Tuba carols this Xmas -- Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: How easy is the music?
A: fairly easy -- We have no rehearsals. Most people sight-read. Some sample charts are available here.
- Q: Repertoire?
A: Jingle Bells; Good King Wenceslas; Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer; Frosty, the Snowman; The First Noel; Gloria/Deo; Here We Come A-Wassailing; Silent Night; Adeste Fidelis; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; Deck the Halls; Joy to the World; Ding Dong Merrily on High; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; Up on the Housetop; I'll Be Home for Christmas; Santa Claus is Coming to Town; Blue Christmas -- plus a few more in reserve in case of requests
- Q: How does it work?
A: The basic procedure:
We meet at a pre-arranged time and place (e.g., 8:30 at the Broadview station).
Then we proceed down the street to the first likely place of business (pub, restaurant, convenience store, etc.).
We then enter said place of business and begin playing our tunes.
The better our reception, the longer we stay.
Then we move on down the street to the next likely place and repeat.
Occasionally we take requests and play a song or two outside.
We do not, however, use music stands and chairs, and we do not stay in one place all night.
- Q: Why?
A: We play for fun -- for our appreciative and enthusiastic audiences. We aren't out on any particular mission.
- Q: When?
A: for roughly two weeks before xmas
See our main page for specific dates.
- Q: How are the dates confirmed?
A: Dates are confirmed as soon as the RSVPs suggest that we have enough players who are willing and able. (critical mass)
- Q: What if I can be there one night but not another?
A: You don't have to commit to every night.
- Q: I have to be at an office party until 9:30. What if I can't get there on time?
A: Just let us know, and we will try to predict where we'll be later on. We're not hard to find!
Just ask someone on the street: "Say, you haven't seen a bunch of tuba players around here lately, have you?"
- Q: It's last-minute, and I didn't RSVP. Should I still show up?
A: Yes, you are still welcome, even if you didn't warn us in advance. The reasons why we suggest confirming are (a) to make sure that there hasn't been a last-minute change of plans; (b) to make sure that we have music for you; (c) to give you cell phone numbers in case you have the need.
- Q: Where do we leave our cases?
A: Preferably at home or in a car trunk. We generally stay in a fairly small geographic area on a given night. You won't be unpacking and repacking all night long.
- Q: My search engine sent me here. Where are Bathurst, Broadview, Danforth & Queen?
- Q: Remuneration?
A: drinks, food, tips, sometimes even gift certificates
- Q: What should I wear?
A: We may be outside, between stops, for a few minutes at a time, so dress appropriately for the weather. There is no dress code.
- Q: Do we play outside?
A: Most of our playing is indoors, typically in a restaurant, pub, or shop. We have been known to play outside at xmas tree lots, and we usually take a couple of requests to play a song or two on the sidewalk.
- Q: How long does a gig last?
A: We average two or three carols per establishment. And we hardly ever play more than five in any one place.
How long we keep going depends on the energy of the group. A few players might be ready to call it a night after two hours or so. Enthuastic players often continue past 1 a.m.
- Q: Do we play in unison?
A: No. For simplicity, we usually stick with 2-part arrangements. We do use a few 3- or 4-part arrangements.
- Q: How good do we sound?
A: We occasionally get compliments - but not very often.
- Q: Problems?
A: The biggest challenge has been valves and slides freezing up on super-cold nights. Some players strap hand warmers onto their valves to prevent this.
Also, in a few places, it is a bit dark -- and hard to read the music.
If you can attach a small flashlight to your horn or shoulder, this could come in handy.
- Q: I've switched to trumpet, and I can't remember tuba fingerings.
A: If you warn us in advance, we can supply transposed parts. Do not, however, bring the trumpet. Get a real horn!
- Q: I play C tuba now, but I plan to bring my old BBb for carolling. I can't sight-read and transpose at the same time.
A: As above, if you warn us in advance, we can supply transposed parts.
- Q: My horn is kind of beat-up. Would I still be allowed?
A: No problem.
- Q: Can I bring a sousaphone?
A: Yes indeed. Practice ducking through doorways!
- Q: I play trombone a lot better than baritone. Which horn should I bring?
A: Bring the baritone.
- Q: I haven't picked up my horn in 5 years.
A: You are still welcome.
- Q: I haven't picked up the horn in 20 years.
A: You are still welcome.
- Q: What if I play a few wrong notes?
A: We have yet to kick someone out for playing wrong notes. (Just play the bad notes more softly, and nobody will notice.)
- Q: I don't have a lyre.
A: Use a shoulder strap or a harness to support your instrument, so that you'll have a hand free to hold the music. A couple of us have spare lyres that might work for you. Contact us soon!
- Q: I don't own a horn.
A: Contact us, and we'll help you find one to rent or borrow.
- Q: I don't read music. I play by ear.
A: We can help you work things out beforehand. For instance, we can give you keys and starting notes if you'd like to practice ahead of time.
- Q: Can I bring a friend/spouse/parent/child along?
A: Yes. Non-players will typically want to stay off to one side and/or blend in with the audience. But your guests are definitely welcome.
- Q: History?
A: There are probably several similar traditions, but this one dates back to 1972, when Charles Fugate
suggested that Xmas carols be written out for tubas to play. A small group of sousaphone players went house to house on December 23 of that year, and it was a great success.
- Q: Do you ever cancel for weather?
A: So far, the only time was in 2013, when we cancelled one afternoon gig due to a severe ice storm. Normally we play rain, snow, or shine.
- Q: Is this part of "TubaChristmas"?
A: No. It is very different from, and not affiliated with, TubaChristmas. This is also separate from the Nathan Phillips Square event.
- Q: What do I need?
A: low-brass instrument (tuba, sousaphone, euphonium)
lyre or free hand to hold music
small flashlight or LED, to shine on music
hand-warmer, to protect valves
- Q: How do I get in contact?
Back to the main page