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Thread: New Euphonium Player

  1. #1

    New Euphonium Player

    Hello I am a young player that had played trumpet for 5 years but as a result of great difficulty and something that is known to be 'focal dystonia' my playing suffered a lot the last 2 years and after another frustrating breakdown I decided to swtich to playing Euphonium.

    My band director has helped a bit with the process by supplying the instrument. I've practiced the Euphonium for 1 week so far. I can play below the staff F and 2nd line Bb with a lot of ease now. I'm still struggling to reach the octave F, and I'm worried
    I'm moving to slow because in many beginner band books, students start on that higher F. Since I used to play trumpet with a tighter embouchure I'm trying to be more loose for Euphonium so that I may aquire a better tone but often when I try to play notes between D and F they come out an octave lower, airy, or like someone chewing metal. However, I have had some success in playing the one octave F and F# scale decently enough.

    I'm not sure if I'm doing things exactly right or moving at the correct pace. From what I've learned so far, I need to focus on posture and breathing more because Euphonium is a bigger instrument.i can't afford lessons right now but I'm just wondering if I'm heading in the correct direction.

  2. #2
    So I can't remember every exact detail, but I'll do my best to think of my progress when I switched to Euphonium and maybe even try to communicate in bass clef.

    So yeah, the first thing I had to do was figure out the low range and embouchure. 2nd partial range (2nd line Bb to E) takes much more air on the Euphonium than anything else besides the Tuba. While you might find examples of professionals doing whatever, the most typically accepted sort of embouchure is where you're playing with the mouthpiece as close to your nose as possible. Bottom lip on the rim. This might be the opposite of what you were doing on Trumpet, so it will take a lot of time to develop good strength with that embouchure. Just practice a lot.

    Concerning high range, it took quite a while before I was comfortable getting out of the 2 octave zone. Lots of practicing Bb and F major scales. I think it took about 1.5 or 2 years and switching from a Besson to a Conn Euphonium to get me to 8th partial Bb (is that 4th ledger line? ugh). After practicing almost nothing but scales on that Conn 20-I with a 12C, I was finally able to squeak out 9th and 10th partial. Soon after that, I switched back to French Horn, so not much else to add. Playing a 12C in modern day is not a very good long term strategy for success, so you'll probably want to either start bigger than that, or move off it as quickly as feasible.

    Many years later, I've managed to maintain that same range without even having an ensemble to play in. Things that help?

    * Playing instruments that I don't hate.
    If you hate playing, or have a hard time "getting along" with your horn, you probably won't develop very well. I could never play a Jupiter XO. I would be constantly fighting against that nasal sounding droning overtone it makes, and it would probably wreck my embouchure. If I can grab a horn that I like the sound of, or that I enjoy playing, I won't be wasting time thinking about my sound or trying to manipulate it. I'll just play, play often, and enjoy it.

    * Mouthpieces
    I'm a massive nerd and a collector hobbyist. I have thousands of dollars of mouthpieces to make sure that all of my junk plays well enough. You don't need thousands of dollars of mouthpieces, but EVENTUALLY, you will need one good mouthpiece that you actually like. I have a small embouchure with a blown jaw, I have no one to impress, and I like a very focused sound, so most of my mouthpieces feature a 24mm cup diameter. That is probably much smaller than what you want, and definitely smaller than what you want if you're going to take this seriously. Most professionals are playing ~26mm cup diameter, so if you can develop a good embouchure for that size, you will have a better selection of mouthpieces without having to spend custom mouthpiece money. Develop a good embouchure, and then find a GOOD mouthpiece that you really like. As often as you can, try out new things with the horn of your choosing. Different horns will favor different mouthpieces. Don't fight either one, and don't be afraid to try something. Euphonium is a very forgiving instrument in terms of mouthpieces.
    Hobbyist. Collector. Oval rotary guy. Unpaid shill for Josef Klier mouthpieces.

  3. #3
    If you really want to get started out on the right foot, take a few lessons, even if it costs you a few bucks. That'll keep you from building bad habits that will be hard to break down the line and you'll be glad that you spent the $$.
    Sterling Virtuoso Euphonium, Denis Wick 4AL

  4. If you have a dystonia, you might hit a wall for progression no matter instrument, when the dystonia reads its head.

    Unless of course the underlying reason for the dystonia, mine seems to be managed on heavy pain killers, as itís something to do with my nerves, my body/Embouchure responds as if itís in pain wincing and contorting, but without any actual sensation of pain, itís taken a long time to get to that diagnosis. I am still waiting to see if there is an underlying reason that can be found but in the meantime the pain killers are helping me get back to performing, walking with a straight back and being able to see straight.

    So my advice is to be careful with thinking that the dystonia is gone from another instrument, see the doctor and keep investigating what caused it in the first place, especially when there is not one particular event that you can say thatís when it happened.

    Mine was a progression over 5 or 6 years, the focal dystonia was actually the only thing that alerted me to the larger issue that was clearly progressing as my body and brain was normalising the issue and not sending pain signals.


    I tried paying a lot of money for a dystonia expert tutor, and while their advice might have been sound for another person, for me it required a medical intervention.
    Try a tutor if affordable, as having someone watching you can point you into the right direction, by seeing what you canít for yourself, which you can pass on to a doctor as well that might help with diagnosis.

    However, if the dystonia has resolved itself like it would/sometimes does with Bellís palsy, then you might find that six months of playing the euphonium keeps your lip in and develops your air ready for you to go back to Trumpet.

    The trick with all brass playing is to do whatís natural feeling to you. A week in to the change over then every thing is gonna feel unnatural, itís a good idea to pull out music and exercises that you did when you first started, that way you have a reference for what it should sound like. You will soon adapt and progress as your brain gets used to the new normal.

    Smaller mouthpiece is a good idea to bridge the gap between trumpet and a standard 26mm.

    Give it six months, then reevaluate so you can determine the difference between either the dystonia limiting you or the equipment itself.
    The dystonia will halt progress, equipment might slow it down but not stop it completely.

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