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An Interview with Tubist, Andrew Hitz (part 2)

An Interview with Tubist, Andrew Hitz.  (Con’t)

Me: What kind of advice were you given when you first started playing the tuba?

Andrew: When I first started playing the tuba there was a whole lot of help along the lines of air and of using lots of air which is the biggest headline to any kid that starts playing.  It’s not specifically advice, but I had teachers at an early age that held me to really high standards, which I am really thankful for. They didn’t accept anything but my absolute best.  Which I really appreciate in retrospect.  I did at the time too, but especially at an early age they made me realize that the tuba is capable of doing anything that any other instrument was.  It was integral in my development.

Me: What motivated you at a young age to practice?

Andrew: It was my competitiveness in general.  I was a really a competitive kid, sometimes in a healthy way, sometimes in a not healthy way.  I definitely hung my hat a lot on being better than anyone else in band.  Which, like I said, could be good or could be bad. I recognized the fact that a lot of work had to go into that.  The practice records helped to maintain a lot of consistency.  Even though I now encourage kids not to practice for time.  That system did help to keep me practicing pretty consistently.  Although I get bored pretty frequently while practicing.

David: As a band director, how would you recommend and design a practice journal if you’re not practicing for time?

Andrew: A couple of ideas that I’ve heard from band directors, as my wife will tell you I’m not short of opinions on any subject.  In theory I would know how to run the perfect band program and I’ve never run any program for even 2 seconds.  Theory without practice is just an academic mish-mash.  I know one band director that instead of having time sheets, had her students write down each week what they had practiced measures, even if it was 4 measures. They had to put it on a piece of paper and toss it in a hat. Each Friday or whatever it was, she would pull one name at the top of class and that kid would have to play one or two things of her choice in front of the whole class that they had put down on their practice sheet.  That made it apparent to everybody whether they had actually worked on it or not.  According to her, it really didn’t take that much time, which is one, if not the most precious commodity of all band directors.  The actual playing was like two minutes long. The whole thing of pulling a name out, adjusting the stand and his neck strap was like 5 minutes once a week and it kept all the kids honest.  One of the things that my wife does with her program is she has scale tests.  She has a flip camera, one that wouldn’t be the end of the world if it got broken or stolen.  It’s in a room next to the band room.  She sets it up and the kids have to go in one at a time, down the row into the room, sit down and play their scale test in front of the camera.  She has found that really motivates them and keeps them focused.  The kids approach it like you’re going to broadcast their scale exam on CNN, FOX news and YouTube simultaneously and there’s going to be 5 million people watching and their friends are going to laugh at them if they don’t do well.

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