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The tuba is a school owned instrument, meaning FISD will provide a tuba for your student while in band in the district. Each year the tuba families will pay a rental fee.

What's a Tuba?

The tuba is the lowest-pitched musical instrument in the brass family. As with all brass instruments, the sound is produced by lip vibration into a large mouthpiece. It first appeared in the mid-19th century, making it one of the newer instruments in the modern orchestra and concert band. The tuba largely replaced the ophicleide. Tuba is Latin for "trumpet".

Types of Tubas

Tubas are found in various pitches, most commonly in F, E♭, C, or B♭. The main tube of a B♭ tuba is approximately 18 feet (5.5 m) long, while that of a C tuba is 16 feet (4.9 m), of an E♭ tuba 13 feet (4.0 m), and of an F tuba 12 feet (3.7 m). The instrument has a conical bore, meaning the bore diameter increases as a function of the tubing length from the mouthpiece to the bell. The conical bore causes the instrument to produce a preponderance of even-order harmonics.

A tuba with its tubing wrapped for placing the instrument on the player's lap is usually called a concert tuba or simply a tuba. Tubas with the bell pointing forward (pavillon tournant) instead of upward are often called recording tubas because of their popularity in the early days of recorded music, as their sound could more easily be directed at the recording microphone. When wrapped to surround the body for cavalry bands on horseback or marching, it is traditionally known as a hélicon. The modern sousaphone, named after American bandmaster John Philip Sousa, resembles a hélicon with the bell pointed up (in the original models as the J. W. Pepper prototype and Sousa's concert instruments) and then curved to point forward (as developed by Conn and others). Some ancestors of the tuba, such as the military bombardon, had unusual valve and bore arrangements compared to modern tubas.

Size Vs. Pitch

In addition to the length of the instrument, which dictates the fundamental pitch, tubas also vary in overall width of the tubing sections. Tuba sizes are usually denoted by a quarter system, with ​4⁄4 designating a normal, full-size tuba. Larger rotary instruments are known as kaisertubas and are often denoted ​5⁄4. Larger piston tubas, particularly those with front action, are sometimes known as grand orchestral tubas (examples: the Conn 36J Orchestra Grand Bass from the 1930s, and the current model Hirsbrunner HB-50 Grand Orchestral, which is a replica of the large York tubas owned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Grand orchestral tubas are generally described as ​6⁄4 tubas. Smaller instruments may be described as ​3⁄4 instruments. No standards exist for these designations, and their use is up to manufacturers who usually use them to distinguish among the instruments in their own product line. The size designation is related to the larger outer branches, and not to the bore of the tubing at the valves, though the bore is usually reported in instrument specifications. The quarter system is also not directly related to bell size, though there is typically a correlation. ​3⁄4 tubas are common in American grade schools for use by young tuba players for whom a full size instrument might be too cumbersome. Though smaller and lighter, they are tuned and keyed identically to full-size tubas of the same pitch, although they usually have 3 rather than 4 or 5 valves.

Famous People who played the flute:

  • Andy Griffith (actor)

  • Harry Smith (CBS’s “The Early Show”)

  • Dan Aykroyd (actor)

  • Aretha Franklin (“Queen of Soul”, singer)


Let's play some heavy metal!

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