Stealing tubas is now a thing.
The shiny brass Mario Corso tuba stood out for 12 years as one of the largest members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans.
It is roughly 4 feet long and weighs 38.5 pounds, which makes what happened last month sound like someone blowing hot air. A thief ran off with it, presumably slowly.
“What were they thinking?” says Ben Jaffe, the band’s creative director, who owned and played the sousaphone, a deep-pitched marching-band-style tuba. “What are they going to do with it?”
The horn heist unfolded while the band was loading equipment into a van, which at some point was unattended, after a Feb. 24 New Orleans performance. There were no apparent witnesses. “It just never really occurs to you,” he says, “that someone is going to walk off with your tuba.”
About the only thing stranger than tuba thefts is how often they happen.
There was a rash of tuba burglaries in Los Angeles-area high schools around 2012 that music teachers suspected stemmed from the growing popularity of banda, a Mexican style of music that showcases the tuba….
The tuba, the biggest and lowest-pitched among the brass family, can run from around $2,000 for beginner band models to more than $20,000 for specialized professional versions, says Martin Erickson, a past president of the International Tuba Euphonium Association.
People with “nefarious” intentions, he says, probably try to resell tubas or use them in other bands. “You don’t expect tubas to fall into that sort of thing.”
Kenneth Amis, assistant professor of tuba at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, imagines thieves assuming something so big would be valuable, not realizing how tough it is to unload one. “Few people are looking to buy tubas from a pawnshop.”….