Volume 35:2 (Winter) Pedagogy Section Articles:
“If the Rochut Fits: Integrating Aspects of the Undergraduate Music Major Curriculum into Applied Lessons and Ensembles” by Eileen Meyer Russell
Stepping Stones to Success (Volume 1 of 8): Six Studies in English Folk-Song by Pat Stuckemeyer
Tips for Tuba (Volume VII C): “The World Behind the Bell” by David Porter
If the Rochut Fits: Integrating Aspects of the Undergraduate Music Major Curriculum into Applied Lessons and Ensembles
by Eileen Meyer Russell
Many first-year music majors experience a lack of connection between the performing experiences that inspired them to choose music as their future career and the academic requirements that exist in the music core curriculum. Attending lecture and lab classes and completing the accompanying stack of homework may seem a mere distraction from the exciting opportunities that are available in university ensembles and private studios. High attrition rates in aural skills, music history, and music theory can be attributed to a low level of interest in the subject matters as often as attrition is due to poor study skills. Music majors are less frustrated or apathetic in academic settings when professors and mentors illustrate the connection between achievement in the classroom and achieving success as a performer and conductor. In “How Much and How Little Has Changed? Evolution in Music Theory,” Michael R. Rogers observes, “Another topic that has not yet sufficiently infiltrated our teaching involves the relationship of analysis and performance. The subject often falls through the cracks as theory teachers assume it is being covered by the applied studio teacher and vice versa.” In the following paragraphs I outline different steps that applied teachers and ensemble directors can take to promote student success in music academic classes. I spotlight the vocalises by Giulio (Marco) Bordogni as an excellent collection of music to utilize for integrating aspects of the academic music curriculum into applied lessons.
Speak to your students about the value of the different components of the music curriculum and acknowledge that ear training, music history, music theory, and piano are challenging classes. Advise students to support one another by studying together and by mentoring the first-year and second-year students. Provide examples from your life and career that demonstrate how the knowledge that you acquired and the skills that you developed in music academic courses contributed to your success. Discuss the form and history of ensemble compositions and lesson etudes or solos, and involve your students in researching program notes. If students are responsible for concert reports, require that the papers include more than subjective opinions, and refer students to Grove Music Online and the euphonium and tuba resource books. Implement semester requirements for rudiments. Students who know all scales and arpeggios will be able to work more quickly and accurately in aural skills and music theory classes. Etude books such as the Arban Complete Conservatory Method that contain sections with arpeggios of chords and scale studies in all keys will not only develop competency for performing in all keys, but will also facilitate writing and analysis in all keys. Other exercises that complement analysis and part writing work—such as the performing progressions of the tonic, subdominant, dominant seventh, and tonic in all keys—can be played in studio classes or low brass ensembles as a warm up.
Drone recordings (either created by you, your students, or a produced drone, such as TuneUp by Stephen Colley) can transform daily long tone studies into an intonation workout that can complement the aural skills class. For example, if a student has difficulty distinguishing certain intervals on ear training exams, the student might perform the specific intervals above or below the drone in a daily warm up. Playing by ear can develop the skill of hearing the tonic of a key at all times (being able to sing do at any point while singing or performing a melody or an etude). If there is no time in weekly lessons for improvisation and performing simple melodies by ear, the activity can be on the itinerary for studio classes and morning warm up sessions.
Each piece of music that is performed in lessons or ensembles can be used to draw connections between the art of making music and the skills that are being taught and developed throughout the music curriculum. The vocalises by Giulio (Marco) Bordogni are a particularly valuable resource. Evidence of the level of popularity of the etudes can be found by conducting an informal search online of applied music syllabi and music distributors (Hickey’s Music Online even has a separate webpage dedicated to comparing different versions). In a more formal survey conducted in 2002, college-level trombone teachers cited the Bordogni vocalises edited by Joannès Rochut as the most popular etude book used in applied lessons (Edwards). The vocalises are assigned weekly by many private lesson teachers, they are programmed on solo recitals, they have been required repertoire for competitions and auditions, and have been released on professional recordings. Piano accompaniments are available for the vocalises (sometimes sold separately), and there are editions of a second part so that the etudes can be played as duets. A recorded synthesized accompaniment of some vocalises can be purchased on a compact disc or accessed by subscribing to SmartMusic. The Bordogni vocalises are used year after year in low brass lessons because the etudes are full of beautiful music that can be studied to develop legato style and musical phrasing.
