Bowes and Bounds Connected

A Community Network for Bowes Park and Bounds Green

It's all your fault, Bowes & Bounds Connected!   If I hadn't clicked on a post by Martin Stogden - who was shamelessly touting for complete beginners for the North London Brass - then I would still be curled up in front of the telly on Wednesday nights relishing the life of an OAP.

Instead, I have to get on a bus no matter what the weather and go to a church hall in Muswell Hill and try to get a note out of a strange instrument that seems determined to resist all my efforts!

Yes - I took the 'Nine Week Challenge' advertised on this very website.  That means -  Learn to play an instrument in just nine weeks and join the band....

I answered Martin's challenge by not intending to join myself, but just  wishing him a lorra lorra luck and mentioning that my dad had played in the Sally Army band when he was a teenager.  Big mistake!   Martin charmed me into signing up.  He even let me borrow a cornet - chosen by me because it wasn't heavy and would be easy to carry on the bus - and it was a bit different to a trumpet!

I turned up at a rehearsal and I was really,  really nervous.  I actually managed to get a note out of the darned thing!  Much to my surprise!   But when I looked down at this beautiful instrument, all shiny and so amazingly constructed - I fell in love...  

So I have been going since late August - I'm not very good, let's be honest.  But if you had told me that by the end of September I would have been playing 'Abide With Me' I would have laughed!  

Don't get me wrong - if you join up you get a few valuable lessons from professionals in the half hour before the main band turn up - then they encourage you to sit in with the band and have a go.  This is a really scary experience.  But at the same time, such a valuable one.  And it also shows just how generous and welcoming these musicians are to newbies like me.  No matter how many dud notes I squeak out - and there are many, believe me - you never get anything but encouragement, advice  and support.  

But you have to respect the conductor!  He is the Big Boss!  I got told off for being too 'casual' at band practice and crossing my legs!  I agree - professionalism is everything.

In the end, it is really down to you to get stuck in and learn and teach yourself.  Unless you can afford a few lessons of course.  I don't read music, and I have never played an instrument apart from a recorder.  So if you join up you have to be prepared to have lots of encouragement - but  not to be mollycoddled, and to be prepared to make the effort yourself.  You won't find it difficult - it is such an enriching experience.  You'll make some lovely friends as well.

Then again, don't beat yourself up if you are not consistently brilliant!   I am looking forward to being 'fairly competent' - I will never be brilliant - there isn't enough time. I'm nearly 70.  But I will be happy!

I didn't post about this before because I wanted to find out if I was going to stick it out.  Last week I bought my own cornet and gave my borrowed one back.  So I am now fully committed - not very good yet, but willing to give it a go


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Comment by Lindsey Clarke on October 19, 2013 at 8:43

How brilliant, Kathleen! Well done. Maybe you'll let us know if there's a local concert we can come to and see you play?

Comment by Kathleen Duffy on October 19, 2013 at 9:21

Hello Lindsey - Thanks for your nice comment.  I'm not quite ready to play in public just yet  - but I will post here when North London Brass are doing things in the area. They are very good. :)

Comment by Paul on October 20, 2013 at 14:46

It is great how much music is going on in the area at the moment.  I've been learning to play with the Fortismere Community Brass beginners band on a Friday night.  It has only been going for 2 months but there are 15 of us on a regular basis.  You should come down sometime - it is absolutely free and the coaches are really supportive.  

Maybe the two bands could do a workshop together sometime?

Comment by Kathleen Duffy on October 21, 2013 at 13:34

 That's a great idea - yes, there does seem to be a lot of music going on which is fabulous! About your band on Friday, but I don't want to spread myself too thinly, so I will stay 'loyal' to North London Brass!  :)

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