Playing in tune is simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple.
Often, I see the “I sound out of tune, thus my slides must move” approach. While that is a part of the equation, the most important things you must focus on are not whether your slide is at 3/8″ or 5/16″. Your best tone and air will give you the best indication of where the pitch is. If you play with poor sound, you could be pinching the note sharp, and blowing it flat, and there is where the slide pulling is really ineffective.
Rely on your ears, they are usually more reliable than what is in between them. As far as inconsistency goes, make sure to simplify: stop, listen and digest the pitch, then play the note relaxed and with your best sound.
Tone is as much a vital part of pitch as slide length is. Once you play with your best sound, then you can play with good inTONEation.
As Anthony Maiello says “Intonation is like body odor: everyone has it, most people do something about it.”
Andrew Dougherty is a native of Gainesville, Virginia, and joined the tuba section of The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” in December of 2020. He previously was a member of the West Point Band, which he joined in November of 2017. He holds a Bachelor of Music from George Mason University, where he studied under Andrew Hitz, and a Master of Music from the University of Maryland, where he studied under David Fedderly. Andrew formerly played with Brass of the Potomac, the ITEA winning tuba and euphonium quartet NOVATEQ, and other band, orchestral, and chamber ensembles around the Washington, D.C. area.
As an educator, Andrew has taught masterclasses at the Bard Conservatory of Music, and at the Tanglewood Institute, while maintaining a private studio of dedicated students. Prior to joining the military music field, Andrew was selected to perform as principal tuba with the Disney All-American College Band of 2014 in Anaheim, California, under the direction of Ron McCurdy. As a student, he won the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Mock Band Audition, and was selected for the United States Air Force Band’s Collegiate Symposium.
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