Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tuba Christmas 2011!

With Thanksgiving behind us, it's that time of year again...Tuba Christmas! If you have never participated before, it is great fun. The event isn't limited exclusively to Tuba. You can play Sousaphone, Baritone, or Euphonium.

Click the link and follow the form to find Tuba Christmas events near you:

             Find a Tuba Christmas event!

There may be more events than posted above. If you are a college student, check with your Tuba/Euphonium professor to see if there is an event in your area. 

You can find more information about Tuba Christmas here:Tuba

Official Tuba Christmas books can be purchased for $18.00 for the small version and $23.00 for the large 8X10 size books. Registration for Tuba Christmas events is $5.00...and worth every penny. 

above: Tuba Christmas 2009, St. Paul, Minnesota
Below is a story about the 2009 St. Paul Tuba Christmas from Minnesota Public Radio

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yamaha 321 Tuba Bell - Unabusing the abused

 above: top view of Yamaha 321 Tuba
 above: side view of Yamaha 321 Tuba
above: bell view of Yamaha 321 Tuba

(click the photos for a larger view)

Above are before photos of a Yamaha 321 4-valve Tuba. These are used regularly in schools and are frequently abused. Another horn in the shop had a bell with a substantial crack near around the bell rim. Instead of patching it, I suggested popping the bell off of this one I had been keeping for parts and whipping it into shape.  Below are some of the after pictures. The bell isn't completely finished. I still have to even a few wavy spots out, but it looks pretty good. It's a good thing I swept my kitchen floor today...

 above: the front of the bell
 above: This is a different angle. This is bell brace side up.
 above: the bell flare
 above: bottom's up!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Old Conn Helicon - They don't make 'em like they used to...

Very recently my shop purchased a very old Conn Eb Helicon in silver plate. Above is a picture of the original bottom caps. They have a beautiful pearl inlay. This is a level of quality that is rarely seen in mass production musical instruments these days. To think that they put something so neat somewhere were few people will ever see it...I will post more pictures of this Helicon soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Valve Stem comparison - Conn 20J and Conn 20K

Southern California's Tuba Revolution! - L.A. Times 11/15/2011

above: Jesse Tucker, Tubist in Los Hermanos Carrillo con Chikilin y su Tuba
This story was sent to me today by Sam Quinones of the LA Times. I LOVE this story. Mexican Bandas have a rich tradition and use Tubas all the time. This is a result of Germans settling in Texas and Mexico and taking Tubas with them. No matter how the Tubas got there, the result is great. The Mexican Bandas music is fun and energetic.  
This article shines a light on a musical area that not many classically trained Tuba players think about. Some of these Banda Tuba players make a good living in southern California. It is also nice to see the Tuba growing in popularity. If you ever have the opportunity to see a good Mexican Banda group, do it. I don't think you will regret it. 
Please read this article from the Los Angeles Times. There is a nice video on the first page featuring Jesse Tucker (pictured above).
Thanks to Sam Quinones for sending me this article! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tubas, Alligators and Magicians - Bill Mickelsen on Penn and Teller Tell a Lie

Did you know that alligators respond to BBb played on a contrabass Tuba? True story... you can find out more below. On a recent episode of Penn and Teller Tell a Lie, a new show on the Discovery channel, Penn and Teller ask science questions that all are true, except for one lie. The episode in question asks the "do alligators respond to BBb?" Unfortunately, there is no video available for this episode as of this posting, but I will update it if video becomes available. In the mean time, check out this NPR story called "Have you heard about B flat?"

The main Tuba player from that episode was Bill Mickelsen, the principal Tubist from the Florida Orchestra.  He was kind enough to send me some photos and sheet music from the episode. I will post a follow up interview with Bill later when I get some technical kinks ironed out. 

Here are some photos:
above: Bill Mickelsen and his Kanstul Tuba
 above: shooting the segment
 above: Bill shows the gator whose really got chops!

Learn more about this story from the links below:

Brief Diversion: the true story behind Pearl Jam's "Jeremy"

above: Pearl Jam's video - Jeremy

 Pearl Jam recently had their 20th anniversary. I have been a big fan of Pearl Jam since their first album. They were becoming popular when I started listening to rock music and I have a soft spot in my heart for Pearl Jam. 

above: the cover for the Jeremy single.

The lyrics for Jeremy:
At home, drawing pictures of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun, arms raised in a V
And the dead lay in pools of maroon below

Daddy didn't give attention
Oh, to the fact that mommy didn't care
King Jeremy the wicked
Oh, ruled his world

Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

Clearly I remember pickin' on the boy
Seemed a harmless little f***
Ooo, but we unleashed a lion
Gnashed his teeth and bit the recess lady's breast

How could I forget?
And he hit me with a surprise left
My jaw left hurtin', ooo, dropped wide open
Just like the day, oh, like the day I heard

Daddy didn't give affection, no
And the boy was something that mommy wouldn't wear
King Jeremy the wicked
Oh, ruled his world

Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

Try to forget this
Try to erase this, from the blackboard
Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

Jeremy spoke in, spoke in
Jeremy spoke in, spoke in
Jeremy spoke in class today

One of Pearl Jam's first singles was the song Jeremy. Jeremy is based on two stories. The main part of Jeremy is based on a 16 year old boy named Jeremy Wade Delle, from Richardson, Texas. Delle went in front of his English class on January 8, 1991 and shot himself. He was late for class and was sent for an admittance slip. He returned with a .357 Magnum and said "Miss, I got what I really went for."

The other story is related to a student Eddie Vedder (the singer of Pearl Jam) knew in school. 
From a December 1991 interview with David Sadoff :
"I actually knew somebody in junior high school, in San Diego, California, that did the same thing, just about, didn't take his life but ended up shooting up an oceanography room. I remember being in the halls and hearing it and I had actually had altercations with this kid in the past. I was kind of a rebellious fifth-grader and I think we got in fights and stuff. So it's a bit about this kid named Jeremy and it's also a bit about a kid named Brian that I knew and I don't know...the song, I think it says a lot. I think it goes somewhere...and a lot of people interpret it different ways and it's just been recently that I've been talking about the true meaning behind it and I hope no one's offended and believe me, I think of Jeremy when I sing it."

above: Pearl Jam Jeremy live Sept. 12, 2011
I write about this because I find it heartbreaking, tragic and moving all at once. The song carries so much more weight when you fully understand the back story. To think of any young person taking their own life makes my heart ache. If you know of anyone who might need help, please do what you can to help them. The answer may be as simple as listening.