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Performance Tips

  1. False Tones in the Low Register

    We all know how brass instruments work, right? Without using any valves, our instruments are like a Boy Scout bugle - there are a bunch of relatively fixed notes available over the range of the horn (the partial series). We can bend each one a little flatter or sharper to match pitch with other players on the same note, but most of us can't bend as much as a half step dependably.

    While I was in high school I discovered an exception to that limitation. I learned that I could start on ...
  2. When Is a Breath Mark Not a Breath Mark?

    Sheet music is a symbolic language. If you're reading this I assume you are a musician, so therefore you know that when you see a solid black oval notehead with a straight line sticking up or down, that is a quarter note. You also know it is equivalent to two eight notes. That's a mathematical relationship that is fairly basic to music. Other notations are also clear. We see the # sign and know that it can change the pitch of a note (unless it is a courtesy reminder of what the note should be in ...
  3. Watch Where You Point that Thing

    At some point during my adult life I began to notice singers "working" the microphone. I may have first noticed this with Steve Lawrence, who was quite popular in my early adult life and was on television very often for a couple decades or so. He would employ a variety of microphone angles and placements, depending on the musical needs. If he wanted a deep, sullen sound, he would bring the mic in very close to his mouth. As the dynamics picked up, he would move it further away. There were also some ...
  4. Why Horn Responsiveness Is Important

    For a long time I thought that a euphonium's response was relatively down the list of important factors when choosing a horn. First was the sound. And I broke down sound into two necessities: 1) the sound had to be big and have good projection, and 2) the sound had to have a character that fit well into various styles and could be "bent" or "shaded" somewhat when necessary. And second on my overall list was clarity of sound during technical passages. No sense working hard to play some tough piece ...
  5. Free Your Mind to Interpret Music

    I recently listed to the preliminary round of the Falcone competition. As an adjudicator for the Euphonium Student players, I listened to several dozen recordings of Barat's Andante and Allegro. It's a nice piece for this type of audition. There are lots of opportunities for musical expression, many detailed markings for dynamics, tempo, and articulation, and some rousing moments in the Allegro that are an excellent indicator of a player's cleanness of technical execution.


    The ...
  6. Learning from Others - Comparisons

    I was browsing some of the videos on my Euphonium Videos page, and found an interesting contrast between performances of the same music by Lyndon Baglin, Adam Frey, and Steven Mead.


    Lyndon performs in a very traditional British style. Steven also shows a British style, but sounds quite different. And Adam plays with a mostly-American style, although one can hear the British influence in his sound. Because they are all playing the same arrangement (mostly), it is a great opportunity ...
  7. Learning to Sight Read Music

    The subject of sight reading is a popular one among euphonium players. Many euphoniumists would like to win a position in a military band someday, and such a feat would require excellent sight-reading skills. But how, you may ask, are such skills developed?


    We all know (or should know) how to practice exercises, etudes, ensemble parts, and solos. There is a fixed "universe" to master, at least at some level. There are X number of notes, dynamics, time signatures, etc. ...
  8. Transposing from Bass Clef to Treble Clef Euphonium

    I am often asked about methods for treble clef euphonium players to learn bass clef. For various reasons, that is the most common form. Those who originally learned euphonium in bass clef don't seem to require as much help learning treble.

    Many years ago I yearned to play trumpet. When it was time to start music lessons in school, that was my choice. So my dad found a friend who had a cornet for sale and purchased it for $10. Keeping in mind that this was not during the frontier days ...
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