Don Harry Enlivens “The Fourth Valve” tm

I first met
Don Harry at a recent tribute to Bill Bell held at the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference at Indiana University. An illustrious teacher in his own right, Harry seems to embody the Bill Bell-Harvey Phillips line of tuba excellence in his current duties as Eastman faculty, member of the Eastman Faculty Brass, tubist with the Buffalo Philharmonic and as a soloist. “The Fourth Valve” tm is overjoyed to enjoy the enlivened discussion with such a distinguished guest.

images-11. How do you conceive of, describe or imagine the ideal tuba sound?
There is no one tuba sound except in the practice zone; the literature determines the color. Sometimes, and primarily, we are a 5th horn in the big German pieces. Sometimes, we are like a bass trombone in certain pieces of Stravinsky, Bernstein or Shostakovich. At other times, we arte a euphonium surrogate (Berlioz), or a woodwind voice (Mendelssohn and other Ophicleide parts). Primarily, we are a Lyric Baritone ‘wannabe’ or a Bass voice. My personal concept is a very intense core in the mid-harmonics surrounded by a corona of sound. Depending on the volume, the two things can vary; the core can become over powering, or the corona can be required to be the thing that fills certain colors at the bottom of ensemble (and the choir), involved.

Does your cultural heritage inform your approach to tone or interpretation?
There is a small connection to sounds I have heard and made in relation to my Delaware, Caddo and Kiowa relatives-great power and focus with a very intense projection.

2. The brass quintet is almost ideally suited to Conservatory and University Settings, one seat for each studio-plus another trumpet. How do you view the history and development of the faculty brass quintet, and which are some of your favorites?
Certainly one of the most critical outlets we have. There were many influences for me: The New York Philharmonic Brass Quintet (with the old players), The Boston Brass Quartet (with Robert King on euphonium and Herb Ludwig on trumpet), the Chicago Symphony Brass Quintet with Arnold Jacobs on tuba and, in the modern era, the NY Brass Quintet with Harvey Phillips on tuba, and the Empire Brass in its first incarnation

3. Which tuba concertos do you feel have the best mix of high musical content and audience appeal? Do you prefer tuba concertos most with orchestra, band, or brass?

I am very impressed with the Samuel Jones Concerto. It presents extremely difficult experiences, but is accessible and worth the effort. The Songs of Ascent and Journey are close runner-ups.

4. What was your typical warm-up routine like as an undergrad asUnknown compared to when achieved your career?
My warmups at that stage on the tuba were dogmatically required by Bill Bell. His routine, labeled “Warmup”, was a refresher of scales and chords that involved all of the key signatures. If you could play it, you were wasting your time and unprepared to play the piece at hand sometimes. On trombone, the Remington Warmups were a requirement and, for me, personally not very helpful. I was influenced by Joseph Novotny and his use of the Schlossberg exercises and by Bill Adam the great trumpet teacher at IU. I played for a number of years with his students and was always aware that they could sound great and play all day and all night. Eventually, I got to my idea that most warmups are too long and too easy! So I made my own versions which start with upward slurs, rather than comfortable downward things which feel good but don’t get to the main issue, the gig. I combined these with specifically gearing each day to a basic miniature of all the things I needed to be able to do and with specific things for the specific I was performing. I will eventually have a small book addressing these ideas.

5. Some have addressed the struggles and rewards of being “on the road” with a brass quintet. What are the joys and pitfalls of “teaching on the same faculty”-sharing students, and performing together? Any special consideration due to the legacy of previous brass faculty?

I have been fortunate to be in Eastman Brass since 1990 and on the Eastman Faculty for 15 years. This is my only quintet experience at this level and has always been unrelenting at all levels. It is a joy for us to get together and a tremendously therapeutic experience musically. The membership has changed over the years with the new player always fitting in like a glove. A true joy.

6. Who has influenced you most as a musician?
I was at the Gunnison Music Camp from 1959-1961 where the faculty included Earle Louder, Armando Ghitalla, Bill Bell, Arnold Jacobs with visits by Roger Bobo and Harvey Phillips. Musically, I was and still am influencedimages by Bill Bell’s sound and musicality which, even late in life, had qualities which were beautiful. Primarily, I was influenced though piano players like Walter Gieseking, Horowitz,Ernst von Dohnanyi, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and George Shearing…. (on and on.) I spent years playing piano for my own access to music when I had no access to a tuba.

7. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?
Joseph Novotny, New York Philharmonic, with Bernstein conducting Prokofiev Symphony No. 5.

8. What is the best tuba playing you have ever done?
Difficult to say; still working on it.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

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John Stevens Tackles “The Fourth Valve” tm

A bracelet inscribed with the motto “Been there, done that!” was said to be among the possessions most prized by the then recently retired opera star Beverly Sills. When asked if she might not miss some of the excitement of her former career, she was reminded of her accomplishment by the response inscribed on the bracelet.

While comparing a soprano to a tubist may seem a sonic stretch to some, few things could be more apt than the motto of Sills’ bracelet in describing the recent retirement of tubist, composer and educator John Stevens.

From a solo feature in Broadway’s “Barnum”, to performances with the top Brass Quintets and more-tubist John Stevens has “been there”. As a celebrated professor at distinguished universities, and a composer of a rich body of work which includes a concerto for tuba commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra-John Stevens has “done that”! “The Fourth Valve” tm is privileged to present the amazing John Stevens as the first respondent of our second set of four interviews on

1. How do you conceive of, describe or imagine the ideal tuba sound?
A given note should be about 98% tone and 2% articulation. Articulation is created by consonants (just like in speech) and tone is created by vowels. We tend to use “T” for our articulations, but I’m a big fan of “D” on the tuba, especially in the lower register when we usually want our tongue to be a bit lower and more rounded (less pointed) – which is most easily achieved by simply thinking “D” rather than making the mistake of trying to think about and micro-manage the tongue. Any vowel syllable that results in an open oral cavity is desirable. I prefer “OH”, with a gradual shift more to “OOH” as we move into the upper register. Very important to use a “small” but precise articulation even when playing in a loud dynamic range. Thus, the syllable “tOH” (small “t”, big “OH”) helps us get the kind of sound we want.

