Tips for Tuba Vol. 1A David Porter, Editor
United We Stand, Diveded We Fall
Welcome to the Tips for Tuba corner. This is a new column dedicated to the concerns of the high school, middle school and elementary school music directors and their students who are currently learning or playing tuba. Jerry Young, Editor of the Journal, has asked me to be the editor of this column. I want to begin by thanking him for this opportunity and would like to begin by giving readers some perspective on my background.
I was raised and educated in Tennessee, receiving my high school diploma from Alcoa High School, Alcoa, Tennessee in 1976, a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tennessee in 1980, and a Masters of Music in Tuba Performance from the University of New Mexico in 1982. My instructors included Mr. Roy C. Holder (formerly band director at Alcoa HS and now at Lake Braddock HS, Burke, VA), Ronnie Spencer and Mike Kincaid (former TTU students). Professor R. Winston Morris (TTU), Dr. Karl Hinterbichler (UNM), Mr. David Fedderly (Principal Tuba-Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), and Dr. Milt Stevens (Principal Trombone-National Symphony Orchestra).
I have performed with a number of well-known ensembles including the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble, the Casper Troopers Dmm and Bugle Corps, the New Mexico Brass Quintet, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (Principal Tuba), the Southwest Ballet Orchestra (Principal Tuba), the New Mexico Tuba Quartet, the Albuquerque City Band, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, the Westshoremen Senior Drum and Bugle Corps, the Christian Performing Artist’s Fellowship Orchestra (Principal Tuba), the CPAF brass quintet, Gabriel’s Brass, and, along with working for one of Washington, D.C.’s service bands, I am currently Principal Tuba with the McLean Orchestra, Colonel (ret) Amald D. Gabriel, Conductor.
My 25 years of teaching experience include private tuba, euphonium and trombone students, as well as working with low brass sections from at least 22 different schools in Tennessee, New Mexico, Maryland and Virginia. I have taught for numerous non-public school organizations as well, including the UNM Lobo Marching Band, Albuquerque, NM, Hummingbird Music Camp, The Westshoremen Senior Drum &. Bugle Corps Brass Line, and The Masterworks Festival in Houghton, New York. Some of my former students have attended or are attending prominent colleges and universities on scholarship including Tennessee Tech University, James Madison University, the Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, Indiana University, Peabody Conservatory, and the Julliard School of Music.
The intent of this column is to provide a series of articles that the music educator and younger students can collect and keep as a reference book. There are many, many subjects to explore and I look forward to getting into all of them in detail. Before we begin, 1 felt the need to establish a “ground of commonality”. Since there are about as many ways to teach students as there are school systems in the world, 1 felt we needed to have a pedestal to stand on together. This pedestal is musicianship. Every school music teacher 1 have known has been committed to one cause – enriching student lives by instilling the understanding and emotional base to be musicians. While we do not all earn a living being musicians, we all have learned how music is made, and can appreciate it from a visual, aural, and emotional viewpoint. Literally, take any two people who play any instrument and have them listen to individuals behind a screen, and 99% of the time, these individuals will agree on what musically sounds the best.
When it comes to playing tuba, there are many ways and opinions on how to do it correctly. Therefore, we will need to stay focused on a concept with a united purpose of making everyone a better musician. In the next column, we will deal with beginning tuba players and tuba “swap-overs” from other instruments. I plan to close each column with my favorite slogan for the young musician immediately before they are about to perform – Don’t Forget To Breathe!