Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Tuba Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
     Female tuba and sousaphone players, we’re a rare breed. In five years, I’ve only met two others. When people ask what I play, I proudly tell them. Their reaction is almost always either to nod, pretending to know what a sousaphone is (for the marching-band challenged, it’s that big brass instrument that wraps around the player’s body) and change the subject really fast, or they look surprised, size me up and exclaim, “You play tuba?” That gets me. I restate that I do indeed play tuba, and they say: “Well, you just don’t look like a tuba player.” What exactly does a tuba player look like? The usual answer I get is a big beefy guy with fat cheeks. I certainly don’t fit that image with my slim, 5'7" female physique. Sure, I might be a bit short for my tuba, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play it.

Why must people have these ideas about what others can and can’t do? Some think I should play something dainty, like a flute, and leave my tuba to the big boys. With the sousaphone, it’s all about mind over matter. My brother would put down a sousaphone long before I would, and he’s that big beefy kid. It’s not about how big and strong you are, endurance is the name of the game.

Besides, I like a challenge. Another misconception about tuba players is that we lack talent. Playing the tuba isn’t that easy to do. It requires a lot of training and practice. People fail to recognize the importance of the tuba to a band. Who doesn’t like a lot of bass in their music? Booming bass is practically the anthem of teenage drivers, shaking the world as they drive by. That’s what I’m there to give you, the bass, big and deep and full.

Try applying the story of my tuba, my sousaphone and me to your everyday life. Don’t jump to conclusions about people because of their appearance. Try not to stereotype or generalize and that way, you’ll won’t be surprised by that exception to the rule. Challenge yourself; if people were never willing to be different, there wouldn’t be any progress. One last thing - try to remember what a sousaphone is, so you won’t have to change the subject really fast.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Join the Discussion

This article has 37 comments. Post your own now!

BassGirl said...
Nov. 28, 2016 at 11:54 pm
I play tuba int he 7th grade and next year I will be the only tuba player inthe whole grade and I start playing sousaphone next year!
 
TheMan said...
Oct. 16, 2016 at 5:40 am
I'm a skinny girl tuba/sousaphone player too! And proud of it! I can relate to this article, best of luck, I'll be Marching it in two years time too. My mother says "You need to start doing some serious push ups or there is no way you'll March tuba!" As I pick up someone 1 and 1/2 times my weight.
 
carmenwhite12 said...
May 21, 2016 at 4:08 pm
I'm 5'2" and I play sousaphone for my band during marching season. Other than that, I play tenor sax, and people always think I'm joking when I tell them I'm a tuba player. Come on guys, we don't need to fit the stereotype (beefy people) to play a brass bass!
 
carmenwhite12 said...
May 21, 2016 at 4:08 pm
I'm 5'2" and I play sousaphone for my band during marching season. Other than that, I play tenor sax, and people always think I'm joking when I tell them I'm a tuba player. Come on guys, we don't need to fit the stereotype (beefy people) to play a brass bass!
 
carmenwhite12 said...
May 21, 2016 at 4:08 pm
I'm 5'2" and I play sousaphone for my band during marching season. Other than that, I play tenor sax, and people always think I'm joking when I tell them I'm a tuba player. Come on guys, we don't need to fit the stereotype (beefy people) to play a brass bass!
 
carmenwhite12 said...
May 21, 2016 at 4:08 pm
I'm 5'2" and I play sousaphone for my band during marching season. Other than that, I play tenor sax, and people always think I'm joking when I tell them I'm a tuba player. Come on guys, we don't need to fit the stereotype (beefy people) to play a brass bass!
 
carmenwhite12 said...
May 21, 2016 at 4:08 pm
I'm 5'2" and I play sousaphone for my band during marching season. Other than that, I play tenor sax, and people always think I'm joking when I tell them I'm a tuba player. Come on guys, we don't need to fit the stereotype (beefy people) to play a brass bass!
 
Tubagirl13 said...
Aug. 1, 2015 at 5:52 pm
I'm a seventh grade 1st chair tuba player. Yay for Tuba girls everywhere!
 
First chair tuba said...
May 1, 2015 at 4:22 pm
You are so right!! I'm in 6th grade and I'm the only tuba player in the beginning band and I'm only five foot and I can fit in my own instrument case!! Good place to hide btw (if you can hide the tuba) best of luck to you
 
TheMan replied...
Oct. 16, 2016 at 5:43 am
YASSSS! I'm going to use that case hiding trick next chance I get, I'm in 7th grade now so I can relate to being in 6th grade and tubaing
 
TubaGirl replied...
Nov. 28, 2016 at 11:57 pm
Me too the funny thing is this year there are 6 girl tuba players in the 6th grade!
 
TubaLady This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 26, 2015 at 10:40 pm
So true! I'm a female tuba player and I've only met a handful of girls that play the instrument. And you're definitely right about the whole "don't judge someone by how they look" concept. (I wrote a poem about that, you should check it out. It's Don't Label Someone's Life.)
 
TubaQueen97 said...
Jul. 31, 2012 at 12:46 am
Im a 10th grader and I'm one of 3 girls that has played tuba in my highschool. In 8 years of the school being open there has only been me and 2 other girls. The other 2 have quit so now I am the only one. Im not obese but not skinny either but people still look at me weird when I say I play the tuba.
 
bandgeek4ever said...
Feb. 5, 2012 at 11:36 am
Im in 9th grade and i started playing tuba in 7th grade and i was only 4ft 10 now at high school (and im 5ft2in)i am the only tuba player but the thing is i went from playing the flute to playing the tuba Go Tuba Players! (:
 
ILOVETHETUBA! said...
Jan. 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm
I'm a 10th grader...I play the tuba and Im 5 ft tall...after I started playing tuba every year there has been a girl the next year that has joined tuba which means out of the school there are 5 girl tuba players at my school!:)
 
BAMX said...
Dec. 12, 2011 at 11:24 am
I would love an orange tuba!!!
 
music21297 said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm
haha i'm a tuba girl, and its me and 8 other guys in marching band. so funn. anyone else ever have tuba parties??? its awkward since i'm the only girl ;)
 
ShortTubaplayer said...
Oct. 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm
Try telling me that short people don't play tuba- I'm in 8th grade, 4''', and a girl. I weigh 78 pounds, and my tuba at home is almost as tall as me. I'm section leader, too- tell THAT to anyone who thinks short girls don't play tuba.
 
ShortTubaplayer replied...
Oct. 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm
Sorry- messed up my height. I'm 4'8''.
 
Jojo said...
Oct. 9, 2011 at 10:30 pm
I know exactly what you're talking about. I'm 104 lbs and 5'1. I play tuba with two boys and I'm always in the middle of them because I'm a phreshie in high school. I'm also the first girl tuba player in the parrish. Playing tuba is hard but marching and playing is harder, espically when you have a sophmore average guy telling you that you're an idiot everyday. You're story has inspired me to keep going. I'm so ready to quit but reading that there's more girls out there that play and struggle wi... (more »)
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback