I grew up in Canberra and started playing French horn at primary school when I was eight years old. In the program, there were some instruments left over and a couple of friends and I were told we were going to play them. In this case it was the horn, which I took to.

Even before that, my mother listened to records and I enjoyed the sound of the horn. I also sang quite a lot. Horn players have a good sense of pitch and often come from a singing background. You get picked for the skills you already have, so that’s why I think I was told to do it. I played the tenor horn briefly, but I’m a horn player; Wagner tuba players are all horn players.

Ysolt Clark holding her Wagner tuba, sitting on a piano stool.

Ysolt Clark. Photo supplied

Wagner devised the instrument because he needed something to bridge the gap between the horn and the trombone. Apparently, he just heard what he wanted in his head, and I believe he commissioned three instruments. There’s also the bass trumpet, which is usually played by one of the trombonists, and the contrabass trombone. So, within the lower end of the brass section, there are a lot...