I Play the Tuba

Had it not been for my persistence at driving teachers crazy at Friends Academy than I would have never met Mr. Reardon and the tuba. Oh the joys of music have saved me on more than one occasion!

In this instance my prior training in piano left me with an interesting dilemma for a child that wanted to be in the middle school band. You see there aren’t very many pianos in public school bands and Mr. Reardon, the genius jazz trumpet player and director, offered me a choice of instruments. Being a humble sort of fellow, I asked Mr. Reardon which one he would prefer for his band, and he emphatically said "tuba!" I think that it was the energy in his reaction to my own arrogance and ignorance about the facility at which one "picks up" an instrument that made me want to try it. After a week of practicing long tones at home and trying to get sounds out of my new prodigal interest, I was hooked.

The piano that I had studied at home in private lessons definitely paid off big time. As opposed to reading two independent lines of music to produce melody, harmony, and foundation, I had only to worry about one line and my own intonation and pitch. I thought it was easy and went to the state solo competition by the next summer and got the highest marks for my age group. You never know what is going to lead you to a windfall, and the tuba and me were a match made in heaven. Most people believe that tubists are of the misfit sort, and I would like to expand that category to anyone that reads the bass clef. I don’t know if it can be proven just yet but there has to be some sort of correlation between using the most logical part of the right side of one’s brain, because all of the bass clefer’s that I have met are extremely methodical to a fault.

Everybody knows that bassist’s are weird. Bootsy Collins is my primary example. What would convince a man to wear such outlandish clothes and star glasses? When the funk gets in you there is little recourse and even less repression. I hope that I won’t have to remind anyone out there that the bass clef is what puts the funk in funky.  People that drink from the bottom of the well get it all in their souls.  The music has a way of taking over and bubbling out of you. Playing the tuba made it much easier for me to make it through a drab year of slumming it with my public school counterparts. I was all at once taken over by the thrill of playing Sousa marches and marching in the Memorial day parade with an instrument that appeared to be twice my size.  I became quite skilled in the intricacies of concert band and I got weirder and weirder as the time went by. I brought a mouthpiece almost everywhere I went and buzzed long tones and played along with the radio.

My tone was sweet and everyone that heard me in concert would say that I had the talent to be a professional one day. Indeed that became my life mission for a time there, but I was so smitten with sports, and prospect of becoming an athlete in the sixth grade that the tuba still didn’t have my full attention just yet.   It wasn’t until high school when I met another great teacher by the name of John Mitchell who taught me to think of anything that I wanted to be good at as a competition that I became positively professional.  I have played with the Prince Georges Philharmonic, Howard University Concert Band, Howard University Showtime Marching Band, and of course, the famed DeMatha Wind Ensemble.

If you didn’t have to wait for someone to die, I’d be waiting in the wings at the New York Philharmonic.  Too bad there is only one tuba in an orchestra.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: