Getting the right piece for your tuba audition

rotary-valves-7985_640There are now hundreds of solo tuba pieces and the amount of music being written for the instrument is every increasing.  This is really great news for the tuba but it may provide some confusion when it comes to the audition process.

Here is a list of those tuba pieces that could make great audition pieces for a local group, a job application (at a school or a Music Service) or a professional brass band or orchestra.

It is important to make sure that you play to your strengths and that you consider carefully how the pieces that you choose match the requirements of the post you are applying for.

For example, if you are applying for an orchestra that focuses its repertoire on the Romantic and Classical eras, you may well be best sticking to pieces that are more well known or relate to the style of playing that they will expect you to provide.  Make sure you do your research – it may be that an orchestra previously working with Classical and Romantic music is advertising for a full time tuba player to expand its repertoire to include more contemporary works.

1)    Edward Gregson – Tuba Concerto (1st or 3rd Movement)

You may be thinking to yourself ‘surely everyone will do this, wont they?’  The answer may well be yes, and if not it will probably be the majority of people auditioning.  It is one of the classic tuba pieces that everyone is expected to know well and be able to play, and it can demonstrate your prowess as a musician in terms of your musicality and interpretation.  I have suggested that it would be best to stick to the 1st or 3rd Movements in the context of an audition as these give a far better opportunity to show off your technical ability

2)    Vaughan Williams Tuba Concerto (any Movement)

You may also be thinking ‘surely everyone will do this, wont they?’ as with the Gregson Concerto.  For good reasons this is somewhat of a sacred cow amongst many tuba players.  In terms of using it for an audition, it shows a wide range of musical skills from loud lower register playing in the 1st Movement, to soft legato playing within the 2nd Movement.  If you are asked to provide two pieces, the 2nd Movement may work well as a contrasting piece.

3)    Malcolm Arnold – Fantasy for Tuba

Again, this is a well-known piece and is great for showing what you are capable of.  This could work well with a movement from the Gregson or Vaughan-Williams concerti.

4)    Harold East – Sonatina

A great piece to play with some interesting twists and turns.  This is definitely worth considering as you can use it to demonstrate your understanding of melodic line, upper register and control.  Any of the movements from this piece could work well, or if requested the piece is not too long to use all/any of it.

5)    Hindemith – Sonata for Tuba

The Sonata is another very well known piece, and good fun to play.  It may be worth steering clear of the last movement of this if you are not using your own accompanist.  The piano part in the last movement is particularly fiendish to play and this could hamper your ability to pull off a good performance.  Also, it isn’t very kind to land that accompaniment on someone you don’t know!

6)    Donald Swann – Two Moods for Tuba (1st Mood)

These Two Moods are great pieces and are fantastic in a concert.  I would probably lean slightly toward the 1st Movement only in an audition setting.  It would be possible to use this as a quiet, melodic piece and really show off your ability to play with control in the higher register.  It may well be a good idea to avoid this piece for audition purposes if your high register can be a little flaky!

7)    Capuzzi – Concerto

This is an arrangement for Tuba taken from the Double Bass Concerto and is only the 2nd and 3rd Movement.  This is a popular piece, that is fairly straight-forward.  It could be a useful piece to use for a Music Service audition or for any local amateur groups.  The slow movement is great for showing a good awareness of melodic line and phrasing.  The third movement is mostly conjunct and can be performed at a fair speed to demonstrate good technique.

8)    Gordon Jacob – Tuba Suite

This is a series of movements and the one that is most often used for audition purposes is Number 8.  Some of the others may well be a little on the short side and quite narrow in range. Again, this is another good piece for auditions with a Music Service or local amateur group.

9)    Penderecki – Capriccio for Tuba

This is a very tricky piece and makes for a very ambitious audition piece.  With its wide ranges, huge pitch leaps and tricky runs this allows you to demonstrate versatility and interpretation.  This may well be good to do, but is certainly not for the feint-hearted.

10)    Oysten Baadsvick – Fnugg

This piece has become extremely popular and has been performed by the composer both as an unaccompanied solo and with a brass band accompaniment.  For audition purposes, it would probably be worth sticking with the unaccompanied tuba version (not a piano reduction).  Be careful to ensure that you have a good awareness of multi-phonics and can produce the wide variety of un-contemporary sounds required for this piece.  Definitely consider recording yourself playing this piece and only use it if you are certain you can reproduce what is required on demand!


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