Tuba – Take 2

After dinner last night, I grabbed my tuba and made the 10 minute walk to Dinkelspiel Auditorium (Dink) for rehearsal. I arrived a little late, but rehearsal hadn’t started yet, so I sat down next to the bass trombone and began unpacking. After chatting with Michael, the bass trombone player, and warming up some, we started to rehearse Wagner’s Overture to Tannhauser (include umlaut somewhere in there).

A few weeks ago, I emailed the summer orchestra director wondering if there was a spot I could play in. As far as he knew, their regular tuba player wasn’t going to be around, and he’d be willing to let me get a school instrument to practice before auditioning for the ensemble. This Monday, I went in for my audition with a given excerpt and 2 etudes to play. My audition was pretty bad, but also completely honest; although I think I sounded good, I also cracked a lot of notes and even missed a few fingerings. I had mostly practiced warmups and exercises to condition myself some and not focused so much on actually preparing the pieces I would need to play. It all ended up well, though, and he said he would be able to get me involved. THey hadn’t been planning on having a tuba, but sets can always be changed.

When I got my seating chart yesterday, I saw I would play on 2 of the 6 pieces; there was a brass fanfare and a Wagner, both of which were kindnesses to me. Given the relatively long set and little rehearsal time, we couldn’t spend much time on any one piece, so we skipped the fanfare until sectionals next week and rehearsed the Wagner for about 35 minutes.

It went alright. Key of E meant I missed the fingerings for about 10% of the notes, and I couldn’t find the partial on half of the rest of them. Even so, those maybe 5 minutes that I actually played were so much fun. I’m depending on having immense improvement very quickly as I remember how to tune my instrument and listen and blend into an ensemble, but even playing as I did, I had so much more fun than sitting in a practice room by myself.

I guess the last thing I have to say about it is that I’m glad that this orchestra confirms 2 of my previous beliefs:

1) The low brass section is filled with goof-offs. We talked while rehearsal (even gaining the attention of the conductor for us to quiet down). I’m not sure exactly whether the trombone attracts the silliest people or whether all that slide action makes one lose their senses after playing for too long, but I’m glad to be in good company.

2) No one actually counts. 49 measures is a long time to count, and I got pretty lost. I knew I wasn’t alone, though, when the trombones all sighed in relief after Martin stopped +/- 5 measure from our entrance. I hope that’s a minus, because maybe he stopped since we didn’t start playing?

This should be a fun summer.

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