Jamie Lipton and “The Fourth Valve” tm A Perfect Combination!

A successful teacher, soloist and chamber musician, Jamie Lipton has explored the traditional aspects of euphonium playing with grace and aplomb. A protege of Brian Bowman and Rex Martin, her performances and pedigree have prepared her to address the frontiers that lie ahead for the tribe of “The Fourth Valve” tm. Enjoy!

1. Three friends meet after a band/wind ensemble rehearsal. One friend plays euphonium, another trombone, and a third tuba. None of them double on another instrument. The tubist and the trombonist could both be heading to quintet, and later orchestra. The trombonist may be headed for jazz or pop music. Does this intensify the desire for the euphonium player to become a classical soloist? or put them in a box?
Euphonium players are starting to break down barriers – I play euphonium quite a lot in two different professional brass quintets, for example. Admittedly, it is kind of annoying that euphoniumists rarely get to play in orchestras. Many of my colleagues at Henderson are members of local professional orchestras or get called frequently to sub, and I am somewhat jealous that I don’t have that opportunity on a regular basis.

I am very fortunate that I get to play in a brass band. It doesn’t pay, but it’s so much fun and very musically rewarding for me. The fact that many ensembles don’t use euphonium doesn’t so much make me want to focus on solo literature as it makes me wish I were a better trombonist!

2. How do you conceive of and execute tone color differently as a soloist as compared to an ensemble?
As a soloist, you get to choose the tone color you want to use. In an ensemble, you’re limited to the colors that blend with whatever instrument is playing with you. I’ve noticed that some older euphonium players, when they play in band, play very soloistically no matter who’s playing with them – I think this is because bands and band composers used to appreciate the euphonium more.

There is still a lot of great new wind band music being written, but many modern composers don’t seem to understand what the euphonium is capable of. If I had my way, I’d play with a beautiful, singing tone (and vibrato!) most of the time, but when I’m playing whole notes in octaves with the tubas, that’s not very practical.

3. How many high school or college euphonium players would you estimate come into contact with the music of Rich Matteson or Bob Brookmeyer? Are jazz euphonium/valve players well known?
I’d say they are well-known among three groups of people: euphonium pedagogues, jazz pedagogues, and young euphonium players who are really into jazz (particularly at UNT). I have played in many jazz bands, but more for education than enjoyment. I haven’t spent much time listening to Matteson or Brookmeyer, but I certainly appreciate what they did for the whole concept of jazz euphonium/valve trombone. Anyone who takes the euphonium to places it doesn’t normally go has all of my respect!

images4. What chamber music experiences have you had? What chamber music opportunities would you have like to have had? Do you see any potential niches for euphonium in chamber music?
As a euphoniumist, I have played in tuba quartets, euphonium quartets, and brass quintets (where I play the trombone part). Tuba quartets have some GREAT rep if you’re willing to look for it. I think the idea of a euphonium quartet is relatively new and exciting, although there’s not a lot of rep. Some of my friends from UNT have a euph quartet that’s been touring and seems to be gaining some attention. It’s such a versatile instrument that the possibilities are endless!

I had a fun experience last summer where I played a bassoon part in a woodwind quintet. I was muted the whole time, but that was my choice cause I thought it sounded more like a bassoon. (I did this once in my high school orchestra, too.) Would that count as a niche? Many small collegiate music departments don’t have a lot of double reeds. Maybe muted euphonium could catch on as a bassoon substitute in woodwind quintets.

5. What do you do for a warm up? How has it changed since college?
I think any college professor will tell you that they no longer have time for the 45-minute warm-up they did as a student. I used to play tons of Remington exercises before I’d even think about practicing. Now, sometimes I only have a few 10-minute breaks between lessons to do all of my practicing for the day. When I’ve been away from my instrument, I like to play tunes by ear. Themes from orchestral rep, musical theatre, folk songs, whatever – and I encourage my students to do the same. Tunes get you re-acclimated to your horn, they get you listening to sound and intonation, and most importantly they get you thinking about making music. Lately I’ve been playing “Make Our Garden Grow” from Bernstein’s Candide in three or four different keys. After that, I’m ready to go.

Rex Martin, my professor at Northwestern, impressed upon me the idea that any musician should be able to play a gig with no warm up, because you never know when you might have to do that. Mark Carlson and I started a routine one summer where we would show up to the practice rooms on Monday morning and play a solo for each other with no warm-up. It was a productive exercise, and I’d recommend it to anyone who feels dependent on their current warm-up routine.

6. Trumpet players typically own 2 to four different sized instruments, from piccolo to C, Bb to Flugel. Many images-1tubists perform on two tubas, either Bb or C and F. many trombonists now play small and large bore tenor, or tenor and bass. Euphonium players tend to play everything on one size of instrument.
How do you account for the apparent lack of timbrel contrast?

I don’t see a lack of contrast. I think the euphonium has a great range of tone colors by itself. Also, a lot of those extra instruments listed above are used specifically for orchestra and jazz, which aren’t really genres that use euphonium. But we do have options – small bore euphs (usually used in jazz), baritones (used in brass band and sometimes in wind ensemble and tuba choir), and marching instruments.

7. How much time (& how) do you practice vibrato? Without ? How does it help you be expressive?
As I said earlier, I love to play with vibrato. It makes the euphonium sound like a singing voice, and I think the voice is the most expressive of all the instruments. Vibrato came very naturally to me as a kid because I listened to so much vocal music – once my teacher told me how to use my lips/jaw to produce vibrato, I was off and running because I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound. I don’t spend much time practicing vibrato anymore, but when my students learn vibrato I have them do pitch-bending exercises with a metronome, and I tell them to have a concept of what/who they want their vibrato to sound like.

The only times I practice without vibrato are 1) when I’m playing technical exercises like long tones or lip slurs, 2) when I’m practicing a passage where I’ve specifically decided not to use vibrato, and 3) when I’m practicing trombone (and even then I use a little bit).

8. What is the best euphonium playing you have ever heard?
My favorite player is Brian Bowman – he was the first professional euphoniumist I ever heard, and I studied with him for both of my advanced degrees. I think my favorite time I ever heard him play was when he performed the second movement of the John Stevens concerto (a lovely piece of music). I was turning pages for the pianist at this particular performance, and I was just so moved by Dr. Bowman’s tone and musicality that I could barely perform my one task.

Honorable mentions for best euphonium playing I’ve ever heard would have to include Demondrae Thurman playing Mahler’s “Songs of a Wayfarer” – so beautiful! – and for technical prowess, Ben Pierce. I don’t remember what he played at ITEC but I do remember being deeply impressed and a little disgusted; that man’s technique is insane.

9. What is the best euphonium playing you have ever done?

Never being satisfied with my own playing, this question is difficult to answer. I’ve played in many rounds of many different auditions and competitions, not to mention solo recitals – but nothing really stands out as the best I’ve ever done because I always remember what could have gone better. I will say that I was pretty happy with my last recital. While there were some things I could have improved, I think the audience really enjoyed my musicianship and my programming. I had a GREAT accompanist-and I enjoyed myself.

10. What are your musical and non musical influences?
Vocal music, specifically musical theater. I love to sing, and when I was a kid I wanted to be a singer on Broadway. I think listening to so much high-quality singing when I was young was the main thing that shaped me as a musician. My first music lessons were in piano, and I was a Suzuki student, which meant that I learned all of my music by ear. When I eventually learned to read music, my teacher began DRILLING me on scales and music theory. I didn’t enjoy it very much at the time, but when I got to high school I realized that reading music and understanding it came so much more easily to me than to most of my peers.

Lately, my biggest non-musical influence has been sports, specifically soccer. I am a huge fan of soccer and watching world-class athletes play has made me realize, as many people have done, the similarities between athletics and music performance. Using sports-oriented visualization exercises (for example, imagining taking a penalty kick) has helped me with my practice strategies, my accuracy, and my performance anxiety. I haven’t read “The Inner Game of Tennis” but I should, because I would probably find a lot more ideas that would influence my playing in a positive way.

c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

Interested in more “The Fourth Valve” tm Interviews?
unnamed-3Don Harry
John Stevens
Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman
Deanna Swoboda
R. Winston Morris
th-1Beth Wiese
Aaron Tindall
Marty Erickson
Beth Mitchell
Chitate Kagawa
Aaron McCalla

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Don’t Try This at Home! Matthew Murchison Shows “The Fourth Valve” tm Things That Probably Shouldn’t Be Done On The Euphonium

Matthew Murchison is a mutineer against bland and expected programming, and proud of it! An Alchemist of timbres, Murchison has successfully stayed “out-of-the-box” for much of his career, and can show you the way out! “The Fourth Valve” tm is intrigued to host Matt Murchison, but please, don’t try this at home!

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1. Trombonists orbit jazz ensembles and orchestras, while euphonium players habit brass bands and drum corps. You are a soloist with The River City Brass Band. Are more brass bands the answer for the euphonium in the U. S., or do euphonium players need to think outside the box?
The first thing that comes to mind is that most everyone could try to think outside the box a little more. I think that more brass bands would be great. They can be a great community asset and a wonderful way to build camaraderie. It would be wonderful to see more amateur players involved in brass music-making.

I have no hard data to support this, but it seems to me that the average person’s lack of personal experience with music-making certainly doesn’t help the state of professional musical organizations. For the euphonium player, brass bands are a fantastic place to play challenging repertoire (both original pieces and transcriptions) that one would otherwise not get a chance to play. I believe my friend and euphonium ambassador Jason Ham wrote a very thoughtful article on brass bands and their effect on musicians’ development.

2. As a member of the River Bottom Quartet, you have opened for the Emerson String Quartet. What similarities and differences do you observe between the genres?

Take a string quartet: strip away the strings, tuxes, centuries of repertoire, demand for performances, payment, the general public’s knowledge of the existence of the instrument you’re playing, and add in: Oktoberfests and high cholesterol…you’ve got a euphonium/tuba quartet. So…basically the same.

Of course I’m (partially) kidding. Beyond the similarities of both groups having (*counts on fingers) four members and the concept of the consort and homogenous sound, both groups can be wonderful examples of musicianship and expression and entertainment. Both groups can also be examples of bad programming, poor execution, and ultra-boring performances. You’ll often have some characteristics from each category! Mix and match! It all depends on the outlook and abilities of the members of the group. String quartet isn’t inherently “better” than tuba/euphonium quartet.

It can sometimes be hard to not play down to expectations, so I would encourage tuba/euphonium groups and other less recognized ensembles to not settle for “good for a tuba group” syndrome. If anyone doesn’t already know, check out Sotto Voce quartet (for the good stuff I talked about…not the bad stuff).

