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My Teaching Makes Kids Yawn

Recently, I had the privilege of working with two young tuba players at a friend’s high school.  I was anxious to start working with them, but the band had a performance coming up and needed to do a run-through of their music.  I had about 10 minutes to work with them before the class was over.  What to do?  Make them yawn!

I believe that a good tone should be the first priority of any tuba player.  Technique and range should be built upon good tone.  What’s the point of playing anything if it’s not done with beautiful sound?

So I asked the kids to yawn.  Playing the tuba is a very physical activity.  One of my tuba teachers does stretches before he plays, stretching his arms, waist, neck and back.  Playing the tuba takes moving great amounts of air, so it makes sense to stretch and warm up the areas involved in moving air.  I believe this includes the oral cavity.  There is only so much control we have over our air passages, but by yawing we can isolate the area and wake it up.

During a recent Master class taught by Andrew Hitz, he instructed the two high school low brass players to pick a spot on their bell, and fog it up.  He explained that their fog spots should grow slowly and be quite large.  That’s the same type of air you want to use while playing the tuba.  Slow, warm air.  The same type of air you exhale while you’re yawning.

So the next time you see your tuba players in the back of the band yawning, perhaps they’re just warming up and stretching their air passage!

photo credit: kenleewrites

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