Participating in the Chamblee Charter High School marching band requires both musical talent and physical stamina. For the sousaphone section, the typical challenges of marching with an instrument are amplified.
A sousaphone is a modified tuba that is shaped around the musician’s body to make marching and holding it easier. It’s distinct shape caught the eye of one student.
“When I was like five, I watched this parade and I saw the sousaphone and I was like ‘I want to play that one,'” said freshman and sousaphone player Pinn Adams.
Her fellow sousaphone players have other reasons for playing the instrument.
“I though the trombone was boring, and one of the seniors last year, Ahmaud [Gabriele], said that they needed a sousaphones, so I chose that,” said former trombone player Joseph Trent.
There are multiple differences between the two instruments.
“It’s a different mouthpiece, and basically a different instrument and I’ve never played with valves before,” said Trent.
The final sousaphone player, Daniel Landis, has more experience.
“I’ve played tuba since fourth grade, so it’s just the marching tuba, so I just played that,” said Landis.
All three agree that the physical shape of the sousaphone can cause issues.
“It’s a lot of weight, your shoulder hurts, and it’s lots of pressure,” said Landis.
However, there are other challenges the players have faced.
“Since its a bigger instrument, it requires more air,” said Trent.
Additionally, while marching, doing slides can be tricky.
“It’s more important for you to get your shoulder all the way back so that the horn doesn’t turn,” said Adams.
Landis’ favorite song to play is Mr. Ice Cream Man because there is a sousaphone solo. On the other hand, Adams and Trent like the Sexy Tuba the best.
“The tubas play most of it, so it’s like ‘Hey- we’re flaunting our tuba-ness,” said Adams.