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Thread: Brass crazy at 41 - picking up old instruments during quarantine

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Dawsonville, GA
    Posts
    19

    Brass crazy at 41 - picking up old instruments during quarantine

    Glancing around the forums I get the distinct feeling I'm not alone in this. I figured I should introduce myself and this looked like the right place. Apologies if it isn't.

    Hi everybody, I'm Evan. I'm a forty-something dad of a girl who just marched her first season at the local High School at the age of 13 (8th grade). When she made the commitment to march and start really working hard to play at a higher level, I thought it was probably time for me to pick it all back up again. I played low brass all through high school, marched trombone with the Atlanta Olympic Band in '96, even got tagged as a musician when I entered the USAF in 2000 and ended up playing baritone in basic training and then tuba in tech school at Keesler AFB. That was the last time I touched a brass instrument until this last year when I met my daughter's new band director and found out we'd had the same high school director (though at different schools, he moved the year I graduated). He invited me along to help teach and I even got to play with the kids in the stands on a King 1129SP marching euphonium I picked up. (It's a small band in a rural area of GA.)

    I should mention - I wear full upper dentures and a partial lower. Lots of reasons that led to that, but suffice to say Air Force dentistry isn't all that great and I didn't take very good care of their poor workmanship. So when I picked up that instrument and put it to my lips I was TERRIFIED that I was making a big mistake and that I'd never be able to play like I used to. Well, long story short it did take some getting used to, but I've now got most of my range back (though pedal tones are still challenging due to how much I have to drop my jaw to make them happen, still experimenting with ways to make those easier). I've heard of some tuba players who play -without- the dentures they'd normally wear, and play just fine. I imagine it must take a strong embouchure to do that, because I tried on my trombone and couldn't hold a tone in a bucket with a lid.

    So over the last -what is it now?- 8 months? 9? I've spent a ton of time helping with their marching practices, coached the brass, arranged and orchestrated a bunch of stands tunes for them and then got to play in the stands with them. I've got a nice intermediate trumpet sitting here that I'm learning to play better (never was good at trumpet), a decent trombone, a Wessex flugabone (that may be going back to Wessex shortly - intonation issues galore) and that King marching euphonium that I love, but likes to break my arms it's so heavy. I'm planning on arranging and recording myself playing some brass arrangements and just having fun with it. I'm not looking to be utterly professional or earning a living at it, I have a day job. This is just fun, and maybe along the way I'll have the opportunity to play with amateur groups around the north GA area.

    So does anyone else here know of someone who's picked up or returned to an instrument over this last crazy year?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,425
    Welcome to the forum Evan! I too came back to playing after a long hiatus — 33 years to be exact. Small world as I too played in the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps at Keesler AFB. That was in '66 to '67 for me. Back then we played 'G' bugles which were just two valves. There's a website for the Blue Knights if you want to check it out and add your name as an alumnus. Keesler Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps
    ...
    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)
    Russian Sailor's Dance (Reinhold Gliere
    )

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Dawsonville, GA
    Posts
    19
    Oh cool! Yeah, I was there in 2000 at tech school to be an enlisted software engineer (3C0X2).

    I'll definitely check out the website!
    Trombone - Andreas Eastmann ETB432G
    Trombone - Buescher 410 Tenor (1926)
    Trumpet - John Packer JP251SW in Frosted Gold
    Euphonium - King 1129SP Marching Euphonium
    Euphonium - Wessex EP600 "Sinfonico"

  4. #4
    Hello Evan and welcome to the forum!

    Well, good for you!! There are many folks who have returned to their instruments, and many of them are on this forum. Not sure how many this particular past year, but I suspect some who have been home a lot more than usual. I play in a New Horizons Band (there are several of those in Georgia, but I don't think real close to where you are). Those groups were formed expressly to welcome back those who may have played in high school/college, but then put the horns away and had their life with marriage, family, careers, etc. And now with the kids gone, the career winding down, some of them are coming back to groups like the New Horizons Bands. And some senior adults are even learning an instrument for the first time, imagine that!