Here are some words I like to think of to achieve the ideal tuba sound (in no particular order): round, rich, resonant, thick, warm, ringing, singing, big, dark… I use hundreds of analogies in my teaching, and one I’ve used for years is chocolate bunnies. We all know the disappointment of biting into a chocolate bunny (usually around Easter) and finding it to be hollow. It’s much more satisfying to bite into a solid chocolate bunny. Try to sound like a solid chocolate bunny looks and feels (see many of the words mentioned above.) A sound should always be projected, regardless of dynamic (dynamics are more of a quality than a quantity anyway). To maintain a good sound in softer dynamics, add intensity to your sound as you get softer (think about a stage whisper). Quality of sound is about the most important thing for us. No matter what else you do well, nobody is going to want to listen to you if you don’t “sing” with a good sound.

How far from this ideal have you traveled (on purpose), during performances?
Occasionally one is required, or desires, to make a sound that is edgier, nastier or has other qualities. Multiphonics in a variety of styles (Encounters II, Fnugg, etc.) are obvious examples. When playing jazz a “grittier” sound is sometimes desirable. I think that players should solidly establish their ideal sound as a kind of home base so that they can divert from it when appropriate but always return to it for “typical” playing.

2. What did you learn from composing “Journey” and how much did Eugene Pokorny’s musical personality inform your choices?
I always learn a great deal from composing every piece of music. JOURNEY was an exceptional opportunity and collaboration, primarily with Gene of course, but eventually with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the conductors involved. I sat down with Gene and had some substantial conversations before I began to compose JOURNEY. I wanted to know what was important to him for the piece, favorite composers and works of his, and other musical considerations. But beyond that, even though I knew Gene pretty well already, I wanted to have a better idea of what made him tick. The last thing either of us wanted to do was to create a work that would only be suitable for him to perform, but I wanted to make it a piece that he would really love and embrace. Via the collaborative process of working rather closely together throughout the compositional process I believe we accomplished that.
john-stevens-writingA few specifics that I learned or that were reinforced by composing this work:
- The collaborative process (the human element, if you will), of any composition project is the most important thing.
- Leave an orchestrational “window” for the solo tuba, keeping the instruments of the orchestra higher and lower than the soloist (range-wise) so that the solo tuba can always be heard clearly.
- Use a lot of dialogue between the solo tuba and the sections of the orchestra (or the whole orchestra) – again, so the solo part can be clearly heard. The tuba produces a diffuse sound and is not really as “loud” as people imagine, so clarity of the solo part to the audience is a big consideration.

JOURNEY was my first commission for orchestra, and I still pinch myself that it came from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As I said earlier, it provided me with the opportunity of a lifetime – to create a major work for one of the all-time greatest tubists (and one of my favorite people, by the way) and one of the world’s great orchestras. I will always be grateful for that opportunity!

3. What recollections do you have regarding the ABQ, and being in New York during a time when brass quintets became so popular?
Well, first of all, as an undergraduate at the Eastman School of Music, playing in a brass quintet was one of my primary musical activities. As a freshman I played in an excellent group with older students. Then 5 of us formed a quintet that remained very active together for the next three years under the guidance of horn professor Verne Reynolds. We performed regular recitals of all the big works that were around at the time – Arnold, Bozza, Schuller, Etler, Verne’s Centones and other early music arrangements, etc. – and also did quite a lot of “Young Audiences” work in the schools. More than I realized at the time, Verne was also providing me wight the role model of the performer/teacher/composer that I later became.

Then I went to Yale for my MM and played in another very active quintet for my two years there, working to some degree with all the members of the New York Brass Quintet. By the time I moved to NYC in 1975, I was a very avid and experienced quintet player and chamber music had firmly established itself as my favorite performing medium.

Right about this time the American Brass Quintet began performing Civil War era brass band music, and theytu92 really needed to add a tuba to make the group a sextet to successfully render that music. They were also making the Boehme Sextet a staple of their repertoire. At any rate, they invited me to join them for both of those endeavors, in part because I got to know them very well because I had already been one of the professional tubists performing in Aspen during the summers. I played many concerts with the ABQ in and around NYC during the year and in Colorado during the summers. What a joy that was – in every way. We also did two LP recordings of Civil War era music. The first was just the six of us, recorded in the middle of the night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We scheduled the sessions then in part because it was quiet, but mostly because we were all busy and that was the only time we could count on everyone being able to be there. A couple of years later, the ABQ put together a larger group (14 or so players – brass and percussion) for a recording that would more closely depict the band size and sound of the era. Toby Hanks and I were the two tubists. I should mention that we performed all the Civil War music on period instruments. Those that weren’t owned by the players were borrowed from either the Metropolitan Museum or a local private collector. I was always playing an over-the-shoulder Eb bass. They were great fun to play but a real challenge to play in tune!

Rehearsing, performing and recording with the ABQ was one of the real highlights of my New York years, not only because it was so musically satisfying but because it created lifelong friendships with wonderful people.

4. What was your typical warm-up routine like as an undergrad as compared to later in your career?
As a freshman at Eastman in 1969, I immediately came under the spell and indirect influence of the great trombone pedagogue Emory Remington. Although I never worked directly under his guidance (and he passed away midway through my junior year), my teacher Donald Knaub had been his student and certainly espoused the same fundamentals. I am, by nature, a pretty organized and methodical person, so I quickly got into a routine of doing a regular, Remington warm-up to begin each day. I would actually differentiate a bit between “warm-up” and “daily routine” – both of which are important. The variety of exercises in my daily routine take some time to get through, but I am really warmed up long before I complete them. Some days I would work on the routine, taking perhaps 45 minutes or so. Other days I would just play straight through it (maybe 20 minutes) and move on to etudes, solos or excerpts. That has been the approach I have encouraged my students to use throughout my teaching career.

IMG_6717As I got older, and life got busier with teaching, composing, administrative work and other career issues – not to mention family life in general – I had to become more efficient with my practice time. I eventually boiled my warm-up down to a routine that would prepare me for the performing day as quickly as possible. Constants over the years for me have been long tones, flexibility exercises and pattern scales. I have also remained religious about starting in the middle and lower register before moving into higher playing. I would also say that, over the years, I learned that extensive work in the low register is important for both low and high range playing.

5. When did you really begin to devote yourself to composition, and how has it informed your tuba playing?
I never really studied composition. I studied jazz arranging with Rayburn Wright at Eastman, but when I got to Yale I didn’t really have an outlet for that and decided to begin composing for my own instrument. This was largely because I felt we had a great need for new repertoire for the tuba. I wanted to compose music that performers would find meaningful to play and audiences would find meaningful to hear – and that is still my overriding goal with each work I compose. During graduate school I composed SUITE NO. 1 for unaccompanied tuba, and POWER, MUSIC 4 TUBAS and DANCES for ensemble. I didn’t really realize at the time that, along with my tuba colleagues at Yale, I was kind of on the cutting edge of creating chamber music for tubas. By the way, I premiered DANCES on my Masters recital and it was the solo public performance on the F tuba of my entire career.
I always say that as a composer I think like a performer, and as a performer I think like a composer. It has always been very important to me to be as complete a musician as possible, and composing has been a huge part of that process. When composing a piece of music, I am thinking about every aspect of the work – from the big picture to the smallest details. That approach certainly translates to how I think as a perfumer.

john-stevens-with-tuba-16. What do you see as the major pedagogical points which:
a.) need the most attention yet &
b.) have had the greatest impact?

Without question, RHYTHM!!!! I feel strongly that rhythm, and what we jazz musicians would call “time” is very underemphasized in the teaching of young students. I always say that the right note in the wrong place is a wrong note. Counting, subdividing, pulsing (the heartbeat of the music) and grooving are all so important… By grooving, I mean that it is not enough to just play “correct” rhythms in steady tempos. Players should strive to be “in the pocket”, with rhythms being correct and steady but also having the right feel (or groove), which changes a bit depending on the style of the music. This is an especially important issue for tubists because we so often play a rhythmic role.

The other big one for me is the need to emphasize music first, then playing. Focus on the product and the technique will evolve to create the music in a successful way. Focusing on the technique will not necessarily result in good music making. I always tell my students that if someone sees them after a performance and says “That was really great playing.”, that’s certainly fine. But if they say “That was really great music.”… then you’ve done something…

7. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?
Oh my, I’ve heard so much wonderful playing from so many people in so many styles. I shouldn’t name names, because I’ll surely leave out some folks who I really admire, but I’m going to take a chance and do it anyway… by trying to put them into a context and perhaps focus a bit on players of my own age or older. The big early influences on me are typical of my generation – Roger Bobo and Harvey Phillips. Orchestral playing has been epitomized by Arnold Jacobs, Gene Pokorny and many others. Toby Hanks was a huge influence on me, not only as a teacher, but as a tubist I wanted to emulate – especially as a chamber musician. Great jazz playing… Sam Pilafian and Marty Erickson stand out. As a soloist, I must mention Pat Sheridan, who has played many of my all-time favorite performances – but there are many others who I could name as well. The level of playing just keeps going up, which means there are so many fantastic players out there “today” that I don’t even want to get started. Actually, I’ve been fortunate to have many students over the years who have made a big impact on me with their music. With one exception I’m not going to name names – you know who you are. That one exception is Nat McIntosh. The creative work that Nat has done, especially on the sousaphone, stands out as some of the most incredible and innovative playing it’s been my privilege to hear.

8. What is the best tuba playing you have ever done?
Oh man… you should have heard it in the practice room!!! :^) I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever been asked this question. Like most of us, I feel that my prime as a player was probably when I was pretty young-during my NYC years in the late ’70′s. Again, I think most of us become better musicians as we age, evolve and (hopefully) mature. For me, the most important thing has always been to “say something” musically – as opposed to focusing on the tuba playing as the primary thing.

I guess I would have to say that my 2005 “Reverie” CD is an example of that. I guess I feel that my greatest skills were oriented toward “getting the job done” in a wide variety of styles and media – chamber music, orchestral, solo work, jazz, Broadway and other commercial styles, improvising, sight-reading. As I said earlier, for me, being a good tuba player has been one part of being a good musician.

Now I’m comfortable with putting that part largely aside and focusing on my life as a composer.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

Images from the University of Wisconsin and

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Jim Self, LA Studio Legend, Solos on “The Fourth Valve” tm220px-The_Legend_of_Zorro_poster…….Jim Self, Tuba Solos In Major Film Scores: (John Williams) Jurassic Park, Home Alone I&II, Hook, & Close Encounters of the Third Kind; (James Horner) Casper & Batteries Not Included; (Marc Shaiman) Sleepless in Seattle; (Jerry Goldsmith) Dennis the Menace

You would be hard pressed to find many musicians on ANY instrument as versatile and talented as tubist Jim Self. From top Hollywood studio dates, to playing principal tuba in The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, playing the John Williams Tuba Concerto under the composer’s baton to being nominated by DOWNBEAT, Jim Self is remarkable and unique. His endeavors stretch to more than a dozen solo recordings and numerous compositions as well. What would you expect from the protege of Harvey Phillips and Tommy Johnson? “The Fourth Valve” tm is honored to host Jim Self for our Fourth interview of our first set of four interviews!

1. Do you remember how you felt on your first motion picture soundtrack session?
My first session was a TV show–2 weeks after I moved to LA (don’t remember name of show)–subbing for Tommy Johnson. I had a tuba solo and the 1st horn (Dave Duke), came up to me and said, “Hey kid, you are going to have a good career in the studios”.–Wow! I don’t remember my 1st movie but my 1st BIG movie was Taxi Driver with two tubas (Tommy and me) for the great composer Bernard Herrmann. We finished on Christmas eve 1975 and Herrmann went home and died that night.

Can you compare that to how you felt on your most recent one?
The last film I did was in May. It was X Men 3, Days of Future Past with composer John Ottman. It had a huge brass section with Doug Tornquist and I on tubas and cimbassos.
After more than 1500 movies I don’t get too excited anymore. The composer in this score, like so many in this age of Pro Tools, wanted a lot of the cues recorded with striping (tracking)–recording the strings and woodwinds then overdubbing the brass–so they can mix it separately. I really hate this kind of recording and much prefer it when we all play together on the same take. Alas it is the way things are done today–especially in big, loud action movies like X Men.

2. How do you conceive of, describe, or imagine the ideal tuba sound?
My ideal sound is clear, big and warm and projects a lot of feeling, in tune, even timbre in all registers and a solo flare when needed. Great rhythm is a must!

3. What was your warm-up like when you were 22 as opposed to11168882_800 now?
I never had a consistent warm-up routine. Most of my life I worked every day and was usually in shape even with out a warm-up. Often my work required making a “take” immediately with out rehearsal-so I learned to be my best “in the moment”. But I still recommend a warm-up to my students that includes long tones, tonguing and slurring, range from low to high-all to get everything working. I play less now so I need to practice more.

4. What are your inspirations?
My inspirations are so many from my teachers Harvey Phillips and Tommy Johnson to Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Placido Domingo, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme,Arnold Jacobs, Roger Bobo, Winston Morris, John Stevens, Tony Plog and many many other composers and arrangers.

5. How would you describe the relationship between the tuba and the bass trombone?
About as close a a marriage–both musically and personally (hopefully without the sex). Rhythm, pitch, style and balance HAS to be shared. My job is to make the musician next to me sound better by listening and sharing–not leading.

