Here is a performance which I have never shared. It’s 1971, with the Boston Symphony, William Steinberg conducting, recorded live in Symphony Hall, Boston. I am playing the Ralph Vaughan Williams “Concerto for Tuba”, on my goldbrass 6-valve Alexander F tuba. Hope you enjoy this ‘look-back’ from 47 years ago……
If you want to inhale silently, take in a given amount of air more easily, and more quickly, engage the nasal passage (the nose) when inhaling. Doing this then makes it possible to set your emouchure, with playing pressure, before you breathe, top and bottom center on mouthpiece rim, so that you, after your breath, are immediately ready to make that sound…..accurately and precisely…..and musically. Air comes in at “corners” of the mouth and through the nose. It is not only very easy, but it also is the correct way to prepare and breathe in order to play any brass instrument.
For those of you, particularly tuba players, who drop your jaw and form your oral cavity so as to say, “hooooo,” or, “huuuuuu,” will find that when you inhale using your nose as well as your mouth, that it will be almost physically impossible to form those vowel sounds. This is OK. One should not drop the jaw to breathe, nor should they use those vowel concepts. The correct concept is, “aaaaaaaaahhhh,” with a relaxed tongue and shoulders down.
When preparing to play an instrument, if you are inhaling only through the mouth, you can add approximately 1/4 more quantity of air, and breath much more quickly and quietly, by adding an “open nose” to the process. Nose-breathing is also the way you breath — automatically — all day long…..to sustain your life.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called
The Word of God.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation 19:11 – 16
JESUS stopped right under the tree in which Zacchaeus was, and all at once He looked up and saw Zacchaeus, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down.” I can just imagine Zacchaeus saying to himself, “I wonder who told Him my name? I was never before made known to Him.” But Christ knew all about Zacchaeus; and, sinner, Christ knows all about you; He knows your name, your dwelling-place. Do not think God does not know you. If you would try to hide yourself from Him, bear in mind you cannot do so. He knows where each one is; He knows all about our sins. He said to Zacchaeus, “Make haste and come down.” He might have added, “This is the last time I shall pass this way, Zacchaeus.” And thus also He speaks to sinners,—-“This may be the last time I shall pass this way.” Yes, this may be your last chance of eternity. He may be passing away from some soul now. Oh! sinner, make haste and come down and receive Him.”
The words of my fellow-Massachusettsian, D. L. Moody, in 1875
Are long tones useful? The predominant tendency, while holding a long tone, would usually be to increase playing pressure, tighten the embouchure, or unconsciously activate various improper actions as one continues to hold the tone. If one can manage to maintain proper ease of playing pressure, etc., it may be worthwhile, yet I really cannot see what value there would be in doing that. I cannot see how it is of any value to hold the tone for an extended time. I seems to me that the longer you hold the tone, the more would be the tendency to re-activate any bad habits, or wrong actions based on fatigue or boredom. And consider……why….for what purpose…..would you want to use long tones? There has to be a reason.
Rather, I suggest producing intelligently thought-out, beautiful, and musically-enriched tone, to be played in relatively short lengths, perhaps as briefly as 1 to 3 seconds, then repeated, giving attention to proper tonguing and breathing while so doing.
If your goal is to improve your tone, properly done lip slurs are the answer…not long tones.
It was January, 1973, and I was practicing on my Alexander CC tuba in the large tuning room right off the stage in Symphony Hall. It was vacation period so no one else was in the building, save for the man at the stage door. I was all alone, and frustrated, thinking about Jesus, thinking about my life, but not really knowing what to do — where to turn, to relieve my frustrations. I set my tuba down, and, realizing that no one could hear me, and in total honesty, I yelled out, “Jesus! If you are real, will you let me know?!” Instantly, His Presence FILLED that room, and I said, “You are real…….” And He has never left me. I found out that He IS REAL, and that He HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, and is now ALIVE! Why don’t you try yelling? He is there. He waits. Listen to His words:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”