BANDMASTER Harry John will relinquish his 25-year reign of Horsham Brass Band.
The Dimboola man, 84, will step down as soon as the band finds a replacement.
"I just need a break," Mr John said.
"I've been conducting and teaching as far back as I can remember."
He was a bandmaster and teacher of several Melbourne bands before he moved to Dimboola to retire.
"When I came up here, the Horsham band needed somebody," Mr John said.
"I haven't had a chance to retire yet."
Mr John said he would continue to be involved with the band.
"As long as I can breathe out I'll keep playing," he said.
But he intends to scale back on all his commitments, including at least five service clubs.
"My health is not as good as it used to be - I've got a bit of a problem and I want to spend the time I've got doing the things I want to do," Mr John said.
"I've got great-grandchildren I've never seen, all over Australia, and I want to go see them."
Mr John joined his first band as a primary school student.
"We had a brass band in the school I went to in Mordialloc, and I learned there," he said.
"Brass bands have always been a teaching organisation - you can learn to play music by joining one."
His first instrument was a cornet.
Mr John can play 23 instruments, ranging from woodwind varieties such as saxophone to string instruments like banjo and cello.
He has lost count of the number of people he has taught music over the years.
"That will be the big wrench, giving up teaching the kids," he said.
Modern music differs dramatically from what he listened to when he first started playing.
"When I was learning all the music you heard on the radio and elsewhere was melodic - that just doesn't appear on the radio anymore," he said.
But he said people's desire to learn was still there.
Horsham Brass Band president Chris Johnson said it was sad to see Mr John retire.
"His knowledge and skills have been keeping this band together for many years," he said.
"The band members have been aware for some time that Harry will no longer be able to continue.
"There is now an opportunity for someone with the skills to take the baton and give the band a new direction."
Mr Johnson said the ideal replacement would have a brass background, a music teaching qualification and strong networking abilities.
He said interested applicants could call him on 0415 835 280 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.