6. What is the best tuba playing you’ve ever done?
Impossible to say–there have been so many from James Horner and John Williams solos in movies, i.e (Close Enbcounters “Voice of the Mothership) to the Wagner Ring Cycle. But my 12 jazz and classical CDs are collectively the best representatives of my sound, passion and art.

Ever heard?
Certainly Harvey Phillips, Tommy Johnson, Roger Bobo, John Fletcher, Dan Perantoni, Chester Schmitz, Arnold Jacobs, Sergio Carolino–and many many more.
7. How is playing a movie soundtrack session in Hollywood different than other types of sessions, or sessions in another location?
“A gig is a gig” — you always have to play well but a studio session requires more perfection because a microphone is right over the bell and every error is noticeable. One bad performance can mean the end to working for that composer or contractor–or even the end of your studio career. Studio work often require solo or brass overdubs–where you have to be perfect. Extra “takes” cost money and too many will cost you a career. These things are true in all recording jobs: movie, TV, records, jingles. Movies are the best paying gigs and often have the best musicians, so there is a pressure for perfection knowing that billions will hear your music–forever!

8. What do you think the high points have been for the tuba in jazz? What direction would you like to see?
The tuba in jazz is still relatively new. Red Callender, Howard Johnson, and many dixieland players have been the pioneers. I hope I have added to the idiom with my concerts and recordings as have Marty Erickson, Janos Mazura and several younger players. The GREAT star jazz tuba player on the level of Art Farmer, Stan Getz, JJ Johnson, Bill Evans (and on and on), is still in the future–maybe a teenager is out there now. The euphonium, of course, reached it with Rich Matteson-but even Rich struggled to get the recognition that the great artists on other instruments received.

9. What was it like playing for Don Ellis?
Don Ellis was like “put on your seat belt and hold on tight”. Fast, complex arrangements all in odd meters was a real trip. It sure made me a better reader and comfortable with odd and shifting meters. The tuba parts were either doubling the bass or ridiculous complicated solo and ensemble lines. My greatest joy was just listening to the great rhythm sections turning the time around in a myriad of ways and always coming out on one. Don’s writing style is a BIG part of the way I compose myself.

Jim Self-Los Angeles-June 3, 2014

Some Solo Recordings of Jim Self*

I. Children at Play (Discovery-Trend), l983-Jazz tuba and harmonica. (Chosen by High Fidelity magazine as one of the top ten jazz albums of 1983.) Re-released on Bassett Hound Records for digital sales only.
II. New Stuff (Discovery-Trend), l988-Jazz Fusion. Re-released on Bassett Hound Records for digital sales only.
III. Tricky Lix (Concord Jazz), 1990-Jazz featuring Gary Foster and Warren Luening.
IV. Changing Colors (Summit), 1992-Classical
V. The Basset Hound Blues (d’Note Records), 1997-A jazz C.D. with Pete Christlieb on tenor sax.
VI. The Big Stretch (Basset Hound Records), 1999-A classical recordingOddCouple which features some Self compositions.
VII. My America(Basset Hound Records)-Folk Music
VIII. Size Matters-Jazz Standards featuring Bill Scarlett on tenor sax.
InnerPlayIX. Inner Play (Basset Hound Records),2006-Jazz and strings featuring Gary Foster, Pete Christlieb and Dan Higgins. (Chosen by Jazz Times magazine as one of the top 50 jazz albums of 2006.)
X. The Odd Couple(Basset Hound Records)-Jazz CD featuring Ron Kalina on harmonica.
XI. Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra, Bill Cunliffe(Metre Records).
XII. ‘Tis the Season TUBA Jolly-12 piece tuba ensemble.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

* List derived from, where many of Mr. Self’s recordings and publications are made available in addition to being available on iTunes, CDBaby and!

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2nd Edition of “Everglades”, Stereograms Nos. 21-30, Published by The International Trombone Association Press

21-30 ITA
The International Trombone Association Press has published the Second Edition of the third volume of Stereograms, Nos. 21-30. These original unaccompanied solos for bass trombone are also appropriate for tenor trombone with ‘f’-attachment and work well for euphonium, bassoon, ‘cello and most bass clef instruments. Featuring self-accompaniment in the style of Bobby McFerrin, Stereograms have garnered praise and been recorded and performed around the world.

“Everglades” ranges in style from Funk Etudes dedicated to Bill Reichenbach and Fred Wesley to Swing tributes for Glenn Miller and “Tricky” Sam Nanton. The most recent volume features a mixed-meter romp honoring Chris Brubeck and two additional ‘laid back’ etudes, which have soaked up impressions of the Florida Keys, and are dedicated to Jeff Reynolds and Ken Thompkins.

Those who enjoyed ‘Spain’ or ‘Africa’ from Volume II will be drawn to No. 26-’Cuba’ from Volume III. Dedicated to Phil Teele, this extended concert Etude utilizes innovative expressive devices with flowing, hypnotic Afro-Cuban mixed-meters. Two final pieces include a novelty ‘gliss-fest’ dedicated to Henry Fillmore and a dreamy piece of Americana honoring Emory Remington. “Everglades” is available from Hickey’s Music and other fine retailers.

21 Stereogram

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Stereograms for TUBA! Special Editions ePublished and Available

The availability of Stereograms Nos. 1-20 has extended from the original editions (suitable for bass trombone, euphonium, tenor trombone with ‘f’ attachment, bassoon, cello, or bass), to a special edition for tuba!

Stereograms have been described as “Bobby McFerrin meets the Bach Cello Suites”, and are rhythmic etudes which contain self accompaniment and give the aural illusion of two or three separate parts within a single melodic line.

Carefully transcribed and adapted by Professor Kelly Thomas, of the IMG_6728University of Arizona and his former assistant Will Houchin, these lower voiced Stereograms have been recast into appropriate ranges and keys for tuba and are now available for purchase on-line! American trombonist and educator Clayton Lehman has e-published these important new contributions to tuba literature as ebooks books from his new locale as a student in China! The links are as follows:

The following is a page that links to all four collections of Stereograms for Tuba on Amazon Kindle:

The next link is for #1-5 (Collection 1) that is available through B&N Nook:

The next link is for #1-5 (Collection 1) that is available through iBooks/iTunes:


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Free Introductory Stereograms A-M to Schools

A-M 1

Thanks to a generous grant from the Arts in Medicine Program of The Cleveland Clinic-Florida and anonymous donors, The Rutter Chamber Music Initiative has been able to provide free volumes of Introductory Stereograms A-M to students in South Florida High Schools. Fifteen copies of Stereograms A-M have been given away thus far, with another 25 slated for future give-aways.

