Con Tutta Forza

Tips and Tricks: 2016 All State Symphonic Band Euphonium Audition Etudes

ExperienceAlejandro Guardia1 Comment

Florida All-State Auditions in Miami-Dade county are right around the corner. September 24th is just weeks away and it always catches us by surprise. The good news is, I'm here to give you some tips to get through the required etudes. 

Lyrical Etude

Book - Melodious Etudes for Trombone, by Joannes Rochut, Ed. by Alan Raph Book1
Page 43, #31; Measure 1-21 plus One note, Quarter note = 60bpm

Above is a video where I play through the entire etude at tempo. It's always a good idea to hear someone play the etude so that you mimic the player's style, figure out tricky rhythms, and get an idea of pacing and phrasing among other things. So when preparing for auditions or performing a solo you should always take some time to research.  

Trouble Spots

  • Tempo
  • Measure 8
  • Measures 11-14

Tempo

The tempo written in the All-State Requirements documents states that the tempo is marked at Quarter note equals 60 BUT the Melodius Etudes book 1 says it is Eighth Note at 54. So which is it? Well, one would be slow and the other would be painfully slow. If you listen to my recording above I am playing it at Dotted Quarter equals 60. So when you practice this you'll want to set your metronome to 60 beats a minute and interpret the music as if the dotted quarter note gets the beat.

Measure 8

Be careful of the accidentals. Especially The E natural on beat 2 and then an E flat on Beat 6. It is written correctly so be careful not to confuse them or to play one and not the other. Both notes are needed for the measure to be performed correctly. 

 Measures 11-14 - troublesome intervals are indicated by red slurs.

Measures 11-14 - troublesome intervals are indicated by red slurs.

Measure 11-14

The challenge in this passage is successfully negotiating the ascending intervals and maintaining a controlled and even sound. My suggestion for tackling this is two-fold. 1.) Use your mouthpiece along with a piano or some other pitch-producing tool and Buzz each note in succession. Once you can buzz each of the pitches independently, I would then buzz them in sequence and focus playing with a deep glissando between the wider intervals. This way you are training yourself to smooth out the slur and using the breaks in the harmonic series to your advantage. 2.) Practice playing the section slow and with your focus on making sure that the slurs are as smooth as you can make them. Practice with the idea of getting rid of as much fuzz between the leaps as possible. 

Assorted Reminders

  • Make sure to take full breaths in logical places. (Sing the tune and put a breath where one idea finishes or seems to come to a resting point.)
  • Singing the line is also useful in figuring out how you would phrase it without all the mechanics of the horn. 
  • Focus on blowing air through slurs to remove bumps.
  • Ensure that you can feel the pulse and your audience can hear the pulse on Beats 1 and 4. 

Technical Etude

Selected Studies for Trombone by H. Voxman
Page 14, Ab Major, Measure 1-23 Plus One Note, Quarter Note = 116bpm

Above is a video where I play through the entire etude at tempo. It's always a good idea to hear someone play the etude so that you mimic the player's style, figure out tricky rhythms, and get an idea of pacing and phrasing among other things. So when preparing for auditions or performing a solo you should always take some time to research.  

Tempo and Style

Marked Allegro Marziale, the composer is looking for a lively march style. The requirements state it should be played at 116 beats per minute with the quarter note getting the beat. Marziale translates to Martial in English which turns our Allegro marking into a Military Allegro. After all that, its just a fancy way of saying a March. So that being said, pulse must be evident through out. There aren't many opportunities for rubato. In order to keep that pulse through out the piece we need to focus on keeping notes light and buoyant. We should play with a little space between the notes in order to achieve the style we're looking for. 

Trouble Spots

  • Measure 4
  • Measures 8-11
  • Measure 15

Measure 4

In this measure we encounter a wide leap going from the middle to the higher register of the instrument. This can be problematic if we don't approach it properly. One step in conquering this measure is focusing on moving a fast stream of air and performing the crescendo that is written in the measure. Aside from that, you can practice the measure on the mouthpiece as mentioned earlier and buzz each note then add a glissando to facilitate a smooth transition between registers. Also, make sure you have a solid air stream moving through the staccato triplets in order to avoid chipped notes and to create a clear line. 

Measures 8-11

The challenge in these measures is to make sure you make the contrast between the fortissimo and the pianissimo that immediately follows it. The key word is contrast. It HAS to be different. One way to achieve this is to make sure the Fortissimo is as full as you can play with a good sound and then play softer afterwards or you can play forte then play really soft afterwards. The problem with the second approach is that you run into clarity problems and some people can only play so soft and still make the notes speak. So when confronted with situations like this I always remember something that was told to me in college. "Never play softer than you can make a sound" So with that in mind, the first option makes more sense since its a little easier to play louder than it is soft. Another thing to think about. Music is all about perspective. So if you play fortissimo on beat four then play mezzo piano on the following beat three that intent was achieved because you created a wide change in dynamic. The audience members don't have an accurate way of noting which level of dynamic you are on other than one note was loud and the other was soft. With this in mind the performers job is to make sure that you make enough of a difference. Obviously we strive to make sure that we reach all the extremes of the music to bring it to life so keep that in mind when preparing passages that as for extreme changes like this. Our jobs as performers is to interpret the music and let the audience perceive what was written. This concept also falls in line with how we perform the next trouble spot. 

 Measure 15 with the written dynamic and the edited dynamic to show an effective diminuendo.

Measure 15 with the written dynamic and the edited dynamic to show an effective diminuendo.

Measure 15

This one spot has all to do with perception. The music says to diminuendo from piano to pianissimo. This is great in theory but lets look at it with numbers. on a scale of 1-10 a piano is somewhere in the 3-4 range. and a pianissimo is in the 3-2 range. So a change from 3 to 2 would be a difference of 10% which at that level is very subtle and hard to perceive.  Let's say you start at a 5 and diminuendo to a 2 that's 30% which is much more perceivable. So starting a bit fuller in dynamic will help ensure that your audience knows that you are making a diminuendo happen. It also draws them in to the next line. It's all about perception. 

ASSORTED REMINDERS

  • Make sure to take full breaths in logical places. (Sing the tune and put a breath where one idea finishes or seems to come to a resting point.)
  • Focus on making the staccato notes full enough to hear the pitch and tone of your instrument. Notes that are too short don't help the musical line. 
  • Keep tempo consistent. No slowing down because something is difficult. If you find something difficult and it is slowing you down, isolate it and work through the passage slowly training your muscle memory to do it correctly. 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below.

Best of luck with your audition!