ARBAN ZONE
Rules Learning music begins by following sets of rules. For young musicians there are fingering charts, lists of musical symbols, tempo indications, metronome markings, and other rules of performance. These rules are a good place to start, but more advanced musicians should free themselves from such structured guidelines and methods. Your ear is your guide This is by far the most important concept to remember and always follow. By listening carefully, you will be able to determine the articulation techniques, fingerings, proper volume, balance, and tone color most suitable for each piece of music. You will also discover the best instrument to use for any given work; consider high or low tuba and four or five valve instruments. Following your ear is more important than any other rule for performing music.   If it sounds better—it IS better.
The passage above is taken from the tuba part of Fontane di Roma by Ottorino Respighi, found in the third section, La fontana di Trevi al meriggio . There are difficult issues to resolve as we learn to master this music. One of the most difficult spots is at the end of the fourth measure of this excerpt. The notation calls for a loud dynamic with clear articulation. In my experience, if I play this passage very loudly I cannot usually produce a clear and clean low E. If I choose a volume that allows me to attack the low E clearly then I am not playing loud enough. I have found that if I play the passage at full volume and slur the two notes leading to the low E (as notated below), I will produce the cor - rect volume and the slurred notes will actually sound articulated due to the valve changes. I am articulating by using my valves rather than my tongue!
Dynamics vary widely among composers and musical styles. Here is a fortissimo passage for tuba from Anton Bruck - ner’s Symphony No. 7 in E major.
And here is a fortissimo passage for tuba from Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The fortissimo indication in the Mendelssohn excerpt has a totally different meaning than the one in Bruckner. Your ear will tell you how to play each passage in context, with the correct dynamic, color, and blend.

There are no alternate fingerings

Finally, this little tuba solo appears in Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler. It begins softly, and then becomes even softer. Your legato must be absolutely smooth and fluid. One problem when using a CC tuba is the slur from E flat to D. As the passage dies away there could be an unfortunate break in the legato due to the large change in tubing—valves two and three for E flat changing to fourth-valve D. A better option is to play the D using valves one and three. The slur will be much smoother. If your instrument has vented valves, pull out the first valve slide to correct the faulty intona - tion of the one and three fingering while playing the E flat. The lesson here: there are no “alternate” fingerings. There are only fingerings , and you must choose the best fingering option for every situation.
Remember, reading music means reading the music —not just the notes.

Reading music

Printed music is a guide to how a musical work should sound. It is not a guide to determine what techniques you should use to achieve that sound. It is important to remember that indications such as the slur, staccato, marcato, etc. indicate sound rather than technique. Sometimes you may have to tongue a slurred passage to make it sound slurred and sometimes you may have to slur a passage to make it sound articulated. Here are several examples: This famous passage for tuba is taken from Richard Wagner’s Eine Faust Overture. The notation indicates that it is to be played very softly and legato. The descending intervals at the beginning of each measure can be trouble - some; large interval jumps tend to break the legato flow. Playing the passage louder makes these intervals easier to play, but that solution is not musically acceptable. Here, the better slur may be achieved by using the tongue! Many players can produce a smoother legato sound, with more dependable results, by applying a soft and light tongue to the descending intervals.
Read Wesley Jacobs’ bio on the gallery page
ARBAN ZONE
Read Wesley Jacobs’ bio on the gallery page
Rules Learning music begins by following sets of rules. For young musicians there are fingering charts, lists of musical symbols, tempo indications, metronome markings, and other rules of performance. These rules are a good place to start, but more advanced musicians should free themselves from such structured guidelines and methods. Your ear is your guide This is by far the most important concept to remember and always follow. By listening carefully, you will be able to determine the articulation techniques, fingerings, proper volume, balance, and tone color most suitable for each piece of music. You will also discover the best instrument to use for any given work; consider high or low tuba and four or five valve instruments. Following your ear is more important than any other rule for performing music.   If it sounds better—it IS better.

Reading music

Printed music is a guide to how a musical work should sound. It is not a guide to determine what techniques you should use to achieve that sound. It is important to remember that indications such as the slur, staccato, marcato, etc. indicate sound rather than technique. Sometimes you may have to tongue a slurred passage to make it sound slurred and sometimes you may have to slur a passage to make it sound articulated. Here are several exam - ples: This famous passage for tuba is taken from Richard Wagner’s Eine Faust Overture. The notation indi - cates that it is to be played very softly and legato. The descending intervals at the beginning of each measure can be troublesome; large interval jumps tend to break the legato flow. Playing the passage louder makes these intervals easier to play, but that solution is not musically acceptable. Here, the better slur may be achieved by using the tongue! Many players can produce a smoother legato sound, with more dependable results, by applying a soft and light tongue to the descending intervals.
The passage above is taken from the tuba part of Fontane di Roma by Ottorino Respighi, found in the third section, La fontana di Trevi al meriggio . There are difficult issues to resolve as we learn to master this music. One of the most difficult spots is at the end of the fourth measure of this excerpt. The nota - tion calls for a loud dynamic with clear articulation. In my experience, if I play this passage very loudly I cannot usually produce a clear and clean low E. If I choose a volume that allows me to attack the low E clearly then I am not playing loud enough. I have found that if I play the passage at full volume and slur the two notes leading to the low E (as notated below), I will produce the correct volume and the slurred notes will actually sound articulated due to the valve changes. I am articulating by using my valves rather than my tongue!
Dynamics vary widely among composers and musi - cal styles. Here is a fortissimo passage for tuba from Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E major.
And here is a fortissimo passage for tuba from Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The fortissimo indication in the Mendelssohn excerpt has a totally different meaning than the one in Bruckner. Your ear will tell you how to play each passage in context, with the correct dynamic, color, and blend.

There are no alternate

fingerings

Finally, this little tuba solo appears in Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler. It begins softly, and then becomes even softer. Your legato must be abso - lutely smooth and fluid. One problem when using a CC tuba is the slur from E flat to D. As the passage dies away there could be an unfortunate break in the legato due to the large change in tubing—valves two and three for E flat changing to fourth-valve D. A better option is to play the D using valves one and three. The slur will be much smoother. If your instrument has vented valves, pull out the first valve slide to correct the faulty intonation of the one and three fingering while playing the E flat. The lesson here: there are no “alternate” fingerings. There are only fingerings , and you must choose the best finger - ing option for every situation.
Remember, reading music means reading the music —not just the notes.