven years.

    I've got to agree with Brassneck: "Tonguing and finger coordination recovers more quickly than embouchure and air support." Particularly since my break has included a nasty smoking habit - tut tut!:redface:

    I've been working my way through my Arban and going over my Grade 5 test pieces which at first sounded absolutely awful, but after two weeks I'm getting closer to my old standards, although still far from them.

    I've had lots of CDs on and I've dug out all the horns parts which I'm glad I hoarded in my loft for all those years and just listened and read the music along with the CD just to get my head round reading music again. I've also been looking up meanings of symbols etc on the sheet music -which I can't quite remember- in my musical dictionary so that's helped me out lots too.

    I'm depping on Whit Friday for a local 4th section band and I'm going to be going along to a few of their practices to "get my lip back in" and I'm just hoping that I'll be able to live up to their expectations and as a few people have mentioned on here; you learn an awful lot in a bandroom setting.

    I tried to get back into banding a couple of years ago, and one of my old teachers very kindly let me sit in on one of their rehearsals and I found then that sight-reading doesn't come back as easily as I'd hoped, so to crack this I've been going on a few different sites with sample scores. The best example I have is tMPs Roger Thorne's site (which I hope he doesn't mind me using for this purpose!).

    Keep us posted on your progress, and the best of luck to you in getting back into it!