A Little over a year ago I was randomly talking to my brother one evening, my brother is in a band (this is important). My mother had announced a few months before that she was getting married to my now step father. I am completely useless when it comes to thinking of gifts for people, and don’t expect a card from me, I should really sort this out.
Anyway, upon this conversation, my brother (Oly) and I were talking about the fact that his band were going to be playing at the wedding, in a slightly joking way, he said I should join them and play the trombone. Now, for those that don’t know, I played the trombone for around 6 months, when I was 9. I was now 28, I was never really very good at it then, partly due to not being able to afford a trombone of my own, and was therefore using a school one, which wasn’t the best, partly because the neighbours would complain the second I started practising, (lets face it, it’s not a quiet instrument!). but, nevertheless, I figured, why not. If I can’t play by the time the wedding comes, I’ll find something else, otherwise I had an excellent wedding present! So, I decided there and then to order a trombone, I now have the money to do this kinda stuff. I was still at my mothers when I ordered and the trombone arrived the next day at my office.
Great, I now have a trombone, not a cheap thing to buy on a whim, and I have little clue about how to play it, I know how to make a noise, but where the notes are, I have no idea! Then I remembered that while clearing my grand mothers house, there was 2 “Learning trombone” books, I dug them out and had a bit of a read, tried a few things, but I have no idea what it was sounding like on the other side of the horn. At this point I decided to search the internet for a tutor. I came across Kevin Shanklin, Sent him a message and arranged a meeting, from this point I had 1 lesson a week, at my office (after working hours). The reason for this was that I lived in a flat, and I’m pretty sure my neighbours would have been screaming! Kevin was a fantastic teacher. From the get-go, I explained what I wanted to achieve, This was not me learning how to play the trombone, but more me learning to play a few songs as best I can, in around 6 months. I had a list of 6 songs, of which I was going to play 3, We went through the songs, The Saxophone player from my brothers band created me some score sheets to follow, and Kevin & I went through the songs. We picked one song to learn, and then moved on to the next, by the end of the 3rd month, I was mostly confident that I could play a couple of songs relatively well.
Then my brother called me up, apparently half of his band (who were at university) wouldn’t be at the wedding, because they had to me in Amsterdam as part of their course, well, this spanner was more than an inconvenience, his Sax player, and drummer were both going to be out, that’s OK, he has a backup drummer, but no, he’s also going to be in Amsterdam! Thinking on his feet, he called up our father, who is also a drummer, explained the situation, and we now have a drummer for the evening, only, he knows none of the songs. This changed a lot of things, and some of the songs I had been learning were going to be dropped.
Along side this, I had never played with the band, there wasn’t much point in the early days. but with just over a month to go, I still hadn’t! I arranged to go down to the Isle of Wight for a weekend, spend some time with Da Band, and see how it goes, well, it went OK, and we agreed on 2 songs, one I had practised since day one, and another I had never played, we have 3 weeks until the wedding at this point. Most of the band were out in other places, not that that really made a difference, given that they weren’t going to be at the gig anyway, so it was just Oly on guitar, Bob on the trumpet and myself on the trombone. we spent the best part of a day just going through the one song I had never played and by the end of the day it was going OK.
So, 3 weeks to the wedding, 2 songs to learn as best I can, I decided I would now practice every night at home, and if the neighbours complain I’ll tell them why I’m doing it and hopefully they’ll go away. I made sure I stopped playing by 7:30PM, I knew one of my neighbours had a young child, I didn’t want to be responsible for waking him up!
Now at the wedding, my mother had absolutely no idea that I would be playing with The Ohmz, she did, however, know that my father would be on the drums, this one had to be told, really.
After the second song, my brother announced that I should come up and join them, they have a trombone and at some point I played it, we made some jokes about me not playing since I was 9, but hey I’ve had a couple of beers, let’s give it a shot.
As you can see, My mother was pretty shocked at this fact, and then we played after a few more jokes about me not being able to play, a few bum notes just to play to the jokes, why not. After this song, I left the stage explaining that’s all I knew, I let the band do their thing for the evening until the encore, when everyone shouted for more, as is only polite, Oly said he’d only play one more if I joined them. Again we made jokes about me only knowing the one song, and eventually got up and played the encore.
Had I played the songs with the band prior to actually getting up on stage and doing so, it could have been a lot better, if I had also been learning for more than 6 months, it could have been better. That said, it could have been a LOT worse!
Here’s a clip from the encore, I was nervous as hell, even after the beer (that probably didn’t help, either).