Choices. So many choices! Tubas, euphoniums, baritones, mouthpieces, tuners, microphones, CDs, gig bags, hard casesÑthis list certainly can go on and on, and of course, choices of all styles of music to perform. Not so long ago we were not so fortunate to be afforded so many choices in what we do with our (tuba/euphonium) music, performance, practice and enjoyment. (And no, this is not going to turn into one of those “we had to carry our horns 5 miles uphill both ways in the snow” musings.)
My point, though, is that there are so many new things to try, sample, etc. that it can potentially be overwhelming. This, of course is due to many factors, but I like to think that in no small part, this plethora of resources we now have is somewhat of a windfall from the existence of our organization. Would we have new designs in mouthpieces and instruments, the variety of new music, etc. without ITEA? To some degree, the answer is yes. But would we have the consistency of development and review? Probably not, at least not to the level we currently enjoy.
We have much to be proud of, as I mentioned in my last column. Our Tuba-Euphonium Press, for instance, is a model for all other instrument societies. However, there are many things we can do better, more efficiently, and more productivelyÑand I’m not just referring to those serving in some official capacity for the organization. The choices we make now can have significant effect upon those that follow us. We can choose to say “thanks, and good job” to those that paved the way (and not just those involved with starting TUBA 30+ years ago) and leave it at that. OR, we can say thanks for getting it started and then do something further with what we haveÉ.
We, the members, can be better stewards of our instruments and music. For instance, we need to choose to attend more live concerts and pull more of the general public in with us. I would like to charge the membership, as a whole, to seek out a minimum of 4 concerts during 2006 and take a neighbor, co-worker, etc. with you. I’m not merely saying take them to a low brass concert but any concert which might include (not just feature) tubas and/or euphoniums. Going to the local symphony is certainly a place to start, but don’t forget about the free concerts by local brass quintets, community bands, (brass band or symphonic) high school bands, jazz groups, and, if possible, the offerings at local colleges and universities. If you are excited about live music, then we can attract others to those concertsÑthen the development of appreciation for who we are and what we do can begin.
If your local schools have volunteer programs (and many do) then volunteer to work with a middle school band programÑbefriend that band director, purchase some of the quartet music, or duos/trios offered by our press and take them to the school. Offer to help with sectionals, etc. Make sure the students know about available recordings (maybe even donate some to the bandÑbut be sure to do it legally (!)Ñno “burned” copies of anything).
Attend regional and international conferencesÑthey are worth the cost of admission. This summer in Denver should prove to be artistically exciting and intellectually stimulating. In 2007, when the regionals come around again, make an effort to get to know everyone thereÑmake contacts, ask for resources from the pros (if you’re an amateur or student); pros, take those resources with you!
Take and make time to attend live performances when you are on vacation or away on businessÑthere are likely events elsewhere that you do not have the chance to see and hear at home. Seek out that which is non-traditionalÑif you are in New York, for example, try to check out some of the jazz, “modern” (i.e., not traditional), rock, funk, and even Klezmer bands that use and feature the tuba and euphonium. (We don’t have much of that in central North CarolinaÉ.) In today’s society, linked by the internet, we can find out who is doing what and when with a minimum of effortÑgone are the days when we can easily say “I wish I’d known aboutÉ.”
These are all choices we can makeÑand there are obviously many others. The more of this we think about and act upon, the better we can make it for those 30 years down the road, as Mr. RØker, Dr. Phillips, Mr. Morris, Mr. Cummings and so many others did 30 years ago.
I urge you to contact Membership Coordinator Deanna Swoboda if you would like to be involved as a State Coordinator or to assist in that job if your state already has a coordinator. This is not just a job for the professionals in your stateÑit’s a job for any member.
And finally, my door is always open. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding any question, concern, or observations.
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