3. Matt Murchison Mutiny? Was it that hard finding a word that begins with ‘M’, or is there really a musical mutiny under way? If so, against whom? Why those instruments?
You could’ve stopped at “Was it hard finding a word?” Nearly always. Stupid word search puzzles. The name seemed catchy to me and naming myself in the group makes it MUCH harder for me to get kicked out. The mutiny is against programming that only serves the people who already know they want the product. A program of all Beethoven string quartets (in my opinion) is going to do little for people who don’t already know Beethoven string quartets. If that’s your audience, great! There’s nothing wrong with that. But that feels like exclusionary programming that doesn’t help to include new audiences. So I don’t think we can complain when the audiences for that aren’t growing.

The initial idea was that everyone in the group would do more than one thing. That had to evolve a little based on who was willing to start playing for no money. I play euphonium, tuba, a little trumpet, ukulele, sing, and write. My wife Pam plays flute and piccolo beautifully, so that was a no-brainer. Randy Bibri is a pianist who can read or play changes (which of course comes in very handy…which rhymes with Randy…which is dandy). Randy is also a fine trombone player. I wanted Matt Pickart because he plays violin and viola. I then found out in our first rehearsal that he also played electric bass growing up (and has the 90s rock band stickers on his case to prove it). I put that knowledge to use right away. Matt has started a doctoral degree in Michigan, which has left an unusual hole to fill of “violin, viola, electric bass tripler.” We then have Colin Pinto-Martin on percussion (usually drum set).


4. “Music without borders, entertainment without pandering,”
Do you find that audience appetite for live & interesting music is on the rise or decline?

I think the appetite for interesting music is on the rise for sure. It’s so easy to fall down the YouTube or Spotify rabbit hole of weird, interesting music. When it comes to hearing that stuff live though, I’m not really sure. It seems that some people would certainly rather have the music for free at their house than in exchange for money in public. Of course I think that a live performance can be so much better, but if you’re making YouTube videos that rely heavily on edits and smoke, will it be as effective live? I don’t know.

I know personally that there are only a handful of groups that I would WANT to pay money to see live. There are other events that I WOULD and do pay money for because it is important to support live music. Also, I want the good karma for when I’m playing somewhere with a cover or ticket charge.

5. What did the “Moon fall” experience mean to you and demand from you?unnamed-1
I had originally written Moonfall for euphonium and piano. I had some ideas for a piece and the language of the piece came in to focus fairly quickly. I was then invited to solo with the US Army Band “Pershing’s Own” at their annual tuba/euphonium conference in DC. They were willing to let me play my own piece which I was (and am) very grateful for. So I got to work on orchestrating it for euphonium, winds, piano, and percussion. The wind section doesn’t contain saxes or euphoniums.

I had to get the orchestration done pretty quickly and I got a lot of work done on it while I was on the road with a group called River City 6. If I recall, the Army Band needed the music in early October for a late January performance. I know that they didn’t look at the music until January, but you don’t argue with deadlines, or the military, and this had both so I got it done. The act of rehearsing and performing it was a mixed bag of feelings to be honest. I continue to learn the lesson that everyone is the center of their own universe and that no one will care about your project/passion/piece as much as you do, so you’ve got to care enough to make that ok.

I don’t mean to say that people don’t care at all about your thing, but you created it, they didn’t. The wind parts are at times demanding and I was told that the orchestration was at times unusual. I was of course told these things as if they were things to fix, but when I’m writing, the music is either right or wrong, and for me this was right. The “unusual” orchestrations sounded just like I hoped they would and so I was happy about the result. The performance went quite well and the Army band is full of great professionals. Truth be told, I would’ve liked it a bit faster in the performance…but I often do.


6. How did Lauren Veronie come to commission “Sternum Buster”, and what expressive ideas were you exploring?

Ha! I like how you asked the question as if a piece called “Tales from the Road: The Sternum Buster” is a piece of bona fide Art with the capital “A.” Thanks! My guess is that Lauren was accidentally under the influence of a long-lost strain of peyote that made her think, “I needs me a Murchison piece!” I know that Lauren had played another piece of mine called “Blue-Green Day,” which has nothing to do with the band by the way. She said that she wanted something challenging to perform. I made several sketches but nothing felt right.

I was on a 2 or 3 week tour with River City 6 across the Midwest when inspiration struck (or more accurately, cracked its sternum, in front of me). During the concert we gave away a free CD to the first person to come up on stage. This is what happened:
(from my program notes)

A middle-aged woman with big hair and a Cosby sweater started to get up. Just as she reached the aisle, a young girl wearing a t-shirt and the confidence of youth decided that she too wanted the free CD. They reached the aisle at the same time and their eyes met. The determination that serves the hardworking Midwesterner well would in this case be someone’s downfall. It was clear after a split second that neither woman was going to back down. And so the race began.

As the crowd cheered the two gladiators, the women began walking briskly toward the stage. The young girl began to pull ahead, but the crafty veteran locked arms with the girl, ensuring the race remained close. The crowd became more animated, even frenetic, as the speed-walk turned in to a full-fledged run. As their velocity increased, their chances of stopping decreased. I can only imagine that the hunger for victory was so great that it impeded the spatial perception of the athletes. They were now barreling toward the stage at a Usain Bolt-ian pace. They were racing for a free CD with such ferocity that one would have thought the CD format was something completely new, and that the previous technology had been word of mouth.

With arms still locked, their legs also became intertwined, causing the women to lose their balance. With a bird’s-eye-view from the stage, I knew this couldn’t end well. The young girl was able to break free, but the older woman’s momentum could not be denied as she continued to fall forward like a mighty redwood…in a Cosby sweater. The look in her eyes combined with her speed and loss of appendage control reminded us of a lit sorority girl trying to outrun her bad decisions. She was now helpless to stop it. Her sternum connected squarely with the precipice of the stage.

The sound of cheers and laughter that had filled the hall went suddenly silent as the air was sucked out of the room. The only sound in the hall came from the stage, as Lance Laduke, lifting his leg in a reflex action, exclaimed “OH!!!”
After what seemed like an eternity, I remembered that I was on the microphone, and should probably say something. “Are you OK?” I asked sincerely. The young girl looked at me and whispered, “give her the CD.”

After another long pause, a man (we assume it was her husband) slowly arose from his seat to claim his better half. She left the hall but we were later told she was OK. The hall was still silent. I spoke again, soothing the audience with these words; “We’d like to close the first half with a medley of tunes from West Side Story…”
That was a memorable night and an unforgettable audience to be sure. After the show more than one member of the group was asked by the same person: “What state is Pennsylvania in?” A nice old man also told me that listening to me play high notes made his shorts tight. My therapist thinks I’m almost past that.

The piece itself is through composed but contains the following sections: Newton, IA, The Rise of Cosby Sweater, The Young Girl’s Theme, Their Eyes Meet, The Race and Crash, The Young Girl’s Victory Lap (which of course didn’t happen, but I liked the image for the piece), and finally the recap of Newton, IA.
I couldn’t have written this piece without the help of bad decisions and ill-advised competition.

7. Jazz is America’s art form and greatest cultural contribution to the world, and yet the average American has become more remote and resistant to it’s allure. What is going wrong?

I’m probably the wrong person to ask about this as I really don’t know much. However, being a human, I’ll be happy to give my strong, uneducated opinion anyway! My grandfather was a jazz pianist and I was able to hear him play several times before he passed away. I feel very lucky to have had that opportunity for lots of reasons. I bring this up not to be maudlin but to preface the rest of my answer with the disclaimer that I’m very drawn to those standard “Great American Songbook” tunes. I think they’re wonderful and I enjoy just playing the melodies for enjoyment.

Here’s why I rarely, if ever, listen to jazz. I was always taught to listen more than you talk (the length of this interview aside). I feel like to listen to some jazz (more specifically improvisation) is to hear someone talk incessantly without having anything to say. If that were a conversation you’d fake a phone call or sudden onset stomach flu and leave the room. If I’ve got one minute of tune, followed by six minutes of solo, followed by one minute of tune, that ratio is all wrong to me. It’s the same idea as the all-Beethoven string quartet show. Who are you doing this for?

Of course some people have voices you could listen to forever, whether it’s writing, talking, or improvising. Looking back, one of the things I loved about my grandfather’s performances was his treatment of the tunes. He would often play the tune straight ahead, then morph it into a waltz or samba or whatever. There would be a couple solo choruses but it never dominated the tune. Perhaps if I were more educated about jazz I’d be more drawn to the six-minute solo section, but I’m not sure if requiring a high level of listener education for comprehension and/or appreciation is a good way to increase audiences. I think that the most effective pieces of music or art don’t require the consumer to have undergone a training course to appreciate them.

8. Which singers inspire you? What do you think instrumentalists could learn from the way singers approach music and audiences?
I wish I sounded like James Taylor when I sing. Bobby McFerrin is great. I really like the singer’s voice from Lake Street Dive. Other than that I’m inspired by singers who sound a bit unconventional and/or write their own stuff. This includes, but is not limited to, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Dave Frishberg, and Elvis Costello (I love “The Juliet Letters”). I’m also a big fan of Ben Folds and Chris Thile in general.

For the second part of the question I’m reminded of a story that I think my grandfather told me. Forgive me if I’m making this up, but the idea is solid I think. George Gershwin was asked who his favorite singer was to sing his music. He said he preferred Fred Astaire. The gist was that Astaire didn’t sing the songs like a “singer” but like a person. I like to think that the goal is to communicate person to person, not Artist to subject.

9. What is the typical view/conception of the euphonium and what do you see/imagine when you behold the instrument?

The typical view for someone off the street is “what is that?” This isn’t necessarily bad. I had a group called Mainspring that played largely Celtic music. We went on the road for a couple of weeks and I was worried how audiences would react. The euphonium isn’t technically “supposed” to be playing this music.

What I found was quite liberating. The upside of “what is that?” is that there are fewer notions among audiences about what you “should” be doing. Other euphonium players may care about that, but audiences don’t. I was happy to find that as long as the product spoke to the people, the vehicle really didn’t matter.

c. 2015 DavidWilliam Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

Images courtesy of Matthew Murchison www.mattmurchisonmutiny.com
www.matthewmurchison.bandcamp.com www.youtube.com/murchTV

Interested in more “The Fourth Valve” tm Interviews?
unnamed-3Don Harry
John Stevens
Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman
Deanna Swoboda
R. Winston Morris
th-1Beth Wiese
Aaron Tindall
Marty Erickson
Beth Mitchell
Chitate Kagawa
Aaron McCalla

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“ANAGLYPH” tm No. 1-Free Recital Piece for Bass and Tenor Trombone, Might Make You Smile!

An anaglyph is a stereo gram like image which relies on two different colors (e.g. red and green), or in this case timbres. Featuring the instrumental tone colors of tenor and bass trombone, this is a tongue-in-cheek contribution to undergraduate recitals everywhere!

