Six months into comeback

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by GER, Jun 27, 2017.

  1. GER

    GER Active Member

    At 60 years old,am just approaching 6 months into comeback after a break of approx. 15 years. Just thought I would share where I am and would be interested to know of other people's experiences, either past or present:
    Playing generally is probably about 60% of where I was, top B & C still having to be squeezed, lip generally lasting through practices and concerts, but certainly tired at the end of both. Sight reading still leaves a lot to be desired, the 'internal clock' is definitely slow in coming back, and knowledge of music is having to be studied, as seem to have forgotten most of it!. Dexterity of fingers is a lot better than I thought it would be, but still finding pitching issues.
    Joined one band, solely because it was closest, realised I had made a mistake, so looked round several other bands before joining another, but feel it was the right thing to do. Am holding down tutti cornet place (just! LOL) and no longer quaking when I see a few bars of semi-quavers.
    Manage between half and an hours practice a day, could do with a few lessons, but find it hard to find a teacher, where do they advertise nowadays? or can anybody recommend someone in the Doncaster/South Yorkshire area?, fortunately I have still got all my practice notes and books so using those at the moment. Finally retired my 48 yr old mouthpiece, found a wider rim was better suited.
    Well that's just about where I'm at, I'm not the most patient person so would like it to be better, but am slowly realising that patience and hard work is the key. Getting so much enjoyment out of it I wonder what made me think it was a good idea to stop playing!
    Would be really interested to hear your experiences
  2. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Welcome back to playing and welcome to tmp.

    To me it seems that you have made all the right choices in both coming back and in what to do when you do, I can't help but think that all is very likely to turn out very nicely for you. My own experience of coming back is a decade or so old, I never was and never will be a particularly good player. However, to me playing is not about being the best but it is about the enjoyment that you get out of it and the pleasure that some others get from either your support or hearing you play.

    Getting help to play better is nearly always sensible but, like you say, not always readily available. I try not to stress about what I can and can't manage to play, the way forward for me has been to just do what I can and then slowly and gently work away at doing anything and everything better. Decent equipment helps, but (IMHO) results are mostly down to how well the player uses what he has rather than how 'fancy' it is.
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  3. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Hi - to echo, welcome back to the world of brass and welcome (belatedly :p) to tMp.

    I can't speak to such a long layoff (about 4.5 years ago I came back from a 4-5 year break - that was enough!) - like you, I spent plenty of time looking backwards at "I used to be able to do X/Y/Z" and that gave me a degree of frustration at times too, but it also gave me something to aim for.

    Endurance for rehearsals and concerts is something that comes with time - I wouldn't worry too much about it, other than to say that overworking (so you're having to push a lot) isn't good for progress, and it can take time to recover from.
    Obviously lots of people only pick the instrument up on rehearsal nights which means they've got time to recover (though obviously they won't improve much, if at all) - but if you're practicing every day, you'll want to be a little more careful.

    I know this may seem obvious (but it's amazing how few people seem to really understand it), but even on tutti cornet you don't necessarily need to play everything on the page - the audience doesn't care who's playing what and they don't care if 3rd or 4th man down is taking the odd break as long as the music that's coming across is what it should be.
    Without wanting to sound snooty, this can often be very much a "lower section" problem where individual players seem to much more often be most focused on what they're playing and on making the best fist of their own parts, rather than necessarily thinking a bit more (for want of a better word) "tactically" about how to plan the parts (who rests where, etc) to get the best performance across with the minimum of wasted exertion...
    As an example - I'm on sop, and if the front row has something which is within comfortable/easy range for them, I'll often leave it to them and take a rest (and they'll do the reverse when it's high and loud) , so for example if the highest note in a phrase is the C in the staff on my part (F on the top line to a Bb cornet) then I'll probably leave it out if the front row has it too and conversely if a phrase on the solo cornet part has loud High C's and D's they'll often leave it to me (or at very least reduce numbers on it).

    As far as teachers to that area goes I'm afraid I'm no help at all - totally the wrong area of the country for me....
    What I would say is that just as you found with joining the wrong band, it's possible to find teachers that won't suit you also - there are plenty of books out there and plenty of different ways of looking at playing that contradict each other, and lots of great players believe completely opposite things about playing (despite in reality actually doing the exact same things) which shows that there are plenty of very different roads to good playing which can be travelled.
    Sometimes an instruction that works great for some students will be less than helpful for others - a good teacher won't be dogmatically attached to things like "more air" or "use the diaphragm*" or "practice more X", sometimes these instructions just clearly don't help but a bad teacher will persist with them regardless... ultimately, you're the one that can monitor your progress on a daily basis, if certain teachings don't do you any good then you need to leave them behind, and if the teacher won't then you might need to leave them behind too.

    *The diaphragm is an involuntary muscle, you can't control it so you can't use it... in practice it's a metaphor for "squeeze your lungs like a bellows" (for which you'd use your intercostal muscles) but I'm too anal not to mention it :p

    Finally - may I just say that you've got the most important bits of this already nailed... you care enough to practice, you have the desire to improve and most importantly you have the self-awareness required to make genuine and lasting progess.

    Best of luck!

