Me: Since there is a lack of solo tuba music, where are your favorite places to look for alternative solo music?
Andrew: One of the best things that a teacher did for me when I was in middle school in 8th grade, he made me learn how to read down an octave. That opened up all trombone music, all cello music, all bassoon music, all bass music. I kind of steal from all those instruments actually. When I was at Northwestern, Rex Martin encouraged me to purchase the complete bass parts to all of Beethoven’s 9 symphonies. I would go into a practice room with headphones on and a recording and play through all of Beethoven 1 from start to finish and play all the bass parts. Whenever I’m playing a solo, for instance when I’m playing “From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific” with David’s band, I’m not trying to make it sound good for a tuba, I’m just trying to make it sound good period. If you’re playing along with the Symphony part, and if you sound labored and heavy it doesn’t sound very Beethoven-like. You may not even realize you’re doing it, but just by using your ear you have to work on playing with a different weight than you usually are, with good momentum with a good sound, and a different groove than usual.
Me: Can we be looking for a solo CD anytime soon?
Andrew: That’s a good question! I need to make one for sure. Right now, I just finished my first ebook, “Band Director’s Guide to Everything Tuba; A Collection of Interviews with the Experts”. I just submitted that for publication last week and i’m waiting for that to come out and next I’m going to start right away on the trombone version of that book, and I’m planning on doing one for every instrument in the band. That’s at the forefront of my energies outside of Boston Brass and George Mason college and Gettysburg which has me really busy. For right now no, but it’s probably not too far down the road, but since I don’t have any definitive plan of making one immediately, it probably means it’s further rather than sooner.
Me: One final question: If you could leave a beginning tuba player with one thing, what would it be?
Andrew: You mean other than a tuba? It would probably be that the tuba can do anything that any other instrument can do and to not accept the limitations of your instrument. Which is obvious to other instruments but not obvious to tuba players. Kids that play the tuba lower the bar right out of the gate. They don’t have the same desire for it to be excellent as a pianist does. That’s crap.
Thank you to Andrew for sharing his time, talent and knowledge and for taking the time for this interview.
Editor’s Note: Andrew’s ebook, “A Band Director’s Guide to Everything Tuba: A Collection of Interviews with the Experts” has been released and is available for Kindle (format also readable on any computer browser), Nook, Sony Reader and Apple iBooks.