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Thread: Decisions, decisions...

  1. #1

    Decisions, decisions...

    DISCLAIMER: This ended up being quite a bit less concise than I wanted it to be. But then again, isn't that what first posts are for?

    Well, here goes nothing. I am a sixteen year old high school student from Arkansas. I also happen to be a euphonium player and music lover faced with many difficult choices that need to be made in the next year to two years. Thankfully, I have the big one out of the way; I do NOT plan on going into music ed/performance after highschool. It's not really that I don't want to - going to college for music-related things would probably be one of the most fun, exciting, enriching, etc. things in my entire life. It's more that doing so in today's society could be compared to shooting oneself in the foot. The reasons for said foot-shooting have probably been discussed on this forum (and TubeNet ) more times than can be accurately counted, so I'll go ahead and skip my take on that can of worms. With that being said, I'd like to continue being a musician after high school, but since I won't have a degree, it seems like my options are limited to local community bands, local (British style) brass bands, and military bands (if I can audition and manage to make the cut).

    On a less serious note, I have a few options in terms of instruments. My plan is to get a job this summer and save up as much as I can to be put towards a horn, whatever that ends up being. I've read many, many threads lauding the Dolce, saying it's wonderful for the price and such. Not to discredit Mr. Hodgetts, but the only reason I am even slightly skeptical of these accounts is that I played a Wessex BR-140 baritone for a few months, and its intonation was rough to say the least. Having to play second line G and third line B (TC) with first and third wasn't very fun. It's also entirely possible that that was all me, and the horn is actually as top-notch as I'm sure everything else in Wessex's catalog is. Another possibility is a used Willson (unknown year and model) for sale by a past bandmate of mine. All I know about the horn is that it's lacquered and sounds heavenly...or maybe that was the player, not the horn. I could buy it for about twice as much as the Dolce's cost, but am unsure if the extra price would be worth it. My third option is an Eb tuba. A teacher and good friend of mine (who happens to be a pretty superb tubist) recommended I buy an Eb bass. I've always wanted a tuba of my own, partially because of how versatile bass tubas are when compared to a euphonium. The specific model he recommended was the Wessex Champion because of the larger bell and subsequently larger sound. However, after reading several posts on the site it seems like one of the two smaller models (Bombino, Solo) might fit my preferences slightly better in terms of prospective tuba playing.

    With all of that exposition of the way, here are my questions:

    Where can a euphoniumist like myself go (in terms of music) without a post-secondary degree?

    Dolce, used Willson, or one of the Wessex Eb basses?

    This is all worth it, right?

    I appreciate any and all advice, criticism, life lessons, etc. you guys can throw at me. You're my people after all!

    Regards, Paul
    Paul Mazyck
    Yamaha YEP-321S, Wick SM4U (baritone shank)

  2. #2
    Welcome to the forum.

    I am an older fellow. I did not major in music performance or music education. I did a total of 23 years in the Army on 3 separate tours. I played in The United States Army Band for 6 years. I have played all my life, but except for the 6 years with the Army Band, have not made my living in music. (B.S. in Math, M.S. in Computer Science).

    Looking back, I sometimes wish I had studied music in college. I probably would have gotten a music education/performance double degree. Then if I was lucky and good enough, I would try to get a spot in one of the premier military bands (which I actually did) OR teach school (high school, college, middle school, etc.). Or try for a symphony job on trombone which are intensely competitive. Or perhaps even play in one of the many other military bands (non-premier bands - doesn't mean they aren't any good, plenty of them are really good). If you really do like music, you can make a living at it, particularly if you include a music education degree. But, perhaps you have already ruled this option out.

    I did not study music in college, but played in all the ensembles. So, I was a prolific player, but not a music performance or education major in college. I have played in bands, orchestras, brass quintets, big bands, tuba/euphonium quartets, pit bands, church events and more my whole life. So, yes indeed, there are many, many opportunities to play your whole life in community groups and even some groups that pay. I play in a couple orchestras that pay a very nominal amount, but this is nothing you can live on at all. And I sometimes get paid for playing in the pit orchestra for a play, or playing at a church service, but again, just very nominal amounts. Looking at all of the musical groups I have played in over 50 plus years, many of the people in these groups (probably most) were not music majors in college. They just played when going to school and now do it as a hobby. And some are really good. So, yes you can play in many groups WITHOUT having a college degree in music.

