Without a foundation, a house could not stay standing. The same is true with the Concert Band. Without the low Brass instruments and low Woodwinds, the Band would not sound full or balanced. Think of it this way, when you listen to a great song on the radio, you hear the bass clearly. It provides the foundation for the group. (Although sometimes, people crank up the bass a little too loud in their cars!!!)
Many students start on the Baritone before the Tuba because it is a bit smaller and more manageable. The mouthpiece is also smaller (same size as the Trombone), so it is a little easier to produce the sound.
By the way, the subtle difference between a Baritone and Euphonium is as follows:
- The Baritone sounds lighter and brighter because it has a smaller bore and bell.
- The Baritone usually has three valves, while the Euphonium has three or four.
- The Euphonium has conical tubing and uses a large shank mouthpiece, which gives it a darker, mellower sound.
In beginning band, and even in high school bands, you would play the same piece of music. Euphoniums cost more, especially if there is a 4th valve. (I will refer to both instruments as the Euphonium for the rest of this article.)
Here you will see a Euphonium and then on the right, a Baritone. Note that the Euphonium has a 4th valve (also called a compensating valve) on the side of the instrument.
The Tuba is the lowest sounding instrument of the band, and along with the DoubleBass, the orchestra. It is very heavy: the larger the instrument, the lower the sound. But, many band teachers have tuba stands, so the instrument can be placed on the stand while the student is performing. Usually, parents rent a Tuba for the house, and the student uses a school instrument and just brings his/her mouthpiece back and forth.
The Sousaphone is a marching Tuba. Many marching bands use Sousaphones.
There’s been a resurgence of Tubas in popular music. In the popular Banda music (a mixture of Mexican music and German polkas), Tubas play an important role as the moving bass line.
Advantages to Playing the Euphonium and Tuba:
- Very few students take these instruments. There will be plenty of performing opportunities.
- Usually, the band director has a school Tuba or Euphonium that students can use, so only the mouthpiece needs to brought back and forth.
- Tubas not only play bass lines, they can play melodies too. There have been Tuba players who have performed Flight of the BumbleBee very well!
- Euphoniums can also play tenor (middle harmony) lines and solos in band music.
- Brass Bands have lots of Tubas and Euphoniums.
- Many Euphonium players also play Tuba. The playing concepts are the same, just the mouthpiece size is different.
- Your band teacher will LOVE you for taking the Tuba!
- The Tuba mouthpiece is huge. You may want to start on the Euphonium and after a few years switch to Tuba.
- You need to have tremendous breath support to play these instruments. Be patient, and you will be able to build it up in time.
Check out this great video of the Empire Brass playing Ain’t Misbehavin’. Kenneth Amis on Tuba. (I went to Tanglewood with him and the second trumpeter, Mark Reese many years ago!)
This is a Mozart Tuba Duet…
- If you like low sounds, listen to some recordings of Tuba and Euphonium players. Even check out Banda music, which is growing very popular in Southern Califormia.
- In the Empire Brass video, you see trumpets, French Horn, trombone and tuba. Compare the sounds; what do you like the best? Met me know in the Comments below….
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