A low brass lesson, with James Gourlay


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James Gourlay: http://web.mac.com/jamesgourlay1956/

This video, if it is unclear, is demonstrating the falling 5ths in the low register of the tuba without the use of the 4th valve (which drops the pitch by a fourth). James explained to Andrew how he had no 4th valve on his tuba as he grew up, and learning to play from low F to pedal C without the 4th valve was invaluable to him.

The following video was taken in a lesson between James Gourlay and Andrew Barkley. The video and image are used by permission.

This exercise is useful for many reasons: tone, air support, embouchure strengthening, intonation and finally; the use of a tuba with only 3 valves!

A superb lesson, I learned so much from it, as did Andrew. Thanks, James!

A little about James:

James Gourlay was born in Scotland where, at the age of ten, he was ‘volunteered’ to play in his school brass band. Being tallest in class, he was serendipitously given the tuba, an instrument he loves and continues to promote all over the world.

After much success as a solo champion, James entered the Royal College of Music but left after a short time to become, at eighteen, the Principal Tuba of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Four years later, he took up the same position with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he worked for ten years. He then performed for a further ten years with the Orchestra of the Zürich Opera.

James’s career as a chamber musician and soloist continues flourish. He has been a member of the Philip Jones and English Brass Ensembles with which he has toured the world and as a soloist, continues to performs extensively. He has recorded five solo CDs, the latest, British Tuba Concertos, recorded for the Naxos label, with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, received international critical acclaim.

Gourlay’s work within the Brass Band movement forms a vital component of his creative output. After early success with the Brass Band Berneroberland, he became music director of the Williams Fairey Band with which he won the English Masters and British Open Contests. James has also been professional conductor of the Grimethorpe Colliery and the Brighouse and Rastrick bands and is currently guest conductor of the Brass Band Treize Etoiles, with which he has won the Swiss National Championships, the Swiss Open Championships, second place at the European, as well as the World Brass Band Championships.

James Gourlay’s commitment to music education is a continuing passion. He has been Head of Wind and Percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music and Deputy Principal and Music Director at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Salford University, a Masters Degree from Leeds University, a Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music, a Fellowship of the London College of Music and is also a recipient of the Henry Iles Medal, presented by the Worshipful Company of Musicians for services to the Brass Band Movement. Currently, James is International Vice President of the International Tuba and Euphonium Association, Director of Music of the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band and Director of Music of River City Brass.

Image courtesy of Denis Wick: http://www.deniswick.com

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