The Bordogni etudes were composed for singing and therefore the collection of etudes is especially useful in encouraging the connection between voice, ear, and instrument. Unfortunately, music majors who perform on low brass instruments are not accustomed to singing either in private or in classroom settings. Providing an opportunity for your students to gain confidence and skill as singers can have many benefits. Require your students to practice an assigned Bordogni vocalise both on their instruments and with their voices, and make a point to include singing in each lesson. In his article, “On Connecting the Ear and Brass Performance,” John Schlabach outlines several vocal practices that help develop the ear in order to improve performance. Schlabach points out that a brass player who develops his or her ear by singing on pitch will see more than one positive result from their efforts. He notes, “When a player is closer to 100% pitch accuracy, musical factors such as articulation style, note length, inflection, and musical line (the beauty of the language) emerge more naturally as the actual sounds become clear and strong in the performer’s mind.” A low brass player who is regularly asked to sing in lessons, brass studio class, and ensembles will make a direct connection between success in aural training, singing skills, and performing skills. It will be valuable to your students if you employ the same system of solfege that is utilized in the aural training classes in your department.
The Bordogni vocalises contain formal organization and harmonic language that coincide with the content covered in first two years of theory and aural skills courses. A majority of the beautifully lyrical etudes are in clear-cut forms, such as binary, rounded binary, or ternary. Students can identify the different sections of the etudes, imply harmonies that make up the cadences, and identify harmonies that are chromatic or borrowed from other keys. All of the vocalises include modulations and students can identify the tonal areas and label the modulation as either a change to a closely or distantly related key or a modal shift. Many of the vocalises contain an abundance of non-chord tones that are excellent for developing the art of performing “graceful” grace notes, and also for identifying the most important, or structural notes in a melody. Students might be asked to analyze one or two phrases of a vocalise by circling decorative pitches, providing harmonic implications for the remaining structural notes, and identifying the climax of the phrase. Honing analysis skills empowers students to make their own music decisions about the shaping of phrases and the performance of a musical line. Analysis work that is done as the student is practicing the etudes will more than likely save time in lessons and also increase student success on analysis homework and exams in theory classes.
In conclusion, retention in the private studios and ensembles is contingent upon student success in all areas of the music curriculum—students who fail classes may lose scholarships, confidence, or in worst-case scenarios, withdraw from school. Applied teachers and ensemble directors are often favored professors who are chosen as role models, and therefore they are individuals of great influence. Private lessons and ensemble rehearsals provide excellent settings for dialogues between teachers and students. Conversations that promote a respect for all aspects of the music curriculum can be complemented with weekly incorporation of the materials and skills that are taught in the music academic classes. Music academic work will be easier to comprehend and value when integrated into the areas of the curriculum that the majority of music majors enjoy the most—applied lessons and ensembles.
Arban, Jean Baptiste. Complete Method for Trombone and Euphonium. Joseph Alessi and Brian Bowman, eds. Troy, Michigan: Encore Music Publishers, 2000.
______. Complete Method for Tuba. Jerry Young and Wesley Jacobs, eds. Troy, Michigan: Encore Music Publishers, 2000.
Bone, Lloyd, and Eric Paull, eds. R. Winston Morris, supervisory ed. Guide to the Euphonium Repertoire: The Euphonium Source Book. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2006.
Bordogni, Marco, and Chester Roberts. 43 Bel Canto Studies: For Tuba (or Bass Trombone). Music for brass, no. 2009. North Easton, Massachusetts: Robert King, 1972.
Bordogni, Marco, and Joannès Rochut. Melodious etudes for the trombone. Selected from the Vocalises of Marco Bordogni (Volumes 1–3). New York: C. Fischer, 1928.
“Bordogni & Rochut Compared,” Hickey’s Music Online, Hickey’s Music Center and The Cyrus Company, 1994-2007. 1 August 2007 (www.hickeys.com/pages/sku27615.htm).
Colley, Stephen C. TuneUp: Basic Training. Richmond, Virginia: TuneUp Systems, 2004.
Edwards, Brad. “Beyond Bordogni – A Survey of College Level Etude Books.” International Trombone Association Journal, 30/2 (2002): 18–21.
Friedman, Jay K. The Singing Trombone. Educational Brass Recordings, 2000.
Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, 2006. 5 November 2007 (www.grovemusic.com).
Humfeld, Neill H. “Bordogni Vocalise – Exercise, Etude or Solo?” International Trombone Association Journal, 7/1 (1984): 25–6.
Jacobs, Wesley. Giulio Marco Bordogni Complete Vocalises for Tuba. Troy, Michigan: Encore Music Publishers, 2006.
Morris, R. Winston, and Daniel Perantoni, eds. Guide to the Tuba Repertoire: The New Tuba Source Book. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2006.
Rogers, Michael R. “How Much and How Little Has Changed? Evolution in Music
Theory Teaching,” College Music Symposium, 40 (2000): 110–16.
Schlabach, John. “On Connecting the Ear and Brass Performance,” International Trombone Association Journal, 31/4 (2003): 64–6.
SmartMusic, Make Music, Inc., 2006. 5 November 2007 (www.smartmusic.com).
Eileen Meyer Russell teaches low brass and music theory at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and she is a Euphonium Instructor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. Dr. Russell received a Bachelor of Music degree and a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University, and a Master of Music degree from the University of Northern Iowa. She is a trombone clinician and artist with C.G. Conn, and she has presented clinics or performances at College Music Society conferences, International Trombone Association festivals, International Tuba Euphonium Association regional conferences, the Midwest International Band and Orchestra conference, the New York State School Music Association conference, the Texas Bandmasters Association conference, and at Texas Music Educators Association conferences. She is the Assistant Membership Coordinator for the International Tuba Euphonium Association and an active member of the International Trombone Association.
Stepping Stones to Success (Volume 1 of 8): Six Studies in English Folk-Song
by Pat Stuckemeyer
I have performed various concerti all over the world, but nothing stays in my mind more clearly than the first solo piece my private lesson teacher had me learn. To me, this is the greatest part about playing the euphonium. I remember every facet of that piece. The runs that I could never seem to get right, the notes that seemed astronomically high at the time, and trying to be just a little “more musical” as my lesson teacher would say. The piece was geared towards me developing my musical identity, which is one that I am still working toward today. We have all been there. We all have students there. Why is it that we seem to forget about the pieces that got us where we are?
As teachers, how is it that we go about choosing this formative repertoire? Is there anyway that we could possibly find the concept that we wanted to teach, and then find the solo that teaches that concept? How can we adequately streamline our educational objective with these solos? Could we possibly use these solos in a more productive way as to develop extra-musical behavior? I believe that the answer is yes. We can achieve these ideas.
When I released Stepping Stones for Euphonium, Vol. 1, I had one goal in mind: to help younger musicians by providing a quality recording of these pieces. The whole idea came to me one day while I was teaching. I had a student who was performing the Introduction and Dance by J.E. Barat, which is a standard piece of repertoire for any euphonium or tuba player. Thinking that a recording could be helpful, I ventured over to my collection to find that I didn’t have one. Hmm…. Well, I started thinking that someone should put these pieces into a cohesive unit. I thought about this project on and off for about three months. I weighed the options and started to come up with a list of repertoire. It was wonderful sifting through all of my old pieces, much like reconnecting with an old friend.
When was the last time that you heard of a “big-name” soloist commissioning a new work that could be played by a high school or middle school age musician? Myself personally, if I don’t seek out new repertoire then I become stagnant as a player. This project also gave me the great opportunity to search out and find new pieces to integrate into my teaching, something that I hadn’t really done up until then. Your playing can be mirrored into your teaching, as it was in mine. Everyone has a “list” that they teach from. We all do it. I find that since we all use our “list,” that there is a definite shortage of new formative repertoire today. I was teaching the “list” of pieces simply put. I began to shove my students into a predetermined “Pat Stuckemeyer” mold of education, and I thought there had to be better way. Each student is unique, so surely I could mold a program to fit his or her individual needs, right? Surely I could use these pieces in conjunction with new ones. Surely someone out there is writing new things for the euphonium and tuba, right? Yes, there are pieces out there, but you have to go looking for them.
In this series of articles, which we have titled Stepping Stones to Success, myself along with other contributors will introduce you to one piece in every volume. It might be an old favorite, but if it is new to you then hopefully there will be something discovered that could be brought to your students. I hope that you will rediscover (or discover) each of these pieces much like I did—appreciate them for what they have to offer, cherish them for the music that you remember making with them, and then pass that along to your students.
