Tuba embouchure problem?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by stevecritchlow, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. Hi

    One of my Eb bass players, a fairly experienced player, has recently developed a increasingly severe vibrato in the lower regsiter. (Really vibrato is not quite the right word, it's more of a uncontrolled wobble). The player seems unable to control this, and the situation is resulting in confidence erosion, which in turn is probably increasing the problem.

    The middle and upper register is fine, and until the past 4 months, so has been the lower register. It seems to be some sort of embouchure weakness, but I've not come across this type of problem before.

    Has anyone with experience got an idea of cause and constructive suggestions for a cure. Incidentially, the player swopped to a plastic mouthpiece about 8 months ago. They recently changed back to metal in a hope to improve things but no dramatic change yet.:confused:
  2. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    I would recommend the player goes and takes a lesson with a tuba teacher.
    There is very little useful advice that can be offered via this forum as full diagnosis would require watching how the player plays...
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - agreed ... get a teacher! (... sounds like shallow breathing to me!)
  4. bass1

    bass1 New Member

    I agree with brassneck that it is more of a breathing problem and lack of diaphram support (I knew a BBb bass player with the exact same problem).Back to the practice room I'm afraid to look at breathing exercises and long notes.
  5. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    oh no.. not the 'd' word.........
  6. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    I would go with the advice of going to see a decent tuba teacher (or any other good brass teacher who knows what they are doing) to have a look at the problem. It is very difficult for anyone on here to give advice on these sort of things without seeing and hearing the player for themselves.
  7. barrytonegirl

    barrytonegirl Member

    Tuba embouchure problem

    I have had a similar problem but on baritone. My teacher at the time, who was a top tuba player in his heyday, said that the wobble was due to a lack of stability in my bottom lip. The more bottom lip you use, the greater the need to be able to keep it stable. Lip flexibility helps with this but the immediate way to improve the problem is to reduce the amount of bottom lip used. I appreciate that due to the size of the mouthpiece on a tuba, there's not a lot of room for repositioning, but using as much top lip as possible should help.

    The only down side is that this will have a detrimental effect on the sound produced, it will reduce it's fullness and also result in a sharpening of the sound. I have a good friend who's an excellent tuba player and lives in the midlands. If the problems persists, I would suggest that you seek assistance, I would be happy to provide details if necessary. Hope the problem improves!
  8. Sheerz

    Sheerz New Member

    i suppose the player should take frequent breaks in between each period of practice and buzz/vibrate the lips in a relax manner without the mouthpiece preferably
  9. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    As previously said...Go see a Good Tuba teacher possibly worth the cost of a trip to London to
  10. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    To finish.........A trip to London to see Patrick Harrild.
  11. The situation has been dealt with. No overnight cure, but a couple of lessons with Les Neish, and a good deal of extended practise by the player on sustaining low notes and exercises to strengthen the lower lip has started to pay dividends.
  12. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    So glad to hear it....hadn't realised it was such an old post as reponded to sheerz post of today!!
  13. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

    Oh, talking about me are you?
    I thought my ears were burning!!!:D
  14. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    When you started wobbling when I was next to you Stella I thought it was just my aura that was giving you shallow breathing syndrome :wink:
  15. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

    Joking apart, Steve, it was a serious problem that was getting me seriously down. To a point I was going to give up and not bother coming back. I walk out of practice at one point!!! You heard I awful I sounded but I have sorted it out to a reasonable standard and it has taken alot of practicie on my part to sort out. Still alot of work to do!!!

    But I had no idea I was duscussed on here!!!:D
  16. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    Hey, Stell you always sounded fine to me, I think you worrying about it made you feel worse.
    Anyhow glad you are happier with it now :biggrin:
    Keep up the practice! (but not on crimbiss day!) :tup
  17. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    This is a more common problem than people think. I know two people who have a similar problem and it can be very worrying.
  18. Sheerz

    Sheerz New Member

    care to share what exercises you did to solve that problem? cause i happened to have the same problem as you, and i just managed to keep it from worsening but not solved.
  19. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

    See a professional tuba player, someone who knows what they are talking about. I went to see Les Neish.

    Ask them to recommend the right mouthpiece to suit you. I spent to much time messing about using the wrong mouthpiece therefore worsening the problem. Thats half the problem sorted

    Buzz your lips. I notice when I buzzed my lips the note was wobbling.

    Practice. Truth be told I never did, band rehersal was my practice and its not good enough whatever level of band you play for.

    Practice starting the notes. I could never play a hymn without a dodgy start

    Play a few notes in front of the mirror and see what you are doing.

    Lip slurs bottom C to G.

    Scales starting at the higher notes where you are comfortable with down to the lower notes.

    Practice out of the Hynm book. My phasing of notes were affected also and practice out of a general exercise books.

    Ignore what your fellow bass players are doing at rehearsal and concentrate on what your doing until it improves and rebuild your confidence.

    Les also told me in your own time at home form your embouchure, using your little finger, press your finger as hard as you can a few times a day. That strengthens the lower lip.

    Do the dreaded "pr" word everyday. It won't go away if you don't practice. It took me about 4 or 5 months to just about sort it. You will notice the bad habits you have picked up over the years and probably become a much better player than before.

    I think thats about covered it. Sorry it maybe a bit pants advice, I'm not a technical brass boffin like some on here!!!

    Good luck and let me know how you are getting on
  20. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    This sounds a little like what Jim Gourlay teaches (... and as Les was taught at one time by him, I'm not surprised).

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