Relearning a Muscial Instrument: How?

Okay, this is probably a pretty simple problem, but I can’t figure out a satisfactory answer.
You see, I used to play several woodwinds (flutes, clarinets, and saxophones of various types).

For various reasons, I stopped many years ago, and I’ve been feeling guilty about it ever since.

My friend has a Buffet E11 clarinet for sale for $500 and he told me he’d hold it until I make a decision. I really want to start playing again, but I don’t know how.

I mean, I can certainly work on my scales, basic scores, tone, etc. But when I was younger, I would just join the marching band at school to get feedback and goals to work towards. Now I don’t know who I can play with.

I won’t be good enough just starting out for the youth orchestra in my area, but at my university, you have to start from the very basic classes and I know that will be boring. I don’t think I have money for a private tutor, and plus, I loved the feeling of being in a band. I don’t want to just play in my room and at the music store.

So, any ideas about what to do? Are there any equivalents of high school marching band in real life?

Or any stories of people learning/relearning musical instruments as an adult would be great! Thanks.

I’ve had the same dream… I played the trumpet, and was fairly good at it. But I moved to an urban area, where one can’t play a loud instrument. (Tell that to my neighbor kid, who practices the bagpipes!) I’ve always wished to pick it up again…

My gut feeling is that you’ll have to start all over again from scratch – and that parts of the re-learning experience will be faster and/or easier than it was originally – but that parts won’t be. There will (I believe) be some really heavy frustration, right along with the elation. You’ll want to jump right in where you left off, and I don’t think that can be.

Are you prepared to invest the time, hard work, and mind-numbingly boring practice? Can you stand playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” over and over and over, until you get good enough to let fly with some Charlie Parker or Mozart or whatever?

But… Follow your dream! If it’s what you want, man, go for it!

ETA: maybe a compromise? Buy a cheap instrument, a “practice” instrument, and test yourself on it without investing a whole bunch of money?

Don’t most music shops have student rental programs? Renting a student model clarinet for a couple of months would probably be cheaper then spending $500 on an instrument that you might not re-click with.

Honestly, I think a few private lessons would be a good place to start off–I understand not wanting to commit to a lifetime of private lessons, but a few lessons would give you an expert to give you tips and feedback.

In the category of Marching Bands for Grown-ups who have Lives but still want to march in parades, there’s this one which is more than slightly insane.

There are also often Community Bands or Orchestras, which accept varying degrees of all comers to play with them.

Exactly. It’s hard to imagine NOT finding something like this in your area. When I was interested in starting again, I chose recorder since I liked the sound and wasn’t concerned about the lack of ‘expression’, I guess you’d call it with a fixed reed instrument. In fact, at the time I considered that an attractive aspect of the recorder. It turned out that there was an active medieval music group in my area that had recorder players of all levels.

While I wouldn’t expect you to find something that specialized outside of metropolitan areas like NY-NJ, I’m sure that there are local groups much like this all across the country.

You are asking how to reacquire a habit. So - how do you most successfully acquire habits?

I have played guitar habitually for decades - but: I have been afraid of jazz. It has seemed unavailable to me. For a variety of reasons, I am changing that and have dipped a toe into jazz.

Right now, I am setting up grooves - sequences or single notes or chords in a clear circular hook. Three chords - jazz chords. If I can get a swing to it, I get more credible-sounding.

How can you make revisiting winds musically fun? In a way that gets your muscle memory reps in?

Sorry, I didn’t mean to give the wrong impression. I’m not really asking for how to pick up the habit of relearning.
I have a fair few self-taught hobbies, so I’m pretty familiar with the process.

My main thing is that before, when I was in school, I could get feeback from a teacher. If I’m here studying music alone, I have nobody to tell me if my embochure is a little off, or if I need to tune better, or what. I think a musical instrument is one of the few hobbies I haven’t found a way to be fully self-taught at.

I’ve never heard of community bands. I’ll check them out. And perhaps I should sign up for some private lessons.
As you point out, I can always ‘graduate’ to more fun things later once I have the basics down.

I appreciate all the advice and experiences.

(Also, I notice that a lot of SDMB members are in the Saint Louis area. So if you participate in a community band/offer clarinet lessons/have any other relevant information, feel free to PM me. Of course I’ll also be searching myself.)

There are several community bands where I live, an extremely medium city but with a large state university. That may have something to do with it. Paging TubaDiva! She has been with a funky marching band for years I think.

Also, I’m marching this over to Cafe Society from IMHO.

Sounds like you should seek out lessons and jams/get togethers, as you are doing here. I bet there are plenty in your area. Whenever I choose to look in my area, there are always folks who want to play music.