    (Oh and sorry for writing so much, I do that sometimes...)
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017
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  4. Repman

    Repman New Member

    Hi Ger
    You sound a lot like me, I'm 47 and started back on the cornet almost a year ago after 28 years off.
    At the moment i'm on the front row of my local band, who are a lovely crowd and whilst some of the music is more challenging and some less so, i'm very happy where I am.
    Looking forward to contesting as an unregistered band in the autumn.
    Not sure how far I will get but as long as I keep improving, I see no reason to look for another band.
    Like you, top B and C are hit and miss, and I still struggle, as I always did, with lip slurs. Also finding the kind of precision I remember having is coming hard
    Bought myself a Denis Wick 4.5 mouthpiece when they put me on rep, perhaps deeper than the usual front row fare but I see it as motivation to practice harder.
    Never having played in brass bands in my youth i'm still not sure where I might aim for in terms of section, perhaps i'll find out in another year or two.
  5. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    " I know this may seem obvious (but it's amazing how few people seem to really understand it), but even on tutti cornet you don't necessarily need to play everything on the page - the audience doesn't care who's playing what and they don't care if 3rd or 4th man down is taking the odd break as long as the music that's coming across is what it should be."

    This is another of those many things in life that once you have been told about it seems completely obvious, but otherwise seems to be well hidden. Thanks Tom, several well made and helpful points to investigate.
  6. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    Good for you on returning to playing ! You mention 7 aspects of your playing, of which only 1 was anything like positive. focus on what you can do well. there is more to playing than top Bs and Cs (like enjoying the music and being part of something worthwhile) sight reading will improve the more you do it, and most of have forgotten most of we learned about music theory anyway, and like any exercise the more you do it the less fatiguing it is
    I don't know the Yorkshire area very well, but you can always try dropping a line to one of the championship section band cornet players - or look for workshops where you can get some tuition, they are not just for young players, good luck and for an inspirational quote - Pablo Cassals (one of the greatest cellists of the 20thC) was asked why he continued to practice his cello when he was 93. He replied "because I believe I can still improve"
  7. GER

    GER Active Member

    Thanks for all your replies, knowing other peoples thoughts, experiences is invaluable and also inspiring
    How true is that, I know age is not on my side, but also know I can be better than I am.
    It was not meant to be negative, just honest, realistic and a prompt for others to relate their problems as well as their acheivements. Personally I have gone from playing a few carols at Christmas to holding my own as a front row cornet, I'm proud of the distance I have travelled, but also know to go further I have to be brutally honest with myself, where I am and what I can hope to achieve. If I am still playing at 93, I can see myself saying exactly the same thing :) :)
    Once again many thanks for the posts so far-please keep them coming
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  8. GER

    GER Active Member

    Hi Repman,
    Yes it seems our paths are taking a similar route, it would be nice to keep in touch to see how we develop. My youth was vastly different to yours, the only thing I did was play in brass bands (or seems like it). Was taught by George Thompson (MD of Grimethorpe at time), went to Huddersfield school of music (as it was then) at 16 yrs old on a scholarship, dropped out a couple of years later (enjoyed the social side too much!). Carried on playing with brass bands at all levels, reduced playing massively for a few years when kids came along, kids became interested in music so started again, but in concert band (similar to a military band) this time, then rejoined a brass band.(played with both) At that time my father and son were on percussion, my daughter on 2nd cornet and I was 2nd man down, unfortunately father fell ill, son decided more modern music was his preference and daughter was involved in GCSE and A levels, which was when I stopped. That's my story to date, doubtless there's a few more chapters to come :) :)
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  9. Repman

    Repman New Member

    I played from age 8-18 at Halifax Schools music centre. Teacher was Brian Robinson (founder of Hebden Bridge Junior Band) who kindly sold me his Getzen. For some reason never played in brass bands, just the concert band in the music school. Gave up when I left school, too into sports and amateur operatics. Having a young family makes the operatics difficult and age and injury put paid to the sporting career. Picked up the cornet again last September and like you joined the nearest band, which happened to be Golcar in Huddersfield. Non contesting and one practice a week appealed to me in case I did not take to it. Have to say I really seem to have fallen on my feet however. I'll keep you posted on the planned return to contesting.
  10. oldbiker

    oldbiker New Member

    Hi Ger, I played till I was 57 when I lost my top teeth. At 76 a new dentist told me he could make me a denture that would allow me to play again so I re-joined my old band and returned to playing Bb at first and then went back onto sop. I am now 89 and still playing regularly.
    Like you It was a bit hard at first although I now find top B's and C's that used to be easy, are not reliable I am fairly safe on A's and perhaps when I reach 90 they will get easier. LOL Keep going and enjoy.
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  11. GER

    GER Active Member

    Wow that is just incredible, what an inspiring story, and what a fantastic example to us all. Hope you keep going for many years to come. many many thanks for posting
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  12. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Coo!! And I thought being 70 was getting a bit past it . . . you live and learn, eh?

    By the way; is that a Ducati desmo single? Back in the 60s, a bloke in our bike club had one of them - and seriously embarrassed a lot of blokes with much bigger bikes!!
  13. oldbiker

    oldbiker New Member

    It's a Ducati Mach 1 250 single Racer. not desmo. I raced that particular bike till about 1984/5. After that I raced a Cotton water cooled 250 single until I retired from racing at the age of 58. Midlands 250 single Champion. Went back to competitive snooker until I returned to banding.