French vs German II
This thread is more about switching from one to the other and more specifically what is on average the length of time one should play with say French to know if it is indeed better than German? Or is it love at first..bow ;)
Thanks for reading!
I played french for 5.5 years before switching to German. I think you need to give whichever bow your teacher is using the old "College Try" for a good long while before you decide what works for you or not.
how long is a good long while? depends on the person. This is one of those places where a easy, firm answer just can't be practical. If you're hurting yourself and/or are in pain and your teacher can't help you, then maybe it's time to try a different bow (Or a new teacher, perhaps, but that's not always fair). I'm not talking "this is new and weird" discomfort, i'm talking "my body is telling me OUCH".
however, if you're thinking of changing because you're dissatisfied with how you are playing, or with your spiccato, or your tone, then I think you need to have been actively working to improve it for 2 years before you "give up".
I think the second part of your answer addresses my question, eerbrev. I am not personally looking to change but had been wonderign about the amount of time it may take - which is a subjective thing, as you say.
You also raise an interesting point about teachers encouraging the use of a different bow to the one they know for their students - can a French teacher also teach German, I wonder!? Txs again
Anyone really serious about the instrument will have both bows and spend time with both. It is way less of an either/or than most people think.
I can't give you an answer now, but I will have one eventually - after bowing German for my entire double bass life (which is around 8 years, if memory serves), I just started taking lessons again and with a teacher who bows French. My teacher offered to just let me bow German but I decided that I want to learn to bow French, too, so I'm off down that road now.
At my first lesson, I was pretty clueless - French feels really foreign to me, but I will stick with it until I achieve at least approximately as much proficiency with it as I have with German - which ain't much, but it's good enough, so I will be working on my French bowing at least until it's "good enough."
I spent almost all of my first lesson bowing German because I can't bow French well enough to make it practical to do anything other than focus on that right now - I'm hoping that will change in a matter of weeks but I'm prepared for it to be a matter of months, and I can say for sure it won't be a matter of a single day. :)
I agree that for the beginner, sticking to one grip for a while until you have established enough technique is a good idea. Usually this will be what your teacher plays, as even if they are comfortable teaching both, they will be more comfortable with one.
As for becoming proficient on both, having/becoming a teacher that is as well, or that it is an essential part of your development as a bassist, I'm not sold. It definitely comes in handy if you plan on teaching, but when I was in university a few of the faculty flat out refused to teach German, and another wouldn't touch your bow arm unless something was WAY out of whack. (I ended up studying with a German player, long story) So you can have a professional career without the opposite grip, and do quite well.
Likewise if you are set on an orchestra seat and the orchestra you are auditioning for "plays French/German" then you often have more success auditioning on that bow, especially when the screen comes down. Funny home they are all "equal opportunity employers that don't discriminate based on race, gender, religion etc." but they often won't take someone playing a different bow grip, and will tell players in 5ths to get lost before they even play a note.
Long story short, there are benefits to both, and to learning both, but until you feel you have reached your own desired amount of proficiency on one, stick with it.
Good and interesting points, Mike. I am interested in being proficient at both because I am most of my students' first double bass teacher and, as such, I want to be able to show them which way I think will be best for them (if they don't express a preference and, since they're kids, they usually don't even know there's more than one way possible).
Today is Day 3 with a French bow for me - yesterday I felt like I made some progress, and I hope I feel like that again today.
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