Seeing Tuba Outside the Box

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Tuba By: Tutor no longer registered
Subject: Tuba
Last updated: 03/08/2016
Tags: moderntuba, musicianship, tuba

The Tuba is an instrument that is finally gaining recognition throughout the music world as an important asset to any musical group and also as a soloist. With this recognition comes a greater demand from the individual players to push the limits of the conventional Tubist to the modern expectations supplied to us from the modern composers. It is when these new and challenging parts or solos come out that it becomes apparent just how far behind certain instruments (usually popular melodic instruments i.e. Violin, Flute and Trumpet) the Tubist can be from a musical standpoint.

Often from a young age the Tuba is passed over from a musical standpoint because what we start out playing is not very musically demanding and isn’t seen as the main focus of the piece. This can lead to a musician thinking of themselves more as a “Tuba Player” than a musician and not thinking of making music out of what they’re playing, but just making the noises they are told to when they are told to do it. This applies to solos as well. While many instruments start out early playing some solos whether for school or a recital etc. the Tuba doesn’t seem to get the same start and therefore doesn’t get the same push for musicality as the others.

As the student progresses, the demands of excellent musicality will be greater and greater. The average Tuba student will feel the pressure and have to work extra hard to match or exceed the level of musicality brought forth by typical melodic instruments. So what are some solutions to counter this challenging problem? The first solution is to change the way we think about music. This means that instead of just playing the notes at the right time, we think of those notes as a phase or group of notes that are leading to the next group of notes. When the player can think of the notes this way, they will start to be able to make music and be able to express themselves in a way that was not possible before.  The second, and very important step, is to learn where the music fits in with what’s going on around them. This can be learning others parts around you in a group such as a band or orchestra, or learning how your solo part fits in with a piano or group. This not only brings an excellent sense of comfort, but allows the player to introduce an individual brand of musicianship into the music which makes it unique and more fun for the musician and audience alike. The third step is to understand the composer and piece of music that will be played. As there are so many styles of music and so many interpretations of composers' intentions, it is most helpful to research the composer and notes supplied from the composer about the piece of music so as to understand the style and interpret the music correctly.

Of course there are more steps to master musicianship if one can ever truly master musicianship. These are some thoughts that should benefit the younger Tubist so that musicianship can be built from a young age and ease the burden of catching up with their peers. As the Tuba repertoire gets harder and harder, the demand for a better musician get stiffer and the better prepared you are for this, the better chance you will have of winning a position in top tier groups throughout the world. Don’t get stuck in the rut of just being a Tuba player; strive to be the best musician you can be and the technical part of the Tuba can follow.

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