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embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby bloke » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:39 pm

I friend of mine - a fine player in a full-time orchestra - enlightened me regarding the main points (as well as some of the finer points) of the Caruso embouchure methodology, which is proactive and disciplined.

I've stumbled across a reactive and undisciplined method as well:
:arrow: picking up the cimbasso, and perfecting several movements or pieces for an upcoming chamber music recital :shock:
What you have is a shallow mouthpiece - which doesn't cloak a poor and/or inaccurate-pitch buzz at all, and (basically) a non-expanding air column which also does very little to cloak a poor and/or inaccurate-pitch buzz.

Unlike a widely-expanding bass-knob-turned-up-air-column tuba (which can muffle player flaws), with a cimbasso, what you give is what you get. :shock:

After ~not~ playing any sort of tuba for several weeks (in favor of the cimbasso) and then picking a (not just "bass", but "contrabass") tuba a couple of days prior to a subscription concert (to familiarize myself with a couple of tricky-counting premiered works prior to the first rehearsal), I strongly believe that the cimbasso playing was very beneficial to playing the tuba, rather than any sort of detour away from playing the tuba. Candidly, I was a bit under the weather during the recent rehearsals/concert weekend, but still believe that I observed some benefit.

bloke "improved embouchure pitch accuracy, and improved embouchure vibration quality"
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby sweaty » Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:42 pm

I believe that this is cross-training and it is a good thing. Athletes in a particular sport do many types of exercises to train. Playing with my elementary students, I'll play my pocket trumpet and my Martin Mammoth. I build both strength and relaxation in my embouchure and, when I get to the euphonium or trombone after a long time off, it is not bad.
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby toobagrowl » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:20 pm

bloke wrote:
After ~not~ playing any sort of tuba for several weeks (in favor of the cimbasso) and then picking a (not just "bass", but "contrabass") tuba a couple of days prior to a subscription concert (to familiarize myself with a couple of tricky-counting premiered works prior to the first rehearsal), I strongly believe that the cimbasso playing was very beneficial to playing the tuba, rather than any sort of detour away from playing the tuba. Candidly, I was a bit under the weather during the recent rehearsals/concert weekend, but still believe that I observed some benefit.

bloke "improved embouchure pitch accuracy, and improved embouchure vibration quality"


I think it's a good thing to play different tubas from time to time to keep things 'in check'. If you can play cleanly/musically on a contrabass tuba, it will be easier on bass tuba. Personally, I think it's important for tuba players to at least somewhat regularly play contrabass tuba (even if bass tuba is their main horn) to keep good fundamentals and good characteristic sound quality.

The cross-training mentioned here, weather tuba-to-tuba or cimbasso-to-tuba or trombone-to-tuba and vice-versa is good I think. The main thing is, imo, to keep a good characteristic sound on each instrument. You don't want to get a somewhat 'harsh' cimbasso-ish sound on tuba, nor do you want a somewhat 'fluffy'/tubby sound on cimbasso :idea:
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby T. J. Ricer » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:26 pm

One of the best lessons I had while at Eastman was immediately following a week tour of playing the contrabass trombone in the trombone choir. I think you’re right about the focusing effect.
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby BrassedOn » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:37 am

My experiences echo this cross training effect. I play from lead tenor to contrabass tuba. I’ll sometimes integrate into practice playing the same passages on bass bone and tuba. One can open up the other, especially in terms of air. That helps lead playing. While also keeping up the doubling flexibility for pit work/shows. I think it goes beyond that. Playing electric bass, which is intensely time focused, supports my expression of time on tuba, as well as bass line concepts. But the foundation for all of this is still listening to recordings and others.

I don’t feel the cross training effect from playing Sousa, but strolling jazz gigs bring home the bacon!
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby MaryAnn » Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:59 am

I don't think I really developed my embouchure until I ventured into all the brasses. Some people have a very hard time if they try to switch but I think it is advantageous to learn to play well on all cup sizes. My take is, if you have a functioning embouchure, you get the characteristic sound out of whatever instrument you're using it on. The difference is in how wide the vibrating aperture is. You're forced to learn to be flexible.
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby BWBTuba » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:23 pm

While many on TubeNet direct a great deal of vitriol at the tornister (travel) tubas, I find that practicing on my Wessex CC Tornister tuba yields similar results. It is a difficult instrument to play with any reasonably acceptable tone quality, with the bell, being located very close to your ears, making any inadequacies obvious, and it requires considerable breath support to make "tuba-like" sounds...however, after a practice session with this instrument, my tone quality on my larger, more forgiving horns, seems significantly improved. Say what you will about travel tubas, but me, they are worth owning just for practicing...and for tubachristmas each year, where the novelty of such tubas attracts much attention (and carrying it to and from the venue is far easier than a full-sized instrument).
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby Steginkt » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:11 pm

I added a trombone major in college along with tubq, which really helped me gain an appreciation for tuba. Being able to be on the other half of the Bass Trombone/Tuba combo really made me think about what I wanted from my own playing, and the unforgiving nature of the tuning slide has certainly improved my own tuning. Not to mention helping my breathing.
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby nworbekim » Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:09 pm

BWBTuba wrote:While many on TubeNet direct a great deal of vitriol at the tornister (travel) tubas, I find that practicing on my Wessex CC Tornister tuba yields similar results. It is a difficult instrument to play with any reasonably acceptable tone quality, with the bell, being located very close to your ears, making any inadequacies obvious, and it requires considerable breath support to make "tuba-like" sounds...however, after a practice session with this instrument, my tone quality on my larger, more forgiving horns, seems significantly improved. Say what you will about travel tubas, but me, they are worth owning just for practicing...and for tubachristmas each year, where the novelty of such tubas attracts much attention (and carrying it to and from the venue is far easier than a full-sized instrument).


I'd like to try one.
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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby Three Valves » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:08 am

Now I am reconsidering Euphonium doubling....
Who needs four valves??

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Re: embouchure accuracy/resonance - unexpected improvement

Postby bloke » Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:38 pm

Three Valves wrote:Now I am reconsidering Euphonium doubling....

8) :idea:
An easy-to-play so-called "cimbasso" (contrabass trombone) has more uses (I've discussed this before, here...) than someone might imagine...
...and a euphonium, at least, has a well-established place in a "concert band" and (if 4-valve compensating) an occasionally-appropriate spot in a brass quintet...

...but (considering all of the venues that tend to hire me) I'm just not sure how often I would find a use for a designed-to-play-while-riding-horseback mini-contrabass-tuba.

bloke "reminding any readers of this thread of bloke's Rule #1: No matter who 'good' it is, if it collects dust, it must go."

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