Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 28

Thread: When it is time to stop playing?

  1. #1

    When it is time to stop playing?

    There are many fine discussions about how to play and grow. I certainly have not played every piece of music or learned it all. I have played for almost 40 years. I have taken breaks. Now I find myself pondering just stopping for good. When do you know when it is time to stop?
    John Packer JP274L Euphonium
    “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    This is always a tough one to know the answer to. A very good friend of mine played for 75 yrs... started at age 11 and always played the euphonium. Played in an Army Band during WW-II, and continued at a very high skill level. He had many solos memorized to play in front of the band. Then one night he was playing Napoli with the band (from memory) and just drew a blank and couldn't find the notes. After trying a restart and it not going well, he just had to walk off stage. This really stuck with him for a long time. He came back to playing, but never played anymore solos. One thing he was never happy about was his breathing. He told me he had trouble making it to the end of a phrase or breath mark. His tone was still excellent - and still sounded better than many others. This was when he was about 83 so I thought it was understandable. BUT, this was not the standard he was used to so he finally gave up playing.

    The guys I play with have all agreed to tell each other when we think it might be time to stop playing. We sure don't want to detract from the organization we're playing with. Some members of community bands find something else they can do for the organization... maybe announce, help with creating programs, or something else behind the scene.

    I would say if you're not enjoying playing that it might be time to at least take a break for awhile. Yes, this is a tough one for sure.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank

    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Relicario (Jose Padilla; arr. R. Longfield)

  3. #3
    This is a very interesting topic and one that I suspect will get many different responses. I don't think much about quitting playing at all. When I do think about playing and getting older (or just plain old), I think about how long "can" I play rather than when should I stop. Doc Severinsen is playing into his very late 80's. I will be 70 this year, have been playing for 60 years, and I am still playing at a fairly high level. Sure, I have lost some wind and probably a little speed, but I can play the technical solos about as well as I could when I was in my 30's. In fact, some things now might be even better than when I was much younger due to musical maturity and playing with a better musical interpretation and feeling, rather than just going like a speeding bullet. I actually have a higher range now than I did through most of my playing years. But I must confess that I am a very serious and dedicated musician, and I practice and play most every day of the year. l plan to keep playing as long as I can. I suppose the time to stop would be when I just can't play anymore or I am so dissatisfied with my own playing that I am embarrassed or not having fun or am causing others around me to not have fun.

    That last statement brings up an interesting dilemma. There is a fellow who plays in our local symphony orchestra who had a mild stroke 3 years ago. He was an adequate player before, but since than, he is clearly not himself or anything close to it. He often can't count rest measures correctly, he gets lost, his playing is sometimes very bad, and none of these things seems to be getting better, only worse. In this orchestra, once you are in it, you are in it for good (all time). Mostly the players are pretty good, a few weak ones perhaps. No one will tell him it might be best if he decides to give it up, at least for this group which puts on performances that people pay for. So the dilemma is him deciding for himself that he might need to go (which I don't see happening) or someone perhaps suggesting to him that it is time. Or things just keep going on as they have, which I think inevitably will not turn out well.

    Others for sure will have different ideas about playing on or calling it quits. If you are a very casual player, and don't have music seared into every fiber of your body as I do, giving up playing may be a relatively easy decision. You think it is time, you aren't having fun, your playing is getting worse, you have other things you want to be doing, you are tired of driving to rehearsals and concerts, and a whole host of other reasons might be the signal(s) for you that it is time to stop. This is a very personal decision. I cannot imagine my life without music, so if I gave it up, I would in effect almost be giving up my life. Sounds a little melodramatic but that is the way I feel.

    New Horizons Bands were formed for older folks to play who may have played in their youth, and now they are retired, the kids are grown and gone, and they want to have something meaningful to do. These groups are also for older folks who may not have ever played before. So, they come together to make music. Many studies have been done to show what a positive, healthful effect this has on those participating. There was one man who started learning clarinet at the age of 89. So within these groups, they all pretty much keep playing until they just can't anymore. I play in one of these New Horizons Bands along with my wife. I have been living in South Dakota since 2010 and joined this band then (have been with New Horizons much longer). I have watched almost 10 people pass away since I have been here, some very good friends. All of them were playing just about right up until the end. Maybe this is an answer to the OP's question.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  4. #4
    Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. It has given me quite a bit to think about.
    John Packer JP274L Euphonium
    “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

