Still sick + some more ideas

Thanks for the get well wishes. I’m still hanging in there but on day 6 of this I’m not feeling much better. Colin Holman (MD of CBB) wrote with some good UK advice. Lemsip turns out to be great! Thanks Colin.

Still coughing lots and keeping Sarah awake all night of course. Since the fever came back last night I’ll probably need to see a doctor tomorrow. We’ll see how today goes. I’m going to skip B&R rehearsal tonight so I don’t get any of those folks sick. Can’t get out of Thursday as we have a concert on Saturday.

Saturday is both the Pontins Contest with Lindley, and the reh/show with B&R. It will be a long day but should be fun. Show is at Huddersfield Town Hall.


When I emailed with Sal he was asking about some balance ideas and some volume ideas.  So here goes with what I’m hearing/doing in both bands.

  • Tubas never seem to go above the level where their sound breaks.  It always stays warm and round even at the loudest levels.  When their material is fast, they play softer, smaller, and lighter.  I don’t detect single players when the section is playing together.  On the bus with B&R back from York, BBb tuba player Michael, was telling me they make a point of never breathing at the same time so they never leave gaps in the sound.  After years of doing this, it comes naturally.  He also said they always sneak back in without articulating.  He also mentioned a Russel Grey technique of making the band play whole pieces without a single tongued articulation……everything just with the air.  Said marches sounded horrible but it really helped get the concept of the air connecting everything.
  • At the loudest dynamics the bands are not allowed to over blow and sound forced.  My former teacher in the Met, Peter Bond, used to talk about FFF as more of a quality of sound rather than an effort level.  I think this is what happens here too.
  • In both bands I can always here 2nd horn and both baritones.  ALWAYS.
  • Solo horn doesn’t dominate the sound of the horns over here.  More like the icing rather than the cake and the icing and the ice cream and….etc……..
  • At most dynamics I have trouble hearing my own sound over the volume of the back row.  The is true of the whole front row.  While I can hear the other players the back row dominates in terms of volume at all levels.  Most of this sound is from 2nds and 3rds.
  • 2nds and 3rds play as a unit with no sounds sticking out.  It is interesting to hear how closely they match each other in terms of volume, time, and style.
  • Trombones:  This is an interesting mix.  In both groups they play loud and bright, as a unit, all three together.  They all play the same volume with no 1 voice sticking out.  Bass is the same volume as 2nd.   When bass trombone is coloring the tubas she/he (different in each group) doesn’t dominate the tuba sound but again like the horns colors it.
  • In both bands the Eb sop player dominates the cornet section sound in the upper register.  The front row doesn’t play the same volume as the Sop when in unison.  We let the Sop take over.
  • Solo Cornets 2-4 are supposed to play almost everything that is MF and above with very few breaks.  Principal Cornet comes in and out as needed to facilitate ease of solos.
  • Flugel always seems to be a color instrument rather than a leading voice.  He/she colors the horn sound with the same volume or just slightly less or comes out of the texture when they have a solo line etc.  I almost never hear the flugel players except when they have something exposed to play. They are always blending, blending, blending…..and then play an exposed difficult solo.
  • This is also true of the baritones and 2nd euph.  The name of the game is color, support, vibrato and blend.  But as I said I can always hear 2nd horn and both baritone parts, even when the whole band is playing flat out.

OK that’s all for now.  Hope everyone back home is doing well.  I’m sure I’ll be through this in a couple of more days.


2 thoughts on “Still sick + some more ideas

  1. Great words on banding!

    For the tubas, We should treat the section as one instrument that does not need air to continue the sound…It gives me some ideas for us to work on, that’s for sure.

    Thanks again.


    • Yup that’s about right. I was talking to a B&R Tuba about attacks and breathing. I’ll try to make a post about it in the next few days. He also says there is a great YouTube video of how they stagger their breathing. Says it is a study in how to work as a team. I’ll try to find it.


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