CP's own stories - Bill Faust

My name is Bill Faust. As of this writing I'm 37 and started my comeback about 5 years ago, although it has really only been in the last two years that I have been able to make some real progress as a player.

Like many comeback amateur players, I started playing in grade school (age 12) and played throughout my middle school and high school career acheiving some level of success both within my own school band and in being selected for regional bands and other music festivals. In high school I also played semi-professionally in a rock band - mostly for weddings - and a small amusement park band. I took some occasional private lessons but not for very long and while I was somewhat serious I only put in the minimum effort necessary to get by. So while it was fairly easy to "stay on top" within my somewhat backwards high school music department, I began to see just how much better other players were when I participated in regional events that drew players from better schools. This is one reason I decided not to major in music - the competition seemed very stiff indeed.

In college I tried to keep playing during my freshman year but it became difficult to find practice time as I got more involved in my major of Industrial Design. My second year in college (I was about 19) I was offered a good price for my trumpet - a Bach Strad - so I sold it and didn't play again until I was about 32.

When I was around 30 my older brother bought me a vintage King cornet as a Christmas gift. I was very intrigued by it but saw it more as an artifact than a horn I would play. It played poorly (now I know that it was leaky) and so I just didn't think about it much. In the next couple of years I was asked to play at a few company parties in some pick-up bands and I would pull out the King and muddle by. But as soon as it was over I put it away. When I turned 32 I began to get more interested in the old King cornet from a historical perspective wondering if there were more old horns out there. Within a year I had found about a dozen vintage cornets and of course began playing these to see the differences between them. It was at this time that my wife and I decided to buy each other a "major" anniversary gift - she chose jewelry and I chose a modern cornet so I could learn to play again and really give my vintage horns a workout.

The next three years were full of stops and starts. I had my new horn and had dug out the Arbans books but children, work and a new house just kept getting in the way of making any sustained progress. Also, I wasn't in any groups or bands and so had no motivation or influence other than myself. I eventually joined a community band which was a very good step because it was kind of like being in a support group - most of the players were (or had been) in the same boat as me. And I had some motivation to practice - nothing like good old ego to step up the committment. For about a year I practiced on and off and made the band rehearsals when I could. But it was still spotty and while I had moved up to the next plateau in my skills, I still wasn't steadily moving forward.

The big leap came when I was invited to play in a small pit orchestra for a charity play. I knew this would be a huge challenge but I had a few months to prepare. So for about three months I practiced every day, even if only for a few minutes. It made a huge difference and pushed me up a couple of levels in endurance, technique, range etc. The gig went well (thank God the music was not too challenging) and immediately thereafter I joined a different community band that held practices on a night that was better for me and so I could make all the rehearsals. The music is challenging but not out of my reach. This year I did the pit orchestra again and while the book was much harder I feel I did a respectable job. And a few other small gigs have come my way.

But I have a long way to go. I feel like I have completed Phase 1 which I defined as becoming a better player than I was back in college. Now I'm beginning Phase 2 which I guess I would describe as becoming a serious amateur. But you can only take it one day at a time. This 5 year journey has taught me a few things that I'll share here but they're just my opinion and in no way should be construed as being right for everyone:

My practice routine is something like this (times vary with availability): Good luck

Bill Faust
Columbus, Ohio
bill_faust@fitch.com