I had tried this concept with Charley Harrison in 1989, but our performance fell through. Later the idea was premiered with the now famous guitarist Jonathon Kreisberg substituting for Tom Lippincott circa 1992. But these were all “covers” of others’ originals. Thom Everett first suggested a duo based on an original Stereogram, and Josh Hauser was the first to pull it off! He and percussionist Eric Willie performed Stereogram No. 11-“Miami”. Written for my two former students Brandon and Ernie, this is the next one in the chronology.

Anaglyph

Anaglyph2

About ten years ago, Chris Brubeck told me he could “hear” the changes for Stereogram No. 3 which I had dedicated to George Roberts. He was correct; it was originally written with guitar accompaniment, and Tom Lippincott and I only recently premiered the duo version in the Fall of 2014 alongside the new work by Federico Bonacossa-“In Principio Erat Sonus”. I think the idea is catching!

This selection is a reprint from the 2014 Journal of The International Trombone Association. Special thanks to the Journal and Editor Diane Drexler. Enjoy!

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

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“Slide Study No. 1″, “Slide Extendetude tm No. 1″, and Slide Motion & Faster Slide Reprints!

My article on trombone slide motion is approaching it’s fourth anniversary. I am still surprised by the variety of successful slide motion strategies. While some seem to prefer articulation aided by the snap of the slide, I most often prefer the Bill Watrous inspired approach of fluid slide motion, choosing instead to define the resonance with variances in embouchure firmness and tongue speed/intensity.

One of my most respected colleagues, Ken Thompkins of the DSO, summed up the article with the following, “I could have written that article for you: Don’t move your slide any faster than you have to!”

Wise words.

Here is a study in the motion of the trombone slide, use the type slide motion of your choice! There are many opportunities to move the slide using the joint of the wrist alone in this simple melody. Enjoy!

(PS: If you’d like a faster slide, check out this classic article by the Slide Doctor!)

Slide Study No1-1

For those of you who want to explore 6th and 7th positions a little more fully, despite your ‘f-attachment’, try the first of my Slide Extendetudes!

Slide Extendetude no. 1

c.2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

Special thanks to the talented Mike Nunez for his invaluable editing and engraving skills.

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“So, You Wanna Play Euphonium?” Lance LaDuke Lectures “The Fourth Valve” tm

Throughout his years with the Boston Brass, Lance LaDuke was THE standard bearer for euphonium in a traditional brass quintet. Outgoing, innovative, outspoken, and intellectual, Lance finds a a successful destination at the end of the road, and takes “The Fourth Valve” tm Along for the Ride!
IMG_11211. How did your concept of sound change when switching back and forth between trombone and euphonium in Boston Brass?

My sound concept on the euphonium really didn’t change all that much. That said, I did have to clean up the “left edge” of my notes to match the rest of the group, particularly the trumpets. Otherwise, if anything, we used the euphonium to provide another color to the group and exploited the chance (when the trumpets played flugel) to go completely conical. That was a lot of fun. It wasn’t all that fun dragging both horns around the planet but the musical flexibility was great.

On the trombone, I was (and still am!) a work in progress. The story has been told quite often but I never played trombone until the 6 months leading up to joining the group. I used the euphonium early on as a way to cover for my still-developing trombone skills. The guys were great about letting me grow into the gig and I think I brought other stuff to the position (comedy, singing, business skills, etc.) that made up for my trombone “abilities.” All that being said, I do feel like I grew into the trombone and sometimes felt almost like a trombonist instead of a doubler!


Did you use different mouthpieces?

Mouthpiece questions!!! I’m generally a “plug and play” guy. I started on a 51D in 10th grade (1982) and just chalked any problems with my playing up to me, rather than the equipment. I played a 51D on both horns initially in BB. At Sam Pilafian’s suggestion, during a coaching session he did with the band, I switched to a 51 for the trombone. Now (after years of staying out of the brass arms race) I have fallen in LOVE with Parker Mouthpieces! Mike is making some amazing mouthpieces and I am having a blast making music with them now.

2. What was your first introduction to chamber music, and what chamber music paths did you follow before the BB? Which ensembles? Who were your mentors? (HS, College, Pro).
My first experience was a tuba/euph quartet in high school. I didn’t do all that much in college, mostly tuba quartets. Once I got into the Air Force Band, things really picked up and I ended up playing a lot of chamber music. We had a tuba/euph quartet (with Don Nauman,images-3 Gil Corella and Dave Porter) that rehearsed and performed regularly. We even took a couple short tours. The most fun I had, though was in a brass quartet that was the brainchild of trumpeter Bill Adcock. In the AF, we were known as Top Brass and our civilian alter ego was Nothing But Valves (Bill, lucky for me, didn’t like trombone players). Andy Wilson was the other trumpet and Sam Compton played horn. We were very busy as a group. We rehearsed and gigged a lot, I did a lot of arranging and transcribing for the group, we had pieces written for us and recorded a CD.

The quartet was an amazing learning opportunity for me in pretty much every respect. Up to that point, I had primarily played in tuba quartets and often had the melody. In NBV, I was the bass voice (we ended up changing instrumentation to two trumpets, euphonium and tuba but I preferred the original instrumentation) and had to be counted on to provide both time and intonation stability. My success at those skills remains open for debate.

The other things I learned in NBV were the nuts and bolts of running a small business that happens to be in the music making industry. Division of labor, scheduling, budget, promotion, programming, talking to audiences, negotiating contracts, interpersonal relationships, goal setting. The list is nearly endless. The foundation I learned there helped me later with Boston Brass and currently in my position at Carnegie Mellon University, where I teach classes Music Business and Marketing and Communications, am the freshman advisor and also mentor individual students and groups launch their careers.

0In terms of mentors during that time, there are two that come to mind. I’ve mentioned his name already, but Sam Pilafian was incredibly helpful, supportive and inspirational. He spent untold hours with me in person and on the phone, patiently walking me through the ins and outs of the business. He continues to be a mentor and inspiration. Second is Pat Sheridan. In addition to being one of my best friends for the last 20-plus years, Pat has helped me sort out more opportunities, challenges and problems than pretty much anyone else on the planet.

Mentor questions are tough, because for every person you include, you omit many more. Ray Mase helped NBV quite a lot. JD Shaw, Andrew Hitz and David Cutler continue to be in my “inner circle” of musical co-conspirators. Actually, Andrew and I are partners in Pedal Note Media. We’ve released one album (Brass Recording Project, Vol. 1, The Arrangements of JD Shaw), will be releasing an e-book later this Spring and have three podcasts in the works. The last three guys I want to mention are Tim Lautzenheiser, Denis Colwell (my boss at CMU) and Joe Zenas, a great friend since college, now CEO of the Thinkwell Group in LA. Those three have been great sounding boards for an unending supply of crappy ideas.

3. What was your warm up like in college as opposed to being on the road?
In undergrad at Michigan State University, my “routine” wasn’t. I was much more haphazard and unfocused, despite Phil Sniders’ best efforts. I had two things going for me. Playing always came pretty easy for me and I played all the time. At one point, I was in three concert bands, the marching band (Go Green!!!) and the tuba euphonium ensemble. I was in rehearsals roughly 20 hours a week or so. That’s where I learned to read and play different styles.

In the year I spent in grad school at The University of Akron, I went in the opposite direction. I was laser-focused on getting a military band gig. My warm up was about an hour’s worth of flexibility, articulation, scale, arpeggio and interval studies. It was about learning how my brain and body worked together to make music.

The road provided the biggest challenge since no two days were the same. In general, I developed a set of exercises, about 20 minute’s worth, that ensured I hit all the usual suspects. It’s much more about being efficient and working on the stuff that needs to be worked on. Simple to understand. Hard to remember.

Unknown-14. What do you look for in a euphonium? In a trombone?
As I mentioned, I’m not much of a gear guy. Jupiter Band Instruments, particularly the XO series of pro horns, are the horns I play now. The folks at Jupiter are amazing. They are as passionate about music education as I am and I would stack their horns up against anyone. Get Banded!!!

5. Which avenues in music and chamber music in particular are ripe for exploration by euphonium players?
In the US, brass quartets are probably the biggest “traditional” opportunity. There is a ton of great music that is underplayed. And from a biz standpoint, there is one fewer mouth to feed. I tried to show that the euphonium has a place in quintets. I don’t think it works 100% of the time, but neither do flugel horns. Outside of that, I’d say the biggest opportunity is wherever the player’s mind will take them. Three of my former students have done amazing, unexpected and wonderful things. Matthew Murchison has had a couple of bands, Mainspring and The Matthew Murchison Mutiny. The instrumentation is non-traditional and the music is great! Koichiro Suzuki’s Cuidado is a tango band with euphonium as one of the primary voices. Fernando Deddos had a choro band here in Pittsburgh while he was here, again with euphonium as one of the main voices. I try to encourage my students (and anyone else who will listen, and some who never will) to go where their musical ear takes them. I’ve never been a big supporter of traditional models, I think there’s a bit of laziness there, creatively. Ooooh. Controversy.


6. Name two types of inspirations
Musical
&
Non-Musical

I’m not quite sure where to go here. Here’s a Top 10 list of things that I’m currently paying attention to:
1. Anything by Seth Godin.
2. The stuff Jack Conte is doing with Pomplamoose and Patreon.
3. Chef Jamie Oliver is on a mission to change the world and makes me think I am not thinking big enough.
4. Tim Ferris’ obsession with learning, maximizing performance is key to one of my next projects.
5. Zoe Keating’s willingness to be open as a musician trying to navigate these new waters.
6. Tim Lautzenheiser’s drive, devotion and commitment to music education.
7. Gordon Ramsay’s passion and honesty (he kind of reminds me of my Dad).
8. Louis CK. Honest. Hilarious. Fearless.
9. Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars” series is always both funny and interesting to me.
10. This last one sounds like an inspirational poster, but the students I get to work with are amazing. None of us knows where this industry is headed, but with those folks creating it, I’m excited and optimistic.

8. What types of projects are you working on now?

Besides the Pedal Note Media stuff with Andrew, I’m looking to expand on my book, Music Practice Coach. I have some more materials in development. I’m trying to get it out to as many teachers and students as I can. While I’m at it, anyone can get a free copy of that book by filling out the contact page at lanceladuke.com.

The other thing I am launching later this year is a crazy idea I have been knocking around Unknownfor a few years. It’s called “Lance Learns to Play.” I’m going to learn to play every instrument on the planet. Really. It’s a cross between “Dirty Jobs” and “Man Vs.Food.” It’ll primarily exist as a YouTube channel but there will be supplementary materials released as well. The hope is that by making a fool of myself, other folks may pick up an instrument for the first time or will continue to play with a greater appreciation of why. I’m hoping that you’ll learn something you didn’t know about each instrument and have a greater appreciation for both the music that is made and the people who make it, whether as a hobby or as a profession. What could possibly go wrong?

