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How Low Can Christmas Go?

Most professional orchestras only have one tuba, so the lowest of the low-brass players can't bond with one another the way other instrumentalists do. That changes every December, when tens of tubists (and euphonium players) gather together in more than 200 cities worldwide to toot their horns in an annual low-brass-only Christmas concert. The TubaChristmas celebration features the largest instrument in the brass family, which happens to be one of the trickiest (and heaviest, at 35 pounds) to play.

Any tuba player can sign up and play the Christmas repertoire, which includes 33 Christmas classics, including "Santa Wants a Tuba for Christmas." If you merely want to attend, the concerts are free and are held in all 50 states; the largest one, in Akron, Ohio, features more than 600 tubists! Participants must pay a small fee, as well as purchase a copy of the sheet music if it's their first TubaChristmas performance. If you're an audience member, prepare for a treat: Once you've heard "Little Drummer Boy" played by an all-tuba band, you'll never think that the song required a drummer in the first place!

Melody Joy Kramer, is spending a year at NPR as part of the Joan B. Kroc Fellowship program. She plays trumpet, trombone and xylophone -- but not the tuba.

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