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Tuba Beginning To Win Fight For Respect

UT Tuba and Euphonium Professor Kelly Thomas says the tuba is finding respect as a solo instrument.

The hundreds of tuba and euphonium players and aficionados who are descending upon Knoxville this week have one thing in common:

They love the tuba.  

And not in a "gosh, that's so cute" kind of way.  They respect and admire the instrument's broad range, its smooth tones and its potential as a tool for awe-inspiring virtuoso performances.

"Almost everyone, the first time they hear a tuba play solo, they're surprised," says Kelly Thomas, professor of tuba and euphonium at the University of Tennessee and one of the organizers of this week's Southeast Regional Tuba and Euphonium conference in Knoxville.  "It's a beautiful instrument.  It's not just someone playing 'oompah' in the back row."

Respect for the tuba as a solo instrument is gaining ground within the music community.  Thomas says much more music is being written for the tuba than in the past, in part because tuba players like him have become vocal, persistent advocates for it.  "We've had to be very much champions for the instrument," he says.