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Thread: A Question from a Returning Musician

  1. A Question from a Returning Musician

    I have recently returned to playing music. After a high school career on the trombone/bass trombone (with a bit of tuba) and a college / alumni band career on the french horn, (with a term of tuba). I bought a ISO euphonium in January, and have begun playing again. I have always loved the sound of the euphonium, and that's why I chose that rather than return to one of my other instruments.

    On the euphonium, I have some intonation and range issues--anything above the D and below the low Bb (bass cleff) is horribly out of tune, and difficult to obtain. The upper range is improving with some tips I've gathered on this forum (thanks, Keith Barton and Sue Tuba) but the low stuff is abysmal. I don't know if this is an instrument issue, a mouthpiece issue, or a musician issue. I've got a b-day request in for an electric tuner to help with locating pitch, since I don't have much ear for that.

    I have joined a New Horizons community band (roughly a junior high level group of musicians who are all over age 40). They have no tuba, and I have played tuba a smattering. The conductor REALLY wants a tuba player, and there are already two euphonium players. There is no tuba for me to take and practice on. One of my burning goals was to join a community band and play in the annual Christmas Tuba Concert.

    I guess the questions I have are:
    What kind of time frame should I give myself to expand the range on my euphonium, and what types of fiddling could I do with mouthpieces and such to try and address the range and intonation issues?

    Should I see if I can lay hands on a tuba to play in the community band, or just tell the director that I'm not really a tuba player?

    Thanks in advance for the input!

  2. A Question from a Returning Musician

    Well, first, which instrument to do you want to play? In my community band, tuba players are GOLD, we never have enough. Sometimes none! Bad playing with no tuba. No bottom. But if you want to play the euphonium, go for it, because it's the best sound in the band. But tuba players can make some cash on the side. Its a real conundrum.

    Low notes: RELAX. Do not blow hard. In fact, you need very little air to play low. Or high, really. I'm working on that myself - How little air does it take to play.

    As for mouthpieces; recall that Harold Brasch played with the mouth piece that came with his horn. I think there is too much discussion about which mouth piece is best. Find one you like and stick with it. Schilke 51D seems to be an all round favorite. Every horn and mouth piece combination is different for everyone. If you played Little Arthur with this big Lehman mouthpiece I use, you would have different problems and success. Lots also has to do with you, your mouth, your lips, your oral and throat cavities, how well you open your throat, how much air you have. Like a fingerprint, no two are a like, compared to euphonium players.

    That's my opinion and I'm sticking with it.
    Glad you picked the horn back up.
    Keith
    p.s. Dave has answered just about any question you could possibly have right here on the forum. He has learned from the other pros. like Brasch and Lehman. Best source of information here is Dave.

  3. A Question from a Returning Musician

    it pains me to say this, as I am a tuba player, but don't play the tuba to please a conductor! Play the euphonium - this line is the dead giveaway:

    I have always loved the sound of the euphonium, and that's why I chose that rather than return to one of my other instruments.

    I've taught for many years, including many adults of all standards, and I think that progress is so much easier when you love the sound of the instrument.
    If you take up the tuba, your satisfaction on it may be dependent on the conductor's approval, whereas your own love of the euphonium will provide sufficient satisfaction to motivate.

    However, I must admit I was 'forced' onto the tuba as a teenager, as a temporary measure to help the band, with a promise of a euphonium later. When later came around, I had learned to love the tuba so much I stuck with it. ( Silly girl!)

    Range comes with time in my opinion. Do an hour to an hour and a half a day, and range will come. A Wick 4AL mouthpiece is comfortable, gives a good sound, and helps me in the upper register ( and as a tubist fiddling with euphonium, I almost need a ladder to get up to the upper reaches of the euphonium)

    Keep us posted on your progress!
    Sue

  4. A Question from a Returning Musician

    "But tuba players can make some cash on the side. Its a real conumdrum. "
    Where do I go to make this cash on the side????!!!!
    I wish it were so where I live!
    Sue

  5. A Question from a Returning Musician

    I would agree with suetuba. You need to find a mouthpiece (I play on a SM4B, close to a 4AL). You may find the SM5 a little more forgiving if you are not practicing everyday. Its a little smaller on the mouth to help the high range (for thoes of us who dont practice everyday) and then the mouthpiece gets larger inside the cup to give some realy nice low notes.

    In my experience, the fastest you will be able to add notes to the high range is one harmonic a month. Example: you can play a D, so work on Eb, E, F. Then you will work on Gb (2+3 or 1st), G (try 1+2 or just 2nd), Ab (open). Then, the Ab(1st valve), A, Bb. This is the end of the one a month. You might get a B, C in a month, you might not. This is assuming you are working on your high and your low registers at every practice and that you practice for more than 45 min at a time.

    There are loads of routines you can try, my favorite is to play Hymns, first below the staff, then up an octave, then up again until I cant go no more. Then I end with that lowest octave. The second Art Lehman book has some other wonderful suggestions.

  6. A Question from a Returning Musician

    OK, survived the third rehearsal, my second playing the tuba. I have noticed that I spend about half of my practice time on tuba parts (playing my euph) and then half the time on my euph studies. Upside is that I've increased my practice time quite a bit. Downside is that in my opinion, as a tuba player I make a good euphonium player.

    I have a devil of a time hearing the notes I want to hit, and spend way too much time hunting for the partial that I want (C?? Ab?? Eb??). I also do not have nearly enough wind to put through. Must work on the breathing, and certainly some aerobic conditioning as well. Currently, I don't have a tuba to practice on. I am going to contact some local guys and see if someone has an old BBb to loan (or rent cheap). I don't see myself buying a tuba, since I really want a new euph, and don't have the finances for both.

    My euph range is improving, thanks to some of the suggestions y'all have given me. Now, if there are any about tuba...as you might guess, my upper range is solid, but my low isn't too good, albeit better than on the euph to start with.

    Thanks,
    Ally

  7. A Question from a Returning Musician

    Just an update here.

    I have taken the plunge into playing the tuba. One of my personality quirks is that I like to do something that no one else does, and I like to fill a need. That said, I am loving playing the tuba. My euph was getting all of my practice time until last Wednesday...when the tuba I bought arrived.

    I got a 3/4 bell front BBb York Master which is probably older than I am. I bought it from a VA Tech student who graduated this year, and had posted his 2nd tuba for sale on the Tubenet forum. It arrived in time for the New Horizons band day that we had yesterday (5 New Horizons bands plus the host community band). What a time!

    After networking with the other (8!) tuba players, I got some references for area tuba instructors, so that I can start some lessons.

    It was interesting to note (pun intended!) that of those 5 NH bands, the two that were the smallest and less polished (Eugene and Corvallis) were the two that have numerous active community bands in their areas with relatively low population. Tacoma/Olympia, Vancouver and Bend were bigger and better than us, and fun to listen to. I really enjoyed the "mass band" pieces. First time ever I've played in a group larger than 70.

    Ally

  8. A Question from a Returning Musician

    lol u can make money on tuba playing some umpah at a german bar wearing shorts

  9. A Question from a Returning Musician

    Nope. That is a felony in several states, not to mention getting on the wrong side of the fashion police! I have added a borrowed sousaphone to my stable, and am discovering that marching with a sousaphone is quite the aerobic workout!

  10. A Question from a Returning Musician

    Another update:

    I played in my first local "Tuba Carol Christmas" last weekend. It is the oldest tuba caroling event in the Pacific Northwest in its 29th year. It was not a TubaChristmas (TM) as we played tunes arranged by David Grosvenor, Jeff Turay, and a fellow named Dave Werden. Next stop is the Salem, OR TubaChristmas on Christmas Eve. I have also joined a small jazz/dixieland group, playing my borrowed sousaphone for them. (No leiderhosen(sp) for me, a vest and straw hat stays on the right side of the fashion police!)

    My range, breath control, and intonation have improved dramatically, mostly thanks to the information posted on this web site. I believe that Santa is bringing me some tuba lessons for Christmas this year. I believe that I was incredibly lucky in that the horn that I bought, untried, unseen, has been a perfect fit for me.

    All in all, it has been a fun year, getting back into playing music, playing in a band, playing in an ensamble, and dabbling at arranging some tunes. And in my other life, I will hit 20 years as a street cop on Christmas night. Fun times!

    Ally

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