Blow Through It

That’s my favourite saying to myself these days: “blow through it”. Too often have I concentrated on intervals and not the overall musical line. I think though that the James Thompson buzzing book is really bringing this to light. On just the mouthpiece I’m slurring (glissando) very evenly between notes. With the tuba on, the instructions say to bend the note until it just ‘pops’ to the next tone. This requires one to ‘blow through’ the note change. Though awkward at first, with practice and persistence, the result is a smoother change of note. I couldn’t achieve this smoothness with an embouchure change (ie. tensing or relaxing of the lips). This mostly applies to upward changes, but slurs down are sounding better too.
But wait! There’s more! Even articulated lines are sounding better when you ‘blow through’ them! A note can be better attacked when it benefits from the air flow/speed of its predecessor. Ravel’s ‘La Valse’ is really making this evident with all of the awkward leaps and dissonant lines in the tuba part. If you concentrate on the intervals, then the dynamic can suffer and the musicality isn’t so hot. Blowing through these passages brings it all together: articulation, dynamics, and musicality.

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