9. What is some of the best euphonium playing you have ever heard?
The best playing of any instrument I have heard has less to do with the instrument and more with the musician. I think we often get into this sense of “Music Olympics” where the only thing that is appreciated is finger/tongue speed, high (or low) range and histrionics. Heaven knows I was a victim of that approach. Heck, it’s fun! That being said, one of the reasons I don’t play much “euphonium music” is that I don’t hear all that much that I want to tackle. I want to feel like the music-making is worth the technical effort and not just stuff to show off to other euphonium players. General audiences don’t care. We want to be treated as a “serious” instrument and some think that if the notes per second ratio is high enough, that will automatically happen. I disagree. Pat Sheridan told me years ago that he stopped playing “Hailstorm” for general audiences, because they simply didn’t understand that the triple tonguing he was doing was difficult. They just thought something was up with his sound. Then he plays a Brahms song or “Deep River” and musicians and non-musicians alike are moved. There’s a take-away there for musicians who are paying attention. I don’t suspect this opinion will make me terribly popular in some circles but there you are.

10. What is the best euphonium playing you have ever done?

I did have this beautiful D-flat one time that still gives me shivers. I think it was in the late ’90s.

11. What was it like to be in the Boston Brass? Do you have any favorite personal or musical memories? Did you feel as though you were charting new territory as a euphonium player?
I am an incredibly lucky person. I have had the opportunity to play with amazing musicians, in spectacular halls for great audiences and students all over the world. This is not just the case for my time in Boston Brass but with The USAF Band, NBV, River City Brass Band, Brass Band of Battle Creek, and on and on. Lucky, lucky, lucky. The great memories are too numerous to list. Plus some of them are not out of the statute of limitations.

I have never thought I was charting new territory per se. I have tried (and sometimes failed) to be as prepared as I can be for whatever opportunity arises, follow my gut (even when it’s scary, and it usually is), be easy to work with (failed at that plenty), and use every challenge, limitation or setback as an opportunity to be creative (isn’t that the point?).

c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

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BSO Tubist Mike Roylance Braves “The Fourth Valve” tm, and the 2015 Blizzardunnamed-7

unnamed-1Many tubists have a broad based experience, but not often is it as deep and varied as that of Mike Roylance. As principal tubist in the BSO and professor at New England Conservatory and Boston University his virtuosity is noteworthy, and based on his technically demanding warm-up dubbed “THUNDERDOME”. But Roylance’s origins in what he refers to as “out door chamber music” (The Future Corps at The E. P. C O. T. Center of Walt Disney World), hearken back to a reservoir experience drawn on by many practicioners of “The Fourth Valve” tm- Drum and Bugle Corps. From DCI to Tanglewood, join Mike Roylance on the musical excursion of a lifetime. Enjoy!

unnamed-31. How do you conceive of, describe or imagine the ideal tuba sound?
Wow, that is a very explosive question.

I’m not sure if I can narrow down my ideal tuba sound to a few words.

My concept of sound is at the fore of every moment when I play the tuba. Depending on the circumstance, I might want to sound like a baritone or tenor singer. I may want to sound like the pedals of an organ or a bombastic a semi-truck’s horn. I may want to sound like a string or woodwind instrument. While, I’ll never sound exactly like any of these particular sounds, having that concept of sound in front of the production process helps to shape what comes out of the end of my bell.

How far from this ideal have you traveled (on purpose), during performances?
I have traveled far and wide with regard to sound concepts. From playing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to playing with the Sam Rivers Jazz Orchestra, to playing with the Future Corps, to playing the electric bass in bands playing AC/DC and Rush tunes, I rely on all of my experiences to come up with a particular sound concept for the moment at hand.

2. What did your learn from playing in traditional drum corps and how often do you draw upon those experiences now?
From my experiences with Suncoast Sound, a top-tier drum and bugle corps, I learned a great deal about the fundamentals of brass playing. I had several wonderful instructors, two of unnamed-5whom, Robert W Smith, Frank Williams were extremely well-versed in brass pedagogy. My daily fundamental routine, dubbed THUNDERDOME by several of my students is mostly the same routine that I was taught in those formative years. My practice discipline also comes from this period in my life, it was a bountiful time in my maturing as a musician. I am very thankful for that period in my life.

a unnamed-13. What sort of chamber music and solo playing opportunities do you enjoy most? How important are they to you as a musician?
I helped form the BSO Brass Quintet which is comprised of all of the principal brass players of the BSO. Although we do not have too many opportunities to practice and perform with our busy lives, I treasure every moment with this group. Actually, I had a twelve year career as chamber musician at Walt Disney World with the Future Corps and other groups within the parks; if what defines a chamber group is the lack of conductor. Adjusting to life in the BSO or any orchestra or band after never relying on a conductor for anything was difficult, but made easier with the skills that I brought with me from my time on the streets of EPCOT. Time spent in chamber groups is of GREAT benefit to the developing musician. The intuitive ability to adjust pitch/time/dynamics/line in the moment will be finely honed in a chamber setting.

4. What was your typical warm-up routine like as an undergrad as compared to when you started winning symphonic auditions?

As I mentioned before, my routine has largely stayed the same since my days in drum corps. The exercises are constantly changing as I am constantly moving to better my skills, but the seven basic areas of brass fundamentals, breathing, buzzing (free-buzz and mouthpiece), long tones, extreme range (both high and low), chromatic patterns, flexibility and articulation are covered every day.

cover170x170Teutonic Tales – EP by Mike Roylance

5. What is the National Brass Ensemble all about, and how did you become involved?
The National Brass Ensemble was founded this past summer utilizing some of the mostunnamed-6 prominent brass players in the United States. I am extremely honored to be a part of this amazing collection of players. Last summer, we recorded an album to be released this next September of 2015 with a release concert/party in Orchestra Hall in Chicago. The genesis of this particular project was to re-record the famous album recorded in 1959 and 1968, The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli recorded by the brass sections of Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia. You don’t want to miss this event.

6. What do you see as the major pedagogical points which:
need the most attention yet…
&
have had the greatest impact…
?
See number 4.

7. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?
unnamed-4
There is definitely not enough space in this interview to properly answer this question. My staple go-to solo tuba recordings include the solo projects of Floyd Cooley, Gene Pokorny, Jon Sass, Walter Hilgers, Roland Szentpali, Sergio Carolina and Toby Hanks. Suffice to say, I am always eager to listen to some of my good friends and heroes…Willie Clark, Chris Olka, Claude Kashnig, James Jenkins, Robert Carpenter, Mark Thiele, Dennis Nulty, Aaron McCalla, Eli Newberger, Pete Link, Zach DeVries, John Stevens, Alessandro Fossi, Warren Deck,…. I’m sure I’m leaving out a thousand more.

8. What is the best tuba playing you have ever done?
Hopefully, it hasn’t happened thus far. TBD


9. Can you compare a day in the life in the BSO to a day in the life in Future Corps?

Sure, while in the Future Corps, my day started with a strong fundamental routine followed by 7 outside performances playing a GG contra bass bugle played on your shoulder while marching. While in the BSO my day starts out with a strong fundamental routine followed rehearsals and/or performances all done inside while sitting down, playing a CC or F tuba. Other than the repertoire, the only difference is that I now play inside while sitting down.

c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights reserved. davidbrubeck.com

Images Courtesy Mike Roylance

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TROMBA-The Ultimate Plastic Trumpet! NAMM Update

As near as we can tell, TROMBA has done it again! The TROMBA Plastic Trumpet is a hit. Known as the Allora in the United States, these surprisingly resonant instruments meld plastic and valves to a whole new height.

These quality plastic trumpets are great for beginners because they are not only less expensive and more impervious to abuse, but lighter as well. This will no doubt bring them into younger and younger fingers, as has their older brother-The TROMBA Plastic Trombone.

IMG_6719This calls for a new set of 5-minute Lessons which will not start too high nor too low, and restrict the initial valve considerations to the simplicity of just two valves. Using melodies that are sung and buzzed, and a relaxed approach to breathing AND playing, The Brubeck 5-minute Lessons for Bb Trumpet will help little ones sound their first notes. An early focus on ear training via a “chromatic tetrachord” of just a minor third, builds listening and embouchure strength more securely. Engraved by Michael Nunez, each is part of a 26 page method that comes free with each TROMBA/Allora Trombone or Trumpet. Enjoy!

Tpt 5 min 1-1

Tpt 5 min 2-1.jpg

Tpt 5 min 3

Tpt 5 min 4

c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

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“FIVE” tm-Mnozil Brass Reinvents Brass Concerts!images-2

Striking. Fresh. Bold. Innovative. Like the first recordings of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet, or the Initial engaging performances of the Canadian Brass, MNOZIL BRASS has set brass chamber music on its ear and changed the course of history. Born as a quintet in 1991 with friends from the university in a local bar named Mnozil, they added two members in 1996, and stage direction in 2001. THOMAS GANSCH, ROBERT ROTHER, ROMAN RINDBERGER, LEONHARD PAUL, GERHARD FÜSSL, ZOLTAN KISS, WILFRIED BRANDSTÖTTER-three trumpets, three tenor trombones and tuba, Thomas Gansch speaks for the group as “FIVE!”tm (ahem, plus TWO!), is delighted to welcome the revolutionary Mnozil Brass to our theatre- the curtain rises!

MnozilBrass_290111_0266-Bearbeitet1. “Applied Brass” is where the rubber hits the road. Please talk about your relationship with your audiences and how they may differ from those of traditional concert ensembles.
Music is the most direct art form. You get back what you give immediately, but the relationship between musician and audience is defined by the player. I, for example, am always looking for eye contact with audience members. It encourages me to see peoples’ reactions to our show. With a brass instrument, it´s just great fun to use the whole dynamic scale and watch the audience reactions to that. You can make them cry, cheer, cover their ears or dance in their seats-it´s like telling stories. The difference for classical audiences is that they never know what´s going to happen in our show, and I think they like that!

2. The chemistry (or positive interactions) between the members of Mnozil Brass seems extraordinary. How did you meet? How do you keep it going ?
Wilfried, Gerhard and myself met around 1991 and started the group in the fall of 1992 together with some friends from the music university. In the beginning, we were playing mostly as a quintet. The septet line up happened in 96; that was also the time when the group got more “professional”.

in 2001 we did our first show with a director and choreographer. As you can see, everything developed very slowly and maybe that is one of the main reasons why we´re still having fun. There was never a “hype” about us; everything developed very naturally. As a matter of fact, we had already had made a living with the group for some years, before the media in Austria discovered us. Everything happened within the brass community, and by the time we became known to a wider public, we had already worked together for about 13 or 14 years.

