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Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa section

Postby Logant1447 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:04 am

I've recently been given another opportunity to be a student leader in my university's marching band, specifically as one of two sousaphone section leaders. I was given this opportunity last fall, and while the section's performance was... adequate, my partner and I felt that the section could definitely do better and that our performance as leaders was lacking. This coming fall, our section will be made up primarily of non-music-major first year students with maybe one returning member aside from the section leaders (we average a smaller section with 8 members total). :tuba: :tuba: :tuba: :tuba: :tuba: :tuba: :tuba: :tuba:

What are some things my partner and I could do to make our mostly new section feel welcomed, while still being disciplined and becoming a better section both musically and visually?
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby bloke » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:10 am

Who teaches studio lessons to the music ed majors who are tuba players?

I couldn't imagine that person not being willing to come help out, if asked - particularly if asked by the Director of Bands (who, typically, wields a lot of clout in a music department).

If the tuba studio teacher is adjunct, I'd wager that the band director could find a little bit of dough to cover the enhancement (whether temporary or permanent) of their duties.
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby Logant1447 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:15 pm

bloke wrote:Who teaches studio lessons to the music ed majors who are tuba players?


I suppose I should have mentioned, I am an undergrad tuba performance major, and currently the only tuba major here. The professor who has taught me until now has been the school's bass trombone professor. Sadly, this semester is his last as he is retiring. I will be taking lessons in the future from our trombone professor, as well as a recent tuba alum... hopefully. Our trombone professor is also our director of athletic bands, ie: Marching band and Pep band.

As it stands, I am the only tuba player in our music department.

I have heard that I may end up teaching lessons sometime next year, however that is a separate issue.
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby Todd S. Malicoate » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:36 pm

Have a good time, it’s marching band.

That said, the very best thing you can do is try to get everyone to play in tune. It makes a huge difference to the section sound if you’re not fighting each other with waves of dissonance.

EDIT: Another very helpful thing you can do for the non-majors is offer audio recordings of you playing the parts. This saves a lot of talking through learning of the rhythms and notes (which most novice players dread) and allows them to learn the parts any time at their leisure.
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby kingrob76 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:11 pm

Logant1447 wrote:
bloke wrote:Who teaches studio lessons to the music ed majors who are tuba players?


I suppose I should have mentioned, I am an undergrad tuba performance major, and currently the only tuba major here. The professor who has taught me until now has been the school's bass trombone professor. Sadly, this semester is his last as he is retiring. I will be taking lessons in the future from our trombone professor, as well as a recent tuba alum... hopefully. Our trombone professor is also our director of athletic bands, ie: Marching band and Pep band.

As it stands, I am the only tuba player in our music department.

I have heard that I may end up teaching lessons sometime next year, however that is a separate issue.


I was, off and on for the better part of the second half of the 1980's, the only undergrad tuba major at the University of Maryland - which is a pretty big school. The director of the marching band was a tuba player though, and put a lot of basics in play the carried through well. Marching band usually had 10-12 sousaphones.

Basically, intonation and tone production were the foundations. Move air through the horn, then move more air. Breathe with the stomach to expand the entire torso and not the chest. Open the embouchure, stay as relaxed as possible not just in the embouchure but in the whole body. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you're out of tune, listen and fix it. I used to play a lot of long tones prior to rehearsal on my sousaphone so I could get a feel for it (tons of resistance when compared to my Cerveny Piggy). I found it a challenge to play those things in tune, but I think it paid off.
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby Three Valves » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:23 pm

At Delaware we had a strict rule about drinking before 10am for away games;

No beer.

Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers or Rum Punch only!!

:tuba:
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby windshieldbug » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:34 pm

Three Valves wrote:At Delaware we had a strict rule about drinking before 10am for away games;

No beer.

Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers or Rum Punch only!!

:tuba:


Oddly enough, those are the same rules we used for the low brass of the Delaware Symphony! :shock:
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby Three Valves » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:33 pm

Was “Smiling Bob” Streckfuss the Music Director there too?? :wink:
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby roweenie » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:15 am

Three Valves wrote:Was “Smiling Bob” Streckfuss the Music Director there too?? :wink:


I wonder if he is related to the late Fred Streckfuss, who taught music in Teaneck NJ for many years?
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby windshieldbug » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:14 am

Three Valves wrote:Was “Smiling Bob” Streckfuss the Music Director there too?? :wink:


No, someone a bit more stature challanged. :D
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby Leland » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:50 pm

Logant1447 wrote:What are some things my partner and I could do to make our mostly new section feel welcomed, while still being disciplined and becoming a better section both musically and visually?

Never tell them that they suck.

Show them how to get better, though. We once got handed a fast walking bass line that most of my section had zero confidence about executing. Rather than watering it down, I took them aside in one post-rehearsal sectional, went through the basics, methodically assembled how to play it, and then even the worst players were then able to play it fine. They surprised themselves, too. It was just eight bars, but the fact that they successfully tackled it boosted their confidence for the rest of the season.

Oh, and do everything with them. If you want them to do pushups, do pushups with them; if you want them to run, run with them. Clean your horns together, check your uniforms together. And never argue with your partner in front of them.
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby Three Valves » Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:42 pm

roweenie wrote:
Three Valves wrote:Was “Smiling Bob” Streckfuss the Music Director there too?? :wink:


I wonder if he is related to the late Fred Streckfuss, who taught music in Teaneck NJ for many years?


It’s probable.

“Smiling Bob” was from NJ.

So was half of U of Ds student body back in the day... :roll:
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Re: Trying to vastly improve collegiate marching sousa secti

Postby Stryk » Thu Apr 18, 2019 8:59 pm

How about trying something unique - teach them to play with a characteristic sound.
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