Switching instruments - good or bad idea?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Lenny_The_Shark, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. What would you do in this situation.

    I've been happily playing tenor horn for the past few years and still love it, but after a brief flirtation with cornet I've started getting a lot more interest from bands etc asking me to play cornet.

    Is it better to switch instruments and take advantage of the need for cornet players, or should I stick to my preferred instrument and maybe not get as much work? :confused:

    I'm undecided at the moment, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't play both instruments.
  2. hvb_shizzle

    hvb_shizzle Member

    Ahh the age old question!

    I was in a similar situation a bit back, i'd played cornet and had done for 9 years. after been placed on top chair against my wil my only way off the seat was to play flugel. After some hesitation i decided to take it up and it was the best decision I've made I love playing flugel.
    But for over a year I was playing both cornet and flugel which I found very hard work and do not advise.
  3. a very flat b

    a very flat b Member

    Depends on your definition of 'work'. If it's paid then you go where the money is, if not stick with what you like.
    Anyway changing instruments for the first time is the start of the slippery slope to BBb Bass.
  4. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    Surely this should read "Anyway changing instruments for the first time is the start of the promotion to BBb Bass"?
  5. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Play both. I play horn for one band and cornet for another. Oh and Sop for fun at home. It's no big deal to switch from one to the other.
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    A lot of people make a big fuss about changing instruments. But it's like driving a different car (so I'm told! I'm only a very inexperienced driver at the moment) - the car you learn on has its individual features, and you become used to them. Trying to drive a different car feels like taking several steps backwards at first, before you become familiar with it again. After some time, changing car is no big deal.

    Similarly, if you've only ever played one kind of brass instrument, the first attempt at a different one feels like returning to being a beginner - the lip shapes aren't quite right, and the quality of the sound takes a nosedive. If moving upwards, the upper range tends to be a strain, too. Many people are disheartened by this first experience, and don't persevere, and so don't realise that, as Rapier says, doubling instruments is not nearly as hard as it might seem. I remember, as a 13 year old euphonium and occasional baritone player, trying my hand at the trombone for the first time, and being disgusted by the sound I made - I'd anticipated that the slide would be difficult, but not the tone production. For a few years, I considered that I had to blow euphonium and trombone in rather different ways, but when I went to university, I started to branch out further, playing Eb and BBb tubas. Later on, I also moved upwards, playing alto trombone and even, on a couple of occasions, a rather dodgy trumpet. And somewhere along the line, I passed the point where they all seemed like separate techniques, and the overall pattern fell into place - just like the experienced driver who gets into the car, and just drives it, now I can just put the instruments on my face and blow without worrying too much about 'Is this my Eb tuba embouchure?'; the ways in which you blow each instrument have basic similarities.

    I've rambled on a bit, but I think that the example is illustrative - it's not an either/or situation, you can maintain playing two brass instruments at a time easily enough, provided you think carefully about what are doing with your lips when playing each one (and put in a bit of practise time!). It's a question of finding a regular outlet for both, or if you can't do that, of making sure you concentrate on getting the new one sounding good; you'll always be able to pick up the old one again quickly if you haven't let your chops atrophy too much.

    There are huge benefits to be had from letting the playing of one inform the playing of the other; for example, my high register on tenor instruments improved out of sight when I started playing alto instruments - I'd not been squeezing enough, but the smaller mouthpieces showed me the way to do it.
  7. Thanks for the responses so far.

    Dave, you raised some interesting points.

    I've gotta admit that after playing cornet for a few weeks, when I went back on horn my top register was a lot free-er (is that a word?!) and less effort. And didnt take long (10 mins max) to get used to horn again. It just took a week or so to get used to playing cornet.

    Perhaps it is do-able (another dodgy word) if I kept both instruments in regular playing.

    Hmm, lots to think about!

    ROBTHEDOG Member

    What's good for James Morrison can't be bad ...

    Got http://www.trumpet-stuff.com/

    then select from left had list James Morridon - then video link

    "Two Horns" !!!!
  9. Liz Courts

    Liz Courts Active Member

    I'm in a similar sort of situation - just the other way around! I've only ever played the cornet, and as much as I love it I've always thought about moving onto flugel or horn...but I've always stuck with the cornet as there are so many more opportunities to play - I can play on the front row with a low section band, or back row with a higher section band - and more bands seem to have vacancies somewhere within the cornet section.

    I've never really enjoyed playing solo cornet parts, and love it where I am now on the back row with Lympstone. However, when I go back home for the holidays I'll be playing with St Agnes a lot - on the front row. St Agnes are lacking in the horn section at the moment, and I'd love to offer to cover one of the parts, but I'll also be depping with other bands of higher standards where I'd only feel comfortable on the back row...