    If you live in or around a decent sized metropolitan area, you will find community bands, orchestras, and many other type of groups to play in. Some so good that they require auditions, but many that do not. Music can be such a huge addition to anyone's life, that I would encourage anyone who started in school and enjoyed it and took the time to get to a good level of performance to continue with it as a life long activity. Whether you make a dime or not.

    I don't know where your true loves lie with instruments. If it is the euphonium, the Wessex Dolce is a great choice. I have one and also have a very high end horn. The Wessex works great for me. If tuba is your true love, then the Wessex Bombino might be a choice (I have one and use it for brass quintet work, but could also use it in a community/concert band). It is a little on the smaller side, so if you really wanted to have some bass presence in a larger ensemble, I personally would opt for a full sized Bb tuba. Wessex also makes these. But for what I use it for, brass quintet and small ensembles, it is perfect for me (nice sound, nice size to switch to once in a while only, because euphonium then trombone are my main instruments).

    Is it worth it? In my opinion, it is always worth it to stay with music, whether or not you make a living at it. It keeps you connected, it keeps you young (not a problem for you just yet), it keeps your brain going, it is immensely satisfying, it is a very good source of making friends in new places (most of my friends are related to the groups I am in - actual players or spouses, etc.), and as such, a very nice social outlet.

    Good luck to you!! Stay with music!!
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Central North Carolina
    If you go in direction of the Eb tuba, then for your purposes I'd recommend either the Bombino or the Solo -- if you feel you must have a compensator. But if you don't, the you might look seriously at the Danube. However, I have no idea what the track record of the Danube is in terms of quality. Each of these appears to be a very versatile instrument. I'd go in the direction of the Champion only if you see yourself playing almost entirely in fairly large ensembles (like 50+ member community bands) where you may occasionally be the only tuba. Even then, I might go with the smaller horn for a variety of reasons. For smaller groups (quintets, Dixieland groups, etc.) the Bombino and Solo (or even the Danube) would (I think) be much better choices. The Champion is a pretty big horn to be horsing around, and even it can't really be the only tuba in a large ensemble (at the very least, it's exhausting).

    In terms of whether remaining in music is worth it, I can't comment on whether it's worth it if you make a living at it. But it's certainly worth it if you don't.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  4. #4
    Hello Paul, have you had a look at the intonation comparison charts prepared by David Werden yet?

    There you will be able to contrast intonation of a large number of euphoniums, ranging from top flight professional models, down to budget models. And yes... the Wessex EP100 Dolce and EP104 Festivo models are included. The charts tabulate factual intonation measurements, and you might find them interesting.

    As for myself, I am a happy user of EP104... Have been in music one way or another since age 6.... Even majored in music composition at college, until the usual vicissitudes of life made me switch to computer science... Yet, a full IT-related career later, and recently happily retired after almost 40 years, I got the eupho bug, and am now having a blast learning euphonium on a Wessex EP104, which I purchased sight unseen and note unplayed, without ever suffering from even a smidgeon of buyer's remorse thereafter.

    Cheers! Guido
    Euph - Wessex EP104 Festivo - SM4U
    Flugel - Kanstul 1525
    Trpt - Adams A4 LB
    Bb Cornet -Carolbrass CCR-7772R-GSS
    Eb Cornet - Carolbrass CCR-7775-GSS

  5. Quote Originally Posted by mazyckpaul View Post
    It's not really that I don't want to - going to college for music-related things would probably be one of the most fun, exciting, enriching, etc. things in my entire life. It's more that doing so in today's society could be compared to shooting oneself in the foot.
    It's a shame that this seems to be the way things are going, but such is how they are in a country that can't have nice things (like quality music programs in schools). However, it is the case, so perhaps a minor in music would be a suitable compromise. As a non-music major, you might not be able to play in the school's top bands, but you'll get to keep playing. You'd still get to do the "adult" thing by getting a degree that will be seen as useful without having to sacrifice the pursuit of study on a subject that means a great deal to you, but under much less stress than if it were your main focus. College is enough of a handful as it is without having to hope that a favorite past-time can be turned into a job.

    with regards to the choice of instruments, I'd see what you can do about the Willson -- provided you can take it for a test drive. Unless the Willson is a straight-4 non-comp horn, it's more than likely a better buy than the Wessex, especially if you can get it for mid 2K range. No slight to the Wessex meant, but it sounds like you could get a phenomenal deal on the Willson, so I think you have to consider going for it if you find that it would be a good fit for you musically. Test-driving a Wessex might be a bigger hassle, so it's a bigger risk (even at only $1300) to buy one and then find out that there are better horns for you.
    Whatever you lose, you'll find it again. What you throw away, you'll never get back.

    -- Kenshin Himura

    1974 B & H Imperial / Bach 3G -- no LTE mouthpieces for me!

  6. #6
    Mentioning that I don't want to attend college period probably would have helped.

    With regards to horn size, I'd rather have a slightly larger tuba that would work in almost any setting as opposed to one that's smaller and more specialized. Whereas the Bombino only really fits into small ensembles (quartets etc.), the Champion could be used pretty much everywhere including a smaller group like that. I think I'd struggle to fill the low end of band with a 3/4. Trying to sound like a full size horn on the smaller one would be way harder than trying to sound like a small horn on a larger one.

    As for trying the Willson, I haven't been able to contact the seller yet, so anything could happen.
    Last edited by mazyckpaul; 03-20-2019 at 05:39 PM.
    Paul Mazyck
    Yamaha YEP-321S, Wick SM4U (baritone shank)

  7. #7
    Hey Paul,

    Along with the other great advice here, I wanted to put my half cent in.
    I started going to college for music Ed, but ended up going into the Marine Corps as a Marine musician. The auditions aren’t that difficult if you’re prepared and the time spent in the Corps was outstanding! I still miss it even though it’s been 15 years since I got out.

    I’m always a big advocate for someone going into the military, for a number of reasons. One of the best things to come from my service was discipline and the ability to see things through. But getting college paid for is also a welcome benefit.

    The stories I have about the days spent on the road are many and filled with craziness...
    Were there hard times and times I just wanted to give up? You bet! But the time spent in was worth it. I truly believe I’m a better person because of the Marine Corps.

    Anyway, just my half cent. I’m sure you’ll be successful in any endeavor you choose to do.
    Best of luck
    “The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” -Robert Hughes

  8. #8
    It's certainly possible to double on euphonium and tuba, but that's more money, more practice time and divided loyalties, to some extent. So the first question should be: what would you rather play? Tuba? Euphonium? I've purchased/played several high end used horns (euphonium and tuba) and I've always been pleased. I've also played some Chinese horns with less pleasing results. If looking at a used horn, check for worrisome dents or unsightly creases, make sure the soldered parts are soldered well, and check the valves. I think the build quality of a gently used professional horn will likely outshine the best of the recent Chinese crop, regardless of brand. You'll probably pay a bit more for a used professional horn, but my experience has been that it's worth the extra few bucks if it's something you love and plan to stick with. Also worth considering resale value if you find yourself wanting to take a different direction in the future. I've had no trouble selling my used Bessons for about what I paid... not so with my Chinese horns. I had to give those away.
    Sterling Virtuoso Euphonium, Denis Wick 4AL

  9. #9
    A compensating Wilson in good shape would set you up for life as a hobbyist, I'd say go for that. Or alternately, consider a JP374? (I am using a JP274, but admittedly, I sometimes do wonder if I should have saved up and went with the JP374.
    "Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. Always enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the Euph)"

    Euph: Yamaha 642II Neo - 千歌音, JP 274 MKII - 千歌
    Mouthpiece: K&G 4D, Denis Wick 5AL
    Thank you for the past 15 years -Yamaha EP100 - Euphy

  10. I think I'd want to know more about the Willson. It's probably a great choice, but there's something to be said for making sure it's your choice. I faced a similar question not long ago and choose the Dolce over a used Yamaha. When it came down to it, the Dolce was the actual instrument I wanted, and the quality was plenty good enough for my hobbyist purposes. The Yamaha may or may not have been a better built instrument, but it wasn't the instrument I most wanted to play. Plus, since I've never bought a new car and likely never will, there's just something really fun about buying brand new.

    Maybe you could find out more about the Willson so you can compare the apples? For example, is lacquered what you would pick for yourself? If it isn't, but you still aren't crazy about Wessex, maybe you could hold out for a good deal on a used something-else that actually is what you want? You do have time on your side!

    Unrelated, good for you for making an actual plan to keep playing past high school. As a poor-ish kid from a small school who wasn't going to major in music, it didn't make any sense to spend so much money on an instrument I would never play again. I didn't even know community bands were a thing! I think "regret" is a strong word, but I do wish I hadn't lost touch with music for so long.
    Wessex Dolce

    "Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things -- trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones." - Puddleglum in "The Silver Chair"

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