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An Interview with Tubist, Andrew Hitz (part 3)

My Interview with Tubist, Andrew Hitz from May 27, 2011 (continued).
Me: What advice do you have for Music Teachers who will start young tuba players out?
Andrew: If possible don’t hand a tuba to a kid who is like 2 foot 12.  In general, a bigger kid will have more air capacity.  Now that being said, that’s nice on paper but sometimes you have who you have.  A lot of times they don’t realize just how loose their lips have to be in order to buzz.  You have to get them really flapping their lips and moving quite a bit of air.  My advice to beginners is to get them to play really loudly.  Try to get them to play Forte as much as you can because that’s how you can teach them to get them to commit to the air that they need to use.  Sometimes buzzing the mouthpiece is helpful as well.  You can have them cover half the hole at the bottom to give them a just little bit of resistance.  Mostly just tell them to play and play loud.  Warm and slow air.
Me: What is a common mistake that young tuba players make and how do you fix it.
Andrew: A common mistake is that they focus strictly on the quantity of air and not the quality of air as well.  The way to fix it other than breathing exercises, like the Breathing Gym, is have them fog up the mirror on the back of their bell.  I always stress to kids that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a single tuba that it won’t work on, even the most beat up one.  It doesn’t have to be some big, shiny, brand new Jupiter tuba that they provide me with.  To use warm and slow air, which is the only possible way to fog up a mirror.  You play with that kind of air, warm, slow and there’s an amount of air that has to be there as well.  There has to be a lot of it too.  You put that into a tuba and you play with a beautiful sound. The quick fix thing would be to fog up a mirror.
Me: What method or etude books would you recommend for high school and college students?
Andrew: Rochut books are great, which are written for trombone.  Any high school or college tuba player who is even remotely serious HAS to learn to read down an octave.  If you learn how to read down an octave, which is not really that difficult once you do it for a little while, it immediately opens up all trombone, baritone, euphonium, cello, bass and bassoon music.  There is no other single skill which will be that efficient in terms of what you can play.  Blazhevich etudes are great.  There are two Blazhevich books. The Arbans is fantastic although the other thing to read is treble clef.  If you can learn how to read treble clef, the trumpet Arbans book has duets.  It has very slow, very simple melodies in the middle which is probably my favorite part of the whole book.  They take the duets and the simple melodies out of both the trombone and tuba versions.  The tuba book is edited, they did a good job of editing it, but I would rather edit my own stuff. So they take out the end of every phrase of the really fast stuff. I tell my students that they have to buy the trombone version, not the tuba version.  Way better than that is to buy the trumpet version which is the complete Arbans method.  The Kopprasch book is great.  If you’re telling kids what to buy,  Kopprasch wrote for a number of different instruments, make sure they buy the tuba book.  Gotta keep the dots pretty close together for tuba students sometimes. I’m sure I’m forgetting some obvious ones but those are good.
More to follow…
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