Kamvisidis Panagiotis

Through a tuba group on facebook, I recently be-friended Panagiotis Kamvisidis (Hi!).  He’s principal tuba with the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra in Greece (only just established in 1996?!?).  He sent me this video today of his group ‘Too Bass’ performing a Romanian dance by Ionel Dumitru –

Now there’s some great tuba ensemble playing, not to mention solo work!  Clear, nimble, articulate and … mesmerizing.  That melody is going to be in my head ALL DAY LONG!

But seriously, like any aspiring and growing musician, I’ve got role models I want to sound like.  I’m going to keep Panagiotis’ sound in mind when I’m practicing and performing!

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On Fire – with a capital F! (or “How Slurring is Changing my Life for The Better”)

My playing lately has been on fire.  I’ve been intensely practicing my C (while not ignoring my Eb, though).  As you’ve been reading in previous posts, with the upcoming concert with OT, Prokofiev’s R&J has been on my mind (and my embouchure) – and of course, the Dance of the Knights.  Well,  earlier this week I reach a new milestone in the sound of my low F.  Up until then, it had a minor, unstable vibrato/shake to it.  I remember going to the Summer Brass Institute in San Fran in 2008 and playing in a piece that was in F major and which ended on a low F – it was so instable that it was nearly in a flutter.  I had been happy with my low F on my C before then and since that summer, I’ve been on a mission to stabilize it again.  Low F# hasn’t been super hot either, but other notes around it have been nice and fat – Ab, G, E, and Eb.

Let me clarify some – I’m being critical of the sound for sure, but since 2008, it did have some moments where I was happy to avoid low F.  It wasn’t showing me at my best, though it has been improving bit by bit.  Fast forward to this week… Continue reading

The not-so-simple-and-easy-to-play

I’ve been working my butt off on my C lately – warm ups; harmonic series slurring; low range long tones; and orch rep – Prokofiev’s R&J Suite 2 and Holst’s Mars and Jupiter.  My rep focus has been on the low f minor Dance of the Knights:

Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet: Dance of the Knights

  • where, when and how to breath to make it through the 4 bars
  • tone quality on the opening low Fs, and last one, plus the accent on the C in between

So I sat down in orchestra last night, all warmed up and ready to go.

Then I spot it. Continue reading

The day after a lesson

I had a lesson yesterday with Sasha Johnson – tubist for the National Ballet, and professor at the Glen Gould School, among other gigs in Montréal.  And now it’s the day after and I’m reading old entries of my blog and thinking “Dan, right idea, wrong execution”.  Not that it’s totally bad — I had the right idea after all, I just have a better way now.

Continue reading

Sam Pilafian Masterclass, part 1

On Friday, November 4th, I had the chance to attend a masterclass by the iconic tubist, Sam Pilafian. I attended the morning session on breathing – a subject Sam knows much about, considering he’s the co-author of the Breathing Gym, along with Pat Sheridan. Sam has a long and storied career in the biz: founding member of the Empire Brass Quintet (the American counterpart to Canadian Brass), classical and jazz soloist (concerto competition winner), and recorded with the likes of the New York Phil, the Boston Symphony, the Met Opera Orchestra, and Pink Floyd. You can read *all* about him here. Continue reading

Always thinking of my sound

I read this on Andrew Hitz’s blog and I can’t get it out of my head – which is great!  I think about *not* cultivating a bad sound when I’m buzzing my warm up, when I’m doing the harmonic series, when I’m warming up my low and high range — ALL – THE – TIME.  And you should be too.  Articulate with conviction, whether that be pianissimo or fortissimo, slurred or accented.  You’re always doing much more than just ‘playing a note’.

Smè-tana or Sme-tâ-na?

Today’s blog is all about accents and articulations.  Most of the time they are dead obvious.  But – now and then you run across something like this:

The "coda" from The Moldau

This is the coda section from The Moldau – it’s bringing back the theme from the first of the ‘Ma Vlast’ symphonic poems.  Generally speaking, it’s pretty freakin’ loud.  The problem is: how loud?  It’s still got to be musical – and we’ve got to read into a probable or likely “intent” that Smetana had in mind. Continue reading