If you have a question relative to playing or teaching the euphonium, the history of the euphonium, or any other topics relative to the euphonium , please contact the good Doctor through his assistant, Roger Behrend at the address you’ll find on page 2 of this issue of the Journal. In this issue, we are re~printing a question posed to Dr. Euph in the December, 1997 issue of the W illson Mouthpiece (where Dr. Euph continues to have an additional office).
Dear Dr. Euph:
I have been taught to produce vibrato using the jaw; however, I cannot seem to make it smooth all the time. Sometimes it’s too wide and other times it’s hardly noticeable. How do I go about finding a happy medium?
Since every person plays differently, all vibratos will be a personal characteristic of the individual’s playing. It is going to be hard to zero in on your specific problems, so here are some general guidelines to follow when working on vibrato.
1. Begin by making sure your air is flowing through the horn unobstructed. Free flowing air is the secret to a good sound, and you must produce a full sound before you add any vibrato.
2. Since jaw vibrato is a technique, you must have an orderly routine to practice and apply it.
a. Begin slow, wide movements with the jaw while looking in a mirror so that you get a feel for the physical movement of the body.
b. Gradually increase the speed of the jaw movement. Then move the jaw in groups of four per beat, then five per beat, increasing to seven per beat. Do each pattern for at least one full breath. Do not increase the vibrato unless you have control of the slower speeds.
3. When you feel that you can control your vibrato at different tempi and volumes, begin playing scales and simple songs to apply the jaw technique. If you are not sure how you are sounding or if the vibrato is too noticeable, then record yourself and listen to how you sound. Remember that you must be in control of the vibrato at all times.
4. An important point to remember is that vibrato is a technique and should not overshadow your sound or the music that you are performing. It should be an added spice to the overall musical dish. Let your ears and your teacher be your guides.