Winter 2009 Pedagogy Articles:
“Strategies for Music Learning” by George Palton
“Circular Breathing Defined” by Paul Nobis
Tips for Tuba: “Downbeat, upfeet!” by David Porter
Stepping Stones to Success: “Don Haddad’s Suite for Baritone (Tuba)” by Pat Stuckemeyer
Stepping Stones to Success, Vol. 5 of 8
by Pat Stuckemeyer
Don Haddas’s Suite for Baritone (Tuba)
© Templeton Publishing/Shawnee Press, Inc.
The previous installment of this educational series dealt with internal rhythmic pulse. We covered several ways in which we as educators can bring internal pulse to the forefront of our pupils’ formative years, and let this concept be their headline when working through rhythmic complexities.
People have specific internal timing, and it is this internal timing that we use for metronomic stability. The first scholar to write on internal timing was cognitive psychologist Paul Fraisee in the 1940s and 1950s.1 Then, in the 1970s, neuropsychologist Mari Reiss Jones of The Ohio State University suggested that the physical tempo corresponds to an internal pulse that regulates our attentions. This phenomenon is known as preferred timing and is explained in the following scenario:
Don’t think about anything in particular. Just tap away with your finger and count the number of taps over a couple of minutes. The rate you fall into will probably be about one beat every 600 milliseconds—a little slower than one tap every half-second.2
How is this applied to music making? According to scientist Trisha Gura, “One reason is the phenomenon of absolute tempo. Some conductors can beat 60 to the minute, or any other tempo you ask for, with astonishing accuracy.” Another source, Daniel Levitin of McGill University, thinks that we all have this ability. He asks people to sing a well-known song that they have only heard in one version and finds that they get the tempo just right. This is difficult to explain if people in general do not have some precise internal metronome to guide us.3
What does this mean to a brass instructor? First, every student has the ability to play in time and to find the beat—it is merely a skill that needs to be honed. When dealing with internal pulse, the concept of “musical groove” is one that needs to be addressed by the instructor. Musical groove is defined as a strong beat or rhythm in music. Internal pulse is the ability to recognize and reproduce this “groove” without the addition of an aid. These two concepts, while different, must work together in tandem for the musician to produce a rhythmically stable product.
Finding the groove in music is something most musicians take for granted but really how good at it are you? Sadly, most musicians who have “bad rhythm” are simply not in the groove. It is true that certain rhythmic complexities can challenge any performer, but it is the groove that is the real troublemaker. Through a simple exercise (Figure A), we can work on musical groove with our pupils. This will not only help their understanding of groove but also maybe even address some of our own shortcomings.4
Students are taught to perform with a metronome, but why is this? Is this because we as teachers believe them incapable of rhythmic stability or merely so they can have a sense of time and the beat? Teaching the pupils to work with their tools (metronome, tuner, etc.) can be an effective way to aid in practice, but be careful that the student does not become reliant upon them as their ultimate guide.
Don Haddad was formerly professor of composition, theory, and horn at Colorado State University. He held similar positions at Ohio University, West Texas State University, Amarillo College, University of Colorado, and the Interlochen Arts Academy. The Suite for Baritone was written in 1966 and is identical to the Suite for Tuba. This piece is meant to display the flexibility, sonority, and artistic capability of the instrument in addition to challenging the player’s technical facility.5
Headlines for the Teacher
Internal pulse and groove need to be in sync with one another to accurately have a good sense of meter and time. This idea is one that needs to be not only practiced with the student but also reinforced throughout their musical upbringing. So often these ideas are merely pushed to the wayside, but you as the teacher have an obligation to point out these fundamentals to them so that they can have a solid foundation upon which to build their musical palate.
When performing a piece with accompaniment, both performer and accompanist intertwine their musical upbringings. They, as musicians, bring everything to the table, which is a part of them. This is why the student needs to have a solid basis of rhythmic fundamentals upon which to build upon. If both the soloist and the collaborative artist bring this rhythmic fundamental together, then they can groove as one. It is in this groove where music making goes from simply notes on a page, to something truly inspirational.
Teaching rhythmic fundamentals is quite easy. Various patterns are taught, subdivisions are created, and the student is actively involved in certain rhythmic complexities that they must overcome. Rhythmic groove is something that must be experienced and felt, which is why it’s more difficult to teach. Create exercises that engage the student aurally, kinesthetically, or visually. This will cover the gamut of teaching styles and make every type of learner succeed. It is here that you, the teacher, have all the power—you must get these concepts through to them.
Pedagogical Considerations for Performance
Haddad’s Suite for Baritone (Tuba) is a great piece for teaching this rhythmic groove, which can be applied to the student’s everyday music making. This work has been around for quite some time, which is evident with its inclusion on almost every state contest festival list. When programming this work for contest, take note that several states do not require the entire work.
