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How fast do you lose/regain ground?


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I, somewhat inadvertently, took a break from the bassoon this summer. I hadn't played since the middle of June. I picked it up yesterday and omg...awful. Today though, I was appreciably better. Hopefully I will get most of my chops back by the time rehearsals start.

Which had me wondering how quickly ever one else loses and gains ground.

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Interesting question.


The older I get the harder it is to get back to some level of proficiency.  But when I was young I could recover in a few days.


One interesting thing that I found is that when playing a commercial tour with loud amplification over a period of several weeks-to a couple of months, even though I was playing every single day, when I got home it would take about two weeks to get back any semblance of good tone and intonation.  I complained about this to another player on the same tour and he said it took him a month.


So my conclusions are that everyone is a little different, and that just playing—without being able to really hear one's self—is not enough to maintain one's chops or improve.  We don't get better, or even maintain a given level, without being able to hear very well what we are doing.


Another thing I found was that playing in a symphony requires more maintenance (outside, careful practice) than playing in a chamber orchestra.  I was lucky to play in a good chamber orchestra for several summers and found I could actually improve my playing with little outside practice.  In a symphony, IMO, we can't hear ourselves well enough. I also believe that playing in a string quartet is just about the same as practicing alone.  The tolerances are about zero and you can hear yourself just fine.  

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I'm glad I'm not the only one!  I was much better on the bassoon yesterday...but still not back to my 'best'...


Hopefully if I keep at it I'll be okay for mid-September.  I hate honking during rehearsals.  It inevitably happens in a part where it's obviously me.  I can't blame it on the tuba...

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What is really missing in my ability to get back to normal is the pads of my fingers.  That can't be done in a week or two.


That subject might make an interesting thread, because there's—to my thinking—a fine line between a sufficient toughening and a callus.  I don't remember this being discussed before.

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