The lettered Stereograms A-M, contain 13 original arrangements of traditional themes like “Just a Closer Walk”, “When The Saints Go Marching In”, and even “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, which have been recast as Stereograms. The musical application of the term Stereogram refers to playing two or three parts within a single melodic line. Each theme is presented simply, then ‘rhythmatized’ to a contemporary groove such reggae, salsa, swing or blues. Next, self accompaniment is added, and the level of complexity rises from easy intermediate to advanced intermediate throughout the course of the book.

Created out of a desire to provide stimulating material for often IMG_6719overlooked instruments, these Introductory Stereograms A-M have been specially edited to be playable on ANY bass clef instrument such as: tenor trombone, cello, tuba, bassoon, euphonium, baritone, bass trombone, string bass, or baritone.

These Stereograms were made available to the Rutter Chamber initiative at a reduced price by Gordon Cherry, publisher of the works, and are available for purchase through Cherry Classics at:

Read a review of the etudes by Joshua Hauser, Professor of Trombone atA-M 2 Tennessee Tech University:
“David William Brubeck’s Stereograms A-M represent a wonderful approach to examining Theme and Variations for younger musicians. By using ‘standard’ melodies, he presents each tune in a form that both the performer and audience can recognize easily before launching into a variation that puts a twist on the melody while still allowing us to sing along in our heads. So often when working with students on variation forms, we have to remind them to find the melody within the more technical passages. By using an embedded bass line as the main thrust of the variations, Brubeck’s Stereograms both allow the melody to be heard throughout and also serve to introduce students to different grooves and rhythmic patterns. I really enjoy practicing and performing both these and the more advanced Stereograms. Bravo!”

Tubist and Los Angeles Studio musician, Beth Mitchell and Euphonium virtuoso Patrick Nyren will each be performing one of these Introductory Stereograms at the 30th International Tuba and Euphonium Conference at Indiana University on Saturday May 24th at 1:45 pm. Mitchell has selected the reggae treatment of “Itsy Bitsy spider” while Nyren will render “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” which initially takes the form of slow drag, and is then transformed into a New Olreans style “second-line” up tempo swing.

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WIN A FREE TROMBONE! ITEC 2014 Hosts An All-Stereogram Recital Sponsored by TROMBA, The ITA Press, and Cherry ClassicsBlue Tromba 2

The 2014 International Tuba & Euphonium Conference celebrates its 30th1932459_10202309803719050_1959951834_n anniversary at Indiana University later this month and will feature an All Stereogram Recital featuring special guests:
Kelly Thomas, Tuba;
Patrick Nyren, Euphonium;
Beth Mitchell, Tuba;

IMG_Brass Miami4& the composer of Stereograms:
David Brubeck, Bass Trombone

With very special guest, Chao-Chun Chen, trombone
And a surprise guest jazz artist TBA

Originally for solo bass trombone or euphonium, Stereograms have been described as “Bobby McFerrin meets the Bach Cello Suites”. Over 50 have been published, performed, and recorded throughout the globe, and separate editions have been transcribed for tuba and baritone saxophone.

By alternating between melody and accompaniment, Stereograms give the aural illusion ofStereograms Original012 two or three parts within a single melodic line. Stereograms will allow performers to engage all types of audiences with this beatbox style of playing, and hold their attention for 30 minutes or more. Perfect as encores or when combined into suites, The Stereograms will also be demonstrated as the basis of a successful jazz duo, and innovative mixed low-brass quartet.

Attendees at the ITEC Stereogram recital which takes place on Saturday, May 24th, from 1:45-2:45 pm will be eligible to win one of the following prizes:

1. TROMBA-The Ultimate Plastic Trombone
with free padded gig bag, trombone stand, two mouthpieces and cleaning kit

2. Rhythmic Etudes for Bass Clef Instruments (Introductory Stereograms A-M),
published by Gordon Cherry of Cherry Classics

3. Stereograms Volume III, “Everglades”, Nos. 21-30 published by the International Trombone Association Press

4. TROMBA-The Ultimate Plastic Trombone
with free padded gig bag, trombone stand, two mouthpieces and cleaning kit

5. Stereograms Volume III, “Everglades”, Nos. 21-30 published by the International Trombone Association Press

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Winners must be present to claim prizes. Prizes awarded randomly. No substitutions.

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ITEC 2014 Special! LA Freelance Tubist Beth Mitchell Answers “The Fourth Valve” tm

shapeimage_3Beth Mitchell is an active Los Angeles freelancer, having worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Orange County Philharmonic Societies, the Los Angeles Zipper Orchestra, and many other arts groups giving concerts, masterclasses and numerous solo and chamber recitals around southern California. davidbrub is proud to present Beth Mitchell in the third installment of “The Fourth Valve” tm, and as special guest performer on the Stereogram Recital at the 2014 International Tuba and Euphonium Conference at Indiana University. Beth will perform Stereograms in recital along side their composer-bass trombonist David Brubeck, and guests Patrick Nyren on euphonium and Kelly Thomas on Tuba on Saturday, 24 May 2014 from 1:45-2:45 pm in Sweeny Hall.

1. How do you conceive of, describe or imagine the ideal tuba sound? (Bb, C, Eb, F.)
As a free-lance musician in L.A. my ideal tuba sound changes with the kind of gig I’m playing. What I personally like best is a big full, rich orchestral tuba sound on Cc tuba, but that isn’t always ideal if I am playing chamber music, a recital, or soloing with an orchestra.

Different sizes and keys of tuba- Bb, C, F, and Eb are like tools in a mechanics garage. You use the appropriate size/keyed tuba for the music you are playing. You wouldn’t/SHOULDN’T use a wrench to hammer in a nail, neither would I use my little solo F tuba to play Prokofiev Symph. No 5

2. How do you achieve more musical expression?
More musical expression can be achieved in so many ways. First step is to observe anything printed in the music. Articulation and dynamics for starters, speeding up, slowing down tempos, then you can play with attacks on individual notes, shaping lines and phrases, etc…

One of my favorite euphoniumists once said, “when your memorization ends, your music can begin” meaning that once you internalize a piece you will start to understand its nuances, phrasing, and a whole new level of music is opened up to the performer.

photo-473. Name two types of inspirations:
Musical: THE MOST influential musical inspiration for me is my brother, bass trombonist Ben Chouinard. I was 14 when he encouraged me to switch from clarinet to tuba. The first day I brought a tuba home he sat me in front of our record player and had me listen to a duet album of Michael Lind and Christian Lindberg. “Listen to Michael,” he said “THAT is what you are supposed to sound like.” In the early years he taught me to breathe, play in tune, how to support an orchestra, and how to fit into the sound of my section. He got me on a diet of Roger Bobo, Arnold Jacobs, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Empire Brass, Canadian Brass, and any good CD we could get our hands on. He is my greatest musical inspiration to this day.

