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How to Play the Euphonium Baritone

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hello my name is Adam Frey I'm an

international euphonium soloist I'm

lucky enough to travel around the world

playing teaching and sharing the

beautiful sound of the euphonium I'm

very excited that you've chosen to play

the ammonium also music is a wonderful

experience in band you're going to meet

and make a lot of new friends experience

a lot of great music and have a lot of

fun it's a wonderful experience and I'm

so glad that you've selected to start I

thought we should begin with a small

tour of the instrument make sure you

know what the parts are when your band

director refers to them and when you see

them written in the book the first thing

that you learned about is the mouthpiece

when you pulled it out of the case you

also learned about the main body of the

instrument as you know the mouthpiece

connects to the lead pipe which is

located here and it's right below the

main bell section your euphonium may

have three or four vowels and they're

numbered in order from first valve

second valve third valve and fourth

valve each valve has its own slide

connected to the first valve is the

first valve slide connected to the

second valve is the second valve slide

connected to the third valve is as you

guessed it the third valve slide now the

fourth valve slide on most student-level

euphoniums is actually located on the


and of course there's the main tuning

slide located at the bottom we'll talk

more about its job in the tuning section

now let's get to know the valve a little

bit more the valve has a couple of parts

there's the valve top there's the valve

cap and you'll notice this is how will

the valve later in the video

there's also on the back the valve cap

for the bottom

it also loosens and tightens we can take

the valve out and we'll do this for

cleaning and oiling and inside the valve

casing which is a body here there's a

small spring that allows the valve to

move up and down when we press it the

final part of the instrument that we

want to learn about is the water key and

this is on the main tuning side and it's

used for emptying water out of the

instrument I'd like to begin this video

by telling you about the differences

between the baritone and the euphonium

you making your director and also seen

the books the term baritone and

euphonium used regularly this smaller

instrument is a baritone the middle

instrument is a student-level euphonium

and this instrument is a professional

level euphonium let's look at the

specific differences between the

instruments the main difference between

a baritone and a euphonium involves the

shape of the tubing the euphonium is

quite conical and what that means is

that the tubing starts small and as it

proceeds through the instrument it

gradually gets larger all the way

through the instrument on a bear

the tubing is more cylindrical meaning

that it stays the same for a longer

period of time

you also notice on the baritone that the

bell the body the tubing and the

mouthpiece are all much smaller than on

the euphoniums our next instrument is a

student level euphonium this has more

conical tubing than the baritone this is

a four valve model but student level

euphoniums come with three valves or

four valves I also notice that I have

three silver plated instruments here

they can also be lacquer or gold-plated

this particular student level euphonium

you notice has the tuning side in the

front and has a larger Bell body sized

tubing and mouthpiece than it's smaller

baritone cousin you'll also notice on

the four valve models that the four

valves are all in line at the top this

is an important difference when you move

to a professional level euphonium on

most professional level euphoniums the

valve layout is set three on the top and

one on the side this is to help with

something called the compensating system

professional level euphoniums also

generally have a larger bore size and a

larger mouthpiece than the student level

instruments and also just so you know

we're lucky enough to have the

euphoniums larger cousin on our set the

tuba in closing as we get ready to talk

about making a good sound I want to tell

you the history of the word euphonium it

comes from the Greek word ufo's which

means sweet sounding so I hope you make

a sweet sound with your euphonium

now we're to the very exciting moment

when we get to open up the case and see

our beautiful new instrument a couple

things I want you to be aware of is you

need to be very careful music

instruments are quite expensive and we

don't want to damage them first of all

when we have our case we want to set it

down on its side we'll know it's in the

right position when we can read the name

of the company and it's right side up

next we'll open the locks and hold the

case open I always suggest to my

students when they get the instrument

out to use both hands you pick up the

instrument these instruments can cost

anywhere from 500 to thousands of

dollars you can use two hands you don't

want to drop this beautiful shiny new

instrument next you pick up the

mouthpiece with your right hand you'll

insert the small end of the mouthpiece

into the lead pipe and give it a small

turn to the right don't over tighten it

or you may get the mouthpiece stuck

we're now ready to learn more about the

euphonium as we get ready to play our

first note the next part that we need to

be aware of is about our posture and

hand placement posture is very important

especially for the low brass instruments

because we're going to have to use a lot

of wind and breathe very efficiently as

we get ready for our posture we want to

make sure that our three H's are in line

I call it the head the heart and the

hips okay we're going to make sure those

are in line and we're back is off the

back of the chair sitting up nice and

straight and that we also have our feet

flat on the floor as we get ready to

pick up the instrument one important

thing is the height of the mouthpiece if

you notice if we just set two euphonium

on our leg the mouthpiece is too low for

me to reach with keeping the head heart

and hips in line if I bring my lips to

the mouthpiece

we get a posture like this this is not

good posture instead a great tool is to

get a towel from home roll it up and use

it as a little euphonium prop set it

here on our left leg set the volume on

top and the mouthpiece is now at the

proper height for us to plug now to

discuss hand position one of the things

we want to make sure is we're going to

use our left hand to hold the instrument

in our right hand to work the valves

with our left hand and I love my

euphonium I always think about hugging

the instrument so I'm going to grab the

far side of the instrument and hug it

close to me

over my left leg with the right hand I'm

going to bring it up and place my

fingertips on the top of the valves and

take my thumb and put it underneath the

hand bar now we come to the most

important aspect of your playing

breathing we play wind instruments and

having a lot of wind a lot of air