3. “See our Music”, your additions to brass presentations go way beyond the traditions of simple blocking, and even beyond choreography. It is Theatre! How did you arrive at this amazing break-through of presenting bras concert music as theatre?
We achieved this by working with an actor/director named bernd jeschek, who had come to us after seeing one of our early, very wild performances. Our first shows were very free: a set list and a lot of “improv” on stage-some good, some bad. The main problem was our lack of timing. Seven jokes at a time; he showed us that less was more.
MnozilBrass_20years
4. “Smell the Stage Performance” How much time have you spent training and developing as actors? Anyone with a drama background prior to Mnozil?
It´s all learning by doing;no special background.

5. “No note too hot” How do you approach jazz, and who likes to improvise?
Everyone in the group comes from a different direction and adds his favorites to the group repertoire. The jazz specialists are Leonhard and myself. For me, I can say that i grew up with mostly Czech brass music and i had two more, huge musical awakenings as a teenager. One was when I heard Queen for the first time. The second, was seeing Dizzy Gillespie on television. That changed my game completely!


6. Do you have any favorite arrangers? Any in house?

Arrangers in general? Well, Thad Jones, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Frank Foster, Henry Mancini-mostly big band and film music specialists.
7. Arrangers in the group?
Leonhard Paul!

7. “No Music Too Inferior”. While you present a variety of styles, the quality remains exceptional. Which styles seem to offer a wealth of unexplored music?

The more styles=the more fun. that way it doesn´t get boring too soon. It´s as simple as that…

8. What does the bass trumpet add to the group? Does euphonium figure in your plans?
In terms of sound, it´s the larger brother of the flugelhorn, and it fits in a suitcase, so it´s relatively easy to transport. Easier than a euphonium anyway…

9. Three trombones, all tenors; why no bass trombone?

We´re more flexible like that.

Mnozil10. Mnozil’s tavern? What’s it like to start a brass group in a bar? How has it influenced you?
You learn very quickly how to not bore the audience. (‘Cuz if you do; you´ll get nothing to drink!)

11. What are your favorite recordings of brass?
Some of my personal favorites:
all of the soundtracks to the old Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies,
because of the incredible combination of the brass section of the London Symphony Orchestra in the 70´s and 80´s (led by Maurice Murphy on first trumpet), together with John Williams incredible scores. These are still some of my favorite music from the 20th century.

Also, the old recordings from the Czech Army Central Orchestra or the Subraphone orchestra. These are the two wind bands i grew up listening to, and they still leave me in awe with their perfect phrasing and musicianship.

And all the great big band brass sections: Basie, Ellington, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Billy May, even better with Conrad Gozzo, Al Porcino or Snookey Young on lead!

12. Whatsoever things= All the best! C U on tour!

c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

Images courtesy of Mnozil Brass

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Sergio Carolina Grooves “The Fourth Valve”

Sergio Carolina was raised in the century old band traditions of Portugal and has dveeloped into a world class soloist who is equally at home with Bach, Funk and most everything in-between. The Fourth Valve sails the Atlantic to boogie with master tubist Sergio Carolina. Enjoy!
images
1. What does your homeland mean to you, and how does it inspire your music?
First of all, thanks so much for considering me for this interview. Well, my homeland has had such a great influence on my development, not only as a musician but also as a man. I come from a small city 100km north of Lisbon, named Alcobaça. It’s near the Atlantic Ocean, the beautiful beaches of Nazaré and São Martinho do Porto bay. It’s a very beautiful region where the culture and tradition of the amateur wind bands are alive and have been for long time. Some of these amateur wind bands have existed for more than a century!! I was lucky to have in my town a very nice amateur wind band “Banda de Alcobaça”. I was very interested in learning music as a child. I joined the wind band’s school of music in order to learn an instrument with hopes to try to become a member of the band. These were my first steps and contact with the music and this wonderful and very special instrument – the TUBA.

2. When did you fall in love with the sound of the tuba, and why?
I’ve tried some instruments before the tuba: the trumpet and the bassoon but with no success. Then a professor told me: “Sérgio, there’s an old King EEb tuba in the corner, lets try it!” Since I already knew the fingerings from the trumpet, I immediately began to make some good sounds and could make a scale right way. So, it was like “Love at the first Sound!” ☺

3. What is it about jazz that makes you want to play it? What are the most satisfying ways that you can imagine a tubist playing in a jazz group?

Since I was a little boy learning tuba to play on the wind band, some of my closest friends and I discovered jazz, funky, Dixieland and second lines bands like Louis Armstrong (and his Hot Five and Hot Seven), Bob Scobey Frisco Band, Dukes of Dixieland, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy and Sam Pilafian’s Travelling Light.

We all started to catch on to this music, and wrote down on a paper some of these tunes. By making our own arrangements and starting to trying to understand how to phrase like them by spending thousand of hours listening and listening, imitating, trying to understand (so many hours, uffff!!!!)
Many of these friends are today professional musicians and I have been privileged to create bands and special projects with them!
images-1
I think that the most satisfying way that a tuba player can have playing in a jazz group would be to making the bass line, to imitate a double bass or electric band and make people forget that they are listening a tuba… Be a part of a great rhythm section with drums, guitar, piano, accordion or vibraphone it’s just amazing! Feeling that you are like the brain of the ensemble by knowing that the bass defines the tempo, harmony, style and controls the dynamic it’s just fabulous!

4. How is your warm-up different known than it was as a college student?
To be realistic, I warm up my body and brain and not my instrument.

When I pick the tuba it’s to make some technical, physical or muscles exercises or to play music. Over the years, and because of playing so many styles of music (and with different musicians coming from different cultures and styles), I become more practical. I developed a strong concept about what kind of sound I want.

Quality of Sound, Tuning, Rhythm and Phrasing/Style are the most important to me and I try to keep developing it Everyday!

5. Which tuba sonatas and concertos do you think are strong enough that a cellist would consider performing them as transcriptions?
I think that a cellist will have difficulty in choosing some good tuba music to play and include in their repertoire, BUT I think that we as tubists are finally beginning to have great music for our instrument that would fit on any string instrument! And many of that music it’s composed by tuba players who become better and better composers and … conductors! Yeah!☺

I think that the future is with us, but I’m always a very positive guy (at least, I try!).


6. What do you look for in an instrument?

Any instrument of music and in particular, the tuba, should try to imitate the voice – which it’s the most perfect and the most natural of all instruments!

We should strive to make audiences forget that we are playing a brass instrument and make them listen the sound, the music and (most importantly), make them understand the message that we have in our mind!

Being a musician is something very special and unique so, we should be happy and enjoy this gift every single second!

7. How did you develop your range and flexibility?
I could simply say that it was only due to so many hours of practice and study of the instrument in a very analytical way, but this not the only thing I have made in order to develop my range, flexibility and elasticity.

In fact, most of what I do is aimed towards getting the most information possible to the brain through my eyes. As with all brass players, what we do when playing the instrument comes from the inside of the mouth and body and can’t be seen. Many times, we are not really sure of the way we are doing most things… we need to be very creative in order to make the brain understand what we are doing, and how we are doing it so that we can do exactly the same thing the same way with no mistakes-everyday!

In order to change my playing and elevate my musical level, my philosophy in this matter needed a huge change! I started to visualize music and its processes through my eyes as much as possible so that the information could be grasped by my brain as clearly as possible!

Any problem or difficulty that a brass player that comes, at least most of the time, is from inside the body so we can’t see it! We are like blind people! If you compare our situation to that of a cellist, their problems and difficulties in playing or posture are much easier for them to see and to correct them. Why is that? Because they can see it! They simply need to look with their eyes and an not only see what needs to be changed, but change it quickly! The visual information goes to their brains very quickly and very clearly so the brain can understand what to change! I have been able to do the same thing in my playing by using my imagination, and have begun to get much better results while exerting much less effort.

For those who might be interested, my writings on this subject will soon be available in a book of mine, which has been edited by the Portuguese Musical AVA Editions (www.editions-ava.com). The focus is on Muscles, The Mind and Mechanical Exercises. The working title is “Mind & Lip Benders”. At the same time, another small book will be also released named “Itchy Bass Lines”.

8. Which music inspires you? Other things?
I like and enjoy any kind of music that is made with artistry and artistic integrity, whether from New Orleans Street second lines brass bands to Australian aboriginal natives or African percussion ensembles!

I listen to several hours of music everyday. For me, this is like putting vitamins, proteins, magnesium, calcium… in my brain and my body!

Some of my main inspirations in music include: Johann Sebastian Bach, Béla Bartok, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Olivier Messiean, Miles Davis, Hermeto Pascoal, Ella Fitzgerald, Pablo Casals, Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Big Band, Clifford Brown, Jaco Pastorius, Albert Mangeldforff and Gyorgy Ligeti.

9. Whatsoever Things…
To end this little interview, I think that the most important it’s to give always our best in any kind of things we do in life. Be generous, humble, open minded, kind and honest. If you do these things, your life will be much better and you will feel the respect from others around you.

You will feel your to your very soul the richness of life and the peace relaxation.

Peace, Love & Groove to all of you who read this interview!

Sérgio Carolino
Principal Tuba | Porto Symphony Orchestra Casa da Musica Professor at the Porto Superior Conservatory of Music and Arts, ESMAE International Yamaha Artist
E. sergiocarolino@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/sergio.carolino.3

c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

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The Future is Here! Beth Wiese Schools “The Fourth Valve” tmBeth Fourth Valve 5

Beth Wiese is an award winning soloist, an accomplished orchestral player, and innovative chamber musician. A forward thinking entreprenuer, she is about to become Dr. Wiese, and takes a moment to reflect and look ahead. “The Fourth Valve” tm is proud to present Beth Wiese. Enjoy!

1. How do you conceive of the ideal tuba sound?
Ultimately, I view sound as a vehicle for musical expression. Which isn’t to say that it’s not important, but that the concept of my “ideal tuba sound” is fluid. In a great sound, what I hear is musical integrity, character, class and presence. In effect, the goal is that the sound should not undermine the musical idea. I am often influenced by the idea of the “artisan” vs. the “artist.” The “artisan” represents the technical work that goes into playing our instrument, whereas the “artist” represents the musical expression. The relationship is symbiotic, and work on one aspect often leads to improvement in the other. Ultimately, however, I want people to hear the “artist,” not the “artisan.”
With specific regard to the tuba, I think a good sound is achieved through a balance of depth and clarity; namely, tone vs. articulation. A good tuba sound should consist mostly of tone, but the articulation is what provides the clarity, brilliance, and definition to our sound. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in achieving a good sound was from Rex Martin, who always emphasized the same characteristics of depth and clarity in our minds and on the mouthpiece. This invariably led to producing a richer, better sound on the instrument.