Six Studies in English Folk-Song
Ralph Vaughan Williams/arr. Paul Droste
© Galaxy Music Corporation, Selling agent – ECS Publishing
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) was one of the most prolific composers of English folk music; the Six Studies in English Folk Song is at the forefront of understanding this style of music. These six pieces were written for cellist May Mukle in 1926. Vaughan Williams states that these studies are to be “treated with love,” and so they are; each song is tastefully and skillfully matted and framed to reveal the beauty of the folk song. The real challenge in these works is bringing the euphonium and piano together to form one cohesive sound so that you hear the beautiful folk song and not simply a soloist with accompaniment. While virtually every instrument has performed these pieces, Paul Droste did this arrangement for euphonium. The parts have optional 8va sections that were taken by the performer, but are not necessary for performance.
Headlines for the Teacher
One of the most difficult things to do on a brass instrument is a controlled legato. Six Studies in English Folk Song is a great example of teaching this controlled legato, and for a younger player this should be a sufficient piece for this learned concept. When preparing this piece with your students, make sure that they know the history of the piece. As their instructor it is in your best interest to familiarize yourself with another recording of this piece, since it was not originally written for the euphonium or tuba.
When I prepare this work with a student I often have them play long passages without the horn, and simply blow the phrase using only air. This will help to smooth out the “bumps” in the sound and possibly help them with their legato passages. Controlled legato passages can usually be helped along by simply getting the student to put a little more air into the instrument. With a student I will often reference a cello recording, or even possibly a cello edition of the piece to help with interpretation. I use the concept of an up-bow and down-bow to see where the weight of the line needs to be. Imagining bringing the bow across the strings helps me visualize where I need to “take” the phrase. Interpreting this concept is essential to knowing not only where the musical line is going but also where it came from.
Pedagogical Considerations for Performance
The biggest consideration for most teachers is range. Whether or not the student can play this piece based on its range is a viable concern. With this piece, there is a little bit of help for you. Included are many optional 8va or 8vb sections, which are to be taken at the discretion of the performer (or teacher). If the performer were not going to take these optional sections, then the range would be b-flat2 to b-flat4. If the optional sections are taken, then the range is increased to B-flat1 to C5, which expands three octaves that are needed for performance.
For most students who will be performing this piece at a state festival or contest, you would not be required to perform the entire piece. Taking the OMEA (Ohio) state contest listing as an example, movements 1, 2, and 6 are required. Check with your state to see if there are any restrictions to the performance of the piece.
I. Lovely on the Water (The Springtime of the Year)
Though this movement is marked adagio, it is much better to think of it in terms of a song, or a ballad. Legato is the headline for practice on this movement. The opening two measures can be treated much like a cadenza with some nice added rubato until the piano picks up the tempo in measure 2. As with most of these movements, the soloist and accompanist should find themselves in a conversational-style of playing much like a duet instead of one playing the role of a soloist and one playing the role of accompanist. The arranger markings are illustrated in Figure 1.a.
When performing this opening section, it is important to make as much music right from the onset of the phrase, so I teach this section to be played as marked in Figure 1.b.
The various phrases in this movement will give a younger student some difficulty especially with the ornamentation and executing this without sounding forced. Have them practice these sections without the ornamentation before adding it in. The last two lines of this movement are without accompaniment and can often come off as under-prepared simply because the soloist isn’t shaping the line like they could. Take careful consideration to these last ten measures, and allow the lines to lead you musically.
II. Spurn Point
This movement begins with a piano statement until the soloist enters in the third bar. I find that this first note should be held slightly longer to stabilize both performers into one cohesive unit. Much like the first movement, legato is once again a headline for practice and it should be a little easier to execute with this movement. Tempo is marked by andante sostenuto, but again I like to give it a clearer marker. I delineated this movement as an Irish Tune. Giving the student a marker such as this will help them cultivate their own style and possibly make it easier for them to pull a little more “music” out of the page.
The first phrase needs to be executed with care, and a little push and pull from the soloist is expected. Figure 2.a illustrates the example as marked by Droste.
When I perform this phrase, I feel the line as a series of up and down bowing marks to use as a reference point for the phrase. The line should slow slightly throughout with each long note getting progressively longer, and, in preparation for the piano feature in m. 12, the soloist should pick the tempo back up slightly. I also rephrase to make more music shape and account for the musical line during performance. This is demonstrated in Figured 2.b.