through the instrument is what makes a

great sound as we get ready to take a

good breath we need to remember a couple

things first of all we want to make sure

and start the breath down low we also

want to make sure that we're very

relaxed we don't need to be tense okay

so let me demonstrate once

as you can see I also start the breath

down low a thing that I like to think

about is like when you come home from

school and pour yourself a glass of milk

the milk fills up the glass from the

bottom to the top this is the same way

we want to think about our breathing

filling up from the bottom to the top

watch once more and notice how the

breath begins low one thing to be aware

of some people will raise their

shoulders and get really tense when they

breathe it might sound something like

this or watch a good breath again again

relaxed and starting down low as a fun

trivia thing for you to know each time I

take a breath in and a breath out my

lung capacity is about 5 liters that's

about two and a half soda bottles as we

talked about hand position specifically

with the right hand on the valves I'm

going to talk about a couple things we

want to make sure that the hand stays

nice and relaxed we also want to make

sure that the fingers are nice and

arched with the finger tips on the tops

of the valves sort of like holding a

ball now I have a very fun game that I

teach my students to make sure that they

have perfect finger position on the

valves what we do is we take a valve

felt or coins and put it between our

finger and the top of the valve and we

try and play passages and see if we can

keep the felts and coins in the position

if we lift our finger off the valves the

felts will fall off

excellent we're almost to the exciting

part of making the first sound on our

instrument first thing though we need to

make sure that our lips are set up

correctly in music we have a fancy word

to describe the lips called embouchure

okay so we get ready to make the

embouchure there's a couple things that

we want to make sure we want to make it

in sound and a little bit of a puckered

smile okay

the corners for mouth will be nice and

firm and we want to keep the inside of

our lips nice and relaxed when we go to

place the mouthpiece we want to put it

evenly from top to bottom and from left

to right one of the great tools that I

have to utilize this is called an

embouchure visualizer it's basically

just the ring of the mouthpiece and

you'll be able to see the inside of my

lips again one of the things that I want

you to notice are good firm corners good

relaxed lips on the inside and that the

jaw is nice and open we want to think

about a little bit of an O shape to the

lips and to the embouchure look again

now when we go to place our mouthpiece

there you can see that it models

similarly if you'd like one of the nice

things I like to do before we start

buzzing on the mouthpiece is actually

just blow a gentle breath through the

mouthpiece the next thing we're going to

talk about is buzzing your lips now we

talked about embouchure earlier and

let's just review that for a second we

want to make sure that the mouthpiece is

50% top lip 50% lower lip and in the

center left to right I've got my

visualizer here to show you again I

encourage you to look in the mirror when

you have your mouthpiece to make sure

that the embouchure and the mouthpiece

placement is correct one more time with

the visualizer now when we start to buzz

the lips or vibrate the lips there's a

couple of very important things we

talked about having good posture and

taking a good deep breath now the other

thing that's important to create a good

vibration here is that the corners are

nice and firm and the lips inside are

nice and relaxed sometimes I like to

think of it like a guitar string where

it's has fixed point on each end but

loose and resonant in the middle now

when we get ready to buzz the lips we're

basically going to take a deep breath

blow from the diaphragm and chest

through the throat through the mouth

into the mouthpiece but I thought I'd

demonstrate it first on the visualizer

so you can actually see the vibration


now when we utilize the mouthpiece we

again want to make sure that it's in a

good position top to bottom and left to

right corners our firm lips are relaxed

we take a deep breath and we blow air


now I have a fun little equation that I

teach my students if l equals buzz

equals sound and the more air that we

use the better the buzz will be equals

the better the sound will be also the

opposite is true we don't blow a lot of

air we're not going to get a very good

buzz and we're not going to get a very

good sound there's a couple fun games

that I like to play that we can check

how good the airflow is the first one

you'll utilize your mouthpiece and a

piece of paper and what you'll do if you

hold the piece of paper about six inches

in front of the mouthpiece when you buzz

the note if the airflow is good you'll

see the paper will move if the airflow

is not very good then the paper will

stay still here's a good vibration and

good note consider the paper move quite

a lot okay if the paper doesn't move for

you you're not blowing the air enough

if you have difficulty getting the lips

to vibrate effectively there's two games

that I like to play the first game is a

horse game basically we're just going to

make our lips as loose as possible and

make a little bit of a horse sound like

this very good nice and relaxing the

corners are relaxed and the lips are

relaxed the second game that I like to

play I call it the motorcycle game and

we're going to keep our corners firm

this time but vibrate just the middle of

the lips you can even sort of be the

accelerator with your right hand of the

motorcycle it sounds a little bit like

this okay a nice little fun exercise you

can also do some slurs where we go from

low note to high note sound something

like this


trying to go as relaxed as possible so

now let's practice our equation of air

equals buzz equals sound on our

instrument we're going to take our

mouthpiece put it into the mouth pipe

and give it a small turn to the right

remember to have good posture take a

deep breath and blow a lot of air

if you're buzzed incorrectly you'll get

a nice full vibrant tone quality as we

get ready to begin our first notes it's

important for us to know how to start

each note correctly and cleanly we'd

like to use a word called articulation

or a tack to describe this and how we're

going to create this is by speaking a

syllable while we're playing the

syllable I like to use is the word toe

what this does is it's very nice open

and relaxed just like what we talked

about with our breathing and our

embouchure so how I like to teach my

students is I have them say the word toe

three times and then I have them

practice saying it without the

mouthpiece so it sounds and looks

something like this toe toe toe you can

also if you happen to have that handy

embouchure visualize it utilize it in

the same pattern of saying toe toe toe

toe toe toe you can

in front of a mirror and see whether the

tonguing is clear and precise