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Thread: 64 yo beginner Euphonium

  1. 64 yo beginner Euphonium

    I am 64 yo. I have been playing the Bb clarinet for many years. About four months ago, I started learning to play the euphonium. Absolutely beautiful instrument. I have been looking for my voice since I first took up clarinet when I was eight yo. The clarinet found me. My father bought a clarinet from a woman he worked with. I've also played flute, and cello (briefly). The woodwinds have their own appeal; however, I always wanted to learn to play the tuba. I didn't discovered the euphonium until my local music store only had a euphonium.

    I'm taking online lessons with a teacher in California (I live in Kentucky). I'm currently working my way through the Rubank series. I also have Arban. I spend many hours just wood shedding. I want to become proficient enough on the euphonium to play in a brass ensemble or solo.

    Am I too old to become proficient on it?
    Last edited by mmatisoff; 04-18-2021 at 09:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Too old? Nah. You already have music experience and (it sounds like) music in your heart!

    Roughly half the challenge is knowing what you want to come out the other end. There are some mechanics to deal with and a good teacher can help you with those. Keep an eye on using your body efficiently so you don't strain anything. As with other muscle building, you have to work the muscles enough to build them, so find the balance. Don't try to go too far too fast with your range or technique. Build a good center and then work it outward. Play some pretty melodies as part of your practice (the middle of the Arban book has 150 songs, and some are quite easy and quite worthwhile for musical satisfaction).

    One difference for brass is that we need to work on lip slurs (and other slurs, of course, too). A lip slur is slurring two notes that have the same fingering. Perhaps your instructor can point out some useful exercises for that.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by mmatisoff View Post
    I am 64 yo. I have been playing the Bb clarinet for many years. About four months ago, I started learning to play the euphonium. Absolutely beautiful instrument. I have been looking for my voice since I first took up clarinet when I was eight yo. The clarinet found me. My father bought a clarinet from a woman he worked with. I've also played flute, and cello (briefly). The woodwinds have their own appeal; however, I always wanted to learn to play the tuba. I didn't discovered the euphonium until my local music store only had a euphonium.

    I'm taking online lessons with a teacher in California (I live in Kentucky). I'm currently working my way through the Rubank series. I also have Arban. I spend many hours just wood shedding. I want to become proficient enough on the euphonium to play in a brass ensemble or solo.

    I am too old to become proficient on it?
    Definitely not too old. Assuming you are in reasonable health and most things are working!! I am involved in New Horizons Bands (many across the US and world), and there was a gentleman that started learning the clarinet (with no previous music experience) at the tender young age of 89 in this program. It is entirely possible. Dave's advice is right on target, not too fast, too high, too long, too soon. Build it slowly and find things within your technical level to play as you gain experience with the euphonium. Even simple melodies can be beautiful to play, and you bring your musical background to the table. After a period time, perhaps a few months even, you can and should explore what is available in your local neck of the woods. There may be community bands (you might need a minimum level of skill for these), and not knowing where you live, you might look into a New Horizons Band. There is a group in Lexington. And if you live near a state border, perhaps there are some in the adjoining state relatively nearby. Look up www.newhorizonsmusic.org for details.

    I picked up trombone in my mid to upper 40's (not quite 64) and did not find it hard. Admittedly, today I play trombone decently, but not nearly to the level I play euphonium. That is probably because of the school of thought that says you learn new things better, quicker, etc. when relatively young than when older, but that should never keep you from learning new things. I also never did or will put in the same amount of time on trombone as I do on euphonium. I play trombone well enough to be a principal player in one symphony and the bass trombonist in another. So go for it. No time like the present. And what a glorious instrument to learn, play and enjoy.

    Good luck!! What euphonium are you playing on?
    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
    I started in the Spring of 2019, because arthritis in my hands had made woodwinds impossible.

    I found an excellent teacher and started on a plastic euphonium (mistake) and joined a community band in May, playing all summer and easily playing as the oldest player in our local 2019 TubaChristmas.

    Everything shut down in March 2020, but by summer, our band was rehearsing outside and played 7 concerts during Summer 2020, and took 4 additional lessons, and began working on the Horovitz Euphonium Concerto (2nd mv’t, now adding 1st half of 1st mv’t.) got Covid, couldn’t resume my previous hour/day practice for 5 weeks. VERY FRUSTRATING. JUST YESTERDAY I did a whole hour practice, band is once again practicing outside, 1st concert on May 2 with 5 or 6 more following and, MOST IMPORTANT, my first lesson since November, scheduled for TOMORROW.

    My goal before my interruptions was to play in a local college wind ensemble this coming Fall, and my ultimate goal is to add a 3rd ensemble as my progress permits. I prefer ensemble playing, never aspired to solos. Just happens that I LOVE the Horovitz, so it’s wonderful to play it whether I’d ever have a chance to perform it or not.

    When I started this I set no limits, practiced an hour EVERY DAY (about 130 days straight) and decided I’d work hard and see how far I could go. I view any setbacks as temporary obstacles, and refuse to be stopped by them.

    If you are willing to ask if you are “too old”, maybe you are. I am more than a decade older than you are, and I definitely am not willing to question myself or why I’m doing what I’m doing.

    I told my teacher when I started that I didn’t want him to like me, I wanted him to TEACH ME. He does!

    Good Luck!

  5. I'm renting a Yamaha YEP-201.

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