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Thread: Removing water from horn

  1. #1
    Moderator RickF's Avatar
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    Removing water from horn

    This subject came up on another forum and thought it worthwhile discussing here.

    Why do some brass players insist on blowing loudly thru their horn when emptying the water/spit from their horn? This is really not necessary IMHO. In fact, blowing too hard actually pushes the water in a slide past the water key instead of allowing it to fall out. The euphonium/tuba/trumpet/Tbone is an open tube so there is no suction keeping the water in the horn. Just opening the spit valve or water key will allow most of the water out. Maybe a slight puff of air to help break any surface tension - but no loud pffft'g is necessary.

    There's one eupher in our section that insists on blowing real hard when emptying his horn of water. He just has to get every last drop of water out of his horn. What he's really hearing gurgling around in there is the water blowing PAST the water key. This past Saturday's concert with guest conductor Maestro Loras Schissel, this guy blew so hard during the director's talk to the audience that I saw 8 or 10 heads turn to see what the noise was all about. So what if you only get 98% of the water out. That last 2% will come out the next time you empty.

    Can you tell this bugs me?
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050
    YEP-641S
    Giddings & Webster Kadja or
    DE 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone... never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    From a 2012 concert, EL RELICARIO (Jose Padilla, arr. Longfield)

  2. #2

    Removing water from horn

    You raise a good point, Rick. I wonder how many of us have habits that are not necessary and are a distraction to those around us or to the audience.

    After I played a solo one time, a band member who had been in the audience that night (sidelined with an injury) mentioned that it looked kind of gross when I dumped out my slides in the middle of a solo. I had always taken the action for granted, but thought about it some anyway. Now when I play I try to limit that activity to the time between pieces. Seems like a reasonable effort to make. I still have to be careful to make sure the horn is clear before I start. If it's a very long piece, and/or if the hall is pretty cold (where there might be more condensation than usual), I might need to dump a slide or two in the middle of the piece, but I try to be discreet and turn away a bit.

    Has anyone else pondered that?
    Dave Werden
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
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    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  3. #3

    Removing water from horn

    Dave, Arthur Lehman gave me some tips recently on this very subject. He said that it is usually unecessary to empty the water out during a solo, it is more of a nervous habit to do it up front of the band. But I agree with you, that if necessary just turn your body and horn discreetly away from the audience and do it quickly. They probably won't see it. But I am not the fount of wisdom on this having not spent that much time in front of the band. Just seems like making a show of emptying "spit valves" is not a wise thing to do.

  4. #4
    Moderator RickF's Avatar
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    Removing water from horn

    I'm not in front of the band doing solo work very often either. Just these past 2 weeks though, I did that 3 times. I did discreetly open the water key as I turned to face the band while they were playing and I had a break (& hoping it didn't land on my shoes). I've watched Steve Mead, Riki McDonnell and Fred Dart play and that's what they seem to do. But if you're in front of the band for a long solo, I can see where one would have to empty their second slide... which has no water key.

    I did "Dein is mein ganzes Herz" (Yours is My Heart Alone) at our Mother's Day concert yesterday. We had no flutes for this concert. So for our "Stars & Stripes" finale, Fred Dart played the piccolo part on his euphonium. The crowd loved it.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050
    YEP-641S
    Giddings & Webster Kadja or
    DE 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone... never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    From a 2012 concert, EL RELICARIO (Jose Padilla, arr. Longfield)

  5. #5

    Removing water from horn

    I think it is kind-of a nervous habit, at least it was partly with me. It has been working out just fine to not do it during most pieces. The 2nd valve is the one that is most likely to be trouble. Sterling offers a 2nd valve water key as an option - maybe I should try that so I can be more "subtle" if I need to empty it. The reason I go for fewer water keys (I also didn't have one put on my 1st valve) is that the water partly drips on the horn and leaves spots!
    Dave Werden
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  6. #6

    Removing water from horn

    Hmm, I never thought about it too much. I know I had empty my slides during a performance but in most cases, it just needed to be done. Same with taking my mouthpiece off for a second and rub it against my sleeve to dry up my mouthpiece a bit.