My greatest non-musical inspiration is my mom. She is an amazing professional photographer, incredibly artistic, a generous person and dedicated Christian. She models and strives to be the kind of woman I would like to be.

4. What was your typical warm-up routine like as an undergrad?
As an undergrad David Fedderly turned me onto what I call the ‘Arnold Jacobs 20 minute warmup’. It is found in the back of the Hal Leonard Advanced Band Method book for tuba (pages 50-58, WITH optional articulations). It covers the beautiful sound exercises, scales in all keys, tonguing, slurring through several 8ves, gymnastic rhythmical exercises, articulations, and arpeggios. I’m sure I forgot something…

I know we should switch things up, but it warms up my whole face and it covers almost every aspect of playing I might encounter in any situation. To this day, it is my go-to warmup if I have a long day of playing or only a limited if time on the horn.

5. What one sentence, or so, comes to mind when you think of:1932459_10202309803719050_1959951834_n
Roger Bobo- ONE SENTENCE? Roger is an INCREDIBLE master tuba player, teacher, and mentor; he is a generous individual, and one of my earliest inspirations who continues to inspire me daily. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to work with him as often as he comes into LA and will continue to pester him as long as he allows me to.

Patrick Sheridan- Patrick has showed me that what is seemingly impossible on tuba is NOT, and can be done with pizazz and flare; he is a fine teacher and has the most spectacular wardrobe I have ever seen on any tuba player

Jim Self- Jim is an inspiring tuba player and mentor; he has challenged and pushed me as a tuba player in new directions and taught me so many things about life, music, and tuba.

Doug Tornquist- Doug is an amazing soloist and studio player; I’ve had the privilege of sitting next to him on occasion in sessions, and his playing/reading is beautiful and flawless.

John van Houten- John is a great tuba player, good friend, and mentor, my go-to guy when I need an opinion on a new piece, or to kick my butt on any aspect of playing- especially loud low playing.

shapeimage_3-16. How do you view the role of the tuba in a tuba quartet? What are the challenges? The delights?
The roll of tuba in tuba quartet varies with the part one is playing.

In a tuba quartet you need to know when to play out and when to get out of the way. As a dark conical ensemble, it is difficult for the average ear to pick out and distinguish the important parts, so it is the quartet’s responsibility to make that very obvious. Extremes in dynamics and articulations can be helpful so your ensemble doesn’t all mush together.

1st tuba/3rd chair is often a soloist, or on countermelody with Euph. It is a chair with many hats- you must blend harmonies and get used to not playing the root, but playing in tune within a chord.

I call the 2nd tuba/4th chair the power chair. In this seat you are the tonal foundation and the rhythm section. Whether or not your group stays together tonally and rhythmically many times is up to you. Your pitch must be perfect at all times.

The amount of literature written for tuba/euphonium quartet is staggering considering how long this ensemble has been around. I attribute the enthusiasm for this particular ensemble to the amiable personalities usually found among tuba and euphonium players, their love for community, and beer.

7. When do you prefer cimbasso, and why?
My favorite place for cimbasso is in the movie studios. In the right hands, no instrument can be more sinister, scary, evil, and intimidating than a cimbasso.

8. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?
Recently? Øystein Baadsvik. Simply amazing.

9. What is the best tuba playing you have ever done?
Playing with great symphony orchestras is my personal highlight. I LOVE orchestral playing- the colours, the passionate music making, mixing my sound with a good section, exploring the genius of a great composer. As get older, play longer, experience more of life, my perspective changes. I become a stronger and better musician. I think my best days are coming, and I can’t wait to see what they will be.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Beth Mitchell

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Matyas Veer takes “Seven Positions” tm on a Solo Video Romp

Many of the early instrumental solo virtuosi, (usually violinists or keyboardists), eventually secured lasting fame as composers first, and virtuosi second. Before sound recording, composition was the surest way for the early virtuoso to secure more enduring recognition. Perhaps the two virtuosi who cast the longest shadows of influence into the Romantic and Modern eras as both players and composers were the violinist Niccolo Paganini and the wizard of the piano, Franz Liszt. For many Hungarian musicians in particular and those trained in Hungary, the soloist Liszt looms larger than life as a national treasure, musical icon and inspiration. Amidst this backdrop has emerged a bass trombonist who is consumed with pursuing the full virtuosic potential of the classical bass trombone as as a solo instrument. Matyas Veer, recently appointed to the Netherlands Philharmonic possesses an impressive momentum as a video recording artist on the bass trombone. Combined with his orchestral experiences, and a passion for the trombone quartet, he is a vital force and video pioneer in advocating the soloistic use of the bass trombone. Matyas will be joining Ben van Dijk, Denson Paul Pollard and Erik Van Lier as a faculty member for the upcoming Dutch Bass Trombone Open. “Seven Positions” is delighted to host Mr. Veer as the fifth respondent of our third series of “7 Poositions” tm.
dbto-2012banner1. What do you look for in an instrument?
The key is the ease of operation and a good sound. Since I first began playing the trombone I have been sensitive to the mechanical condition of my instrument. The slide (including tuning slides), and valves always had to fit perfectly-these are the basics. Of the instruments presently available, I prefer Michael Rath’s trombones. I prefer a dual bore slide with Hagmann or Thayer valves. The size and material of the bell can affect the tone, but in reality, the sound depends on the breathing and technique of the player.

matyas 22. How do you conceive, describe or visualize the ideal tone quality?
The sound should be thick and glossy, but mainly centered. Since I played tenor trombone for a very long time, so I prefer a lighter bass trombone sound, and this suits the performance of the solo pieces as well.

In my opinion the bass trombone is clearly part of the trombone section, and not a member of the tuba section.

Of course, maintaining a good balance with the tuba is important too, but if we look that the second trombone is the bridge,than the first trombone and the bass trombone have to be the bridge pillar. Some exceptions to this include the works of Russian composers, where the bass trombone works in parallel with the tuba. In these instances, the tone ought to become darker.

