For Dylan Earle, it was the bigness and the low sound of the tuba that originally attracted him to the instrument.
“If you were to take a portrait the tuba would fill the background,” he said of the sonic space the instrument commands.
Although he’s been playing the tuba for a relatively short period of time, Dylan is also proficient on the piano, saxophone and trombone, making the transition a little less difficult.
Correlieu music teacher Shawn Smith encouraged Dylan to audition for the Musical Educators Association all-star concert band which would perform to thousands of people during the association’s annual conference for high school and elementary teachers.
Dylan auditioned for the wind ensemble. Of the hundreds who auditioned, 60 were accepted and the Quesnel Grade 12 student was one of them.
The auditions were conducted via the Internet in April, when hopefuls submitted their recording of the supplied musical piece.
Dylan said the audition piece was the most difficult part of the process. However, in retrospect, having the opportunity to practice the performance pieces may have taken some of the difficulty away.
Students accepted for the all-star bands and choirs were advised in late June.
“I was excited but very nervous; I didn’t know what to expect,” Dylan said.
He was able to attend an initial practice – at the same time he received the eight pieces to be performed at the October conference. Those who could make that session played together for just one day.
Musicians were expected to learn the music perfectly by the performance.
Shawn Smith said this is what professional musicians are expected to do.
“You’re given the music and are expected to perform it a few days later,” he said.
Dylan set about learning and practicing the music for the performance, two weeks later.
“Once we arrived in Richmond, we had 20 hours of practice,” he added.
The concert band was comprised of 17 different instruments with 60 musicians. Smith said the band had an orchestral sound, very large.
Dylan admitted some of the music required major practicing, however, he was surprised at the relaxed rehearsals.
“The conductor, Dr. Mark Hopkins, was a lot of fun and we enjoyed the hard work,” he said.
“He’s a really good director.”
Once the concert band took to the stage (they were one of the first performances), Dylan said he stopped feeling nervous.
“Once the music began, it all fell into place,” he said with a big smile.
“I’ve never played to 2,000 people before.”
Despite only a few practices and musicians who’d met just days before, Dylan said they all carried their weight musically and he was proud of their performance.
Smith said Dylan was the first Quesnel music student to perform in a concert band for this venue, but several previous students had performed in the Jazz band and choir for this prestigious provincial conference.
While in the Lower Mainland, Dylan checked out the music program at UBC and talked to tuba teacher Peder MacLellan who also provided a two-hour lesson.
“He said he liked my potential and said I did well for the
length I’ve been playing,” Dylan said.
“He was impressed as to
how quickly I picked up his lesson.”
Dylan also added a tip of the hat to his local tuba teacher, Matt Wood, a tuba player of some renown.
Smith said the tuba can be an intimidating instrument for students to chose, however it’s advantageous for post-secondary ambitions.
“There aren’t many tuba players,” he said.
Dylan hopes to become a music teacher, but may try the professional route first (again, playing the tuba could be an advantage.)
Performing with the all-star concert band is one of the pinnacles of Dylan’s high school performing, however he also plans to apply to the National Youth Orchestra, which performs during the showcase concerts at Musicfest held annually at the University of Toronto, May 13 – 18, 2013.