Sunday, February 27, 2011

Considering giving up playing the trumpet and cornet.

I am considering giving up brass playing and this article is a bit of "thinking aloud". I play the trumpet, cornet and a bit of french horn. The issue has been brought to the fore by the end of my commitment to my brass band. I had agreed to play with the band till March this year so with March coming round I have a free hand to decide what I am going to do. This may be a shock for some of my friends, but I did come close to giving up a few years ago and the reasons have not gone away:

  • My playing is inconsistent and I don't have enough time to practice to improve this. I do 15 to 30 minutes per day, but being in a flat I am restricted with what and when I can play. I find the state of my playing frustrating.
  • A lot of the playing I do is helping people out who are short of a trumpet. I don't get much out of doing these gigs other than feeling that I have helped someone. I get very little musical satisfaction from it. I have two of these gigs in the next month.
  • I am interested in producing a good sound and nice tone. This means I tend to play on equipment that is less easy to play accurately on. I have considered switching to smaller mouthpieces, but its not really me and I think my strength as a player is my sound.
  • None of the trumpet or cornet playing I do has any artistic flexibility. In my other musical activities I write arrangements, have a small audience for my work and have some influence in encouraging other people to try new things.
  • I will give up playing eventually. Everyone does. Going out while I am still playing reasonably well makes some sense.

The problem with all of this is that I have been playing since I was ten years old. If I stop playing there is no going back  (its like an athlete giving up running, I would never get back to the same level). I also went through a complete embouchure reset a few years ago which was incredibly hard work and I would not want to feel that I had wasted all that work. My music is also part of my social life.

Don't get me wrong. My trumpet playing is actually still pretty good. Given a couple of weeks notice I could bang out a decent performance of any of the baroque concertos or a cornet air varie. I am just not enjoying playing as much as I used to and any enjoyment is being outweighed by the work involved.

There is also the opportunity cost. I am getting frustrated that my other musical activities never get done because of the systematic daily practice I need to do on cornet.

I do need to think about this carefully before I make a decision, but in the mean time I need to think about what I am going to do with two band and two orchestral concerts in the next month or so.


  1. I was quite saddened to read this Gordon.

  2. Hello Gordon,

    I am not here to advise you on this particular dilemma that is perplexing you,as I believe that the salvation of YOUR soul and EVERYONE that should visit this blog is of infinite importance.Therefore I will continue to sound the clarion call of repentance and belief in the virgin birth,death and ressurection of the LORD JESUS CHRIST as LORD and SAVIOUR.
    I did try to post a comment on your article about popery or should I say the error of Roman Catholicism. However a message 'popped up' to say that 'comments weren't allowed' or indeed words to that effect.
    Anyway,it would appear that perhaps you have 'had enough' of playing the trumpet!


  3. Picked up my flute last summer for the first time in ten years. The "edge" that I had when I practised six hours a day is still not recoverd, but I've found I've effortlessly solved some fundamental problems that previously I could barely formulate. Pluses and minuses :)