John took up the trombone in September 1999, about nine months after he retired. Our son Martin and his fiancée are long time members of the Chase High School Brass Band and had arranged a re-union concert in the August of 1999. John and Bronwen went along, just to support Martin and Christine really. However, John recalled being interested in playing the trombone when he first went to high school, but the one trombone that the school had had already been allocated, so a budding musical career was quickly extinguished in favour of a scientific career. John thought that learning to play the trombone might be a good post-retirment hobby, said as much to Martin and Christine and was immediately welcomed into the band and offered the loan of a school trombone.
John said "I'll give it until Christmas to see if I like it". Suffice to say that John was presented with his own new trombone, a Yamaha YSL354 tenor trombone for Christmas (see photo opposite) and started having lessons from a professional teacher in February 2000. The trombone is Yahama's "student" model and has ½" bore and an 8" diameter bell. It is finished in lacquered brass and has a light weight nickel-chrome slide.
My first music book was "A Tune a Day for the Trombone" by C. Paul Herfurth.
This book very cleverly gets you playing recognisable tunes pretty well straight away and each
lesson is devoted to learning just one new aspect. I decided with Stuart Blake, my music teacher,
that it would be a good idea structure my learning of both music theory and the trombone by following the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music syllabus of examinations.
I'm happy to report that I've passed three trombone exams; grade 3 (with distiction) in November 2000, grade 5 (with merit) in November 2001, and grade 6 (also with merit) in March 2004. I had to pass music theory at grade 5 level before taking the grade 6 exam. I took the grade 5 theory exam in March 2003 and managed an excellent pass with distinction.
I progressed pretty quickly at first and was able to play with the Chase High School Brass Band,
after a few months practice, in March 2000. More recently I've joined the Evesham Celebration
Reed and Brass Band. Both bands play to a similar standard but the Celebration band presents
somewhat more of a challenge because the trombone music can written in base clef, treble clef, or
even tenor clef. English brass band music is always written in treble clef.
(Click here to go to my music theory page and read more about treble clef versus base clef for a trombone).
I'm now settled in a routine of daily practice (technique & tunes), a weekly half-hour music lesson and two evenings-a-week rehearsals, one with the Chase Band and the other with the Evesham Celebration Band. So you can see this a major hobby of mine.
(April 2004 update) I've decided, for the time being at least, to rest on my laurels after passing my grade 6 exam, and have a break from regular lessons. I'm getting a lot of playing practice though with the two bands. I've even done a solo item -- "The Acrobat", with the Chase Band.
The next step in my trombone-playing hobby is to attend a brass band summer school that I've signed up for in July 2004. It will be a week long residential course to be held at the University of Swansea in South Wales. Click here for more details
Here's a list of some of the music books that I've bought. Some were required for the exam syllabus, others I've bought because I fancied the tunes or the exercises.
You can download a wave file of John's trombone playing.
Click here to select from a table of sound clips.