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Slurring up from F to G

Postby paulver » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:14 pm

Hi Guys!!
Self taught tuba player here. That being said, I'm a retired high school band director. I decided to learn tuba for some friends who needed a tuba player for their brass group. My question is this....... I have a problem with splitting the "G" when slurring from "F" to "G". Then, if the passage is an ascending figure of five or six slurred notes, I screw them up as a result of missing the "G". Very frustrating!!!

Is this a common thing on tuba, or is it more of an individual problem with how my lips are formed in the mouthpiece? Which syllables, jaw, lip positions do you guys use to cure/prevent this sort of thing? Any ideas?

P.S. The tuba is a Miraphone 186 BBb.... and yes, it's the F just blow the staff to the bottom line G.
Last edited by paulver on Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby Mark » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:26 pm

Is this a BBb tuba? Do you mean F below the staff to first-line G?

If so, this is likely a "slur over the break" problem. If you search on this you might find some suggestions on how to overcome this. Most will boil down to practice this a lot: start on F slur to G, repeat a lot.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby ppalan » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:53 pm

Assuming this is a BBb tuba and depending on the passage involved, you could use 1-3 for F and 3 for G. The idea, in the previous reply, of practicing this particular item with the standard fingerings is certainly good advice. I had the same issue for a while. What worked for me was practicing fairly slowly and maintaining a steady column of air. The consistency of the air flow seemed to be my problem. Once I could ensure that I kept the air moving, the problem was solved for me. Another point to consider, especially if the music is fairly slow, is to ensure you aren't moving the valves slowly causing a "bump" in the sound. The valve action must be quick. So...steady air flow quick movemnt of valves and keep alternate fingerings in mind to use when necessary. Hope this helps.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby imperialbari » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:55 pm

Part of the problem may be that your ears work too well. And a lack of understanding pitch tendencies in tubas.

The 186 isn’t the wordt model intonationwise, not at at all.

The open F tends flat on most BBb tubas. The G tends sharp fingered 12.

If you aim for a G a more or less perfect whole step above the flattish F, your embouchure will buzz a note that will find no resonance in the main bugle plus the two first valve loops. More experienced tuba players with stronger embouchures and good coordination of embouchure and air will know how to handle this problem intuitively.

As you assumedly are able to play the G on its own and in other context than slurred from the F, then try doing the reverse slur, from G to F. Should be easier as the open F has a wider slot. When this slur works, then slur back to G immediatedly using the feel of the G you started on.

The G will be a bit flatter fingered 3, which is why many use that fingering. That would present another entry into your road to solving the problem.

F most often is well in tune when fingered 4. Try doing the F to G slurring with the fingerings 4 and 3. When that slur works for you, try doing the slur with fingerings 0 and 12. Should work now, if you use the same air and embouchure as with fingerings 4 and 3.

This problem may occur with all slurs over a break in partials. The general remedy is getting a better player by working on lip trills, scales, and intervals.

Working on a variant of the problem may also be helpful. Try playing the F as a long steady note while shifting the fingerings like this: 0-4-0-13-0-4-0-13-0. Or: 0-134-0-134-0. Or: 4-134-4-134-4. Or: 4-134-0-134-4.

Try the G as a long steady note shifting like this: 3-12-3-12-3. Or: 12-124-12-124-12. Or: 3-124-3-124-3. Or: 3-124-12-124-3.

Purpose of this type of exercise is about being able to keep a note steady through various conditions of resonance.

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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby lost » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:21 pm

Part of the problem may also be slurring up is difficult.

Yes it is a common problem for beginning players and takes practice to make ascending slurs clean. For me it is Bb to C on the second line. A break issue as well.

Try different things. I was moving my tongue arch higher for awhile.Then I tried thinking the angle of my air going up in the mouthpiece as I ascended. Try to blow air through the slur and not stopping the air. Try really really relaxing your embouchure as counterintuitive as that seems. These are all things I tried as a former band director myself ...and worked.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby bloke » Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:04 pm

brainstorming:

- Practice going back-and-forth between the two pitches using the alternate fingering, 1-3 for F. Do this for a considerable amount of time, and then go back-and-forth doing it playing F 1-3 and then with no-valves-down. Keep "the way you blow through the two pitches" the same both ways.

- Practice the no-valves F to the 1-2 valves G by moving EXTREMELY slowly (ultra slow motion) and very slowing depressing the two valves and doing a "glissando" up to the G (working ardently to keep your lips buzzing through the super-slow-motion super-slow-moving-valves glissando).

- Do both of the things suggested above a whole bunch, and not just "for five minutes one time". Allow your lips, your air, and timing of the two (all: via trial and error, noting which types of air and which types of lip formations work best) to "teach" you just how to achieve a satisfactory execution.

- Have your 1st and 2nd rotor casings vented.

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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby windshieldbug » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:23 am

bloke wrote:"warning: I don't know what I'm talking about. I am not a teacher."


Pretty insightful though for just a bloke...
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby MikeMason » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:50 am

I find smooth ascending slurs(especially lip slurs) to be one of the hardest aspects of tuba playing, among a hundred or so others. I find the shwarma excercise found in "the brass gym",played ascending, to target the problem. Lip slurs along with daily legato playing,ie Bordogni, played over your entire playing lifespan is the usual and correct prescription. Occasionally an alternate fingering,especially in a trill,where the pitches go by fast,can get you by.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby MusicSmiths » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:52 am

Put the leg of a small paperclip between the mouthpiece and the receiver and play F and G or F and Gb. Make that smooth then take out the paperclip and try it. While I rather dislike doing this, I have found this to be very helpful and can't argue with the results. Goes along the lines of doing it wrong/differently until you zero in on what's correct before repeating it. The other thing you might focus on is getting the tone for both F and G on top of the pitch and in the "taper zone" like Jim Pandolfi says in that Monster Oil Brass Chat first and then work on the slurring.

