Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned. ~ Emily Dickinson

Mr. Ahrens teaches band & choir at Bear River High School in Grass Valley, CA.


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Less Buzz, More Tone


… The second transformational thing I took in from Mr. Vizzutti was his thought on buzzing into your brass instrument. He says not to do it. What?! I know, I was confused for a minute too. He contends that we should not be teaching our beginning students to buzz. Instead we should focus on full, relaxed breathing and aggressive, sustained airflow through the horn. If a student were taught to create tone on their brass instrument without forcing the buzz from the start, their tone would be immediately more successful which would likely lead to a more promising development as a musician. . . . → Read More: Less Buzz, More Tone

Getting that Heavy Metal Sound

Harvey Phillips started in music by bringing his Father’s violin to band class and trying to play along. “In 1942, shortly after we entered World War II, our band’s only Sousaphone player joined the Navy, and my high school band director asked me to play Sousaphone.” Arnold Jacobs spent a good part of his youth progressing from bugle to trumpet to trombone and finally to tuba. . . . → Read More: Getting that Heavy Metal Sound

Tuba Q and A: High Range

Question: What are some helpful techniques for improving the high range of my high school tuba players? Most high school band music is written in the lower register.

Answer: I was once told that the best way for tuba players to improve their range in the upper register is to play up there. As . . . → Read More: Tuba Q and A: High Range

For the Love of Tuba

In 8th grade, my band director, Mr. Hansen asked for a volunteer to play the sousaphone. He said that whoever was interested should come see him at lunch. I was the only one to show up. I had no clue what a sousaphone was. Mr. Hansen brought out this huge white thing and I quickly told him “I can’t play that! It’s too big!” He reassured me that I could and that he would teach me. . . . → Read More: For the Love of Tuba