Double bell tuba

Double bell tuba
Double bell tuba

Monday, February 28, 2011

Colin Firth (euphonium player)

Colin Firth was honored with his first Oscar win Sunday night as the widely-acknowledged front runner walked away with the Best Actor statue for his work in The King's Speech. In the movie, Colin played the stammering King George VI, who overcomes his speech impediment to deliver a history speech to his country as they go to war with Germany in World War II.

Did you know that Colin Firth learned to play the euphonium when he was in school?
While in Kings' School in England, he wanted to play the guitar, but the school banned the guitar and saxophone, as they were "not serious instruments," and he was told to play the baritone euphonium instead.

So, I'm not saying that he wouldn't have won the Oscar, but I'm sure it helped!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Upcoming Day of Brass & Tuba Day ...


The University of Rochester College Music Department is thrilled to offer the second annual “Day of Brass” on Saturday, March 26th from 9am-4pm at the UR Alumni and Advancement Center (formerly St. Agnes High School) on East River Road adjacent to the UR River Campus. This FREE event will include rehearsals, master classes/clinics, and a final concert featuring a festival brass ensemble (comprised of guests mixed with UR undergraduates) and a special appearance by the 198th Army Reserve Band Brass Ensemble. This year, the event is open to all participants, ages 14-100!-- high schoolers, college students, local amateurs, and adult musicians.
We are seeking participants for the “Day of Brass"-- any accomplished trumpet, horn, trombone, euphonium, or tuba player who can perform at an intermediate level can participate. There is no audition or enrollment fee! While we hope to accommodate as many participants as possible, we are bound by the size of the stage used for the final performance. Therefore, participation will be managed on a first-come, first-served basis, keeping in mind the desire for a balanced instrumentation. Interested brass players can RSVP or request additional details by sending an e-mail to
Our 2011 offerings include a little bit of everything-- a workshop on jazz improvisation, a session on do-it-yourself instrument care and maintenance, and, back by popular demand, a session on the history of brass with over 40 vintage instruments for you to try! The University of Rochester Stingers Trombone Ensemble will be featured. We will also form a festival ensemble (a mixture of guests and UR students), and we will be playing a fun rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by the rock group Queen.
Won't you please join us for the 2011 Day of Brass? Please RSVP by replying to or by calling 585-273-5157. We can e-mail scanned sheet music to you in advance. Here is a YouTube video from last year's Day of Brass, in case you'd like to see what this is all about:


Come celebrate "International Tuba Day" by playing in a fun concert on Thursday, April 28th at Strong Auditorium on the U of R River Campus. The University of Rochester Brass Choir will be hosting the event this year, which will feature several tuba and euphonium works performed by a massed tuba/euphonium ensemble (comprised of guests and UR undergraduates). The concert will also feature performances by the full UR Brass Choir and the UR Percussion Ensemble. There will be a brief rehearsal at 6pm on the 28th, and then the concert will begin at 8pm. Scanned PDF versions of the sheet music can be e-mailed to participants in advance. Please RSVP by replying to Roger Demott ( or Josef Hanson (

Josef M. Hanson
Manager of Music Performance Programs
Instructor, MUR 101
Director, UR Brass Choir

College Music Department
University of Rochester
206 Todd Union, box 270052
Rochester, NY 14627
phone: 585-273-5157
fax: 585-273-5337

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The 'Heavy Tuba Experience' performs 'Since You Left'

'The Heavy Tuba Experience' was founded by Heimo Schmid in 1993. The musicians are from the Upper Austrian classical and jazz scene. Three tubas, four euphoniums, doubling at times on trombone, as well as a rhythm section of five contributes to the perhaps untraditional sound.
Since 1997 the British vocalist Dorretta Carter has joined as a member of the ensemble.
The band cooperated with tuba soloists Jon Sass (4CDs), Howard Johnson and Joe Daley. 'The Heavy Tuba Experience' combines classic, jazz, rock, funk and soul and cannot be compared to any other group.
The common place or usual is not what 'The Heavy Tuba Experience' is about. They present once again the virtouosity of modern tuba playing in its unique substance. Nevertheless, the good old themes cannot be denied – exactly the opposite. It is music that definitely goes in your ear, but cannot be cubbyholed or easily classified.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuba Urinals ...

