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Performance Tips

  1. Listen to the Angel and Devil on Your Shoulders

    When I was growing up I used to love Looney Toons cartoons. One of the visual themes that was used in various ways was a person with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The two mini characters would try to convince the main character to do something bad or something good. That was an effective tool for the stories, and its use dates back millennia (in somewhat different forms!). An early Disney Pluto cartoon used it as well. It continues to be useful to today's audiences, as shown ...
  2. Starter Pieces for Euphonium-Tuba Quartet

    I was just asked for a list of pieces suitable for an amateur quartet. The particular question in this case was about using them at an OcTubaFest, but these suggestions should work for several situations. Note that all are available as printed music or immediate download.

    The title of this post mentions "Starter" but these are not for raw beginners. I'm referring to tunes to help get your group's repertoire started, although I have tried to stay within a fairly easy realm. If you can ...
  3. The Basics: Scales and Arpeggios

    Would you like to be able to sight read better? Would you like to be able to improve your technique? Would you like to relax more when playing music so you can focus on the music instead of the notes? Then keep reading!

    I have always emphasized that students and advanced players should be doing scales and arpeggios every day. You should know them well enough to incorporate them in your practice without needing music in front of you. That step may take a while, but it is not too difficult
    ...
  4. Concert Polka - Special Cadenza - Free Download

    I've had several questions about my cadenza in my solo of Concert Polka. On YouTube the video I posted of this solo features a different cadenza from what is written. It has a couple non-standard techniques. The simpler of the two is simply a "messy gliss" (like a French horn section often does in dramatic passages, where their upward slur is not clean, but rather includes all the partials along the way). The second one is simple enough if you have a decent lip trill ability, but it will test your ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Files
  5. Video: When Is an Easy Piece Hard?

    One would ordinarily think a piece in 4/4, named "Romance," marked "Moderato," where the quickest rhythm is in a few dotted-eighth/sixteenth figures would be pretty easy, right? Well, OK, it's in A concert, but that is one of the standard scales taught in school and used in high school band pieces (sometimes, anyway).

    There are two harder things about this piece. One is the upper range, which goes to a high C# concert (D# treble). That's a bit tough. But I find the hardest facet by ...
  6. Video: Exploring Double-Bell Techniques, Part 2 - the Yodel

    As I mentioned in my previous post, it is sometimes hard to imagine what the double-bell euphonium might be used for today if it had remained more popular throughout the the 20th Century. Here is my next experiment, getting a yodel effect. For this, I chose a fairly simple song from The Sound of Music, "The Lonely Goatherd." This also scratches another itch - to do more with Broadway and movie music.

    I have my eyes on another more complex example, but it will be while before I get to ...
  7. Video: Exploring Double-Bell Techniques with Gershwin's It Ain't Necessarily So

    I often wonder what the original double-bell euphonium artists did in the early 1900's. I read that they used the little bell for echo effects, and one would assume they would alternate between the bells per phrase or even per note. But I think if the instrument had gained mainstream popularity and kept it through the 20th century, new techniques would have evolved.

    I'm going to offer a couple different double-bell techniques in this video, plus two rarely-used conventional techniques. ...
  8. Listening to Recordings of Your Own Playing

    Have you ever met musicians who refuse to listen to their own recordings? I have... many times. They literally don't know what they are missing. On the other hand I have met players who are a little too enthralled with their own recordings. They also don't know what they are missing! Do you fit in either of those camps? Either one is actually understandable, but there are more useful ways to listen to your own recordings.

    Let me set some conditions before discussing this further. First, ...
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