Back Row Goals: A Guide To Retaining Low Brass Students

Back Row Goals: A Guide To Retaining Low Brass Students

Keeping  Them Interested

All musicians love the feeling of improving. That basic motivator and retainer of music students may elude low brass players for lack of challenging repertoire during their formative years in band programs. Here are some ideas to include low brass players in the challenges that make players improve when their parts are too easy to be that challenge :

Buying classic étude books for all the instruments and catalogue them in your library. This is an investment in the future. Using études written or adapted for low brass provide a constant  challenge for the students to move forward with their progress. (When the repertoire for low brass was light at the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan many years ago, we would audition using the challenge system on classic etudes. We  were preparing for a day when the band or orchestra literature would be at the level of these études). And for all the low brass, but especially the tubas, it is healthy to study etudes for their melodic approach to music making !

Here is a list of classic old school étude materials for low brass:

All Low Brass

  • Arban’s Method for Euphonium and Trombone, edited by Brian Bowman and Joseph Alessi, Encore Publications
  • Selected Duets in bass clef, Rubank compilation



  • Advanced Method, Rubank
  • Studies in Legato, Reginald Fink
  • Method for Trombone, Ernest Clarke
  • 40 Progressive Etudes, Sigmund Hering
  • (Any of the euphonium books)






More Ideas

Here are two other ideas that help to retain low brass players:

  • The low brass sectional can morph into a low brass club that practices together and performs for each other. 
  • Some schools have morphed the low brass sectional into Low Brass Ensembles. The use of easy trombone or tuba quartet literature to start this type of group will work well. Simple octave transposed parts can be created to include all members. These selections can be used to feature the low brass playing alone at concerts. They get a shot of self esteem and the rest of the band gets a tune off !


Finally, the most important retainer of low brass students: Acknowledge their role in what you need to have a successful band concert, and when you Catch them doing something Right, Praise them in front of the band for a job well done. I remember those praise days like they were yesterday!


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