    So, good you are coming back. I hope the teeth/denture thing isn't too much of a problem. I have gone the implant route a few times with my lousy teeth. I want to be able to keep my mouth somewhat like it has been most of my life. But it is nice you have figured out a way to play. There is just nothing quite like being able to play an instrument, and it is even better when you can play with others. And the euphonium is a great instrument to be returning to, nothing finer IMHO.

    I see from another post that you have sprung for a Sinfonico. That is pretty exciting. That sure seems to be a great instrument, I played a prototype of that horn and it was nice.

    Enjoy the horn and good luck in finding a group(s) to play in.
    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)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Dawsonville, GA
    Posts
    19
    Thanks John, I appreciate the welcome.

    It's interesting to me how many people come back to playing after a long hiatus. It's something I never was able to really break my mind away from. I've been dragging my family to DCI Atlanta almost every year since we moved back to GA, along with ASO concerts, etc. I just really LOVE music and being a musician. Even in the intervening years I played guitar and bass (mostly the latter) in multiple bands. Nowadays those skills are put to work in church worship teams when I can find a gig. Again, that's a fun thing for me, never for money.

    The dentures ARE an obstacle, but they're not insurmountable. I find that if I leave them in for a few hours and they develop a nice "weld" to the roof of my mouth, I can play a lot more easily, even dropping my jaw for those lower notes. When I started playing back in July of last year, I was having issues even with stuff around 1st partial Bb. Now those aren't a problem anymore, because my embouchure is getting stronger again and I've started learning over time how to work around the issue. I'm sure the range will come back with practice.

    As for the Sinfonico, aye, my wife let me spend the money on it. It being our anniversary helped, and I agree it is exciting! As I've mentioned, I have a King 1129SP sitting here that is a joy and a half to play, and if the Sinfonico is even half as nice, I'll be happy.

    Again, thanks for the welcome, and I'm hopeful there are some band-director groups around that wouldn't mind a rank amateur coming in to play. I'm working on clawing back my sight-reading skills and instant-recall of scales/keys.
    Trombone - Andreas Eastmann ETB432G
    Trombone - Buescher 410 Tenor (1926)
    Trumpet - John Packer JP251SW in Frosted Gold
    Euphonium - King 1129SP Marching Euphonium
    Euphonium - Wessex EP600 "Sinfonico"

  6. #6
    Hello all!
    Welcome to the Forum Evan. It feels funny to be saying that, as I'm pretty new around here too. I also am just coming back to playing after over 20 years away. Divorce,relocating and relocating back again, got married again, got numerous medical issues , but sorting through them one by one. And as a kicker, I ,too, am an alumni of the Kessler Blue Knights from back in 1970. Was going there for tech school - Morse systems operator. I've only been playing again for the past 2 months, but have already decided to upgrade my horn, just purchased a new ACB Doubler today and joining a local Community band soon. I'll be attending an on-line Zoom rehearsal? on this coming Monday. They are scheduled for two concerts in the month of August after over a year of nothing. This covid has to go!
    Joe

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,425
    Wow, another alumnus of the Keesler Blue Knights!? Who would have thought that as it's pretty rare I believe. If you were there in '70 I suspect you also had to play the 'G' bugles. Not the greatest horns. Small world.

    In the mid '60s the 'Drum and Bugle corps' (the bugles got credit back then – not just 'drum corps') were preferred over the permanent party band. Kinda weird.
    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)
    Russian Sailor's Dance (Reinhold Gliere
    )

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Dawsonville, GA
    Posts
    19
    Wife and I are sitting here, and I saw your post, Joe. She's former USAF as well (we met at Airman Leadership School in '04) and we both think it's hilarious that there's ANOTHER former Keesler AFB person here. Small world and all that. Welcome back to playing an instrument to you, too! Hope you find the success and satisfaction you're looking for in performing, same as me.
    Trombone - Andreas Eastmann ETB432G
    Trombone - Buescher 410 Tenor (1926)
    Trumpet - John Packer JP251SW in Frosted Gold
    Euphonium - King 1129SP Marching Euphonium
    Euphonium - Wessex EP600 "Sinfonico"

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