The range of the work is G2 to C5, which makes this piece accessible for an advanced high school player or a beginning collegiate player. The piece is divided into three movements or moods that the composer is trying to convey. The first movement, “Allegro maestoso,” is the longest of the three and asks the performer to play in several styles. The second movement, “Andante espressivo,” is slower and more lyrical but still has a sense of urgency to it. “Allegro con brio,” the third movement, is a rapid succession through a mixture of meters. This exciting movement includes a short cadenza section for the students as well as several rhythmic and stylistic hurtles that they will need to overcome. The range ascends past B-flat4 in three instances: one in the first movement to C5 and twice in the third movement to C5, with one of these being rather lengthy. If the student has high-range problems, encourage them to work for this as a goal and not to simply eliminate the work entirely.
I. Allegro maestoso
The beginning of this movement is marked “rhythmic but legato.” Most of the problems in this movement will be rhythmic. This is not due to complexities in individual rhythms but more in the long stream of different rhythmic ideas that make up an entire melodic idea. When dealing with rhythmic issues, it is often necessary to make it as easy as possible for the student. Avoid simply singing the rhythm to them but instead show the student the clear divisions of the beat so they can figure out the rhythm themselves. Often, a one-note version of a complex rhythm can be very successful. One example would be the opening phrase of the piece (see Figure 1.1).6
To further the student’s understanding of rhythmic groove, isolate a section of this passage with a shaker egg exercise. This can be daunting to some younger students, but with a little explanation and practice, can become fun and exciting (see Figure 1.2).
Use the VAMP measure to set up rhythmic stability with you as the teacher emphasizing beats one and three with your shaker egg. Once that has been established have the student concentrate on beats one and three while singing the exercise. Use your shaker egg to emphasize the rhythmic complexities that exist with this exercise. You will notice improvement not only in the student’s ability to navigate these rhythms but also in their groove while doing so.
After the initial statement of the theme, it is presented two more times. A more lyrical section replaces this driving rhythmic section at measure 26 (rehearsal D). Make sure that the student takes notice of the preceding melodic material, which should be attached to the style of m. 26. Phrasing can often be difficult in this section, and advising your student of larger phrases would benefit the overall flow of this area. Figure 2.1 illustrates how the music is presented in the piece.
A student is never too young to play expressively and using expressive markings to guide them is a useful tool at any age level. I often use orchestral bowing markings to show stress points within a phrase. I would teach the above phrase as shown in Figure 2.2.
The overall form of the first movement is ABA with a short codetta at the end. The return to the A section should be in the same vain as the beginning, however the style is marcato instead of legato. The only visible difference, other than style, is the tenuto markings in the first measure of the phrase are replaced by accents. This will not be enough information for a younger student, so make sure to specify the difference between a legato and a marcato accent. A simple exercise (Figure 3.1) using this familiar rhythm will clear up any questions about this.
Take caution in the ending codetta that the student does not begin this section too loud. The passage beginning at m. 70 (rehearsal J) should be light and buoyant but still retain its crisp nature. The ending section should broaden out with a large ritard before the final note.
II. Andante espressivo
The middle movement from Haddad’s Suite should be treated with care. Too often this section is discarded from its flashy cousins and is not given nearly enough of the attention to detail that it requires. That being said, the middle movement is probably the easiest of the three, but there are several places where a little knowledge will go a long way.
Beginning in the opening statement, have the student take notice of the way the articulations are marked. The piece should have a lilting quality to it but care should be taken not to chop off the staccato notes in the opening measure. Figure 4.1 illustrates the opening rhythm as printed in the music.
It is quite easy to go too far to one side or the other when addressing articulations and releases. This is one of those teacher moments that we all hate when it needs to be, “short, but long.” A quick demonstration can fix almost anything, but a great way to mark this in the music is demonstrated in Figure 4.2.
This opening motive is important to address because it appears many times throughout the movement in some form. There are several recordings of this piece available, all with different interpretations of this rhythm. The most important thing is not that the student does it exactly as you wish but that they do it the same each time it appears.
After the opening section of this piece the mood should change beginning at m. 21 (rehearsal C). The once lilting-in-two feel should change to a more direct triple meter. Be careful to put the appropriate amount of space after the first quarter note while still actively raising the dynamic until the diminuendo in m. 29. One other rhythmic mistake to watch for is the dotted-eighth-sixteenth rhythm beginning in this section at rehearsal C. With the constant six-eight meter, it is very easy for the student to “triplet-ize” this.
The loudest section of this movement comes after rehearsal D. It should be similar in style to the beginning but with a more direct approach. The dynamic should remain high throughout this passage and taper slightly before the recapitulation. The return to the beginning should be without a breath as indicated.
