The urge to play music with others is always in the back of my mind and something I strive to do more often. I finally gave our local community band a chance and joined up. It was a great experience and I truly enjoyed it but the year I chose to start could not have been worse.
Blast from the past
Band class was a great boost of confidence for me throughout middle and high school. I played trombone and was normally at the lead of my section or close to it. Progressing in my playing skill was so satisfying and its something that I haven’t forgotten about as I’ve gotten older.
Unfortunately I had to drop out of band during college. I gave it a shot but between commuting, working as much as possible, and failing grades, something had to give and band class was it. At that point I focused more on playing bass guitar, but I kept my trombone in hopes that I would either join band again in a future semester or play with friends on the weekends. Neither of those things happened.
Fast forward to 2019, almost 15 years without a rigorous practice schedule on trombone, and a coworker suggested that I should start practicing again and join the community band. I’ve always heard of it and watched them perform locally, but forgot about it over the years. So I told myself that I would get to a point where I could practice and perform with the community band in 2020, which needed more trombones.
Definition of community
Walking into the first practice was nerve wracking to say the least. I had lost my confidence as a player, even though I could still play decently and read music almost as well as I did in high school. My instrument was still in decent condition and I sat at 2nd chair, after seeing that 3rd chair was already taken and 1st chair was absent that day.
Even though it had been years since I’ve played with people, it felt like home and it wasn’t long before I was able to keep up with those around me. My sight reading was okay since I was used to playing with TAB videos on bass, but tricky rhythms on paper caught me off guard multiple times. I still had a lot of room to grow and playing with others of all different skill levels helped me fit in perfectly.
Looking around and seeing middle school students playing with people like our Tuba player who was in his 90s was a great experience. It was a small group, and our playing wasn’t going to win any awards, but at the end of the day everyone was there to perform their best and prepare for performances for the enjoyment of everyone.
If you haven’t heard by now, 2020 was a crazy year highlighted by Covid-19. Due to the local and state restrictions early in the year, band practice was cancelled. It definitely was not a safe time for the older members of the band and it was in everyone’s interest to stay clear of the band hall. After more information was discovered about Covid, this was clearly the best move.
As the year progresses, the first show was cancelled. Band practices were halted until further notice. All the way up to the point of cancelling the remainder of the 2020 schedule. All in the best interest of the band, but it really destroyed the motivation I had to play. The sheet music was returned and the community band would try to regroup again in 2021. I hope to be a part of it.
To better days
The person who motivated me to join asked me recently if I was still playing my horn. I said no and as of now it’s not in the cards. I’ve moved back to bass guitar but I do still intend on getting back into the community band.
My practice routine was almost daily, even if it was for 15 minutes, but progressing on bass guitar is keeping me satisfied enough these days. I’m hoping to utilize what I’m learning on bass to learn a bit of jazz on trombone. Understanding chords and scales a bit more on bass should transfer over easily to trombone.
When Covid lets up and the community band opens up again, I’m sure I’ll begin again on trombone and kick myself again for waiting so long to practice. I purchased a (cheap) tux for our performances and I still hope to put it to use one day. It’s just ironic to me that after years of putting it off and finally joining up, everything gets cancelled before the first performance. I was the only person stopping me from joining sooner and that’s something that I recognize now.