So why start playing the horn again after so many years? Well, now I’m retired from a really good marketing job that I had for 24 years and I’ve got time on my hands. I have always missed playing. I got married, got a job, had kids and got really busy. My marketing job took me around the world and back many times. Whenever I thought about playing again the realities of work and just life in general struck home. I just didn’t have the time. I would have been hard pressed to find an hour a week and that’s just not enough. Now I have the time to devote to the horn and really learn to play again. I’m committed. This will not be just dabbling at it. My goal is to play better than I did back in college and I was a pretty decent hornist even if I do say so myself.
I’m playing catch up with this blog so I have to rewind back about a year to get back to the first days of trying to play again.
May 2008: I’ve decided to start playing again. I haven’t played for about 35 years. My horn’s been in it’s case for about 20 years. I bought it back then for my daughter who wanted to play in band in junior high. Needless to say, that didn’t last long, the horn took a beating, and then my poor horn sat neglected. So the decision to start has been made and – ta da – I open the case and with great excitement pick up the horn. I’m wondering if I remember the fingering for a C major scale. Well, hopes are dashed because the valves barely move. I blow a few open notes, play (attempt is the better word) an arpeggio or two and put the horn back in the case and into the car to go off to the local music store. It takes a week before I get it back. Aaargh. Once I make a decision to do something I want to do it. Not wait. I use this time wisely by ordering some music books. One of the pieces I order is Strauss 1. What am I thinking? Is this hope or insanity? I haven’t played a note in decades.
Okay – the horn is now back and I try to play a scale. What were those fingerings? Hmm. I go grab one of those books and look at the fingering chart. What? No fingering chart? So I sound out a C major scale and figure out the fingering. I play the first etude in book 1 of The First Book of Practical Studies for Horn. I miss half of the notes if not more. It’s frustrating but the excitement of starting again outweighs the frustration. I try a few more times and it gets better but after about 15 minutes it starts to get worse again. My lip has had it for the day. I keep at it practicing every day for 15 to 20 minutes. It does get better.
June 2008: I’m playing simple etudes now and some easy pieces. Of course, as a beginner again, I have most of the usual problems that people talk about. Hardly any range. Very little endurance. Sometimes the tone is good. Sometimes I can play several measures in a row without clamming a note. (Fast forward to April 09 – same sentence applies. Only the music is a lot harder.) Then there’s the age thing. In June 08 I’m 56. Fingerings get confusing. More about age issues later.
My mother is a pretty well known musician and composer. She lives with me so I have a built in pianist to play with. We muddle through Shenandoah, the famous Andante Cantable in Tchaikovsky 5, Liebestraum in Rubank Soloist Folio (this is actually a good book to have because the parts are in both F and Eb to start learning transposition.) Fortunately she is very patient – well she is my mother after all. Even with all the bad notes, I’m having fun. Wow. Fun helps get past the bad notes. It keeps me going.