    It's good to hear from some of you that swapping between instruments isn't such a bad thing...I might be brave and try it!
  10. Sop_Or_Bass?

    Sop_Or_Bass? Member

    Come and join me on BBb Bass, John!
  11. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    or Sop or Bass or sop or cornet or Bass
  12. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    It all depends on the individual...

    If you can just switch between Eb and Bb at will, then it shouldnt really be a problem, as you wont have the pitching and splitting problems that other people have.

    Then again, a lot of people cant really switch, and thats really where the problem comes....
  13. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    I agree with MoominDave It is exactly the same as the attitude to driving different cars, do it regularly and you barely notice it.
    For reasons of shortage of cornet players at the time, and with a background of my deteriorating physical health, I went from E flat Bass to 3rd Cornet to see if I could do the move, and would it suit me. I ended up playing Rep!

    After a minor jaw injury, I found cornet was causing me too much pain in the face, so until it healed fully, I went to 2nd Baritone, and I now seem stuck there, but it made me realise that the difference was not that great, and now I also play E flat Bass regularly again. At the moment I am not playing Cornet at all, but agree that there is loads of scope to play, there always seems a shortage! I do admit however that the smaller mouthpieces need more practice - not only for the parts, but for the STAMINA which never seems to be nearly so much a problem on lower instruments, but had me glued to a cornet every day, just to be able to last a concert out!
  14. weez

    weez Member

    Don't do it Lenny! only joking...

    Seriously....my opinion is that it is not the best idea to play both Cornet and Tenor Horn on a regular basis..you are just likely to end up with emborchure problems for a start and the standard of your playing will not be as good.

    I stopped playing cornet when I was 17 because I was practicing too much (can you believe?!) and unfortunately strained muscles in my face. I was gutted at the time because I was planning to study Trumpet at music college but had to pack it in. The idea of playing a tenor horn popped into my head one day so out I went to Rosehill and bought one. Lucky 'flaaaahssss' band had a horn position so I moved over and had to spend years working hard at fitting in. I can honestly say that the difference between these two instruments are enormous and I found that one out the hard way.

    All in all Len.... I sat next to you in band.. we played Rienzi together (ok so we split a few..hehe) and I plan to do Whits with ya so stick to what you know is best... :)
  15. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    I agree. I think people are too quick to pigeon hole themselves. I don't think that I use much different lip pressure between sop and trom. On my guitar if I use less of the string I get a higher note, a sop gets me a higher note for the same tension.
    Anyway, its fun to move round the band and gives you a sense of what all the parts contribute to the whole.
  16. Griffis

    Griffis Member

    I totally agree, I recently changed from Cornet (which i've been playing all my life) to Flugel...not the biggest instrument change, but none the less, one that has taken a lot of getting used to (still trying to get used to it now!!), but I also dabble in a bit of Trumpet playing, especially when I was at Uni, and that involved playing Bb, D, Eb and occassionally Picc in A...the pitching was a bit of a problem at the beginning, but obviously with everything...the more you do it, the easier it gets!!

    Give it a go, but if you find that your main instrument begins to suffer, then maybe you should re-think...or get some "expert" advice (not saying that there aren't any experts on TMP of course ;))

  17. davidwalton

    davidwalton Member

    I am one of those that prefer to stay on one instrument. The exception being another that is similar enough to not get in the way of my main instrument.

    Yes, I play French Horn and Tenor Horn. Both with the same mouthpiece and same embouchure. In fact, I have found that playing French Horn has improved my Tenor Horn playing by loads. Sound is much bigger, and using far less pressure now.

    I did for a while double with Cornet and Flugel years ago. Not a good move. I played Flugel with a Horn embouchure, and that creates problems on the Cornet. I also found returning to Cornet difficult. Always battling the instrument as it was just too small (and I had a large bore Cornet).
  18. weez

    weez Member

    I couldn't agree more with your comments! :)
  19. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    You've gotta be a little careful - I had a player recently who was struggling on 2nd Bari -really quiet entry in a test piece, but then went depping for an old band on Eb bass - surely this can't have done his bari playing any favours reallym specially with the change of pitch too!
  20. euphojim

    euphojim Member

    There is a lot to be said for being versatile and if you find it relatively easy to switch instruments then you should make the most of it.

    In my younger days I played trumpet and tenor horn at the same time (not literally but I did play both in the same concert once). More recently I switched instruments four times in the space of two years, cornet to baritone to horn to euph. It wasn't a question of not knowing what I wanted to play but more a case to moving to positions where I was the most use to the band.

    I have since had a year on Eb Bass before returning to Euph and then Baritone where I have to admit to being most at home. Never made it it Bb Bass but there is still time - if only I can get rid of the stick.