Everything we do on the tuba and euphonium is predicated upon a free flowing air stream. I am an advocate of breathing exercises to facilitate tone production and musicality. However, it is worthwhile to consider a few ancillary factors that could impede your air flow.
Hear the music. If you don’t have an aural concept of the music you cannot replicate it on your instrument. Listen to recordings. Sing!
Control the pitches and rhythm. Have you ever sight-read and found yourself staring at an unfamiliar rhythm? In that moment, was your air freely flowing or was it restricted? The same sensation can be the result of unfamiliarity with pitches and fingerings. I’ll call this phenomenon “countis interuptis.” How does this impact your ability to employ a free-flowing air stream? Hesitation with rhythms and pitches can lead to hiccups in the air stream and create tension. This is why it is crucial to practice at slow tempi where you can execute the phrase comfortably! Slow practice is an effective way to learn pitches and rhythms. More importantly, slow practice cultivates relaxation and allows the musician to reinforce the proper fundamentals of breath support.
Control the tempo. Tempo control is vital in slower and lyrical literature. Find a happy medium where musical expression feels natural.
Plan your breaths. Even the obvious ones. Don’t assume. If you breathe too soon it may compound physical tension AND interrupt the musical phrase. And worse yet, you probably didn’t inhale any wind. If you wait too long to breathe, its placement may not coincide with the phrase. In doing so, you probably struggled, gasped for air, and compounded the tension even further.
In summary, hear the music, sing, practice slowly, and plan your tempi and phrasing. This will foster relaxation which will in turn allow for an uninterrupted flow of wind.
I am pleased to have the privilege of performing at the 2017 Tuba/Euphonium Workshop on February 4th at 12:15 pm. Here are two videos from my performance.
Thank you to everyone associated with "Pershing's Own" for continuing with the wonderful event!
My Daily Routines Survey is now published in the Fall 2016 edition of the Journal for the International Tuba Euphonium Association! UPDATE: results are now posted.
In the meantime I would like to thank Ben Pierce, ITEA Journal Editor, and Scott Lewis, Art Director, for their assistance with the article. Also, thank you to the 187 participants! The project would not have been possible without your contribution.
Happy New Year!
Georg e Palton
It is equally challenging as it is rewarding to perform transcriptions on the tuba. However, there are a few considerations that should be taken into account as you familiarize yourself with the piece. Here are a few:
Recorded on November 7, 2016 with Mary Beth Norman, piano
When I first began to study music I was shocked by all of the expenses involved! Instruments, mouthpieces, sheet music, repairs, recordings, travel…it can add up very quickly! Here are a few tips to save money along the way. When in doubt, always consult a professional.
The arrival of football, marching band, and pumpkin spiced everything means that winter is around the corner. With that in mind, I would like to discuss a sensitive subject for all brass players, lip care.
First, it is important to stay hydrated! In fact, dehydration is one of the most common causes of dry or chapped lips. Next, it is important to frequently apply the lip balm of your choice. I prefer Blistex Medicated Lip Balm. I find it helpful to apply it throughout the day and generously prior to bedtime.
Thank you to everyone who participated in and shared my Daily Routines Survey. The response has been amazing! We have nearly four times the number of participants from the 2004 survey with responses from all around the world.
I am currently compiling the information to publish on this site and through the Journal for the International Tuba Euphonium Association. I will have more information shortly.
Let’s face it, cleaning a tuba is not a simple task. Yet regular maintenance is necessary in order to have a freely blowing instrument and to avoid sluggish valves. With that in mind I recently purchased the Quick Horn Rinse to see if it would make bathing a tuba any easier.
It is simple to use and can connect to water in a variety of ways. I used an adapter to connect it to a standard shower hose. Further use will better evaluate its durability but my first impression is that it is well constructed.
I followed the directions as instructed and it was indeed easier than soaking and scrubbing a tuba in the bathtub. I also believe it is more thorough because the Quick Horn Rinse allows flowing soap and water to reach places that snakes and brushes may not. However, it does not replace regular chemical cleaning or scrubbing out your valve sections with a brush.
The instructions indicate that the valves and slides should be removed, wiped clean, lubricated, and resembled after using the Quick Horn Rinse. Before reassembly, I chose to dissemble the instrument completely, rinse again, and then to allow the tuba to air out overnight. Admittedly, this created additional steps to the process. That notwithstanding, cleaning a tuba is never a “quick” endeavor. But with this product it was a little faster and much easier. Most importantly it was more thorough. I recommend it for low brass musicians and music educators.