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2. What helps you be more musically expressive?

Listening. Before I started playing the tuba, I played the violin and really developed a love for string repertoire — Brahms sextets, Mendelssohn trios and octet, Borodin quartets, Ravel, Debussy, Elgar…you get the idea. Whenever I hit a musical “road block,” or simply am struggling for inspiration, that’s where I turn. In great performances of those works, the phrasing is this beautiful balance between creativity and logic; it sounds completely fresh, but also like it couldn’t possibly be played any other way. That kind of conviction is inspiring and what I think we should all aspire to in our musical endeavors.
From a practical perspective, I have a few ideas that I enjoy using in my practicing. The first is playing with recordings — whether it be whatever I’m practicing or sight-reading. This is my favorite part of the day — sticking in a pair of headphones and playing along with the CSO/Martinon Nielsen 4 recording, or the Britten/Rostropovich recording of Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata, or whatever else…it’s impossible to not be inspired musically, and to feel that musicality from such an intimate perspective is a great learning experience, in my opinion.
Lastly, thinking about music in the simplest units possible — literally note-by-note — helps me achieve an organic musical expression. I think there are only two types of notes — those that lead somewhere, or those that are arrivals. In effect, pick-ups or downbeats. Understanding how each note operates within a phrase gives it a sense of purpose, and can be a great musical exercise — especially with lyrical studies such as Bordogni-Rochut etudes, etc. As a former string player, I used to put bowings into my Conconne etudes, and that is a pretty similar idea, and a really fun exercise!

3. Who and what are your inspirations? (Musical & Non-Musical)
My teachers have been a great source of inspiration: Marty Erickson, Mike Roylance and Rex Martin. They’ve all been tremendously successful, but with very different approaches to their craft. I couldn’t have asked for better mentors in this field, personally or professionally. As tuba players, I think we’re pretty lucky to have so many genuinely good, generous and talented people at the top of our field.

Non-musically, there are all sorts of inspiring people in this world — though I might be disinherited if I didn’t say my parents first (kidding!). But I’m truly lucky to have parents that have been so supportive of me while also setting a great example of pursuing their own passions with great conviction. I’m also really into food (…said every tuba player, ever), and find the parallels between a well thought out and executed menu or the philosophy behind modern cuisine to be applicable to music, as well.

4. You have had some extraordinary experiences and are very well educated. Have Beth FOurth Valve 1different approaches to the tuba more often become false paths or different perspectives from which to choose the best?

Some combination of both, I think. Having been on the “school path” for quite some time now, I’ve worked with a number of tuba players — all of whom have been tremendously successful and have a very clear, well-thought out approach to the tuba and music in general. In some cases it’s been really helpful, inspiring and affects the way I approach music or tuba playing. In other cases, it’s been a lesson that what works for some people doesn’t work for others. Ultimately we all learn differently, but the teachers that have had the most profound effect on my playing are those that have been able to teach in the subtlest or seemingly simplest of ways. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the course of studying with a number of different teachers is not to go searching for the problem, but the solution. Simply hearing a phrase in your heading, buzzing it or imitating someone else’s sound can greatly improve one’s playing without dwelling on the “problem,” in my opinion.

5. Which concepts have you been taught to achieve results in seemingly oppositional manners?
The first thing that comes to mind is the idea of improvement by “taking something great, and making it even better.” When working with a student, I believe in finding whatever it is that student did best, and then working on it until they achieve a level of excellence. From there, you can work backwards down into the most problematic areas. What is seemingly opposition, I suppose, is the fact that the collective level of everything else almost always goes up, too — a by-product of essentially “teaching” or inspiring confidence. For me, confidence has rarely been intuitive and learning this way has helped innately improve the overall level of my playing without addressing many of the most negatives aspects of it. This is also very relevant in my own practice — I make it a priority to start every day by playing something that will sound good, before moving into the weaker areas of my playing or those that need more attention on any given day.

6. With Rex Martin, you have been very close to the teachings of Arnold Jacobs. As you travel, how have you found his message afar from Chicago?
I never met Arnold Jacobs, so I can really only speak to the things I’ve learned from his students (mainly Rex Martin) as well as that I’ve learned second-hand from books, recordings, etc. That being said, it’s pretty amazing how far that message has traveled, and how it has meant different things to different people — especially non-tuba players. Being a student at Northwestern, we were sort of indoctrinated into this idea of the “Chicago” style — an idea centered around the playing and pedagogy of legends like Jacobs, Herseth, Cichowicz and the like. As we move into a new generation of brass players, and become further removed from this prior generation, it will be interesting to see if and how that message — and that specifically of Arnold Jacobs — might change.

7. What has the New World Symphony experience meant to you as a musician, a person and an entrepreneur?
The approach to learning at the New World Symphony is very “hands-on”, and reinforces the concept of the 21st century musician as a truly multi-faceted individual. What inspires me at New World is the fact that everyone embraces this idea of reinvigorating and inspiring a new generation of audiences and performers alike. The collaborative atmosphere is inspiring and safe at the same time — as a musician, I feel inspired to work hard, but also comfortable enough to take risks. I couldn’t ask for more; however, a free apartment on Miami Beach isn’t bad, either…

As a musician, one huge benefit of the New World Symphony is the guest coaches they bring in on a weekly basis. These coaches work with us for a couple of days at a time — teaching lessons, leading studio classes and sitting in on orchestra rehearsals. Unlike a school environment, the feeling is more “collegial” — personally, these experiences have taught me how to target what I can learn from each artist in the short amount of time they’re here, what I can glean from their personal experiences, and how I can use their teaching and experiences to my benefit and that of our section.

8. Tuba is incredibly strong and influential in a supportive role, but the setting has to be right for it to capture the listener’s ear with concurrent timbres.

Good point, and the question I think we have to ask our egos sometimes is, “should we be heard?” What does it mean to “capture the listener’s ear”? Sometimes our goal is exactly that — to be the center of attention, I guess. But sometimes, I think that means turning the listener’s ear subtly towards somewhere else. It reminds me a bit of being in front of a soundboard in the way one adjusts the balance by turning one knob up, one down, etc.

9. The topic for Seraph Brass seems to be well thought out, refreshing, and salient. Can you take us through it?

Seraph Brass started sometime back in 2013/14 with the idea of finding like-minded women who wanted to form a brass quintet. I talked about it with a few friends, and then was contacted by Mary Bowden, a trumpeter who lives in Naples, FL and spear-headed the meeting of the five of us. Forming a group with women from — literally — around the country was a leap of faith, but couldn’t have turned out better.

Looking at the direction that classical music is headed, having a great product is no longer enough in this industry. In addition to being great performers, groups need to have a clear purpose and salient message in mind when reaching out to their audiences. Seraph’s mission is to bring a fresh perspective to a wide range of quintet repertoire, including a number of arrangements we’ve procured and commissions in the works. Personally, I don’t often feel comfortable drawing attention to the fact that I’m a female tuba player in a mostly male-dominated field. However, as female brass players, I think we do have a different perspective that is worth sharing. Moreover, if putting ourselves out there as a group can inspire other female brass players to feel more confident or inspire other young girls to take up the instrument, I’m all for it — and that is really the core of our group mission.

10. How have the impressive non-musical skills of Seraph’s members influenced its course?

Starting a group like Seraph Brass from scratch has been a great lesson in business savvy and real-world skills. You begin with this lofty, exciting goal of starting a chamber group with people who are equally as excited as you are, then try to balance that with the practical realities of time, logistics, money (!), opportunities, ideas, opinions and whatever else might crop up. Cyclists often talk about training in terms of finding their “sweet spot,” which is the optimal balance of intensity and volume to achieve maximum power, or results. I see many similarities here — the goal is to find a balance of resources that work best for us as a group and will yield the best results. With Seraph Brass, I’m very fortunate that each of us brings a different strength to the group, and shares those skills so selflessly and with the best interest of the group in mind.

11. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?Seraph Beth
Great tuba playing has meant a lot of different things to me at different times in my life. I’ll always love the first tuba CD I ever bought — Eugene Dowling’s “The English Tuba” — the one and only tuba CD I ever found in a store in Davenport, Iowa. I tried to emulate everything on that CD, from the repertoire to the phrasing and evening the breathing. Other great recordings that come to mind are the CSO/Martinon recording of Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony, Michael Lind’s “Virtuoso Tuba,” anything with John Fletcher and the Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble, John Fletcher’s recording of the Vaughan Williams Concerto with André Previn, Roger Bobo’s recording of the Galliard and Madsen Sonatas, Stephane Labeyrie’s CD “Recital,” and many, many, many others.

12. Any thoughts on European as compared with American approaches to music with the tuba?
I think the divide between “European” and “American” styles of brass playing is slowly closing, especially as the Internet brings this generation of musicians closer than ever. With things like the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall, or the Met broadcasts, we can listen to many of the same recordings. Having played only a little bit in Europe, I notice a few small things — like instrument choice — but otherwise the concepts and approaches to the tuba seem very familiar and universal, I think.

c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

Interested in more “The Fourth Valve” tm Interviews?
Don Harry
John Stevens
Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman
Deanna Swoboda
R. Winston Morris
Beth Wiese
Aaron Tindall
Marty Erickson
Beth Mitchell
Chitate Kagawa
Aaron McCalla

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“Mr. Tuba Ensemble”, R. Winston Morris Rocks “The Fourth Valve” tm

imagesWith dozens of albums, legions of successful alumni, Carnegie Hall recitals and countless premieres of new works and arrangements for tuba, The Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble (TTTE), has done everything a college group can possibly do-short of facing Ohio State in The Rose Bowl, and it wouldn’t be wise to bet against them! At the heart of the TTTE is the Sargent-General, a man of unequaled accomplishments in the realm of tuba ensembles, a founder of the Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association (T.U.B.A.),an accomplished tubist and legendary teacher and molder of young men and women, R. Winston Morris. It was he and Connie Weldon who shaped the modern ensemble, and Morris’ many contributions to tuba literature are unsurpassed. “The Fourth Valve” tm Rocks with Winston Morris!

unnamedHow do you conceive or describe the ideal tuba sound?
I can’t describe the ideal tuba sound. I can hear it… I can’t verbalize it! And of course there are many different “ideal” sounds. Is the tuba playing with the bass section? The horn section? The trombone section? Doubling bassoons? Playing jazz, playing quintet, playing an F, E flat, CC or BB flat tuba? Etc. This really identifies why we musicians are dealing with ART and not SCIENCE. I guess science could tell us a perfect tuba sound.

