4: Learning to Learn again


I used to have weekly lessons for about 6 years, as a teenager, with Stantonbury Music School and had a couple of music teachers in that time.

They both taught me great technique and gave me the grounding to play well. They would take me through rhythms, speeds of music, ways of playing, tonguing and fingerings; scales and grading pieces. They would teach me how to play each part of the piece of music I was studying and would support me on the piano or on their instrument (usually a French Horn (!) or Baritone).

Full support you may say – and there was only a week between lessons so if I had problems I could ask. I probably didn’t do any where near as much practice when I was young as I should have, but it was still great having the support and teaching there.

But now what… I have to re-learn the tenor horn in a different way now, and as I do not have a music teacher the other ways need to work. So far it has gravitated toward three specific ways:

Observing: Monkey see monkey do!! – Or more like monkey thinks he’s playing the right notes in the right order with the right rhythm, and then I get informed if it’s correct or if it’s not at rehearsal.

Listening: to information given in rehearsals: even if not directed at me or the other horns is helpful; definitely listening to information if directed at me; and then taking all of it on-board to positively impact learning. Playing as a second player on a part has also immensely helped with rhythms; pitching; and entries and listening to others in the band that are also playing the same tune in the other sections and learning from them.

Questioning: “There is no such thing as a silly question, only a silly answer” (I hate clichés) I have found that asking a lot of questions has greatly helped – sorry that most of them are to the same person (he must be getting so bored of the “how do I…” questions) and it is well worth keeping in mind that any and all information helps learning.

I have also found that listening to music being played by top Brass Bands such
as Black Dyke; Brighouse and Rastrick; Grimethorpe Colliery or recordings of MK Brass in contest and concert, have greatly helped me. I am trying to spot which section(s) are playing and when; playing styles; contrasts; and musical dynamics. This adds to my learning and understanding of music and playing in a band. What are the bands, sections and individual players trying to do and how are they doing it?

It also gets you listening to better musicians and that can only help…

”Come on PH blow!!”

[PH]