  5. #5
    I play in 3 bands that have players in their 80's. Over the last few years, there have been several who have retired from the band(s). In most cases, a health issue forced them to stop playing. Several others have started playing less aggressively, taking the 2nd or 3rd part as apposed to 1st. Sometimes, someone will take a brake, but they almost always come back. The motivation to continue playing is first the friendships they have with other band members and second the mental stimulation of playing. Both of these motivations are found to extend both quantity and quality of life. So, along with exercise and eating right, playing an instrument is good for you. Keep playing if you can, take a break if you need to, but make them pry the horn from your cold dead fingers.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    NYC metro area
    I will be 65 this summer. I played piano professionally when I was younger. After I turned 30, I decided that I would concentrate on my legal career - looking for more stability, in life style and income. I returned to classical piano studies and began giving yearly recitals, playing a challenging repertoire. In my 50s, I developed arthritis in my thumbs and by the time I was 60, pain prevented me from playing for more than 15 minutes at a time. Along the way, I had to have surgery to remove a cyst on one of my knuckles (a by-product of arthritis); the cyst had worn away and weakened one of the tendons in the finger.

    Like John Morgan, I felt music was too much a part of my life to give it up. My wife, also a musician (she's a music therapist), got tired of hearing me bitching and moaning, and suggested I take up the euphonium again, an instrument I hadn't played since school. She bought me my Mack Brass horn for my birthday three years ago, and I started taking lessons. I play in two community groups: in one of them, I am the leader of the lower-brass section (hell, most of the time I'm the only one in the section) and in the other (a group of pros and semi-pros) I play last chair euphonium. I have had to adjust from being a top-level technician on my instrument to being a duffer, and this causes me no end of frustration at times. But I still play.

    When I can no longer play euphonium well enough to keep up, I'll find something else - maybe the autoharp. But I'll never stop playing, I hope.
    Dean L. Surkin
    Mack Brass MACK-EU1150S, BB1, Kadja, and DE 101XTG9 mouthpieces
    Bach 36B trombone; pBone; Vincent Bach (from 1971) 6.5AL mouthpiece
    Steinway 1902 Model A, restored by AC Pianocraft in 1988; Kawai MP8, Yamaha KX-76
    See my avatar: Jazz (the black cockapoo) and Delilah (the cavapoo) keep me company while practicing

  7. #7
    The answer to that question is as different as people are different. I can speak only for myself. I'm going on 71, and I'm not there yet.
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2018 Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (2nd Bari)

  8. I started playing the euphonium a year and three months ago. I had always wanted to play an instrument and chose the euphonium because musician friends told me it would be one of the easiest to play. Another reason for starting a euphonium at a late age is that I'll be able to play for a long time. Age, or should I say youth, is not a factor.

    All the activities I'm pursuing now are activities I can pursue for 20-30 years -- even at my age. Golf, sea kayaking, and music will keep me moving into a late age. I may not perform as in my younger years, but I will perform. They say it helps to keep neurons and synapses -- or at least the few I have.

    We have a winter group in my area call the "Geezer Band." It's not all old people, but mostly. They play together all winter, sometimes do a concert, and then play every weekend with the "players" at a music shell. They practice the same night as I'm directing a church choir so I can't play with them. But, it's a great idea and I'll play whenever my schedule frees up.

    Don't quit, just keep on playing at whatever level you find yourself.


  9. #9
    Thank you all for the replies. I think I just need to find different music and groups. While I have had injuries my health is pretty good. I am just going to take a break and try something new in the fall. Maybe join a jazz group and play something different.
    John Packer JP274L Euphonium
    “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

  10. #10
    In one of the groups I direct, I've got about a dozen players over the age of 80 of various abilities, including an 87 year old euphonium player who still manages to sound pretty good. There are some issues with hearing and memory at times, but nothing we can't adapt to as a group. (After conducting a rehearsal with this group, I need to remember to dial back my volume when talking. I've apparently learn to speak very loudly without realizing it.)

    When I'm out playing for fun, the most important thing is playing with a group of good people. Sure, I can work with just about anyone if I'm being paid to, but if I'm volunteering my time and energy I don't have the patience for big egos or bad attitudes. Fortunately, I've found that there are plenty of community groups that are wonderful to play in.
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist

    Kanstul 976 - SM4U

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts