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Advancing too fast?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by jneuman, Jul 17, 2004.

  1. I'm look for some different opinions on this from experienced players/teachers:

    Up until a year or so ago I was bassically a self taught mediocre symphony player. I had a few years of Simandl I lessons from a semi-pro player when I was a kid, then stopped playing until seven years ago (15 or so years off) Then I quickly went through Parts 2 and 3 of Simandl I and some of Simandl 2, and just started playing out. When I started lessons again recently, my teacher auditioned me and placed me at the advanced level and started me on the advanced literature. Now I am working on 3-4 octave scales and such, and working on concertos. The problem is that I feel like I have holes in my orhectral technique and experience. I recently got a gig with a pro orchestra and I feel in over my head. I realy feel like pulling back and starting back a beginner scales and etudes with better focus, concentrating more on perfecting tone, intonation, etc. I feel like the more I learn the less I know. Should I pull back and re-focus or just have more confidence and proceed forward from this point with my new knollege. I feel like I am on the fast track and don't have time to wallow in easy material. Is this normal? What should I do? Help!
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I think that's pretty common. The pressure of a new, more difficult situation can feel like you've been thrown onto the fast track. It's also often a great way to leapfrog onto a new plateau in your personal development. The fact that you've been accepted into a pro orchestra should give you confidence to push yourself on to higher levels of performance.

    I'd say that it would be good to look at what you perceive are your weakest rudimental points and go after deliberately correcting them. Use all the practice tricks; tape recorder, mirror, etc. You sound like you're on the way to busting through the wall and making some real progress musically and professionally. What a great opportunity! If you stick with it and be open to learning new stuff, soon you'll be flying through material that you could only dream of playing before. Good luck.
  3. Right. So when do 4-8 basses get together and work on "blend" and making the phrase work?

    Is there time to play great sounding scales, slowly?

    Is there time to play an exercise ten times and will we?

    How can these "holes" be filled ?- So, more lessons, rehearsals, concerts? Experience?

    You ask a fine question and I also would like to read others advice - Maybe you are asking about "getting it all together".

    Where are those answers?
  4. Thanks for the encouraging words! I have to remember to adhere to a certain truism that recently came to me: I am a better player than I think I am sometimes, but not as good as I need to be.

  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I am in a similar position. I studied and played professionally for 20 years. Then I retired for 15 years and then wanted to play again.

    When I studied, my teacher told me he can't teach me anymore unless I wanted to learn Orchestra reptoire (spelling?). I had already done the Dragonetti, Ecchles, Marcello and other solo and duet stuff plus extensive bow studies. I could do Jingles and Sound Tracks reading what I thought was hard like Dragonetti stuff with little difficulty if at all.

    Now that I am playing with a Community Orchestra my Eyes are opening up. We played Mozarts Figero, Pines of Rome, Puccini Opera and now the 1812 Overture along with 2 others for our October concert.

    Why did I tell my teacher I didn't want to do Orchestra stuff? I was so short sighted then. Every piece I have played in the last 2 years has challenging stuff to play. My hands hurt when I practice. String crossing, Jumping, positions, quick shifts, intonation, Solo, Soli, and if that's not hard enough I have to lead the section and do the Bowings, explain the techniques and play all the Solos.

    One never stops learning. Never say NO to knowledge. Your Ears can't get big enough, only your Head can !!
  7. Heifetzbass

    Heifetzbass Commercial User

    Feb 6, 2004
    Upstate, SC
    Owner, Gencarelli Bass Works and Fine String Instruments, LLC.

    I think at some point when we get that first professional gig, we all question our abilities and whether or not we should be there- No matter what the level of the players around us. I can remember my first gig as a "working" bassist. I got put on a stand with a guy who was a professional conductor of a big regional orchestra. He had retired from conducting and for fun had decided to play again. This was a little intimidating as he had taught many professional players at a local university. So he not only knew the rep. as a player, but also as a conductor. I am sure he was saying, "Man is this kid green..."

    Fast forward 10 years later, and when some "green" kid sits down next to me I am in a similar situation. I don't question their abilities or potential, just their experience (or lack thereof). And sometimes they make a "rookie" mistake. However, I know that way back when, I was in the same boat. I don't care how well trained and how much technique you have, there are some instances when experience will carry you through or show holes in your game.

    Take each experience, no matter how much you think it is "above" your level and learn. If you get a stare from a conductor, or a section leader just keep doing your thing. They are human and make mistakes too. The two main things that will get you in trouble with these quys are intonation and time. Rhythm is a must, know the counting better than anything. Intonation is a basic, but each orchestra/section is an adjustment period. The pitch center may be different for different ensembles, there is a learning curve. More experienced players can make the adjustments faster. Just make sure you know your part and soak it all in. Ten years from now you will be looking at the "new" guy and saying, "Man is this kid green..."

  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Just how many "shades" of Green do you know of ?

    Bright Green?

    Dull Green?

    Moldy Green?

    Gang Green?..........lol

  9. Ken

    I've recently starting collecting all the etude books like Slama and Storch-Hrabe that I never got a chance to look at originally. Even though I am very interested in the bass chesnuts, and have played the Dragonnetti, Eccles, a Rachmaninoff cello prelude and am working on the Koussevitzky concerto now, but I think orchestral excerpts are probably most important. Have you had the pleasure (or displeasure to play Beethoven symphonies or the Straus tone poems yet? Very challenging indeed.

  10. Thanks for the words of encouragement Brian.

    After having finished my first season of summer concerts I must say that rhythm and timing, intonation, dynamics and tone are all open to interpretation, in my section at least. It turns out that mine ain't bad. The high pressure reading situation is my worst problem right now. I'm used to a community orchestra environment where they only have 3 concerts a year. It 's realy a confidence thing right now for me. When I am relaxed and confident, I don't choke as often. However I havn't run up against anything beyond my technical abilities but I haven't played Beethoven or Strauss yet!

  11. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I would just add for you that getting better is not only about getting more notes and bowings, it is also about developing better intonation and timbre. Don't view it as going backwards, you are moving forwards.
  12. Well, I first picked up Double Bass roughly 2 weeks before this semester started here at college, and I started bowing only half an hour before the first Orchestra rehearsal. I constantly feel over my head! :p

    Aside from that, 2 weeks ago, I started to really put my nose to the grindstone and practice every day, and my playing witnessed an improvement. Of course, I'm still no good, but I'm willing to practice as much as possible in order to be (close to) the best. Too bad everyone else in Orchestra has at least 8 years up on me...

    Just practice every day, at the very least, practice scales with a metronome and a tuner, and really really examine your technique whilst you play.
  13. dodgy_ian


    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    hey BasSnSax this sounds exactly like me - i had my first propor bowing lesson on friday and in 6days time i'm playing my first concert with people who have all been playing for 15years plus and most of whom are grade 8 on at least two instruments.... I've been playing for about three months..

    Oh boy!!

  14. I have similar issues about advancing too fast and going past the details. However for myself its more severe...
    I have not even been playing bass for a full year, but im in jazz band, seattle youth symphony, evergreen. (audtioned orchestras) Ive jumped right in to bass playing and I love it! But im worried that im moving too fast. Can that be a problem? THANKS!
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I don't think so. