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BREATHING

Don't ever slouch when you play your instrument. It squeezes your chest and decreases the amount of air you can take in. Sit up straight like a string was connecting your head to the ceiling, then conform the instrument to you, not you to the instrument. Hold the tuba with your non fingering hand loosely, tight enough to keep it steady, but don't wrap your arm around it to the other side. That also will squeeze your chest.

Take a full breath, expanding the entire diaphragm. Practice this by taking a deep breath in about four counts. Make sure you can't breath in any more, then release. Gradually decrease the counts till you can take a full breath in one count.

Don't take a breath in the middle of a musical phrase. What would it sound like if you said the sentence "Will you. Go. to the. Store?" People wouldn't like the sound of it, they wouldn't want to listen to you because they'd get bored. Same with music. You hear the notes, but it's not enjoyable at all. Look at your music and place "periods" or breath marks in it. What would it sound like if it were being sung? Where would the singer take a breath?

Make your thought as open and clear as possible, as if you were yawning. If you tighten up your throat, the passageway for the air will be tighter and the air will not come in as fast and efficient as you would like it to.

HIGH NOTES

High notes can be tricky for a beginner; it takes a lot of practice to get a good tone on them. If you're lucky enough to have a trumpet mouthpiece or really just any small instrument mouthpiece on hand or know someone with one, practice just getting a noise with it. That will help your lips develop more skills to get a higher buzz.

Take your tuba mouthpiece out and buzz your lowest note. Gradually work your way up until you reach your highest note you can possibly buzz. Slowly you'll notice after a while of doing this, your range will improve. If you have trouble with low notes, just reverse the process.

I've heard some people say to play high, practice low, but I've also heard to play high, practice high. There's logic to each though. Practicing low is very tiring after a while because of the, well, I don't know exactly why, but it strengthens your lip muscles allowing you to get the high notes at least a little easier. It also helps you low note playing. Practicing high.....well, that just goes with all the "Practice makes perfect," and the fact that the more you practice high, the more muscle you develop to get them.

HOW TO GET A GOOD SOUND

Well, first you have to play with energy. You're never going to get a good sound if you sound like a funeral procession gone bad. Use those breathing techniques when you're playing -- get the air you've been working on getting to work to your advantage. Don't be afraid to play! Most beginners' forte is a professional's mezzo forte.

Keep your jaw loose and teeth apart. When you start going to the high parts of your range, it gets more natural to want to clamp your teeth because you think and tighten everything up because you have to tighten your lips for a high note. Don't! The only thing needing tightening is your lips and that's it. If you tighten your throat and clamp your teeth, the air won't come out smoothly (hence the fact you breath with an open throat) and air is one of the most important things in getting the note out. Pretend you have an egg in your mouth when ever you're playing.

WARMING UP

Low-pitched instruments such as a tuba take longer to warm up. Often times, it can take as long as 15 minutes for a tuba to warm up completely. If the tuba is tuned before warming up, it will go sharp. This can cause the rest of the orchestra to sound like it is going flat. Most commonly, the Bb below the staff tends to be sharp and the C (second space) is flat.

Remember, your tuba is more than an instrument - it's part of you, it's a way of life.

Cheers!

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