How to Play Tuba for Beginners

Beginners that wish to play the tuba will succeed if they follow a systematic practice routine and pay careful attention to their posture. The tuba is a large instrument and requires a substantial amount of air, but surprisingly enough, it doesn’t require as much air as the flute. Good breathe support and a properly formed embouchure, which is the method in which the muscles of the face contract, will improve your ability to play tuba well.

Step 1

Breathe correctly by taking air into your lungs and pushing it down into your diaphragm. The diaphragm is strong and will allow you to control the amount of air dispersed through the instrument.

Step 2

Form an embouchure by tensing your cheeks. Do not puff your cheeks out; puffing the cheeks prevents you from building muscle in your embouchure. If you have trouble with this, imagine you are sucking through a straw. This is the same tension used to play the tuba.

Step 3

Hold your mouthpiece to your lips. With your embouchure formed, breathe in deeply and attempt to buzz through the mouthpiece. If you keep your embouchure, this will happen naturally. Buzz for eight seconds, take a break and do this five more time.

Step 4

Place the mouthpiece into the instrument and attempt to get a sound from the instrument by buzzing into the mouthpiece. Do not sing into the mouthpiece; let the vibrations of your lips create the sound.

Step 5

Play a major scale by starting with all of the valves open, then use the following valve combinations: one and three, one and two, one, open, one and two, two, open and then work backward. Practice this several times until you can play it easily.

Step 6

Sustain long tones to help build the muscles in your embouchure and play effectively. Hold out a pitch on an open valve, then press down the middle valve, back to open, then press first valve. This series should be practiced everyday to build your strength,

Step 7

Practice tonguing exercises daily to improve your tonguing technique. Allow you tongue to rest on the bottom of your mouth. While playing, with the tip of your tongue, hit the place between the roof of your mouth and the teeth. Aim for this spot when tonguing. Practice tonguing by playing eight evenly spaced notes, separate each note with your tongue.


When you have learned the basics of creating sound, get a tuba method book such as "Practical Hints on Playing Tuba" by Donald Little. The exercises in a method book will teach you how to read notes, if you don't already know how to.


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