Although the soloist is still holding through the moving piano part, take care not to simply hold a stagnant note—use this a great opportunity to make music on a long note. The optional 8va section at the end is wonderful, but only if the performer can execute a high b-flat that does not sound strained because the last note should fade away to nothing.
III. Van Dieman’s Land
I believe that this movement is both the most challenging and most rewarding for the performer. The opening three bars should be free and at the performer’s discretion. The pick-up into m. 4 should be in tempo, and once again legato should be the focus in this piece. The marking is larghetto for this movement, but, as with the others, I like to refer to this as a ballad. If you consider each phrase a sentence of a song, then simply put the sentences together for the entire piece. While the majority of this movement is slurred, put extra emphasis on the notes that are marked with a legato tongue. Figure 3.a illustrates Droste’s phrasing in mm. 22 and 23.
It seems to me that the ascending pattern in m. 23 should lead into the next measure and have a slight taper to the first note before the crescendo as given in Figure 3.b.
The slight taper and hairpin dynamics add so much musically. Teaching this concept can be quite difficult, so have the student practice this on a long note so that they can build confidence and control before putting this into practice.
IV. She Borrowed Some of Her Mother’s Gold
Like the previous three movements, the fourth installment brings more lyrical playing to the forefront. While this movement is marked lento, I continue on with a different name and aptly named this a carol. When recording this movement, I found that the lyrical simplicity was perhaps the hardest part of the piece. Knowledge of the piano score is also extremely important in this movement, as is evident in the next example. While the solo part remains quite calm and lyrical, much care has to be taken into consideration when simply sitting on these various long notes. Take for example m. 13, shown in Figure 4.a.
A nice calm e-flat, but unknown to the soloist is what’s happening in the piano score (Figure 4.b).
With the piano part moving from A-flat major to C minor in m. 14, the performer will have to alter the pitch of the long note halfway as shown in Figure 4.c.
The last five measures of this movement are perhaps the most difficult to get to sound musical, or unstrained. Begin to slow at m. 21, and instead of getting softer in m. 23, use the natural crescendo to sail up to the high b-flat. Once you arrive on that note, let it settle and then slowly back away the volume.
V. The Lady and the Dragon
The fifth movement can easily be played too slow or too fast. While it is marked andante tranquilo, I like to think of it as a love song. While still maintaining correct rhythm and time, you might want to think of this movement in a “slow one.” This will help the overall weight of the strong beat, and keep the tempo up. Be careful to not rush, but maintain the feeling in one, with a slight lilt.
The most difficult part about this movement would be in the second half with the running eighth notes. This example lacks measure numbers because this concept can be applied to the entirety of the second half of the piece (Figure 5.a).
While the arranger is giving the performer the necessary breaks needed for breathing, quite often the musical line sounds choppy and not lyrical when exactly the opposite is notated in the score. I find it helpful to think of this section as shown in Figure 5.b, using the same emphasis on a down-bow note as before.
To me, thinking of a weighted down-bow in various places will allow the musical phrase to have life and buoyancy resulting in a smoother transition between breaths. Take care not to have a noisy breath when the arranger has given them to you and be certain to always taper into the breaths as indicated.
VI. As I Walked Over London Bridge
The final movement can sound a bit obtuse if you allow it to. The first five movements offer extreme lyricism, so while this movement is lively and separated the movement still needs to retain a lyrical quality.
Performance problems arise in this movement from the beginning. Make sure that rhythm is your headline, and keep true to it. Careful dissection of the piano score will help the performer during the triplet section because the writing underneath is still the duple melody. The performer has the option to play a pedal b-flat at the end, but only do so if you can attain this with a light attack since the arranger has marked it ppp.
Musical Gains Through Performance
The Six Studies in English Folk Song is a great piece for studying legato phrasing and also as a vehicle for the student to start making music that is not on the page. The hardest part about this piece is that so much of what you do is not “on the page.” This is a great opportunity for the student to bring his or her ideas to the table in performance.
After studying this piece your student should have a stronger grasp on elongated musical phrases and also lighter-touch legato, which can be a big problem for most formative students. Since most of these movements are softer in dynamic, controlled playing will also be addressed and should progress through continued study.
