Re: Is it the tuba or the player?

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Posted by a tuba dad on January 28, 2001 at 12:23:03:

In Reply to: Is it the tuba or the player? posted by Jay Bertolet on January 28, 2001 at 11:42:32:

Since you directed some of your post to the effects of these "tuba wars" on young musicians, I offer the following observations, along with the caveat that I am not a tuba player or musician, but I have an ear for what constitutes good sound.

I purchased a tuba for my son when he was in the 9th grade (he is currently a high school senior). In looking at tubas, he played 25 different models over the course of a 2 month period in a journey that took us from North Carolina to Detroit to South Bend. We were also armed with the advice of a college professor reflecting his own biases on tubas. Although during this process there were some clear favorites and some horns that were pretty much rejected out of hand, in retrospect my son was not a "developed enough" player to judge the different horns nor was he able to produce a sound on the different horns that would have led to an easy winner.

When all was said and done, we ultimately made the decision based on the advice from the college professor to purchase a horn that my kid had not really fallen in love with at first sight. At the time, my son would have been just as "happy" with a lesser priced horn, and indeed he actually "preferred" several lesser priced horns over the one we purchased.

He had to grow into the horn and had to learn how to play on a "free blowing" horn as opposed to the school models he had previously played. But it wasn't long before he began to elevate his level of playing to new heights. I am convinced that the horn we purchased has been an integral part of his development that may not have happened as quickly on a lesser quality instrument (not trying to start a flame war).

I am not suggesting that, in reference to your question, that the tuba is more important than the player. But I do believe that it is possible to purchase the wrong tuba in the short term that will deter or hold back a young player's development over the long term.

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