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Thread: What Is the Role of the Principal Euphonium Player?

  1. #1

    What Is the Role of the Principal Euphonium Player?

    This came up on Facebook in the "euphonium players" group. Here was my answer; please add anything I might have missed or correct me if you disagree with any point(s):

    The principal player has responsibility to A) know the parts very well, B) to make sure to hear the rest of the ensemble and understand how the euphonium part fits, C) to guide the section by example, D) to guide the section by discussion where appropriate, E) to choose who plays in solo or a2 sections, F) to make sure the players in the section pay attention and remain respectful when the conductor is talking or working with other sections, and G) to work outside of rehearsal with the section where needed to make sure all players blend and fit together. That's most of it, anyway.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
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  2. #2
    I just now realized that I am not doing a good job of fulfilling responsibility (B). The section in the community band sits to my right, but I am pretty much deaf in my right ear. The French horns sit to my left, and that's all I hear, except myself, of course. I think that I may have to reverse the order of seating when the season starts up again in September.
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2018 Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (2nd Bari)

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveBj View Post
    I just now realized that I am not doing a good job of fulfilling responsibility (B). The section in the community band sits to my right, but I am pretty much deaf in my right ear. The French horns sit to my left, and that's all I hear, except myself, of course. I think that I may have to reverse the order of seating when the season starts up again in September.
    That might be a good thing to try! The CG Band changed our seating arrangement a few times, and it was enlightening to hear from a different perspective.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    That might be a good thing to try! The CG Band changed our seating arrangement a few times, and it was enlightening to hear from a different perspective.
    Our director was amenable; I've notified the section members, and we'll do the new seating when the new season starts. I love it when a plan comes together.
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2018 Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (2nd Bari)

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    That's a great list Dave. Not being in a military or pro group, I sometimes have to suggest alternate fingering for a pitch. Also during periods of long rests I'm in the habit of raising one finger off my horn slightly when at the count of '1' for the next multi-measure rest. If a section mate loses the count they can look left to get it.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (recently sold)
    Doug Elliott - 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
    El Cumbanchero (Raphael Hernandez, arr. Naohiro Iwai)
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by RickF View Post
    That's a great list Dave. Not being in a military or pro group, I sometimes have to suggest alternate fingering for a pitch. Also during periods of long rests I'm in the habit of raising one finger off my horn slightly when at the count of '1' for the next multi-measure rest. If a section mate loses the count they can look left to get it.
    Those are both great tips! I especially like the second one - it's so much more subtle than looking to the section and shouting "H" or whatever rehearsal letter is there!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hidden Valley, AZ
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    885
    Before covid, I suppose that was my job in our community band.

    With variable attendance, levels of ability, and a smorgasbord of horns it was like herding cats.

    Somehow, when we playback recordings, it sounds a lot like we know what we are doing. Yay!

    Dennis
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original
    2019 Wessex Tornister

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveBj View Post
    I just now realized that I am not doing a good job of fulfilling responsibility (B). The section in the community band sits to my right, but I am pretty much deaf in my right ear. The French horns sit to my left, and that's all I hear, except myself, of course. I think that I may have to reverse the order of seating when the season starts up again in September.
    I found when leading a section in a community band that having my bell pointing toward the section (section on my right) helped with intonation of the section. If I sat with the section to my left, they couldn’t hear me, and intonation suffered.

    Don.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Summerfield, Florida
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    1,618
    I totally agree with Don's comment on having the rest of the section sitting "downwind" from the principal player. This might mean that the solo/principal euphonium does not play on the end of the aisle if the euphoniums are to the conductors left. More often than not, I sit to the conductor's right. I think it is useful for the rest of the section to be able to hear not only pitch, but articulations and other things.

    Rick's comment on alternate fingerings is more important than you might think. Just a week or two ago I spoke with a section mate about his choice of fingering for low B natural (he chose 1-2-3 which was dreadfully sharp). And he was playing a 4-valve, compensating horn. This point was driven home at break by a little demonstration. Without the chat and demo, he would not have been aware of 2-4 for the low B natural. He is now a convert!

    A pet peeve of mine is having a section mate (or actually anyone) show up 10 seconds before the downbeat (or tuning note). You can't possibly be ready in 10 seconds, and your horn is cold, so it is going to be flat when you tune, etc. I think as the section leader, you should "encourage" your section mates to show up with enough time to get settled and warm up a bit. I realize in community bands you may not have much leverage to make things happen, but suggestions and leading by example sometimes helps.

    Dave laid out most of the things I think are important in fulfilling the role of principal Euphonium player. Much easier to accomplish in a military band or professional musical group than your local volunteer. community band.
    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
    Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)

  10. I was going to suggest that the role of the Principal Euphonist was to point out all the mistakes made by the second baritone player, but I see I'm in the wrong thread...

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