Of course the tuba “sound” is one of the most complicated brass wind generated “sounds” there is anyway. When you’re starting from the bottom there is much more potential for generating overtones/partials at different strengths than higher instruments.

After over 50 years of teaching and performing with virtually half the tuba/euphonium population on the planet and documenting most repertoire and recordings ever done for the tuba the answer is there is no simple answer. I STILL learn something virtually every time a student walks in my studio.

If there is anyone out there in brass land who thinks they have all the answers they are wrong! What works for one individual may well be the exact opposite of what “works” for someone else. I know many successful performers who are great but you would not have someone else emulated the way they play the horn because it simply would not work for someone with a different physical configuration which is a minor consideration relative to concept of sound. I’ve known players who could pick up a plastic Sousaphone and sound better than other players on a $25,000 state of the art brass instrument! Mind over matter really does exist!!!!

2. When it comes to jobs, you certainly aren’t a “tire-kicker”! What are some things that you can only find out about yourself and a place when you are in it for the long haul?
Well as I conclude my 48th year of teaching at Tennessee Tech University I guess you could consider that a “long haul.”

What a lot of people don’t know is that I was a high school band director (Martinsville, Virginia) for two years in 1962-64 before I studied with the late great William J.(Bill) Bell at IU in 1964. I also spent a year teach at what was then known as Mansfield State University in Pennsylvania before coming to Tennessee. This provided a fairly broad background of music education/performance/higher education experience which I have found valuable in dealing with a diverse population of students over the years.

To the specifics of your question, “what do you find out about yourself,” you find out that you cannot depend on any outside influences to motivate your professional aspirations! If you don’t have an inner drive and motivation you WILL burn out! I have two rules that I have followed since graduate school which I guess I can share with you which may or may not seem “indelicate” but nevertheless it’s the way it is! One: Nobody gives a S%#t!!! And, Two: There Ain’t No Justice!!!”

If you sit around waiting on other people to inspire you to excellence it ain’t gonna happen! If you think it ain’t fair that someone else who works less than you and is less competent makes more money and gets more attention than you do AND you let that upset your applecart, then you’re out of business.

There’s nothing greater than colleague support, and I’ve had immense support all my professional career. I am extremely thankful for this on a daily basis and I truly love all my fellow colleagues, but they have their own agenda (as it should be), or they will not be successful. Find a successful person in ANY walk of life and, whether they realize it or not, they must adhere to this philosophy or they simply will not survive. All of us know colleagues who have “burned” out way before their time. Bottom line, they simply did not have that inner self-motivation and were not getting enough pats on the back to hang in there. Maybe harsh, but that’s the way I read it 50 years later.

3. How do you stay hungry? And keep after it year after year?
I can only speak for myself. I LOVE what I do… I LOVE MUSIC… I LOVE making music… I LOVE hearing music… I LOVE teaching music… And by the way, I don’t teach TUBA and EUPHONIUM… I try to teach others how to make music on the tuba and on the euphonium. The cart is really ahead of the horse if the primary goal is blowing a horn. There is very little intrinsic value in just blowing air through a hunk of brass to see how loud and fast and high you can make a sound go. This is what the burnouts did/do. If you are making MUSIC you never burnout! Chops may go physically but you are still highly motivated.

If I were not doing what I’ve been doing for over 50 years I would have literally have no purpose in life! That’s how important it has to be, or forget it! If you don’t have that kind of commitment, then please get out of the business and quit exuding negative energy around your colleagues. Whatever the heck you’re doing, in or out of music or whatever other field, do it to the best of YOUR ability and that’s all that YOU or anyone else can possibly ask of you. If this is what you’re doing, regardless of what it is, you are a SUCCESS!!! Be the best damn garbage man you can possibly be, and you can hold your head high!!!

4. What is essential for a good warm up? Daily routine?
Any Bill Bell student can tell you about the “warm up from HELL” that he required of all his students. It was a total workout in every key from top to bottom that just wouldn’t end. Just ask Paul Krzywicki or Don Harry or any other Bell student what I’m talking about!

I DO believe in a good “warm up” routine. I do believe that each individual, after a lot of work and exposure to many different ideas, should develop their OWN best warm up. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another; therefore once a player has become their own person, I don’t believe in imposing any particular set of ideas on them. BUT, I do believe we need a good “warm up” simply to determine what kind of day we’re in for.

Everyone knows how inconsistent blowing a horn can be. You can have a “great” day or a “terrible” day and frequently with no discernable justification either way. If it’s a great day, just sit back and enjoy the heck out of it and blow that horn. If it’s a terrible day, you gotta dig in and that much harder. NO ONE cares if it’s a terrible day but YOU. (And you still have to do the gig!) But knowing what kind of day you’re dealing with is extremely important, and the best way to determine that is with a warm up of some kind which could last a minute or an hour. And then there are those days the car pulls up and you have 3 minutes before a quintet gig! We’ve all been there.

My approach to warm ups AND my primary approach to teaching the horn (gotta learn the horn first, then we can make music) is exhaustively dealing with FUNDAMENTALS. Starting with posture, respiration, articulation, etc. I drive my students crazy because I will not allow them to proceed in their attempts to make music with faulty fundamentals. This is another story that could go on and on. It’s like-don’t get me started!! If you don’t clean up the garbage NOW it will bite you in the ass sooner or later. AND it can happen in the middle of your professional career!!! I can name names of numerous people who, in mid-career, “lost it.” All kinds of reasons are given, and I’m sure valid for various individuals, but I have a sneaking suspicion that VERY early on there was a flaw in the fundamentals that were NOT dealt with at that time, but painted over-which years later came crumbling down. You’re building a 20 story building and there’s rust on the beams in the basement which were painted over. It all comes down, sooner or later.

5. How have you found such great success working with composers?

I learned early on that as a tubist we could never be any better than the repertoire we had available for the instrument. Generating new music for tuba and euphonium via compositions/transcriptions/arrangements has been a priority in my professional life. It would be difficult for me to give you an exact number, but through my personal career, studio and with various student and professional ensembles I have been involved with (we’re talking easily), over a thousand pieces generated. I have a huge number of large file cabinets filled with such works.

My basic approach with established composers has been to approach them as an equal partner in generating this or that new piece of music. It might involve a promise of a Carnegie Hall premiere (we’ve done 8 Carnegie appearances with my Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble, and are always premiering major new compositions), a promise that the piece will appear on the next recording (the 27th, yes, that’s twenty-seventh, recording project by the TTTE, EVOLUTIONS, appears this month, January, 2015 via Mark Records and Naxos on Amazon and all other outlets), a promise of other recordings (with SYMPHONIA, EUPHONIUMS UNLIMITED or our more recent jazz group, the MODERN JAZZ TUBA PROJECT, etc.), or a promise to be premiered at some important performance of regional, national or international significance, or, finally, as a promise of a commission!!!

NOTHING pleases me more (I guess other than any of my students being successful inimages-1 “the” business) than premiering a new piece of music for tuba and euphonium. That has been one of my major driving forces for all these years. I still get a kick out of a new piece. I won’t go into the specifics but Mr. Bell and I wrote a book in 1964/65 documenting ALL the tuba repertoire we could identify at that time. It was published by Charles Colin in New York. Years later with the help of a lot of wonderful colleagues we have released a couple editions of the Tuba Source Book through Indian University Press. This documented the incredible growth of tuba/euphonium literature thanks the the efforts of many many like-minded colleagues who dedicated themselves to generating new music.

6. How has the specific (numbers of each instruments), of the tuba ensemble over the years?
This has been a very evolving picture. Without a doubt, the standard instrumentation is the “Tuba Quartet”, which usually involves two euphonium and two tubas. From group to group, this can vary and the use of F and CC tubas is flexible depending on the requirements of the composition.

The LARGE group can and does from one year to the next and one situation to the next involve various numbers of 4 to 10 euphoniums and anywhere from 8 to 16 tubas-(with or without a mix of F and CC tubas, once again).

We do it all at my school: from quartets, to sextets, to octets to the large ensemble. The large group is best known since it has existed, more or less in it’s still current instrumentation, for 48 years now. We’ve done a LOT of pieces featuring solo players on many different instruments.

Are there any complimentary ensemble timbres that composers added that worked particularly well? Solo timbres?
We’re looking at a couple new arrangements we will perform this spring featuring solo oboe and solo trumpet. AND yes, they work!!! Of course, we perform pieces that feature a solo euphonium or tuba all the time. My basic approach to programming over the years is that I want as much variety of timbres and literature as possible. Since it’s difficult to change the timbre too much, I look for pieces on a program with a lot of stylistic differences: from jazz to Baroque to pop to contemporary to avant garde. You name it, we need the experience performing it.
Bru ABT Bill Bell jpeg
7. What is the best chamber music you have ever heard?
I performed with the Brass Arts Quintet, the resident professional faculty brass quintet at TTU, for 47 years. Due to extenuating personal commitments relative to my wife’s condition I decided a year and a half ago that I could no longer continue to promise the best playing possible. At that time, I turned the tuba chair over to my graduate assistant. Prior to this, we performed all the major pieces for quintet and this is great repertoire no doubt. The tuba ensemble repertoire at this point doesn’t quite compare with the quintet repertoire

8. Where can you envision the euphonium in a chamber ensemble (other than the tuba/euph. ensemble), so that the euphonium has an outlet equal (similar), to the outlet that the tuba has with the brass quintet?
Bottom line, euphoniumists MUST exert more effort into exploring professional options. With military bands being more or less the only game in town and with personnel being whacked with those bands it’s more critical than ever that dyed-in-the-wool euphoniumists explore every conceivable opportunity.

Years ago with the beginnings of T.U.B.A. (Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association, now International Tuba Euphonium Association) I had to insist with my tuba colleagues that the euphonium be an EQUAL partner in the formation of this organization. Not that the tubists involved were against the idea, it’s just that they weren’t thinking along these lines.

As Robert Ryker from the Montreal Philharmonic, Leslie Varner, Tuba Professor at Ball State University and myself worked tirelessly in Muncie, Indiana night and day constructing the initial constitution for T.U.B.A. this was debated and decided without equivocation that the euphonium, as a tenor tuba, MUST be included in everything T.U.B.A. During the First International Tuba Euphonium Symposium Harvey Phillips organized at Indiana University these same three people made necessary revisions to the initial document to submit to all attending to vote on to officially establish T.U.B.A. If I remember correctly it was the all-time-supreme-euphoniumist and Bill Bell’s favorite-the great Earle Louder who stood up! He offered an amendment correcting the language identifying the “tenor tuba” in constitution to specifically refer to instrument in this regard henceforth as “euphonium.” Thus, the die was cast and has been since that time up to the change of the name to include “euphonium” in ITEA.

