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Thread: Polka Dots and Moonbeams - A Nice, Easy Euph Solo to Work Up

  1. #1

    Polka Dots and Moonbeams - A Nice, Easy Euph Solo to Work Up

    My wife's cousin is a talented pianist and accompanist. I was talking with her last week, and mentioned that I was teaching myself the euphonium. As is typical for her, she said, "Cool! Let's play something together at the next family gathering." Uh-oh. Now, I'm in for it. I'm not feeling ready yet for really playing for any audience, but she's very persuasive.

    She's got tons of music, so we started looking at it. I ran across one of my favorite songs, "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," an old Sinatra hit that has been played by almost everyone and is familiar to most people. It's in F. Good key for a beginning euph player, too. I looked at the vocal part, which was in treble clef and said, "How about this?" It's ideal for a baritone/tenor voice, so it's a perfect fit for the euph's center range.

    So, now I've transcribed the part into bass clef and am learning it. It lies very easy on the euphonium, has a little chromatic stuff in the bridge and an easy, laid-back sort of tempo. The range, just an octave and a half, isn't large, and there's plenty of room for a bit of improvisation. It's about a month until the family gathering, so it'll be ready. Those gatherings always end up around the piano, and lots of my wife's relatives are good amateur musicians of one sort or another, so this should be fun. My pianist cousin-in-law's husband is a semi-pro cornet player, so he'll probably join me on the piece.

    I'm excited. I finally have somewhere to play and something fun to work up. It's not a big deal, but it's a good goal for me.
    3-valve Blessing B-350 Euphonium

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Garcky View Post
    It's not a big deal, but it's a good goal for me.
    Maybe not a big deal in some ways, but it is a GREAT thing to do! I think brass players should do more stuff like this. First, people like to hear it. Second, it's a good as having a few lessons if you really listen to Frank (or whoever) sing and try to get a similar style. Where and how does he bend rhythms (more than just swinging eighth notes)? What words does he emphasize? And pay attention to the difference between word separation and syllable connection, and the difference between hard-sound syllable beginnings and soft-sound syllable beginnings. THINK the words as you play it. It's a wonderful exercise in musical expression (and the skills required to do it).
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. #3
    I agree. Vocal music is always good to work with, especially when you can hear a great vocal stylist interpret it. Technically, this piece is easy, even for me as a beginner. It's how it's played that matters, and phrasing and other factors make all the difference. I can make good sounds now on the euphonium, modeled after what I hear really excellent players do. If I can evoke Frank Sinatra's phrasing and interpretation, I'll be making music, not just playing notes. You're right about the lyrics, too. They tell you how to handle articulation, etc. Plus, playing something familiar and something you like is its own reward.

    Thanks for the encouragement! That's the best thing about forums like this one - encouragement.
    3-valve Blessing B-350 Euphonium


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