tubaTuba Lessons in Denver

Colorado Honor Band offers tuba lessons in Denver, Westminster, Thornton, Centennial, and Littleton.  Our after school music program provides weekly one-on-one coaching and band classes, seasonal public performances, a yearly summer camp, and national and international travel opportunities.

Tuba General Information

The tuba is the ONLY instrument in the modern orchestra with a true “birthday” as it were. William Wieprecht and Johann Moritz took out a patent for the Bass Tuba on September 12, 1835. Happy birthday, tuba! Predecessors to the modern tuba include a Russian Bassoon, a Serpent, and an Ophicleide. Hector Berlioz, a Romantic composer, often scored his music for two ophicledies, which is great because commonly an orchestra only has one tuba seat, but it gets two for performing his works!

Types of Tuba

Tubas are made in four different keys. Students begin their tuba on a BBb horn, usually with three valves. As they progress and become more serious, they move on to the CC tuba, most commonly found in orchestras. These instruments have four piston valves (or rotary, depending on the instrument) and often a 5th “trigger” valve. Students do not need to consider purchasing a CC tuba unless they plan on studying the instrument in college. However, if they do plan to study tuba in college, the CC tuba is an important investment. Next there’s the F tuba, a smaller instrument commonly used in brass quintets and solo playing. These are little tubas that often look like glorified euphoniums. They are precious! Finally, there is the E♭ tuba, which is used in brass band playing. All tubas are in concert pitch, so they do not transpose; however, they each have a different set of fingerings. Each type of tuba has a different fundamental pitch (the open note that requires no valves), making their fingerings different from one to the next! Complicated for those hardcore tuba players!

_MG_8348Tuba’s Role in the Band

The tuba is the bass of the band. Low and proud, tubas hold down the root of most chords, provide that “oom pah” rhythm on marches, and act as the foundation of the band’s beautiful sound! A beautiful sound is thus required by the tubas as well, to make the rest of the band sound that much more glorious!

Tuba Fun Facts

The tuba has its own holiday! Every year since 1974, tuba and euphonium players around the world gather and celebrate Tuba Christmas, a day when we people of the low brass world finally play the melody and have the chance to create beautiful music! This great tradition was started by Harvey Philips in order to pay tribute to his great teacher William Bell. You can find Tuba Christmas concerts every year across the country! Come check out our local events in Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, and Arvada.

Another fun fact: John Philip Sousa requestes the first fabrication of the hence named “Sousaphone” in 1898. Those marching tubas are something special!

Famous Tubists

  • Sam Pilafian and Patrick Sheridan, creators of “The Breathing Gym”
  • Harvey Philips, famous performer and college professor, created T.U.B.A- the Tuba Brotherhood Association, now the International Tuba Euphonium Association
  • Arnold Jacobs, the master teacher! He taught at Northwestern and was the principal tubist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Warren Deck, former player with the New York Philharmonic, currently teaches at the University of Denver
  • Carol Jantsch, principal tubist of the Philadelphia Orchestra (won the job at age 20)
  • Deanna Swoboda, education advocate, brass quintet extraordinaire, professor at Arizona State University
  • Alan Baer, the current tubist for the New York Philharmonic, he has an epic CC tuba named after him!
  • Oystein Baadsvik, Norwegian solo tubist known for his extreme virtuosity
  • William Bell, teacher of Harvey Philips, and thus the most famous pedagog in the tuba world

Tuba Repertoire

  • Concerto for Bass Tuba and Orchestra, by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1954) (the first solo tuba piece ever written, premiered in Carnegie Hall by Roger Bobo)
  • Sonate for Tuba and Piano, by Phil Hindemith (1955)
  • Air and Bouree, by J.S. Bach, arranged by William Bell
  • Sonata for Tuba, by Bruce Broughton
  • Concerto for Tuba, by John Williams
  • Concerto for Tuba, by Edward Gregson
  • Concerto for Bass Trombone, by Eric Ewazen (commonly played on tuba)

Faculty Picks: Favorite Tuba Albums

  • Tuba Carnival, Oystein Baddsvik
  • Bon Bons, Patrick Sheridan
  • Travlin’ Light (Jazz tuba!),  Sam Pilafian
  • Any Canadian Brass or Boston Brass album, featuring Charles Dallenbach and Andrew Hitz respectively

Tuba Videos

Fnugg, by Oystein Baadsvik, features multiphonics (singing and playing into the tuba at the same time!!)

Relentless Grooves, by Deanna Swoboda