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Thread: Tilting the instrument...

  1. Tilting the instrument...

    I always struggled to play some fast below staff concert B's (C#, 2-4), concert C's (D, 4) and concert Db's (Eb, 2-3). I do not know why, but it seems that I have a tremendous amount of backpressure in that region, making double and triple tongued sixteenth notes nearly impossible. However, my experience is that when I tilt the euphonium a little bit (the bottom of the instrument away from my body), this problem is cured.

    On the other hand, the tilting decreases the quality of the sound of these notes seriously as they do not sound as full and rich as playing them slower in a normal position. But my idea is: better a tiny note than no note at all.

    So my question is: is this a bad habit I am developing, or is it common practice to tilt the instrument to improve your play?




  2. Tilting the instrument...

    Does this happen with all lower range notes (i.e. concert Bb, A, etc.) as well?

    If so, when you tilt the horn outward as you mentioned, it's possible that you are decreasing pressure on the lower lip, allowing it to vibrate more freely and therefore produce more sound.

    I had a lesson with Demondrae Thurman in which he said I was doing essentially the same thing (choking off the lower lip with too much mouthpiece pressure), as I play with a high mouthpiece placement with only a little lower lip. He actually suggested that I go to a wider diameter mouthpiece and/or try lowering my placement to include more of the lower lip.

    However, if you can play a strong concert Bb and only have problems with the concert B, C, etc., then it could be that you are just more sensitive to the increased back pressure due to more valves being pressed down.



    That being said, I am a firm believer in the philosophy popularized by Sam Burtis: try everything, use what works. Try pushing more air for the problem notes to get them to speak and play long tones on them to get acclimated to the stuffiness, then experiment with other possible solutions.



    As always, YMMV



    Good luck!

    JACE VICKERS, DMA
    Assistant Director of Bands
    Assistant Professor of Low Brass
    East Central University

  3. Tilting the instrument...

    Thanks for the advice JVickers!

    The funny thing is that in the 15 years I played euphonium before my layoff (which took 10 years I must admit...), I never had problems with these notes. It started when I picked up my instrument again last year, although I play free, fast, dynamically and reasonably accurate (at least in my better days ) in the higher and lower register (say Arban 3 pieces are doable in 3rd gear, therefore my frustration with these 'simple' notes!).

    I already replaced my standard but small Besson mp by a decent DW 5AL some months ago, so maybe it will take some time to get my hands on those notes as well.

    Vincit qui in labore persistit!


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