I understand these 'tuba urinals' really cut down on "splash," but just the thought of using the horns for this purpose brings tears to my eyes!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Concerto moves the tuba front and center

NEC’s Schuller to conduct his piece’s premiere
Mike Roylance of the BSO says a new tuba concerto by Gunther Schuller is “the hardest thing I’ve ever played.’’ (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By David Weininger Globe Correspondent / February 12, 2011

When Mike Roylance plays a tuba piece — be it a concerto, a sonata, or some other work that places the low-voiced instrument in solo role — he often gets a comment from a listener along the lines of: “I never thought a tuba could do that.’’

Mike Roylance, tuba soloist
Music of Haydn, Schuller,and Brahms

The reaction induces mixed emotions in Roylance, who is the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s principal tubist and teaches at New England Conservatory and Boston University. “I guess I’m really glad for everyone that says that,’’ he said during a recent phone conversation. But he’s also somewhat dismayed to be reminded that “the tuba has a lot of preconceived stereotypes that they [used to] kind of box it into the back of the orchestra.’’

Make no mistake: It’s tough out there for the tuba. Half a century of rising playing standards and a concurrent expansion of repertoire have yet to dissipate the instrument’s image as a lumbering, slightly comic entity, best hidden away at the back of the orchestra to pick up the music’s bottom end.

Roylance, though, is doing his part to edge the instrument further into the spotlight. He recently released an album on iTunes containing a recent piece by composer Robert Smith and arrangements of three tangos by Astor Piazzolla. And on Tuesday, he’ll give the first performance of a new tuba concerto by NEC’s Gunther Schuller, who will conduct the Boston University Symphony Orchestra. It is Schuller’s second work for tuba and orchestra, which in and of itself puts him in a rarefied group of composers.

The backstory of the new piece touches on important aspects of the instrument’s recent history. Like Schuller’s first concerto — “Capriccio for Tuba and Orchestra,’’ written in 1969 — the new work owes its existence to Harvey Phillips, who was, by all accounts, one of the instrument’s most important teachers, players, and advocates. According to a New York Times obituary, Phillips, who died last year at the age of 80, commissioned more than 200 new pieces and once remarked, “I’m determined that no great composer is ever again going to live out his life without composing a major work for tuba.’’“His whole life he took on the cause to champion the tuba as a melodic voice, not just an oom-pah voice,’’ said Roylance.

Phillips was also a lifelong friend of Schuller; when the latter became NEC’s president in the late 1960s, Phillips was his vice president of financial affairs. Phillips called Schuller in 2007 to commission the new piece, even though he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and, according to Roylance, knew that he would most likely never get a chance to perform, or even hear it.

Schuller completed the concerto last spring. It hadn’t been written for a particular performer, and Schuller knew Roylance from the composer’s involvement with the BSO. So, said Roylance, Schuller called “out of the blue’’ to ask if he would play it. “Of course I jumped at the chance,’’ he said. “And I got the part and realized it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever played. In many ways I’ve had to relearn how to play my instrument.’’That’s because the solo part covers a range equivalent to “the entire left half of the piano.’’ Though lyrical and expressive in parts, the tempos and dynamics are also pushed to extremes, said Roylance. “He really knows how to write correctly for each instrument’s maximum potential.’’

One technical detail shows Roylance just how complete Schuller’s grasp of the instrument is. He specifies that the piece should be played on a contrabass tuba, the largest in the tuba family. “Traditionally, if you have a piece like this that goes into the higher register, you would opt to play a smaller horn,’’ he explained. “But Gunther knows the specific ranges and the specific colors. It’s a much higher degree of difficulty, but the sound colors will be what he had in mind.’’

Even more Schuller
In an odd bit of synchronicity, Schuller’s first two string quartets are on the bill of an “Early Evening’’ concert by the Borromeo String Quartet at New England Conservatory, also on Tuesday. That concert’s 6 p.m. start time should give Schuller addicts time to get from NEC to BU in time for the new concerto.

David Weininger can be reached at

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

Jazz Tuba/Euphonium?

A YouTube link to an amazing and unique Tuba & Euphonium performance. Especially for those who haven't heard "jazz" euphonium or "jazz" tuba performances.

David 'Dave' W Bargeron (born September 6, 1942 in New York City) is an American trombonist and tuba player from Athol, Massachusetts, most famous for playing with the jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat, and Tears. He joined the group in 1970, after Jerry Hyman departed, and first appeared on the album Blood, Sweat & Tears 4. With this group at the album Live and Improvised (1975) played jazz-rock solo on the tuba "And When I Die/One room country shack" Medley. He is often compared to trombonist James Pankow of Chicago and Jim Pugh of the Woody Herman band.
He was lead trombonist with Clark Terry's Big Band, and (from 1968-1970), played bass trombone and tuba with Doc Severinsen's Band. His recording credits with BS&T include eleven albums. A break in their schedule allowed Dave to join the Gil Evans Orchestra in 1972, and he remains a member of that Orchestra to this day.

Michel Godard (3 October 1960, Héricourt, near Belfort, France) is a French tuba player and jazz musician.
Godard was admitted at the age of 18 to the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio-France. His ability to produce overtones ("multiphonics") and musicality leaves the listener surprised at how light a seemingly cumbersome tuba can sound. In 1979 he picked up also the ancestor of the tuba, the serpent.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuba Valentine ...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Surprise your valentine with a tuba and euphonium serenade
by Stephanie Daniels of North Texas Daily

UNT Students purchase more than 30 tuba Valentines each year.

Some send flowers on Valentine’s Day – not everyone sends a quartet of tuba and euphonium players.

This year, the North Texas Tuba and Euphonium Association is helping students make this Valentine’s Day original by sending four players to serenade that special someone. The event is a fundraiser for the organization.

“It’s a fun experience. I love seeing the surprise on the people’s face when they get a tuba valentine,” said James Cunico, a member and music junior. “ It’s also been good to get our instruments out there, because it’s not an instrument you would expect.”

Too good tuba true!

Each tuba quartet performance comes with a chocolate rose and a personalized Valentine’s Day card. On-campus valentines cost $25 and off-campus valentines cost $35, according to the organization’s website.

The North Texas chapter of the International Tuba and Euphonium Association was formed in November 2002.

The organization promotes the tuba and euphonium family of instruments through education while sharing music with others, said Zack Corpus, president of the association.

“We like to provide an exemplary collegiate experience for them while at UNT,” he said. “We also seek to spread the word about our family of instruments and aid in the education of younger generations.”

Corpus said he’s coordinated the Valentine’s Day fundraiser for the past two years.

Students purchase more than 30 tuba valentines each year, said Don Little of the music faculty.

“When this first started going on, I wouldn’t say we were skeptical, but we didn’t think it would be such a success,” he said.

The past two years have been tremendously successful, not only in the fundraising aspect of the project, but in making the community more aware of this particular family of instruments, Corpus said.

“One person proposed, and there was crying and great stuff,” he said.

Lauren Veronie, a UNT alumna, started the tuba valentine tradition, Corpus said.

Veronie created the list of songs customers can choose, including “My Girl,” “My Guy,” “When I Fall In Love,” “Always & Forever,” “Hey Baby” and “Can’t Help Myself.”

“It’s been a hit, a surprise hit,” Little said. “It’s really become popular.”

To purchase a tuba valentine, contact 785-410-3324 or

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A professional circus Tuba player ...

Want to work for Cirque du Soleil? Part 2 Tuba player Justin Lerma told us in the first part of his interview how to get a job in the circus world, and what the rehearsal process is like. Here he takes a look back and shares with us the pluses and minuses of the gig, and what made him stop.