Figure 1.a: Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Six Studies in English Folk Song. Movement I. Arranged by Paul Droste. Galaxy Music Co., 1986.
Figure 1.b: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Figure 2.a: Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Six Studies in English Folk Song. Movement II. Arranged by Paul Droste. Galaxy Music Co., 1986.
Figure 2.b: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Figure 3.a: Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Six Studies in English Folk Song. Movement III. Arranged by Paul Droste. Galaxy Music Co., 1986.
Figure 3.b: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Figure 4.a: Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Six Studies in English Folk Song. Movement IV. Arranged by Paul Droste. Galaxy Music Co., 1986.
Figure 4.b: Ibid.
Figure 4.c: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Figure 5.a: Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Six Studies in English Folk Song. Movement V. Arranged by Paul Droste. Galaxy Music Co., 1986.
Figure 5.b: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
About the Stepping Stones series of educational recordings
The Stepping Stones to Success campaign was started in 2005 after much discussion about the severe lacking of quality recordings of formative repertoire for all brass instruments. Potenza Music in conjunction with the Euphonium Educational Endowment has committed its resources to manufacture at least one volume of recordings for every wind instrument by 2015. Some great people are involved with the Stepping Stones project including Pat Stuckemeyer who recorded Stepping Stones for Euphonium, Vol.1, Scott Watson who has recently completed Stepping Stones for Tuba, Vol.1, and also Brent Philips (U.S. Marine Band, retired) who is currently recording Stepping Stones for Trombone, Vol.1 & Vol.2. It is through this effort that we hope to further the musical education of all young musicians the world over.
About the author
Pat Stuckemeyer is one of the youngest euphonium performers in the world today. At the age of 26, he has already forged many new paths for the euphonium. His diverse performance career has taken him to a dozen countries and three continents.
Stuckemeyer holds degrees in education and performance from the Conservatory of Music at Capital University, a Master of Music from the University of Kansas, an Artist Diploma from the Royal Northern College of Music, and is currently completing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at Arizona State University.
Aside from scholastic opportunities and requirements, Pat performs in a wide variety of ensembles encompassing almost every imaginable genre for the instrument. While in the United Kingdom, Pat performed with the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band, and was Solo Euphonium with the Besses o’ Th’ Barn Brass Band, the oldest brass band in the world. He has also performed with the Salt River Brass, the Fountain City Brass Band, Euphoniums Unlimited, and Symphonia – “A Supersonic Ensemble in the Alternate Clef.”
An avid composer and arranger, Pat has numerous compositions that have been met with acclaim on both a local and national level. His works have been performed at both the high school and university level, as well as regional and national conventions. Recently Pat’s arrangements have appeared on Euphonium Magic 3 – Earth Voices, a multi-track recording by Steven Mead.
A champion of new music, Pat commissions new works whenever possible, trying to compliment the repertoire with new and inventive pieces. Recently Noah D. Taylor, Stephen Roberts, Anthony Zilincik, Erica Procunier, Peter Meechan, and James Barnes have all written for the talents of Pat Stuckemeyer.
Stuckemeyer formed Potenza Music in 2004, a recording label and sheet music publisher, who specializes in low brass repertoire. A firm advocate of educational material, Stuckemeyer spearheaded the Stepping Stones to Success campaign; which is designed to produce top quality recordings of formative repertoire for the young instrumentalist. In this project, Potenza Music is making the commitment to provide at least one volume of formative repertoire for every wind instrument by 2015.
A new venture by Pat Stuckemeyer and UK-based euphonium legend Steven Mead in 2007 is Just for Brass. This newly formed online store will be the one-stop retailer that will cater to all brass players in the way of recordings, sheet music, supplies and instruments. Please visit us online at www.justforbrass.com.
Stuckemeyer is currently preparing for a new “first” for the euphonium, which will culminate in fall of 2008. Over the past two years, Pat has commissioned almost a dozen new pieces for euphonium and band. He will record these on his third solo-CD entitled, Changing Seasons.
Pat Stuckemeyer is an artist and clinician for Besson/Buffet Crampon and performs solely on the Besson Prestige 2052-S euphonium. His signature model mouthpiece, the PS-SOLO is available from Mike Finn Mouthpieces.
Tips for Tuba (Volume VII C): “The World Behind the Bell”
by David Porter
One of our main goals in music is to teach musicianship—how to express music as emotion, message and influence from the heart. When trying to teach musicianship to young students, there are the usual challenges of playing skill and maturity. For some students a tough obstacle is the ability to express any emotion that requires fore thought rather than reaction.
