Con Tutta Forza

Tips and Tricks: 2016 All State Middle School Band Euphonium Audition Etudes

ExperienceAlejandro GuardiaComment

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 - Rubank Advanced Method Volume 1 Page 38, #21;
Top line, Beginning to Measure 23 plus One note NO REPEATS, Quarter note = 66bpm

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

The tempo marked is Quarter note = 66 beats per minute. Make sure you focus on staying true to the tempo in order for the ends of the phrase to make sense and not sound rushed. Andante is an Italian word for "In a walking pace", so imagine the tempo as walking and taking slow steps. Affetuoso is another Italian term that indicates to play the music in an affectionate and tender fashion. To achieve this focus on using your warmest most inviting sound. Using a little bit of vibrato can also help. 

NEGOTIATING INTERVALS

One of the challenges in this excerpt is the use of large or tricky intervals (the space between the notes) that will often come out choppy or not as musical as we'd like. The following are spots I feel are the most challenging to smooth out. 

    * Pickup to Measure 5
    * Measure 8-9
    * Measures 15
    * First 2 Notes

The challenge in these passages is successfully negotiating the wide 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. Always use a thick column of air to support the vibration of the lips during these passages. It will guarantee that you will have a full beautiful sound and your slurs will be smooth. 

ASSORTED NOTES

- 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.
- Start fuller than piano to help create the contrast in dynamics. In order to successfully get the diminuendo and crescendos be heard you have to start at a fuller dynamic to hear enough contrast.
- Start the trill slower at measure 19 and speed up and let the grace notes fall into beat one almost as if it were a pickup to the G on the downbeat of measure 20

Technical Etude

Book - Rubank Advanced Method Volume 1 Page 31
#14 Top line, NO REPEATS or Da Capo, Dotted Half = 72bpm

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 KEY SIGNATURE

The tempo marked in the excerpt is Valse Dotted Half Note = 72. Valse means waltz. A style of dance in 3/4 with stress on beat one. Beat one should be emphasized in each measure. In order to do that, emphasize the slurs on beat one in the third line to give the impression of an accent and feel of the waltz style. The key signature at the beginning is F major (No E Flats!). It then switches to Bb major (hooray for E flats!) in measure 17 till the end. Make sure you note where they change so there aren't any wrong sounding notes when the key signature changes. 

ARTICULATION

There are several markings over the notes and paying attention to each of them may be challenging but they will allow a clear and accurate performance of this excerpt. A big thing to focus on should be making a difference between the staccato passages and slurred passages. Think of the Staccatto Notes being buoyant. Like the difference between a rubber ball bouncing off the floor vs a blob of clay smacking into the floor. Opt for the sound that reminds you of the rubber ball. Focus on making a difference between staccato and non-marked notes. In order to do this, you need to start the notes the same way with the tongue. The only difference is the space in between the notes that give it that sense of buoyancy. Too much space and it sound clipped and not enough and it sound legato. Another thing to think about are slurs with descending notes. Descending slurs require as much air as needed for the lower note so it's smooth. When you are playing a slur with notes going towards the lower register you need to play as if you are already in that register. It will help with the transition between higher and lower notes. Slurs, in general, need a thick column of air to create a sense of smoothness between the notes. Lastly, notice that each phrase starts softer than the last. Don't allow the dynamic change the articulation of the note and make sure you support your sound in the softer dynamics. Dynamics don't dictate tempo or articulation.

ASSORTED NOTES

- 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.
- Breaths should not interfere with tempo. Choose your breaths carefully. Sometimes the written breath will interrupt a line of cause you to be late in starting the next phrase. On long notes don't be afraid to taper off the note a little early to get more air. The only danger in this technique is if you do it too early and abruptly. Make sure its a smooth end to the note and no one will be the wiser.
- Use vibrato to add direction to the half notes. Use vibrato that is accelerating to indicate forward motion while using vibrato that slows down to indicate the ending of a phrase or idea.

 

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

Best of luck with your audition!