What didn't you know about the job before you joined in?
I didn't know it was gonna be so much work. I was so young when I started this and I didn't expect the long hours. I felt like I was the weak link because I was so young. It forced me to be better than I was. It forced me to have to work very hard. The environment is bad at times. A lot is expected from you as a musician, and it's even worse for actors and performers. They were times when it was so much. I remember we were contracted to do 2 shows a night, 3 shows on Friday and Saturday. We worked every day, there was no day off. They added a fourth show, not in our contract, and some people wanted money for it. They brought their contract in, and I remember the head guy saying: "this is so unprofessional." The older guys fought back, but things were not good.

"We worked every day,
there was no day off"

In fact, after I went back to Texas where I'm from, I was short on money so I decided to go back to a Sea World job, and they were not offering contracts to anybody. They wanted to pay people hourly, and the schedule would adjust accordingly to what they needed. So if July 4th (huge day for the park) came, our day started later and they would just adjust the times to fit what they needed, and we'd be there until the day was done. So if they had a show at 10, one at noon, and then one at 8, you would have to stay in the park in between shows, but they wouldn't pay you.

If you were contracted, they gave you apartments, but at this point, they got local people only. The level went down. They did what they needed to do. It's weird because people know that that happened. That particular show started off really good in 2005, it won 2nd place in this amusement park contest. It went on until 2008 and then they started to notice that musicians were rebelling and they got rid of them.

"You have a lot of free time
to work on your instrument"

Actually, if you talk about theme parks, they're all getting rid of their musicians. Disney World got rid of a lot of musicians. The funny thing is that two of their tuba players were Mike Roylance who is now principal for Boston, and Chris Olka who is the principal in Seattle.

What are the pluses and minuses of working for Cirque du Soleil as a musician?
Obviously money is good. For two months of work, I made $6,000, and I was the lowest paid guy at that point. The performers are making a substantial amount of money. The shows that are in Vegas are paid quite well. People do this for years and years, and they go from show to show. Minuses: being on the road, you're tired, you're worn out, you're with the same people every day, you see them every day. It's a difficult lifestyle. It gives you an opportunity to kind of experiment on your own. Yes you have to do a job, but once the ball gets rolling and you're doing your job, not a lot of rehearsal time is needed, but you have a lot of free time to work on your instrument and own your skills.

"It's very much a man's world"

Who would benefit most from working for them?
I had a great time and I learned a ton, doing this was the point where I made the decision to become some kind of freakish tuba player, but it's just like a Broadway show. You play the same stuff over and over and over again, and you're able to inject a little bit of yourself, but there's something that they want. At the end of the day, it needs to be what they want, even if you get to add some stuff in. I can't imagine younger musicians being happy with doing that. I don't think anybody that's in college should do this. I was an idiot. The musicians were all older, at least 30 or so. There were some female vocalists and a few violin players, but it is very much a man's world.

"Circus shows can be harmful
to your playing"

What made you stop?
It was time to get real. I never had aspiration to be an amusement park, circus, touring musician. Shows, circus shows like Blast, I feel can be harmful to your playing. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be in an orchestra, or in a premiere band job. If you are constantly playing pop tunes, and you're not putting in the time on excerpts, wind ensemble, orchestra, you're gonna lose that kind of playing, and I was loosing it. I was always having to come back and start over from the beginning, change my sound, do this and do that. If I had kept on doing that, I wouldn't have been able to make it to the finals of auditions like I did. The tuba instructor at the Navy School of Music used to study with Mike Roylance and he said: you know, it wasn't until those jobs were taken away from them that they were able to make it to the other jobs. It's detrimental. So I knew it was time to go.

[From Geraldine in a bottle blog]

Desperate Tubist ...

A street performer sets his tuba on fire to grab the attention of the audience at 'Warsaw Square' in San Francisco.
Note how well his technique works as the people in the background ignore him!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Playing with Bobby Militello

I'll be playing Bass Bone with the Dave Golando Big Band as we perform with Bobby Militello in Jamestown on Saturday, April 23.