When repeating a passage of music to satisfy the form, encourage the student to alter it slightly. A wise musician once said that, “Boring music is right next to wrong music.” A slight color change or more dynamic contrast would be helpful to the music instead of simply “playing it again.” Empower even your youngest students to always try to make as beautiful music as they can, even with the simplest of phrases.
III. Allegro con brio
The final movement is probably the most difficult for younger students to digest, simply because of the changing meter. The meter alternates from 3/4 to 4/4 over the course of the entire movement. This is notated in the opening time signature but not throughout the piece. A great way to practice this with your younger students is to write in the time signatures for the first few measures until they get the hang of it. This would also be an excellent time for another rhythm groove shaker-duet, this time with the alternating meter changes.
The opening section of the third movement is marked “smoothly.” The melodic lines should be shaped nicely with the given dynamics and as smooth as possible. This section dovetails straight into m. 15 (rehearsal B) where the style changes drastically. The dynamic is dropped and the melodic lines should be even more lyrical, possibly even sub-toned. This will create the character in this section that is required. The gradual build should culminate in m. 35 going into the cadenza section.
Beginning at m. 37 the performer is given liberty with a dramatic cadenza. The composer’s intentions are marked well but encourage the student to make this cadenza his or her own. Practice vocalizing this section with the student and let them experiment on their own. Remind them that beginning at m. 51 (rehearsal E) the collaborative artist comes back in with them, so that section will need to be metered in time.
To really have a great performance of any piece, the soloist needs to have an understanding of the piano score. You as the teacher can and should expect this from your students and getting them started with these habits should be present in your pedagogy. One such example of this appears in m. 53 (Figure 5.1).
Without any knowledge of what is going on in the piano score, it would be difficult to perform this correctly. Figure 5.2 includes the piano score, and the necessary information to place this section correctly in tune.7
The return to the opening material at m. 59 should be in the same character as before, but notice this time the passage is presented much softer. The pinnacle of the material is coming quickly at m. 69 (rehearsal H) with the upper octave and loud dynamic. Treat this just as freely as the lower octave material and remind the student not to force this section. The ending of the third movement is a gradual build from m. 80 (rehearsal I) until the end. Have the student gauge the dynamics and caution them not to get too loud too soon. The final piu mosso sprints to the end with the last notes having equal weight and punch. Don’t let the last note lose any of its dark qualities simply because of the extreme dynamics.
Musical Gains Through Performance
I was never lucky enough to perform the Suite for Baritone (Tuba) when I was a younger student, however, since this piece has come to me as an adult teacher, I recognize why it is still played today. The piece has substance and great musical character to it. The flowing lines are coupled with melodic intensity and are incredibly challenging to any musician. This, like many formative pieces, is a piece that is often not given the attention it needs to be played well. Encourage your students to groove to the music and watch them grow through the process. Perhaps you’ll notice your student’s time and rhythm getting better along with your own. You as their teacher are the biggest role model for their musical upbringing. We never stop growing and learning as musicians, no matter how old we are.
Gura, Trisha. “Rhythm of Life.” New Scientist August 4 2001: 32–3.
4 Adapt. Stuckemeyer from Pilafian, Sam & Sheridan, Patrick. Breathing Gym & Brass Gym pedagogy. Chandler, Ariz.: Focus on Music, 2004–6.
5 Stuckemeyer, Pat. Stepping Stones for Euphonium, Vol. 1. CD-recording. Tempe, Ariz.: Potenza Music, 2006.
6 A one-note version is where written pitches are replaced with one solitary pitch. This exercise is designed to make the rhythm the headline for the exercise.
7 There is an erratum in the piano score for m. 53. The solo part satisfies the 4 to 3 form, however the piano score has two 3 measures next to each other. This has been corrected for the example to satisfy form.
Figure A: Adapt. Stuckemeyer from Pilafian, Sam & Sheridan, Patrick. Breathing Gym & Brass Gym pedagogy. Chandler, Ariz.: Focus on Music, 2004-6.
Figure 1.1: Adapt. Stuckemeyer from Haddad, Don Suite for Baritone (Tuba). Nashville, Tenn.: Shawnee Press, Inc, 1978.
Figure 1.2: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Figure 2.1: Haddad, Don Suite for Baritone (Tuba). Nashville, Tenn.: Shawnee Press, Inc, 1978.
Figure 2.2: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Figure 3.1: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Figure 4.1: Haddad, Don Suite for Baritone (Tuba). Nashville, Tenn.: Shawnee Press, Inc, 1978.
Figure 4.2: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Figure 5.1: Haddad, Don Suite for Baritone (Tuba). Nashville, Tenn.: Shawnee Press, Inc, 1978.
Figure 5.2: 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.
Pat Stuckemeyer is one of the youngest euphonium performers in the world today. At the age of 27, 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.
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 exclusively from Mike Finn Mouthpieces.