    I made the mistake one time during a stop in a rehersal of blowing through my mouthpiece in order to get the water out. I got an interesting whistling sound which got a few chuckles and dirty looks from everybody. More often then not, holding the right valve down, I empty the slides by taking them out if I have water in the first or second valve slide. With the main tuning slide, I usually just take the slide out and empty it gently. In both my first valve slide and main tuning slide, emptying the slide works better then just pressing the water key. Ofcourse, you have to remember where you have slides positioned!

    I do believe there are times which you just have no choice but empty your slides but do it quietly without putting on a big show about it. If you have a girgling water sound, do something about it as its audible to your conductor and audience.

  7. #7
    Moderator RickF's Avatar
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    Removing water from horn

    I don't see any problem with emptying slides during a performance when seated in the band. For a long standing solo out in front of the band, it may be necessary to pull #2. When I'm seated, I pull slides #1 and #2 to empty also. But I'm always careful to lubricate them well enough ahead of time so that I can do this quietly and discreetly (#2 can clank if not careful). Since I sit up front, I don't want to distract from the program. What really bugs me though, is the hard blowing of air thru the horn that one of my section mates does to empty water from his horn. It would be better if he pulled a slide or two.

    BTW, I very seldom have to empty slides 3 or 4. (But both of these do have water in them after the horn has sat in the case overnight however.)

    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050
    YEP-641S
    Giddings & Webster Kadja or
    DE 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone... never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    From a 2012 concert, EL RELICARIO (Jose Padilla, arr. Longfield)

  8. #8

    Removing water from horn

    I disagree... albeit slightly,

    I've found that with trumpet it helps to blow through, especially with amado waterkeys because the change in pressure is usually enough to counteract the surface tension of the liquid inside the horn and their spit valves (lever type) don't generally open all that far... many not far enough to prevent surface tension from pulling on the cork and not merely dropping.

    For trumpets, I would advise blowing through, albeit not as loudly as trumpeters apparantly find the need to do.

    On tuba and euph, I tend to empty when I have long lengths of time without playing... with the ww's here, I spend alot of time watching them try to learn their parts in practice time.

  9. #9

    Removing water from horn

    hi everyone i have recently returned to euphonium playing after about an 8 year rest. I purchased a rather cheap no name brand from china that for now seams to be doing the job until i can afford the horn i want. my problem right now is that there seems to be an enormous amout of spit in my horn. i empty the two spit valves regularly during practice but onlyl two of the slides come out so i do empty them when i think i should. I guess my issue is when i played in high school i never remember being that much spit in my horn and i played a lot more then, than i have time to play now. I also seem to remember being able to remove all the slides. It was a yamaha yep 321 in high school. my problem is that i cant seem to remove a lot of the spit from my horn and it almost seems to be producing a gurgling sound even after i empty both the spit valves, remove the slides i can and about every hour i absolutely have to turn the horn upside down and as gross as it is pour the spit back out the leadpipe and even then it doesn't last long, and i cant play more than 20 minutes it seems withought the gurgling sound appearing. Is there anything i can do to help this. My girlfriend seems to think its because it is so cold in the house because we live in new hampshire and right now we have no heat. could this be it. I dont feel like i spit an awful lot more then i ever did when i played in high school so whats the deal. does anyone have the same problem. Or is there someone that can suggest a course of action to reduce the amount of spit in my horn.
    thank you all,
    holly

  10. #10
    Moderator RickF's Avatar
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    Removing water from horn

    Holly,

    Most of the water that collects in our horns is condensation -- not too much of it is saliva. Filling the horn with warm breath in a cold room will definitely produce more water. Have you ever noticed that when you take your horn out of the case the next day that it already has some water in it? That's condensation that has accumulated after putting it away warm in a cooler case.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050
    YEP-641S
    Giddings & Webster Kadja or
    DE 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone... never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    From a 2012 concert, EL RELICARIO (Jose Padilla, arr. Longfield)

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