Professor Meyer’s Advice #1

Professor Meyer’s advice to young students, or older ones, you are never too late to learn.  #1

Some time ago I mentioned in a blog the importance of having your bass set up correctly by a good luthier, with a properly rounded fingerboard.  It will cost you, but will give you countless advantages over some of the also rans:- here is a good illustration.

Look up Gounod’s opera “Faust”.  In the “Kermess” scene there are a few bars introduction before the famous waltz.  The only way to even attempt to play this is all in the thumb position, which is easy if you have your bass set up properly.  You put your thumb on the D octave and then sail away merrily all in one position whilst your colleagues are slithering up and down the fingerboard with no hope at all of getting all the notes.

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Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 2:56 pm  Comments (2)  
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Professor Meyer’s advice to those taking up the double bass #2

So, you’ve decided to make bass playing your career, so what should be your first step?  Answer, find the best teacher you possibly can, but where do you search?

In North America the route seems to be to attend a recognized university and obtain a degree.  There are pros and cons to this.  The pros are that you will receive an all round musical education, and also enjoy the experience of playing with a university orchestra.  The cons are that university professors come in various degrees of competence, and, also, if you want to be a professional bassist many of the arcane classes that you will be forced to attend won’t necessarily advance your main goal.  Every professor thinks that his/her subject is the most important and all their students are given piles of work to do which leaves very little time for practicing the double bass, which should be your major concern.

I have taught at Conservatories , Schools of  Music, Universities etc. so I know of what I speak.  Some teachers are excellent, but, alas I have to admit there are some professors who shouldn’t be holding down (or trying to hold down) their job.

Schools of Music and Music Conservatories seem to allow much more time for a player to concentrate on his/her instrument.  I played many concerts with the Moscow (Russia) Chamber Orchestra and got a very good sense of  their musical education which I greatly admire.   Firstly, they had to gain admission to one of Russia’s big Music Conservatories, which was very difficult to do. Secondly, they were all sorted out  for their perceived ability.  It depended on their final marks what sort of job they were offered. If the marks were low, they could , maybe, get a job in a circus or music hall, if they were higher they would have the entrée to a symphony orchestra and if they were in the highest echelon they would be eligible for the Moscow Chamber Orchestra or similar groups. Soloists were another matter.  If they showed exceptional talent they were groomed right from the start in a class all of their own.