The Road to Becoming a Tuba Player and Overcoming Obstacles

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When I was in fifth grade, I went in to band wanting to learn how to play either saxophone or flute. To my demise, I was not able to play either. The band director told me I wasn’t made for woodwinds; she told me to go in the storage room and take out the biggest case I could find. I pulled out a three valve, gold, Yamaha tuba. The second I started blowing air into it I knew it sounded pretty good and I liked that it was big and would make me look tougher than all the boys. Of course though, my mom did not want me to play tuba. She said it was too big for me and asked me to pick something smaller. Being the loving and thoughtful daughter I was, I went back to band the next day and told my teacher I wanted to play tuba.

Learning notes in a different clef than we were originally taught in band presented itself to be somewhat challenging. I was used to treble clef and reading my staff as “E-G-B-D-F” and now I had to know “G-B-D-F-A”. In theory it doesn’t sound difficult but to an 11 year old girl it presented some problems. Reading this new music became easier quickly though because I went home and wrote the letters above notes in pieces I found online. While my friends were having a hard time switching clefs, I found ways to beat the odds and become literate faster.

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Tuba has given me overwhelming joy over the years. I began by overcoming obstacles like not knowing the notes on my music and my “problems” have developed into wondering which college will give me the most money if I play tuba for their band. Tuba has opened so many doors for me and being able to play music is such a gift. There have been some trying times, and my freshman year was one of those to say the least.

When I was freshman, I was so scared of chair auditions at semester end. I was worried Mr. Cook would not think I practiced hard enough and would kick me out of the second best band, symphonic band and move me down to the lowest band, concert band. I practiced that audition music night and day for the two weeks we had the music leading up to the audition. It was the hardest music I had played up to that point and opened my eyes to what the future had in toll for me. It made me realize, for the first time, that I was done playing my easy level two songs and in high school I could be playing level four and even level five songs.

In the end, my practicing paid off and I actually got moved up to the highest band. I was one of two freshman and it was so exciting but terrifying. The first piece I played had such weird time signatures it made it difficult to count. I knew I could no longer rely on just being able to play the notes, I had to be able to count the rests and listen all around. Literacy in music is more than just what you play, it is what you do not play. Knowing when to not play proves itself just as important because it is still reading the music, you just know you are reading silence and have to be prepared to start again.

Music has taught me very important lessons I will take with me in life. It has taught me patience to wait my turn, the importance of thinking of everyone’s individual significance, and that silence truly is golden. From the first time I put air through this instrument to now when I am playing solos as a first chair player in high school concerts, the obstacles I have overcome have helped me develop into an outstanding tuba player. (I’m kind of sorry for bragging about that, but not really). Loris Malaguzzi once said, “The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, and the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences”. I feel every band student would agree we have had rich experiences. Being able to read and enjoy music brings an immense amount of joy in to my life and the lives of all my friends in band. All in all, the power and knowledge I have gained from band will help me develop in to a great member of society when my time comes. For now, I can keep appreciating tuba until the day and I die.

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The Road to Becoming a Tuba Player and Overcoming Obstacles. (2022, Dec 24). Retrieved from

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