3. What is your secret to a good legato?
The secret of a good legato is most influenced by breathing techniques and hand motions.
The air flow should be trained with vocally oriented literature such as etudes as cantilenas.
The slide should never be allowed to be handled in a lazy way, and special care should be taken to execute glissando.

4. What helps you to achieve musical expression?
It is succumbing to the fantasy that solves everything. Find the goal inside yourself, and work it out precisely-110%. Be serious in what you are doing!

5. Name two types of inspiration: Musical & Non-musicalMatyas 1
: to take part in such a completely absorbing musical performance, is euphoric in itself. Concentration and maximum focus, allows perfect playing, in the end, happiness.
It is my goal to be able to inspire musicians, and not only trombone players. As a result, my ideal of beauty is is the violin and the voice are very close to my heart-perhaps Placido Domingo or Itzhak Perlmann.
Non-musical: My inspiration is my family.

6. How did you begin to develop as a soloist?
It started it very early. As a musician in a family of musicians, my whole family has always been natural on stage. Around the age of 10, besides playing the trombone, I also sang in the Hungarian State Opera Children Choir. I was on stage at least 5-10 times per month.

In Hungary “brass soloists” are carefully trained, and this means that there is an even greater emphasis on the solo repertoire than on the orchestral literature. During my studies, it was my goal to be a participant in solo competitions. These training I received has formed the basis of my development as well. The concerts and competitions with the Corpus Trombone Quartet helped as well.

Please discuss your favorite solos on bass trombone

My favorite piece? This is an unanswerable question. The piece which I actually working out, it is the dream of the moment, and it will become my favorite.

7. When playing really soft (ppp), becomes necessary what percentage does each contribute to the equation? The right equipment/Air flow/Embouchure Control/Other
I think the instrument has little to do with the creation of the “pianissimo”. The best role the trombone can provide is what I have already mentioned-perfect technical condition. It seems to me that the air matters most. Only a fully relaxed, stress-free breath can produce an effective piano. The lips must stand in facing forward position, so that the lips and slide should be ready for action in order to respond to the relaxed breath. Just like the performance of an athlete,
fine pianissimo playing can’t rely only on talent. We have to prepare mentally and physically as well.

T1. What is the best trombone playing you have ever heard?
The two bass trombone players who have made the biggest impression on me are Ben Van Dijk and Csaba Wagner.

I was only 13 years old when I first heard Ben and I loved it!

Csaba is my best friend and we grew up together. What he is doing with the trombone, has alays been exemplary for me.

My favorite contrabass trombonist is the amazing Brandt Attema.

The tenor players and jazz trombonist I like are Christian Lindberg, Michel Becquet, Joe Alessi, and Wycliff Gordon..It is impossible for me to single out only one name, because I admire and enjoy listening to all of them.

T2. What is the best trombone playing you have ever done?
The best thing I’ve played? Good question. The key is the audience. I’m so gratified when I am able to connect with a great number of people through my playing. When people are happy and I have had a part in sharing this happiness with them through my music-that is all that matters to me. That is the most important feeling: to play something that people like.

T3. What does an opportunity of focusing exclusively on the bass trombone (without tenor trombone, tuba or any other instrument), such as the opportunity found at the DBTO reveal?
The DBTO is vitally important because it represents the essence of the bass trombone: real bass trombonist teaching real bass trombonists. I always dreamed of participating in festivals like this when I was younger.

The DBTO is a fantastic opportunity for every bass trombonist!

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved
images courtesy of DBTO, and Matyas Veer

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“Seven Positions” tm Hosts Up-and-Coming New York Bass Trombonist Jennifer Wharton

An award winning bass trombonist and sponsored artist for Jupiter ‘XO”, Jennifer Wharton has burst upon the New York Scene with a flurry of top drawer performances. And, in the tradition of Melba Liston and Leslie Havens, she has done so as a musician who happens to play trombone and be a woman. Wharton represents a fresh young voice and perspective on the bass trombone in the 21st century and is honored to host her as the fourth respondent of our third series of “Seven Positions” tm.JW 2
1. What do you look for in an instrument?

Whether it’s a bass trombone, tenor trombone or tuba, i want a horn that I don’t have to fight. It should make music easier. I tried a few years back to switch from a giant Edwards, dual bore/Thayer/independent/huge bell, to a dependent/rotor/small bell Conn 62. I was miserable for that whole year. The horn sounded great but I hated how hard I had to work. Play what you sound good on, what works for you. Just because your hero plays a specific instrument doesn’t necessarily mean that is the best horn for you. Now, I play an ‘XO’ by Jupiter and I love it!

2. How do you conceive, describe or visualize the ideal tone quality?
It depends on the type of music I’m playing but I really love Norman Bolter’s concept of playing colors. I don’t always think about sound in that way but playing a “red” vs a “blue” sound can be an interesting place to start.

3. What is your secret to a good legato?
I don’t have one. I have the world’s slowest and dumbest tongue. I’m lucky I can tongue at all. Tonguing is really one of the things I’ve had to work on the hardest. Remington and Rochut have gotten me to a place that isn’t completely embarrassing.

There were no special tricks for fixing my tongue. I did a lot of Kopprasch exercises and gave up my big orchestral equipment for some lighter equipment. I fight it everyday, still. Right now I’m the only trombone in a small pit trying to match the staccato of two reeds and a trumpet! I’m working hard!

4. What helps you to achieve musical expression?
That’s a tough one. I do many things that require me to think and play like a machine. It can be easy to fall into that mindset, especially playing a Broadway show. The only way to survive is to try and find the music in whatever you are playing. Whether it is an entire page of pedal F#s or playing the button at the end of a dance number, I strive to make it more than just notes for my own sanity. And the rare moments where I’m playing for me and no one else – I cherish those.

5. Name two types of inspiration:JW
Musical -
Laurie Frink. I didn’t know Laurie well but being a woman surrounded by mostly men adds a layer of complexity that she seemed to handle well. Everyone respected and loved Laurie because she played her ass off and she was hilarious. And she did this DECADES before I got here! I’d love to be more like her.

My husband. Though he is also a musician and a trombone player, the way he lives his life and the way he takes care of friends and family inspires me. You will never meet a better human than John Fedchock. I don’t know what I did to deserve him but I am thankful everyday that I get to keep him!

6. What crossovers have you found valuable from music to athletics?
Ten years ago, I picked up triathlon as a hobby. A very expensive hobby. Since then I’ve done every distance triathlon up through the Ironman – 2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike and 26.2 mi run.

