Tuesday, May 31, 2011

#3: Random thought that I had to jot down

The tuba is like the Snuggie of the orchestra. Yes, it looks kind of ridiculous, but it also makes you feel instantly warmer.


That is all.

Friday, May 27, 2011

#2: The cimbasso is great, and so is the internet.

I was reading an interview with Jim Self from the blog SousaCentral (please check it out, it's under the blogs I follow).  He mentioned that there was some interesting scoring for The Green Lantern - 2 tubas, who both doubled on cimbasso.  I have only met a couple of people that play cimbasso, and I've discovered that loads of musicians (non-tubists, of course) have never heard of the cimbasso.

I wanted to share this video of Alessandro Fossi playing opera excerpts on cimbasso:



And this article by Roger Bobo:

http://www.tubanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=353:ophicleide-and-cimbasso&catid=36:essays&Itemid=86

Reading the interview with Mr. Self made me want to brush up on my knowledge of the instrument, and it also got me thinking. Would it be worth it to double on this instrument?  I absolutely adore opera, that would be a good reason.  I've also noticed that many orchestras overseas require that you double on cimbasso... maybe they've got a point?  And Mr. Self mentions that both players on The Green Lantern were required to double cimbasso, and Mr. Bobo thinks it will eventually be "part of the tubist's required tool kit."

Of course, my dream life would be to have a house filled with instruments - tubas, trombones, bass trombones, euphoniums, cimbassi, ophicleides, etc.  And, in my dream life, I'd also be able to play all of these instruments.

Before I continue, I should make a confession: I do not know how to play anything other than the tuba.

*Phew* That wasn't that bad!

I've been pondering learning to double on another instrument for a long time.  Bass trombone seems very practical, plus I love that instrument.  Euphonium seems like an "easy" transition, but would it be as practical?  Teaching-wise, definitely, but gigging-wise, most likely not. (Note: When I say "practical," I mean for the time being, given a budget of time and money for this relatively short-term goal.  Perhaps I should make a "doubling timeline" for myself! You know, map out when I should learn a particular instrument so I can plan time and money-wise? Anyways.).

It seems overwhelming to learn to double another instrument.  However, I have to wonder - would learning to double one of these instruments strengthen my tuba playing?

Obviously, learning to double would take away physical time from your primary instrument, and that's hard to do when you're in school and you have x, y and z to prepare for.  But I'm out of school, and while I'm limited on practice time, I'm not limited on what I'm required to practice (though I notice time flies when I'm working on my technique, most of the time rather slowly, out of Arban's - something I never had time to do in school).  The only downside to being out of school is that you're almost forced to buy an instrument to learn it (as opposed to borrowing is from school), and you have less opportunities to try it out in an ensemble (I'd love to walk in to TSO with a cimbasso and say, "I just thought I'd give a go here, see how it sounds in the orchestra.")

Outside of time management issues, I'd like to think that learning to double would only strengthen my tuba playing, as long as I'm practicing good habits, breathing and musicality.  Certainly, it would force me to slow things down and learn every note correctly and it would force me to focus on making everything as beautiful as possible.  That's always a good habit to reinforce.

One day, I will play bass trombone and cimbasso.  It won't be tomorrow, but it will happen.  I think learning bass trombone may be more accessible right now.  And imagine if I got any good at it, I could maybe play some jazz, and then somehow sneak my tuba in there...

For those of you that have doubled, what issues have you found?  What's been helpful?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

#1: Welcome to my blog!

Hello everyone!  This is my new blog.  I hope to be posting about all of my tuba-related adventures here, both playing and teaching.  I'm using this as not only a way to communicate with others - I'm also using it as a way to keep myself accountable.  I think writing things down makes you want to be accountable in some strange way... perhaps it's because we make things official in writing, especially with our signatures.

Anyways - so, who in the world am I?  I'm a musician constantly seeking wisdom, inspiration, and new ideas.

Things I believe:

-When the tuba enters in any piece of music, the world seems like a better place.
-Be grateful for the ability to practice and for what you are able to do at this point in time.  You cannot regret what you have not yet done; you can only move forward.
-Perseverance and hard work can get you through just about anything...
-...but don't be afraid to ask for help.
-Related to the last point, work with other musicians (and composers!) regularly.  Don't always lock up in a practice room by yourself.
-Don't be afraid to be relevant or raw in your music-making.
-Have "muses," or musicians that you look to for inspiration, and don't limit it to just other "classical" musicians.
-Do not have excuses, have reasons why.
-Have a life outside of music - music is about life, after all!
-Practice your Arban's Method (advice to myself more than anyone else).

I know that none of this is new or original thought, but I find that reminding myself of these things regularly is helpful.

I plan to post another entry, hopefully with new video/audio, soon.  It may involve Bach or perhaps some new music for tuba... we'll see what happens!

In the meantime, here is a little clip of me, in case you'd like more "info":



Thanks for reading and come back soon!

--Rachel