To explain, most students can show large emotional expression about things on their level they are passionate about—like socializing together, getting their way, criticisms of school, teachers, and adults. When it comes to expressing music, students do not always have this as part of their daily lives—or do they?
What about the ensemble they play in? Are not most ensemble directors trying to teach musicianship to the group?
From my experience the answer is yes. This brought me to a realization—my young tuba students are learning musicianship, but in many cases they only play well with the group around them. This observation seems more prevalent in the last few years. Partially because, more students openly say in lessons, “I can play this [ensemble excerpt] just fine with the ensemble.” I have had more students that are able to play with a reasonably good sound, rhythm, and musicality as long as they were surrounded by their ensemble. When trying to get them to play the same music in the same way in a private lesson, more often than not they would have difficulty.
Their musical passion quickly becomes self-centered on how they sound by themselves without the ensemble. Most of the time, we focused on correcting rhythm, notes, and then sound, just so we could even consider musical direction. There are obviously several reasons for this, but the question is—how to get students to recognize what they do well in ensemble and repeat it individually. Here are some thoughts.
The young student’s perspective is:
- strive for the ensemble finished product—grade, praise from ensemble director, praise from parents
- unable to hear themselves as well—so can only respond to ensemble director comments
- their sound is heard by them through ensemble sound
- they are used to the effort used in ensemble
- the amount of sound they experience (cannot hear themselves very well) is what they feel by themselves (when playing)—ensemble effort/volume appears to be less by themselves
This causes two things:
- The students do not play by themselves as good as they do in ensemble OR
- If they are playing as good as in ensemble, it is not acceptable for solo sound
I have attended “audition sound vs ensemble sound” clinics by two of my teachers, Dave Fedderly, Principal Tubist, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Gene Porkorny, Principal Tubist, Chicago Symphony. In both clinics the difference in audition and ensemble sound was demonstrated and was markedly different. However, this insight is from two professionals who know the difference and know how it feels and how to do it. Young student’s do not know this and may not discern the difference between the effort in sounds and what they actually hear. As a young student, I would rather they focus on having one good sound they know how to do in both ensemble and solo. This is where private teaching is useful. Teach what cannot be taught through ensemble, books or recording—personal one on one to have student change their sound “from behind the bell.”
Here are definitions of ensemble sound and solo sound that I hear from ensemble directors.
- Ensemble sound—not as refined, articulate, more homogenous, rough around core edge, focus on lower harmonic frequencies of sound.
- Solo sound—crystal, articulate (whether legato or staccato), no noise around core sound—focus on medium high to high harmonic frequencies or sound.
Again, students are probably too young to comprehend. They need to hear difference and learn sound characteristics on one note at a time. They need help in bringing their ensemble sound to fore front. Another thought involves differences in frequency resonance between ensemble and solo sound. Perhaps it is best to have a great ensemble sound that is tweaked for solo performances. Too much of an audition-like sound in ensemble will not produce low harmonic frequencies, cause too much brightness, which is a fine line for young students. They do not necessarily need to have two different sounds at a young age—anything more we may not have time to teach. Reserve discerning sounds for “serious” high school students who are planning to major in music.
Since we cannot have ensemble playing in our lessons, usually we have to help the student bring out their ensemble sound several ways.
- Work on ensemble music and use it to change their sound and technique
- Play ensemble music yourself for them to hear difference
- Play ensemble music with them and drop in and out for them to hear difference
I realize we all would like to work on certain techniques that would transfer to an ensemble without having to think about it. However, most young students might not be able to do this. They are focused on practical application, the here and now. Currently, I try to combine scales, long tones, breathing, and tonguing exercises as well their etudes and studies into the ensemble music and point out similarities. Particularly, for my students, they can play scales very well in a lesson, but do not use the same sound and air for their lesson presentations of ensemble or solo music.
To summarize, the more I have incorporated a relationship with ensemble and solo sound, the better player the students have become. With practice and years of experience, they begin to understand more in depth and develop the “two sound” ability—for ensemble and solo. As they begin to mature on these concepts, we find our way into musicianship and our hearts. They also need a lot more air to play with ensemble sound by themselves, recalling my favorite reminder—don’t forget to breathe!