The Military Column Andrew Carlson, Associate Editor for Military Bands
I’ll Take Military Tubists For $1000.00
Who are Tim Loehr, Bob Daniel, Marty Erickson, Jeff Arwood, Scott Tarabour and Gary Buttery? If you guessed that they are recently retired principal tubists of the premiere service bands, you may do well on quiz shows. These tubists represented the Army Field Band, Air Force Band, Navy Band, Army Band, Naval Academy Band and the Coast Guard Academy Band respectively. The one major service band not listed is “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, and it will stay that way – until November 2000. At that time Master Gunnery Sergeant Tom Lyckberg will retire after 32 years in the band. Some of you may be asking yourself, “Tom who?” Let Marine Band Director Timothy W. Foley tell you. “For more than 30 years Tom Lyckberg has provided the foundation of tone, rhythm and clarity of articulation upon which the sound of the Marine Band is built. We simply would not be where we are today without his invaluable leadership and musical expertise.”
Captain Michael Colburn, formerly Marine Band principal euphonium player and now the Marine Band’s Assistant Director, adds: “When I joined ‘The President’s Own’ in 1987, Tom Lyckberg had already achieved legendary status as leader of the Marine Band’s low brass section. There is no other musician with whom I’ve worked who has more natural talent or a greater instinct for the qualities a tubist needs in order to lead from the bottom of the ensemble. He has an uncanny ability to read a conductor and know just how much to anticipate so the tuba will sound on time. He has been the Marine Band’s foundation for more that 30 years, and his talent and musicianship will be greatly missed.”
Thomas Robert Lyckberg was bom in Chicago and grew up in Villa Park, Illinois. During his high school years, he studied with his band director. Tom continued his studies at the University of Illinois as a chemical engineering major, but eventually changed to a music major. As a music major, he studied with trombone professor Robert Gray. However, it was the numerous occasions that Tom heard the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that influenced his playing the most. Mr. Jacobs’ rich sonorous sound left an indelible impression on Tom that has inspired his playing ever since. Tom joined the Marine Band in June 1968, just shy of graduating from the U of I. To put that into an historical perspective, LBJ was the President. In 1973, Tom replaced Ed Simmons as the principal tuba player of “The President’s Own.”
When asked which conductors he enjoyed working with most, Tom dutifully mentioned Colonel Albert Schoepper and Colonel John Bourgeois. Colonel Schoepper, Director from 1955 through 1972, was extremely stem and demanding, but made great music with the band. Colonel Bourgeois, Director from 1979 through 1996, programmed a lot of good orchestral transcriptions with meaty tuba parts. Tom added Frederick Fennell and Slatkin to his list of favorites. Apparently Mr. Slatkin is a band music lover. When asked about a colleague or soloist he admired, former Marine Band tubist Pat Sheridan’s name immediately came up. Pat’s raw talent amazed Tom even then. One of the highlights of Tom’s career was the band’s 1990 State Department Concert Tour of Russia. The Inauguration Ceremonies of Presidents Nixon through Clinton were also thrills and honors for Tom.
The reason you may not have heard much about Tom is because he is a very unassuming man who gets his kicks out of playing in the section. He doesn’t feel compelled to be a soloist, clinician, instrument representative or recording artist. He has quietly gone about doing his job to the best of his abilities for decades. After being in the band for 32 years, Tom has some strong beliefs about what makes for a successful tuba section and band. Knowing the influence Mr. Jacobs has had on Tom’s playing, it is no surprise that he thinks that hearing what you want to play in your head before you play it is key to success as a musician. Other points he brought up for developing and maintaining good section play were listening to and matching the principal tubist and a clear, crisp articulation in all registers. He has no problems with people using CC or BB flat tubas in combination in the band as long as pitch and style all line up. Occasionally someone in the section will use an E flat or an F tuba on a wind ensemble piece or for recordings. Tom admits he does not keep up on all the newer tubas and mouthpieces. He has found what works for him and has stuck with it over the years. In the band he plays a BBflat Kalison Pro 2000 tuba with a Bach 7 mouthpiece. For a while he switched to a Perantucci 86, but he is back to the Bach 7. He owns a BB-flat Rudolf Meinl tuba for his personal use.
The most difficult band piece for Tom to play on his BB-flat tuba is Emblems by Aaron Copland. Tom is a march lover; Alte Kameraden March by Carl Tieke and Badonviller March by Georg Furst are two of his favorites. He also likes Symphonie Fantastique by H. Berlioz transcribed by Jack Kline, the Marine Band’s Director from 1974 through 1979.
The Marine Band has hired several new tubists recently. According to Tom, what set the winners apart from the others was preparation, good sound quality, clean articulation, technical proficiency, range and the impression made by the solo. Tom insists that one piece on its own usually “separates the men from the boys.” That piece is J.P. Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. Now you know at least one piece to prepare for a Marine Band audition!
Talking with Tom Lyckberg over lunch, it was apparent that this man is self-confident about his abilities and that he has had a good time playing with the Marine Band all of these years. He attributes his success in the band to his general good nature, his kindness towards everyone, not taking himself too seriously and always keeping music making fiin. This is not a bad recipe for success in any endeavor, including retirement. We wish all the best to you, Tom Lyckberg.<
Editor’s note: If readers have any euphonium or tuba contacts in any countries outside the United States who are not members of TUBA, particularly players who are in military organizations, please send their names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, instrument and professional or student status to email@example.com or Andrew Carlson, U.S. Navy Band, 617 Warrington Ave S.E., Washington D.C. 20374-5054.