Tuba Girl | Teen Ink

Tuba Girl MAG

By Anonymous

     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.

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This article has 39 comments.

on 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.

Jojo said...
on 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 with the same things I struggle with, and make it, gives me the strength to keep going. You all are amazing girls, thank each and everyone of you. I will deff remember this story when I'm marching tomorrow afternoon getting ready for Saturday's festival at our band rivals school. I'll press on and do what I love, and sometimes hate, because of all of you. You are all amazing. Thank you!

russianbrass said...
on Oct. 8 2011 at 12:15 pm
I'm playing baritone right now. I'm also the only girl in the low brass section as well as the shortest person in the band. My mission is to help my baritone buddy whose at least a foot taller than me hold his baritone up and actually get notes to come out of it.  Earlier in the season one of the judges made fun of us. Yeah, hopefully by the end of the season we'll acheive our goal.

russianbrass said...
on Oct. 8 2011 at 12:10 pm
Yay for tuba and sousaphone players. I'm a girl and I'm 4 foot 10 and I played trumpet for four years before I switched to the baritone. I've decided that after this marching band season is over I'm going to start playing the tuba. I'm really small and skinny but it's just such an awesome instrument that I can't resist. I love all the low notes it makes.

TubaGurl said...
on Aug. 31 2011 at 7:46 pm
I play the sousaphone in my high school band.Am very short and skinny.And the sousaphone looks like it can swallow me.But i still play althrough people may doubt me I still hold my head up high and play it good :)

Erika_tuba said...
on Aug. 11 2011 at 8:51 pm
Wow goo girl tubas!! I play the tuba also and I love bonding with my tubas they are my boys I love them!

Sousa G said...
on Jul. 30 2011 at 3:23 pm
ive been doing guard for 2 years (section leader for 1) but for my senior year i had to beg my band director to let me play sousa. i'm so excited. i always tell myself go big or go home. i'll bes sticking with that this year. thaks for this article it makes me feel pretty awesome

on Jul. 5 2011 at 4:29 pm
hey, thank you so much for this article! i have played the flute for 4 yrs, and i like it. . . but i have always wanted to play the tuba!! xD imma be a sophmore this year and im going for marching the sousaphone this year(x i was very excited at first, but then guys came to me and made faces at me when i told them i was joining the brass section): it kinda disapionted me that they were putting me down (probably cause they havent had a girl tuba player in 5yrs) i was already planning on going back to flute D: but this article truely got me thinking!! i really cant let other judge me by the way i look as opposed to what instrument i coorespond to. so once again, THANK YOU<33

on May. 31 2011 at 4:39 pm
You pretty much summed up what i have been tryin to tell people for years in this article! I play contra/tuba I played sousaphone last year durin marching season. I play for Petal High School band and am the smallest tuba player that they have had to come through being the I am only 5'2" and 120 lbs soaking wet. Some people dont understand the challenge that we are put to we when bein playing but usually we start playin because we want a challenge. I am very proud to say that I play the tuba and I completely agree with you have said here. And behalf of the rest of the petal tuba girls YOU ROCK AND EVERY GIRL TUBA SHOULD!!! STAY STRONG AND STAY YOU!! -Hannah Bug

rpeteg said...
on May. 22 2011 at 10:26 pm
I'm a Sousaphone/Tuba player and wish there were more ladies like you around when I was Bass Line Captain in my High School Marching Band - The Marching Wildcats, Johnson Ciy High School NY!

moresousa123 said...
on Nov. 26 2010 at 10:34 pm
Wow! It's good to know that there are more female tuba players out there! I'm proud to say however, that I am one of the 3 female tuba players in our band (we only have 4 total ;D ). There are more and more female tubas coming along these days, so maybe this stereotype will shortly die out. Thanks for a great article, it made my day!

on Jun. 18 2010 at 11:38 am

on Mar. 11 2010 at 11:32 pm
Thanks so much! This is very true! I've been playing sousa/tuba for over 5 years now, and every year, I've been the only girl in my section. When my college marching band goes to games and travels, I look for other female tuba players-usually to find none, or two (oddly, I've never found just one, like myself). I LOVE playing tuba, and we've got the best section in the band. I've grown to love and become best friends with ALL 11 guys in my section.

I see it as somewhat flattering when a person, especially a guy, looks at me as if I'm lying to him about what I play. It usually puts them in their spot. Everyone always expects girls to play woodwinds or be in color guard, but you will never see my deny my instrument! Go TUBA GIRLS of the world!!

sousalove<3 said...
on Jan. 12 2010 at 6:30 pm
Thank you. I agree. I played baritone last year ( the only girl in the low brass section) and it was always my dream to play tuba. everyone said it would knock me over. i've been playing for almost 2 weeks now and i can play three scales and play mission impossible. in concert band i play a full size tuba. our tuba/sousa is graduating so i will be marching it. the only sousa... the only girl and im also the shortest in my section... but now not underestimated i WILL acomplish the sousa

tooba chick said...
on Jan. 10 2010 at 9:40 pm
i totially agree with this article!
im 5'5 and slim
there nine other sousaphones in my band (a whole rank :D) four of us are girls, and were all super proud of our selves. andi i hate the sterio type that if your a female tuba player your fat or ugly, but all of us are attractive
ive been tryig to contact other girl sousaphones, heres my myspace
saaraah rebecca
or look me up by email safarisarah@sbcglobal .net

Hikaru32 said...
on Dec. 13 2009 at 12:09 pm
Hey. Nice to see other girl tubas/sousaphones! My school has two of us. We're both about 5ft or so. The other girl is tiny. Me, not so much. I love playing tuba. The only negative thing is that when I'm in uniform, I get called sir and boy a lot.

Katie!!<3 said...
on Jul. 30 2009 at 10:44 pm
Oh my goodness. You are an amazing writer. I loved it. You are fantastic. =)=)=) I'm in band too so i get what your saying. I play clarinet. Hopefully we can be good friends, if you want my e-mail id be happy to give it to you. =P thanks.

TubaGal92 said...
on Feb. 4 2009 at 10:22 pm
That's so true!

I play Tuba and have been since the 3rd grade.

In elementry school I was asked to play Euphonium, but I thought it was too small.

So then I saw an older person playing Tuba.

Sine then I've madde it into state bands and different Honors ensembles as a Female Tubist.

I too am 5 feet 7 in. and i'm pretty skinny and small.

I hope that one day I can play with the New York Philharmonic.

That would be my dream job.

Keep on playing!

Uniqua said...
on Jan. 24 2009 at 1:53 am
Amazing article. Girls can play tuba, march the sousaphone, and still be girls.

Your article is inspiring, and now I really want to go to my directer and ask if I can change from my sappy flute, to the intrument I've been interested in. A large, low brass instrument.

Thank you!

I hope you stick to the instrument you love, and continue to be an inspiration to us all!