Tuba tips Matthew scott

Solo Schlicht
Air is fuel for the tuba
A book by Patrick Sheridan and Sam Pilafian; some of the world's best tuba players on breathing techniques for the brass musician

Tuba legend and brass master Arnold Jacobs plays on his famous York tuba. His teachings continue today and have become the norm in brass pedagogy. Some of main points were:

  • Song and Wind. Play musically and maximize the use of good air while playing
  • The tongue interrupts the air, it doesn't stop the flow
  • The mouthpiece is your instrument. You're instrument is an overpriced amplifier
  • There is no "right"embouchure, everyone's physical setup is different
  • He didn't want his teachings written in a book because he didn't want his way to be the only way. Luckily, Brian Frederiksen was able to convince Jacobs to let him write a book.
An absolute must read, Frederiksen talks about Mr. Jacobs' career and teachings

Standard Equipment for the tuba include but is not limited to:

  • A mouthpiece visualizer that costs around $30. It is meant to practice buzzing and increase lip flexibility. When looking into a mirror, you can also identify any embouchure problems. They also come in different sizes for the different mouthpiece sizes of the brass instruments.
Watch a video of Arnold Jacobs using one of these. It's very impressive
  • Valve oil. Valve oil works as lubrication to make the pistons or rotary valves move smoother and with less friction. It is an absolute must have for every brass musician. Not all valve oils are the same. "Blue Juice" is a type of valve oil that lubricates valves and contains a small amount of detergent to clean your valves. The bad part of "Blue Juice" is that it doesn't always mix well with other oils and can turn your valves blue. There are others that are only lubricants. They all have their pros and cons, and it's up to each musician to determine which oil works best for them.
  • The Arban book is known as the "Brass Bible". It contains an excerpt for every aspect of playing, from tone production, to tonguing, to interval studies, and lots more. It is an absolutely must have for every musician.
  • The other book I would recommend buying is the Bordogni etude book. This book focuses on lyrical and expressive playing. Very highly recommended.
  • Cases; for both your mouthpiece and instrument. Most mouthpiece cases are fairly cheap ($8) and can hold most mouthpieces. Cases for instruments vary from instrument to instrument. There are gig bags and hard cases. Gig bags are essentially tuba backpacks used to transport the instrument in short distances. Choosing whether or not to have a hard case is a personal choice. Some people don't like them because they're expensive, take up lots of room, can be an eye sore, and are rarely used. Other people want a hard case because even though it is big and expensive, they will be happy they have it when they need it. This is my personal preference. If you choose to buy one, buy one that fits your instrument, not a general size case. General cases, although likely cheaper, are less protective and could allow the instrument to shift in the case which could end up causing damage.
The gig bag is on the left, and the hard case is on the right

Tuba players you should listen to

Patrick Sheridan is a world renowned tubist who is known for his solos. At the young age of 20 years old, Mr. Sheridan won an audition to join the highly prestigious ensemble of "The President's Own" United States Marine Band, and has traveled all over the world performing. Click the button for a more complete bio of Mr. Sheridan.

Below are several albums that I would highly recommend listening to

Carol Jantsch is a tubist with an impressive résumé. While still a senior at the University of Michigan in 2006, Ms. Jantsch won the audition of a lifetime as the principle tubist of the Philadelphia Orchestra; becoming the first woman to play tuba in a major orchestra. The Philadelphia Inquirer said she has "a sound as clear and sure as it [is] luxurious." She also teaches tuba at Yale and Temple University. She currently has one CD titled "Cascades" which can be purchased on her website caroljantsch.com and two recordings of "Reflections on the Mississippi for Tuba and Orchestra" available on iTunes. Click on the button below for a more complete biography of Ms. Jantsch.

Øystein Baadsvik is a tubist that has made a name for himself as a soloist. When he was younger, he would practice tuba from 8 am to 5 pm, practicing for 20 minutes and resting for 10, and would take an hour for lunch. He would not answer the phone if it rang during one of his 20 minute blocks, and would not accept any gigs during the 8-5 time block, which he said meant living with very little money. In a separate interview, he said one of his biggest helps as a tuba player was driving to have a lesson with Arnold Jacobs, even though he could barely afford it. He says if you can ever have a lesson with one of the "greats" even if money is tight, do it because it will pay off in the long run. Baadsvik spent roughly $1200 to take the lesson with Jacobs. Another great tip of his relates to nervousness of performing. How to get rid of the nerves? Be as well prepared as you can be. A simple but huge tip that can help all performers, even outside of music.

One of Baadsvik's most famous solos is "Fnugg". Baadsvik says he created the song organically; not sitting down and writing it note for note. It is an interesting piece that features an unaccompanied tuba. The sounds of "Fnugg" are described by Baadsvik as having a percussive groove, as well as the use of the advanced technique of multiphonics.

Dr. Steve Maxwell is the professor of tuba and euphonium at Kansas State University. Dr. Maxwell has been a guest artist at numerous conferences including the 2012 International Tuba and Euphonium Conference held in Linz, Austria, the 2012 United States Army Band Conference, the 2013, 2009, 2005, and 2003 Great Plains Tuba Euphonium Conferences and the 2007 Rocky Mountain States Tuba Euphonium Conference. Dr. Maxwell is my tuba teacher, and I would like to mention some big things I have learned from him.

  • It is about the process of achieving the main goal, not the achievement of the goal itself
  • An audience wants you to succeed when you perform
  • If you can sing it, you can play it
  • If you have difficulty with a passage. play it, then sing it, then buzz it on your mouthpiece, then play it again
  • Things aren't always hard. They're just unfamiliar
  • Practice warmups longer than solo works and you will get better faster

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Created By
Matthew Scott

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