Throughout my playing life I have played flugel, cornet and soprano cornet. Although these instruments are different to one another, they're all forward facing and the mouthpieces are relatively similar. Throughout all of my playing years I have always practised and aspired to play at the highest levels: for example, championship section banding and an Undergraduate and Masters Degree in music.
Despite this though, it soon became clear around the second year of my degree that I had a physical problem. I practised regularly and always warmed up and down slowly, however I could never maintain a consistent level of stamina, which often meant I struggled to play for longer than 20 minutes for periods of weeks, even months sometimes. As a busy player this started to have an effect on things such as my musical reputation, personal morale and love for playing as a whole. As much as I adored playing the instrument, I felt as though this was a barrier, despite years of trying to adapt, that I could not overcome.
The motivation for change came in May 2019 and the final performance I gave on cornet. During this performance, I struggled with stamina which seemed to come and go. Sometimes I would feel fresh and the playing would be great, and in the next breath I felt tired and strained. This was very upsetting as I wasn’t able to show all of the hard work I’d put in over four years at Uni.
With this, I was a cornet player no more! I decided to live up to a promise I’d made myself years before; I decided I would become a Euphonium player.
Now, many before me had succeeded with this move and had gone on to very good things but for me, my recent bad experience with fatigue as a cornet player meant I didn’t have much desire to be a brass player for much longer. Strangely, and now I realise wrongly too, I felt almost guilty and as though I was betraying who I was to become something different. I was openly deciding to leave top banding and to those who know me well, this was completely unheard of. This I feel was also a shock to those who for years had known me as a cornet player and could call on me to help them as such. I almost felt like I was betraying them and myself to do something different. The fact of the matter was though, I had to make a change or I would have stopped playing.
Happily, having been given the opportunity to play for London City Brass, I quickly discovered what I had been missing in banding for quite a while. Fun! Yes there was dodgy tuning, clipped notes, miss pitching and so on, but playing in the band meant my love and fascination with banding and playing in general was reborn. I am happy, willing and able to practice daily now, and to be consistent which is something that I always struggled with on cornet.
My message then, to all those who are considering changing instruments is this: do what makes you happy! It is worth a try and don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise. Most of all, nobody knows you better than yourself, and you know in yourself if something is achievable. So, be confident in your decision and own it. Changing instrument for me has regenerated my passion for all things brass and I will undoubtedly be playing Euphonium for many decades to come!