Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Tuba Christmas

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Tuba Christmas

Article excerpt

It was a crisp Saturday morning in December-not quite cold enough to snow, but definitely cold enough to see your breath when you exhaled. My high school band teacher had somehow talked me into playing my euphonium in the highly-praised "Tuba Christmas" event downtown. Having only played the instrument for a year (after switching from one of the typical woodwind instruments of middle school), I was unsure of what to expect. My mother, the family taxi driver, drove me down to the University of Victoria, where the two-hour morning rehearsal was taking place. Two whole hours. An eternity to play a brass instrument; did the conductor expect me to have lips left when it was over?

Nevertheless, I arrived, received my Tuba Christmas button (I still have it for future use), and set up my instrument and stand among the forest of people who must have been at least three times my age. I almost started warming up, but after hearing the person two chairs down play his beautiful silver euphonium with four valves (one too many, as far as I was concerned), I decided it would be much too embarrassing. Instead, I buried myself in the music, making sure I knew the fingerings for all of those "off-the-staff" notes.

The time came for the rehearsal to begin, and the group was introduced to the conductor, the lower brass teacher for the university. He launched into his speech about the times for the performance later on that afternoon, where to put music stands and cases, what to wear, and when to eat lunch, while I frantically tried to take it all in so I wouldn't be lost later on. Over the course of the rehearsal I got used to his forward style of teaching-after all, we had over thirty carols to get through in just two hours! Despite the rush, we managed to play the entire book of music with enough expression and detail to satisfy the conductor, and although I couldn't move my lips by the end of it (and certainly hadn't managed to hit all of the notes), I did enjoy it.

I quickly packed up my instrument and found my mom in the parking lot, ready to drive me down to Market Square for lunch and the performance. When we got there (thankfully she knew where we were going, as I certainly didn't remember) I followed a fellow euphonium player to the storage room for our cases, dropped my instrument off, and headed to the near-by Mexican restaurant, much to the satisfaction of my grumbling stomach. All too soon the time came to get ready, so I donned my two pairs of gloves, winter jacket, and toque to try and keep warm during the outside performance. …

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