Just my 2 cents.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby swillafew » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:03 pm

The bottom line G is not a pitch I ever heard a person struggle to make. A slur does require a little practice though.

Were it me, I would play some slurs between notes where there was no problem, and then repeatedly slur from those to the problem note, until the problem went away.

An expanding interval exercise comes right to mind (Arban, etc) and also the page of arpeggios in every key in Arban.

I don't think I ever had a lesson (four teachers in 3 schools) where I didn't hear "More air" more than anything else. :tuba:
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby barry grrr-ero » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:55 pm

Going from any 'open' note to any ascending valved note can be tricky, regardless of how much practicing you do. I find this to be especially true with rotary valves, and especially true if you're not a fan of narrow funnel mouthpieces (like me). If the slur is not really exposed in performance, I wouldn't fuss about it. But if you're making the slur in a really exposed passage and definitely do not want a break in the sound, I would use an alternate fingering for the open note.

Everyone will tell you that the answer is hundreds of hours of practice. Maybe yes, maybe no. The challenge of making a seamless transition from an open note to a valved one will still be there, regardless of how many thousands of hours of practice you put in. I would experiment with the alternate fingering suggestions already given.

We tuba players tend to overestimate what the audience is going to hear us do. In tutti passages, much of what we do isn't noticed or even heard. But exposed passages put a spotlight on us. It's important to know which is which.

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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby paulver » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:57 pm

Wow!! Plenty of info and plenty of ideas to try. Thanks for the speedy replies.

I started to really work on this problem this evening, and am trying some of the recommended remedies. I never even thought about the alternate fingerings, and they appear to be the quickest solution. However, being somewhat anal about things, I'll keep working at the "open to 1&2 fingering" till it works. It's nice to suddenly have an arsenal of different ideas to try, too. I'll post again when I conquer this little issue!! In the meantime...... keep teaching me!!!!!!

The "G" alone, is not a problem...... just the slur up from "F".

Also, in all of the 35 years that I taught kids to play tuba, (and all of the other instruments) this issue never popped up. Obviously, there is "the break" to overcome on clarinet, but that is about it. That's why I was stumped when it happened to me.

Many thanks....

Paul
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby bloke » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:04 pm

Low Bb to B or C is another "break".

Once you're up in the staff, the "breaks" are more frequent, but less and less severe.

I would encourage you to use the alternate fingering for F, 1-3, to slur to G, 1-2, as an important EXERCISE, but NOT in regular playing.

:arrow: The purpose of the exercise (putting the F on the same overtone as the G) is to experience the effortless slur, and then - later - work to imitate that effortlessness (once you have EXPERIENCED and FELT it) with the standard fingering for F.

If you continue to muscle from open F to G (i.e. "I can do this, dammit"), you'll not have experienced the effortlessness, and (likely, imo) will continue to "fight" with it.

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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby paulver » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:26 pm

Oh, I have already tried the alternate fingerings, and found out how easily it works. I've been going back and forth between them, and am noticing a huge difference between the two. But..... I'm determined to get it with the normal fingerings!!!!!

Having been a band director for most of my teaching career, I've played all of the brass instruments countless times, but I never noticed this issue. Probably because I now have to play it "seriously", and it sticks out like a sore thumb when there's nobody to cover it up :? :? :?
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby bloke » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:34 pm

paulver wrote:Oh, I have already tried the alternate fingerings, and found out how easily it works. I've been going back and forth between them, and am noticing a huge difference between the two. But..... I'm determined to get it with the normal fingerings!!!!!

Having been a band director for most of my teaching career, I've played all of the brass instruments countless times, but I never noticed this issue. Probably because I now have to play it "seriously", and it sticks out like a sore thumb when there's nobody to cover it up :? :? :?


You're actually evaluating, embracing, and working to eliminate your weaknesses.
What are you trying to do...become "really good" at playing the tuba or something...?? :?

:wink: :P
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby mctuba1 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:15 pm

Here is the easy fix. Crescendo from F to G and start with the extreme dynamics from Piano to Forte. Slowly bring the dynamics closer. The reason why we have the ' break" from open notes to valves comes from lack of air between the notes. If you really analyze what your doing i will bet you are stopping the air at some point between the notes.

Focus on practicing moving the valves very slowly and be sure to no stop your buzz between the notes. Also, think crescendo as this will force you to move air and the break will fix itself.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby Art Hovey » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:45 pm

In addition to the many good ideas above, here's one more that works for me: legato tongue. Think of how you would do it on a trombone. Instead of using "too-too-too", practice "doo-doo-doo". Then make to "d" gradually softer, i.e. less percussive. A tiny flick of the tongue can help you get from one note to the next smoothly, and can pass for a slur.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby Will Jones » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:02 pm

There's no such thing as a 'normal' fingering. The crescendo idea is good, try decrescendo also- be really dramatic about it at first.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby paulver » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:56 am

Will Jones wrote:There's no such thing as a 'normal' fingering.


I'm too old for symantics conflicts!! :) :) :)

Been working on the slurs........... an hour or so last night, and another hour so far this morning. Vast improvement, but not quite there yet. Also finding myself concentrating more on other pitches and fingerings. Pleasing results.
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Re: Slurring up from F to G

Postby iiipopes » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:10 am

As you put a little more air through the horn to get the pitch to change, and as you quickly finger the 1-2, also simultaneously tighten up the corners of the embouchure a little bit. Not a "smile," nor a "frown," just a little tightening or firming so the air will "pop" the interval as you, again getting the valves down as quickly as can be done smoothly, so the air has as little interruption through the valve block as possible, finger the 1-2 for the bottom line G.
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