Keeping my body in shape has helped my trombone playing immensely. In college, I was quite a bit heftier and always doing breathing exercises. I have no need to anymore. A coach tried to explain it to me with terms like “V02 max” but I just know that my lungs are better the more I swim, bike and run.

It also helps me mentally. I tend to be very hard on myself so getting out my demons through exercise means that I don’t throw my horn out the window.

7. When maximizing volume becomes necessary what percentage does each contribute to the equation?
The right equipment/Air flow/Embouchure Control

All equal parts. The wrong equipment might make you sound too harsh at louder volumes. Without proper air flow, you will never play loud enough. If you have proper air flow but no control of your embouchure, you’ll lose the note.image-2

T1. What is the best trombone playing you have ever heard?
Living and playing in New York, I hear amazing trombone playing on a regular basis. I have also been fortunate enough to hear and study with amazing trombonists. I do not want to single out anyone.

T2. What is the best trombone playing you have ever done?
I’m pretty hard on myself so I usually don’t feel great about my playing but… A few years ago, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society was performing at BAM. We were onstage, in costume and standing. I had to play both bass bone and tuba while standing in this incredibly involved, intense piece called Brooklyn Babylon. When I heard the live recording, I said to myself, “Hey, I didn’t sound half bad!” That’s about as good of a compliment I’ll give myself.

T3. What has it been like breaking into the New York scene as a young person in the 21st century? Has being female shaped your experience in any meaningful ways?
I had met a few Broadway conductors and contractors that cane through San Francisco. They were very kind to me when I moved to New York. They told me who to call and to use their name as a reference. One person who was very kind to me early on was Douglas Purviance. He was generous with work and advice. But everyone has been truly great. Much different than back home in California. Being a female trombonist has helped me stick out in a sea of male trombonists but that’s changing a lot. There are a bunch of talented women honking away in NYC.

There is one conductor I’ve worked for a few times who LOVES pranks. I had a tuba solo in one show all by myself, completely in the clear. He would mess with me relentlessly. he would try to make me laugh or throw things into my tuba right before I had to play. The worst was when he threw a big water bottle in the tuba – and it got stuck. Fun times!!

c. 2014 David William Brrubeck All Rights reserved

Images courtesy of Jennifer Wharton

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“The Fourth Valve” tm Catches up With LA Tuba Legend John Van Houtenphoto-2_1

shapeimage_1Ranked among the first call tubists in the top recording city of Los Angeles, John Van Houten is no stranger to playing on a variety of instruments and in a number of different styles. Best known as a tubist, contractor & orchestra manager, and teacher, Van Houten has performed on several major television shows and popular movie soundtracks including “Family Guy”, “The Simpsons”, Hulk, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek, the award winning UP, and Ratatouille. He has taught at prestigious institutions throughout Southern California, and has performed with some of the finest musicians in the world. is delighted to catch up with John Van Houten for the second installment of “The Fourth Valve”, tm.
1. How do you conceive of, describe or imagine the ideal tuba sound?
(On ‘Bb’, ‘C’, ‘Eb’, & ‘F’)

With the exception of the Eb Tuba, I use all these tubas. They all have a certain Colors and moods one can achieve in different ranges, high or low. The Composer’s writing has a huge influence as well as the size of group and genre.

2. How do you achieve more musical expression?
I like to get in the mood of the music. For me, I’ve always drawn on life experience, Books, Sports, Paintings and Film as inspiration to “Tell a Story”. I’ve been doing this since I was @ 15 years old.

star20trek3. Name two types of inspirations:

If have to say Tommy Johnson. He played the Tuba like a Cellist. And what an incredible sound. It was amazing how he always keep sounding better.
Have to say the World Champion KickBoxers I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Benny “The Jet” Urquediz and Erik Paulson. It’s an art form, but for those moments of sheer violence. Hard to explain. Like a Mahler Symphony.

photo-5_14. What was your typical warm-up routine like as an undergrad?
As a Undergrad I would always start with Long Tones, Bach Cello Suites 1 and 2, Flexibility, Scales, Bordogni/Rochut and Étude books.
Now I start with the Jimmy Stamp Mouthpiece Routine (usually in my Car along with a CD) Lone Tones, Bach Prelude No. 3, (from the 6 Suites for Solo Cello) , Hip-Bones 20 Minute Warmup or Arnold Jacobs Studies. Rouchut, down an octave and down two octaves. And then what kind of music I know that is coming up.

5. When did the LA Brass musicians first achieve a higher level, and who are the players who stand out in your mind as having established the highest levels of playing?
I’m under the impression that the skills in LA have always been High.

The musicians that come to mind, Vince De Rosa (Horn), Malcolm MacNab (Trumpet), Phil Teele (Bass Trombone), Dick Nash (Trombone), Bill Reichenbach (Bass Trombone), and of course John “Tommy ” Johnson (Tuba)

6. What have you learned pursuing solo tuba, as apposed to ensemble playing?
As a Soloist, it’s up to you, the Performer, to entertain the audience. Roger Bobo had this down to a science.

Ensemble playing, is all about your role in the music. Team work.

Apes7. How and how much do you change your playing from a purely acoustic situation, to one largely dependent on microphones?
Not much. It depends on the size of the group and what the Conductor or Composer want and again the genre of the Music, Film or Symphonic.

8. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?
Tough question, but I’ll just say in Order of who I was exposed to: Tommy Johnson, Roger Bobo, John Fletcher, Arnold Jacobs and Gene Pokorny.

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

Playing on Soundtracks with Tommy Johnson and playing with Norm Pearson , of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Mr. Van Houten is an artist sponsored by Kanstul musical instruments.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of:

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“Kid Ory”, by David William Brubeck, Free Duos for Trombone and Bass Cleff Instruments

When TROMBA, The Ultimate Plastic Trombone, asked me to adapt some of my elementary trombone materials for their young trombonists, I leapt at the chance to introduce a concept of melodies restricted to a minor third, and four consecutive positions-initially first through fourth.

photo-39This approach served the dual purposes of reducing the challenges posed by slide distances and sensitizing the young musicians to half-steps right away. One of the ‘TrombAngel’ parents happily reported to me that after the “5-Minute Lesson” series, her daughter could pick up the viola, and play in-tune without needing to mark the fingerboard with tape. Something the mother, an accomplished violinist and violin teacher, attributed to the ’5-Minute Lesson” approach. Other benefits have become apparent, and we’d like to celebrate the popularity of this ground-breaking technique with the release some duos based on one of the more popular ‘minor third’ melodies-Kid Ory. Enjoy!

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

Kid Ory Duet (Eb) FINAL
Kid Ory Duet (Bb) FINAL

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