Why do people play tuba

As a tuba player I’ve played in Orchestras, Symphonic Bands, Marching Bands, Jazz Bands, Latin Ensembles, and Pop Ensembles. I’ve studied and had lessons with such tuba greats as: Gene Pokorny, Dan Perantoni, and Howard Johnson. But there are some issues I have with the tuba community.

  1. Most Tuba player’s biggest goal in life is, “how loud can I play?” I understand!!! It’s a real easy thing to get caught up in. But what other group of musicians is so obsessed with how loud they can play.
  2. Everyone wants to be and do the same thing. Arnold Jacobs already made his impact. You’re not going to be the next Arnold Jacobs or Roger Bobo, so quit trying to be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be impactful. They are not the end of the story for the tuba. So learn what they have to offer then move on. If I hear how great Arnold Jacobs was at another conference. I MIGHT EXPLODE!!!
  3. Tuba players are all fighting for the same jobs. We are told, “there are more jobs in the senate than there are tuba jobs in the world.” So obviously we should all just give up the instrument and there should be no more tuba players. Tuba players aren’t told to be entrepreneurs. Tubist aren’t told to make their own jobs. Music is art and tuba players need to learn to draw with the palette that they carry.
  4. Tuba players are defined by the instrument they play rather than the music they play. If this doesn’t get you I don’t know what will. Pavarotti and James Brown were two amazing singers, but their singing wasn’t the thing that defined them. The things that defined them was the type of music they played and the way they expressed their particular style of music.
  5. The tuba world is a world of bitterness. (So much to be bitter about. I could write a whole article)
  6. There is a thin line between gimmick and innovation. The Tuba world is more impressed with gimmicks than innovation. Music should express something. If the technique isn’t being added for new finesse, a new way to stroke the brush, and build upon the art form, then my big question is, “WHY???”
  7. The Tuba world is ruled by those who theorize rather than those who do.
  8. Yes, the tuba has limitations but so does every other instrument. A trumpet player can never get as low as a tuba. Going further than that I have 5½ octaves of working playing range. More than most trumpet players have in their entire career. Just a little bit more range than a 61 key piano. If that’s not enough room to make music, then I don’t know what is.
  9. Tuba players are obsessed with equipment. I don’t know how much more I can hear about: Perrantucci vs. Miraphone vs. blah, blah, blah. Really? If it works, it works. Yes, you shouldn’t be fighting with your equipment. Yes, some equipment might make it easier to do certain things. But you have to make the equipment you got work for you. Quit gripping about if I got this equipment I would be able to do it. Make it work and be better at your craft.

I’m not saying I don’t and haven’t fallen into some or all of these holes. I just needed to get that off of my chest.

–Amir Gray

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by thatgrayguyinfo