In all honesty, as a non-euphoniumist, I don’t know that there has been anyone else who has supported and pushed the instrument to the extent that I have during the past 50 years. Of course I don’t include greats like Paul Droste, Brian Bowman, Ray Young, and all the great military euphoniumists who have existed over the years.

That being said, unfortunately it is currently a relatively sad state of affairs for the euphonium and the instrument needs much more exposure. I am speaking primarily of the status of the instrument in the United States. “Thank yous” are due the champions of the instrument: Brian Bowman, Adam Frey, Marcus Dickman (jazz) and others out there who are promoting the euphonium, but we need much more inventive thought and direction.

One of my former students, Darin Cochran, was perhaps the first full time euphoniumist to perform with a professional quartet/quintet, TOP BRASS, in the mid-late 1980s. Darin played the HORN part on a Mirafone (correct spelling in those days) five-valve rotary oval Kaiser Euphonium. He played the horn part where written! It worked and sounded great as attested to by their recordings. Norlan Bewley was the inspiration and tubist with that group. Recently Lance LaDuke, during his tenure with the Boston Brass, was known to pull out the ole euphonium from time to time.

So, there are these and other precedents involving the euphonium in brass chamber situations. Then we can go back to the all-time incredible Rich Matteson for jazz euphonium! That was as good as any jazz artist alive on any instrument. But what’s new??? Other than the usual chamber opportunities, brass bands, wind bands, vintage instrument bands, the euphonium players out there have to start shaking up the joint and exploring opportunities. Bottom line for me: the euphonium is the most versatile beautiful brass instrument there is! I want more…

c.2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved davidbrubeck.com

Interested in more “The Fourth Valve” tm Interviews?
Don Harry
John Stevens
Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman
Deanna Swoboda
R. Winston Morris
Beth Wiese
Aaron Tindall
Marty Erickson
Beth Mitchell
Chitate Kagawa
Aaron McCalla

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Aaron Tindall On “The Fourth Valve” tm

photo 5Aaron Tindall is a rare tandem of a sensational tuba virtuoso and accomplished euphonium player; he is both an expressive chamber musician and a solid orchestral performer. He possesses the heart of a student and the reflection of a teacher. The Fourth Valve is doubly pleased to welcome Aaron Tindall to respond as for both-tuba and euphonium!!

1. How do you conceive and describe the ideal tuba sound?
The ideal tuba sound/tone to me has an evenness of core and resonance/space in the sound. Having a symmetric space in the sound from the core/center of the tone is paramount to me. This is the place where other instruments within the orchestra are able to join “into” our sound, and find a resting point in the middle of the tone where our core should lie. The ways to achieve this delicate balance of “sound” are by learning to control various elements of our playing such as: volume of air/velocity of air and the appropriate mixture between the two based on register, aperture size, contact point/where a person’s lips meet, tongue position (front and back), soft palette height, oral cavity size/shape, teeth position, and the list goes on etc…

I never seem to be bothered if a student has a bright or dark sound. What is important to me is that he/she has a tone that is symmetrically even in all registers, and that along the way we are continuing to develop a broad spectrum of sound that can change at the drop of a hat when called upon to do so. Learning how to do this is where the rubber meets the road!

Euphonium – The ideal euphonium sound to me is as described above, but I would have to say that I tend to “prefer” more brilliance in a euphonium sound.

2. Doug Elliot is generally an advocate of keeping the same rim and changing cups when switching amongst different sized trombones. Bones Malone has advocated the concept of concentric circles, with the rim size changing around a fairly constant center. Which resonates more with you?

I prefer to keep the same rim size, while altering the other aspects of the mouthpiece such as the cup, throat, venturi, and backbore. I am all about muscle memory as the way we do anything-it is ultimately how we do everything. With this in mind, I like to keep the rim size exactly the same whether I play CC or F tuba. I have a new line of tuba mouthpieces, the Aaron Tindall Ultra Series, scheduled to launch next month with Denis Wick. I designed each of the eight models in consultation with Warren Deck in order to meet the challenging variety of situations facing tubists today.

We feel that upon trying these new models, the performer will immediately notice an increased sense of improved articulation, intonation, greater endurance, and significantly enhanced power in both the high and low registers. Along with these comes an ease of playing accompanied by a richer, broader, truer sound that we believe is currently unmatched by many of the other competitors in today’s market.

photo 13. What has Aspen meant to you? How is it different as faculty vs. fellow?
Being at Aspen for three summers changed my life! Having the opportunity to study closely with Warren Deck for nearly four years was a game changer for me. The way that I now approach music, and specifically brass playing, I certainly owe to him. Before my time at Aspen I had no “orchestral” experience, and had never touched the CC tuba. I had been labeled as a “solo player”, and mostly played the F tuba and euphonium. I had won a scholarship for that first summer via the Minnesota Orchestra’s annual WAMSO solo competition. After the competition, I remember Osmo Vanska distinctly telling me that going to Aspen would enhance my playing- he was right.

It was a unique experience for me during that first summer to show up to a lesson and learn “how” to create sound on a new (to me) mouthpiece and instrument. It was actually quite refreshing to take a step back in my playing, and learn how to be 100% fundamentally accurate on something that I believed had little resemblance to my euphonium or F tuba. In essence, it felt like I was learning how to play all over again. I can’t tell you how rewarding it felt at the end of that summer; I felt as though I had control physically, and mentally over my instrument, and now was free to musically express myself.

I became hooked on playing in a low brass section, and auditioned and won the orchestral tuba fellow position. This meant I was to spend the following two summers playing in the faculty-led Aspen Festival Orchestra. What a treat it was to learn the major orchestral rep/symphonies (which were new to me), as a larger version of “chamber music” while being surrounded by players from the Metropolitan Opera, New York, Chicago, LA, Montreal, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras. Week in and week out, my mind was being transformed by the players and conductors with whom I had the distinct pleasure to work.

4. How has playing euphonium helped or informed your tuba playing? Vice versa?
I would have to say that my euphonium chops have enhanced my ability to play in the upper register for an extended period of time on the tuba. The muscles that you create, and the ability to move a faster velocity of air on the euphonium certainly comes in handy when learning the more difficult solo tuba repertoire-without a doubt. When I first began to learn the tuba, I remember that the primary thing that changed about my euphonium playing was the width of my sound. I began to move a wider (though still fast), and concise package of air into the instrument.

5. What does your preparation for a solo concerto involve? How far before the date does it extend? What are your goals one day before the performance? On the day of the performance?

This depends on the piece and the difficulty. I am a huge advocate of breaking things down at first. This includes finding similar rhythms, phrases, intervals, etc… and finding out exactly what the composer wants from the performer.

I usually start to learn new concerto anywhere from 1-3 months before a performance.

One day before the performance, I usually will stick to a solid fundamental routine, and then spot check a few “licks” in a piece. At this point I have done several run throughs of the piece in it’s entirety and feel comfortable enough with it both mentally, and physically.

The day of usually involves drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, and a good warm-up routine in the morning!


6. What switches click in your mind and approach when playing orchestral music as opposed to solo repertoire?

I am all about consistency in everything that I do. When things are consistent, things are authoritative. When things are authoritative, people will LISTEN! The way you do anything, is the way you do everything. My goal is to be able to control the horn technically at an incredibly high level, so that when I see a phrase and sing it in my head, I can instantly and effortlessly relay that musical message to the listener. Knowing exactly how to control the instrument allows me to be free musically, and creates the ability to change my opinion about a phrase on a moment’s notice with the confidence that it will happen. It doesn’t really matter to me if a phrase is from an orchestral passage, or a ridiculous lick from a tuba concerto. I try to not think of orchestral playing and solo repertoire as being different from one another. What changes for me are the stylistic demands that a composer may ask a performer to make. At some points within music we are asked to be the leader, other times a follower, and at yet other times a collaborator, etc. This is true for both solo playing and orchestral playing. My job as a musician is to be able to effortlessly execute the phrasing and musical expressions that I want the listener to experience.

7. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?
This is a tough question! There are SO many great tuba players nowadays, and the level is incredibly high. I have heard some really fine performances at recent tuba conferences.
I would have to say that one of my favorite solo recordings would be Roger Bobo’s Gravity is Light Today. Roger’s renditions of “The Morning Song” by Roger Kellaway, and “Yellow Bird” by Fred Tackett are still the standard. Roger grabs the listeners attention from the very first note he plays. My favorite orchestral recording is Aaron Copland’s Symphony no.3 with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein-Warren Deck, and Don Harwood sound incredible!

photo 28. What is the best playing you have done?
My most recent solo tour of Japan, and particularly the concert in Tokyo wwere very memorable. Another one, a performance of Rachmaninoff’s “Symphony No.2″ with Jaap van Zweden will be stuck in my mind for quite a while as well.

9. How do you approach teaching differently than the way you were taught?
I feel as though I have had the opportunity to study with the best of the best in the tuba/euphonium business, and I am incredibly thankful for and indebted to each of my former teachers. They all imparted something distinctly valuable to me. I have tried to meld what I learned from each of these masters into my teaching, and am constantly trying to get better at imparting what I hear/know to be true in order to fix a student’s issues within their playing.

My job as a teacher is to ultimately teach the student how to teach themselves. Like Warren Deck used to tell me, “the hardest part about teaching is getting a student to perceive that which they didn’t before.”

In order to get a perception of what is really coming out of the bell, I encourage my student’s to do A LOT of recording in their practice sessions. I encourage them to aim for consistency, and prefer to give them a checklist to measure all things against, because again, “when things are consistent, things are…”

I call my checklist “Tindall’s 10 Rules of Play” 1. Beginnings of Notes, 2. Ends of Notes, 3. Note Lengths, 4. Note Shapes, 5. Evenness of Sound (depth, character, symmetrical space in all registers), 6. Time, 7. Rhythm, 8. Pitch, 9. Is it Musically Cohesive?,
(does everything make sense in the “context” of music? If it doesn’t, there is usually something lurking in the previous 8 things that has not stayed on course), and 10. Does it have sonic SWEEP and drive through each phrase to take the listener to each and every arrival point within the music?

For me, the tuba and euphonium are sonically distinct as compared to any other instruments. As a result, we must pay attention to these details in order to express and impart what we strive to express to the educated listener. When the student can attain all ten things throughout each phrase, I have found that it is a sure bet that the listener will walk away satisfied with their listening experience.

Interested in more “The Fourth Valve” tm Interviews?
Don Harry
John Stevens
Jim Self
John Van Houten
Demondrae Thurman
Deanna Swoboda
R. Winston Morris
Beth Wiese
Aaron Tindall
Marty Erickson
Beth Mitchell
Chitate Kagawa
Aaron McCalla

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com

Images courtesy of Aaron Tindall

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