The class that meets Thursday morning in room 101A in the K Building doesn’t really look like a lot of the students at PCC. They don’t have backpacks, ringing cell phones, or laptops with them.
Their pants are not dangerously low on their hips, their fingernails aren’t painted weirdly bright colors, and they aren’t playing for the football team.
What they do have are tubas.
When it comes to what sets them apart, euphonium (also called a tenor tuba) player Virginia Moore has a more direct answer.
“Our ages range between 40 and 81,” she said, laughing.
The Basslines Tuba Quartet, as they prefer to be called, barely fit with their tubas in the tiny room, but their mood matches their music, currently ‘Wolsey’s Wilde’ by William Byrd.
It’s a cheerful piece, not easy, and they play it well. Instructor Beth Mitchell seems pleased, and the mood is more relaxed than the stereotypes would have you believe about orchestral musicians.
The affectionately labeled “most senior” of the four, Norm Taylor, recalled how he first became interested in the euphonium.
“I was discharged from the Navy in 1945, because the war was over. I had $100 in my pocket, which is what they gave me. I walked down the street and saw a bright, shiny euphonium in the window of a music store with a $100 sign on it,” Taylor said, and shrugged. “Fate.”
His wife Linda, who’s also in the class, plays the tuba for the Quartet. She majored in the clarinet in college, but when asked what her favorite instrument to play is, she broke into a smile.
“It’s a toss-up, I think, between the clarinet and the tuba. I think tuba, is my favorite,” she said.
Retired from teaching music for Baldwin Park Unified School District, she now serves as the conductor for the Pomona Band Concert.
The Quartet seems the most proud of each other’s achievements, rather than their own. It is Stephen Wood, the youngest of them, who lists all the other instruments that Moore plays.
“The electric bass, clarinet,” he said, ticking them off on his fingers.
“Bassoon, piano, sax, flute, and I started playing the euphonium when I was in eighth grade, back in 1943, no, ’44, no no no, ’48. 1948 was when I started,” she said, smiling. “By the time I was in high school I played all the instruments in the band.”
There is one thing about Wood that the tuba wouldn’t reveal about him. “I’m a professional magician,” he said. “So, normally you’d be doing a 9-to-5 kind of job to support your magic or music habit. But I’m working as a professional magician to support my music habit.”
Not many people can say that.