Sound! Euphonium 2 – Episode 03

Kumiko finally starts to get in a liiiiiiittle too deep with the band’s secrets.

– Starting out the episode with breathing exercises. This is a common method to ensure that you maintain airflow properly. Basically it gives you a good point to focus your air, and makes it so that you sit up with proper posture when breathing (breathe from the diaphragm). They also help warm up your diaphragm and lung muscles. Typical breath exercises have differing durations too. The reason they hold their hand out in front of their body like they do is so that when they exhale, they focus the direction of their air at that point.

When you play an instrument you always direct your airflow to a specific point (mouthpiece, ligature, reed, double-reed, hole, etc.); this basically just reinforces focused, effective breathing at a point in front of your body, and ensures that your airflow is strong enough that you can feel it at a decent distance away from your body.

The most common one in my wind ensemble days was where you’d take a breath over a long period then exhale during a short period. So in 12 seconds, hold 12 seconds, out 6 seconds. Then gradually mix up the durations between each of the phases. In 10, hold 10, out 8… etc. until you get to something crazy like in 2, hold 20, out 15. Basically it’s a way to exercise the lungs to give you better quantity of air. Most professional musicians will have lung capacities comparable to professional athletes due to how much they use them. At one point my lungs held 7 liters of air (measured using a machine) and I could hold my breath for 3 minutes. For my size, that was quite good.

– You also get super dizzy from the more intense ones, obviously.

– In the next little cut, they’re all singing a concert B-flat, which is the note that bands tunes to. The correct note is pressed on the keyboard, and the audio matches this in both the keyboard tone and voices of the band members. This is important because since not everyone has perfect pitch, it’s harder for people to hear the ideal tonal center they need to strive for during tuning. Singing is a way to internalize the sound and get a good mental center on how you should sound.

Often my band conductors would have us sing our entire pieces just so we could listen to our own parts better, and know how we fit in with the ensemble. Dynamics are important in these exercises because you don’t have the amplification of the instrument, so you have better awareness of your part’s importance as well.

– All these next shorts cuts remind me of my own time in band camps. The practices rooms and outdoor sectionals really make me feel nostalgic. The cut of the horn girls and trumpets especially so.

– Taki sure is a slave-driver. Ten times back-to-back? That’s gotta kill chops. However, it’s really good that they get a sense of consistency both physically and mentally. If they can stay mentally focused the whole time, that’s a huge win for the ensemble. It also gets them more in a routine with the performance, and since they keep running the whole thing, they’re less likely to be nervous when they actually have to perform the pieces back-to-back. In practice it’s all about the individual, but doing this kind of… well, image training, is really helpful.

– Almost can’t believe Kumiko is going through with this. She’s really grown.

– This dialogue is all good, however a level of detail for the viewing audience could be added by them mentioning measure numbers. I suppose by this point both Taki/Hashimoto/Satomi and ensemble members know exactly what the other is doing, where they messed up or did well, when and where. You can see the amount of respect Hashimoto commands despite coming across as a goofball just by the way the percussionists respond.

– In the cut where they show the closeup of the euphonium Kumiko is playing, you can see the make, model, and country of origin engraved into the second valve. As is common practice with most Yamaha instruments, they do say ‘Made in Japan’. The animation is on point and looks fantastic too. I love how you can see the agility of Kumiko’s fingers are finally able to keep up with the part she struggled with so much last season.

– Kumiko ;_; Good job!

– Hashimoto is pointing out the whole technique versus performance issue here. It’s a rite of passage for all players that they get good, but to be good and then express something in your playing is a different level of performance entirely. In this case her personality is reflected in her playing, that much is obvious. Hashimoto is obviously exaggerating with how he thinks the solo should be, but is doing so to try and get her to move the most distance he can towards that ideal. Mizore is likely super embarrassed/ashamed by being singled out. Her body language explains a lot. Pointing to Reina and her “superior” attitude when playing is a good threshold to reach, though Reina’s reaction was hilarious. I almost feel like Taki’s more soothing but stern approach would be a better fit for fixing Mizore’s problems in terms of performance. However, I don’t think Mizore’s performance problems are only tied to her personal skill and current level of expressive playing.

– Taki, siiiiiiick burn.

– Oh wow, Reina is super-serious about this. I knew it affected her, but the fact that she’s going to confront it head-on is very interesting. If I had to guess based on the super limited interactions we’ve seen between the two, I don’t think he’s in a relationship with Satomi.

– Another good/cute reaction from Kumiko when approached by Asuka. Always funny.

– I’m with Kumiko in that I want to know why, but the fact that Asuka seems entirely stonewalled on the situation seems kinda crazy. Though, she should just flat out reject her or something.

– Oh boy, so it does have to do with Mizore. Although Asuka’s answer is pretty cold here, in her position I can’t really say I disagree with her choice in the matter. I do want to know what happened between Nozomi and Mizore, and how Nozomi doesn’t get what’s actually happening. She’s making the best choice for the ensemble despite sounding like the bad guy. I also don’t think Nozomi should come back mid-competition season. Asuka’s tone of voice in this part is almost patronizing in a way, so I kinda don’t like the way she says what she does, but at the same time, I can’t disagree with her.

– I wonder how Kumiko is going to handle this. She’s gotten personally stronger, but this almost seems above what she can do at the moment. Maybe she’ll try to figure out a way to reconcile the two?

– You go Reina! And Hashimoto showing up and Kumiko’s reaction is too good, haha.

– Ah, there it is! Taki lost his wife! ;_; This is so sad. To think that his wife’s passing affected him that much that Hashimoto was super worried for him says a lot. The fact that he’s almost tearing up just thinking about Taki wanting to get closer to music again and asking for his help is almost making me want to tear up. I will say the way Hashimoto messed up and let it slip, and both his and Kumiko’s reactions to his slip-up were good.

– The Taki impression is good, haha.

– It’s just megaton after megaton for Kumiko during this camp. She just got told some secrets that are definitely going to weigh on her. I wonder if she’ll be able to keep her cool.

– Then there’s this late-night convo between Natsuki and Yuuko regarding Nozomi. Natsuki seems to be somewhat clued into what’s going on, but doesn’t get the big picture. Asking Yuuko means she should know at least SOMETHING about Mizore, right? Kumiko’s inherent fluffiness thwarted her eavesdropping. I’m legitimately laughing out loud at her poor attempt to hide.

– I’m glad even Yuuko is following up on this too. It’s really nice to hear her just dish on a subject and have a normal conversation for once. I’m kind of glad she’s on Mizore’s side too. She’s not wrong about evaluation forms either. It’s funny how no matter what the language is, they all look like the same forms. Her arguments hold merit. Yuuko just seems like a cool person who really cares about her friends. The dialogue in this scene felt really natural in terms of delivery, which helped draw me into this scene more than I expected.

– Haha at Reina suggesting Shuichi. Reina’s side of the argument also hold merit, and in music I can’t help but agree with her more.

– This scene with Asuka at the end is great. Very beautiful stuff, and it seems like she’s a person that has an easier time expressing herself through her music than with words. Perhaps that’s why she always gives music her all? I could really feel the emotion in the playing and the scenery at the end.

Great episode as always, and with more of the pieces of the puzzle filled in, i’m very excited to see where all these plot threads end up. Taki and his past, Mizore, the 2nd years and past drama, Mizore/Nozomi and the Asuka/Yuuko versus Natsuki friendships, and Reina’s worries about Taki are all really interesting things that have been brought up this season, among others. For only one episode, it sure is dense with complex band politics, interpersonal drama, internal struggles and trying to overcome them, and a mixture of all of the above! Quite engaging stuff, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next!

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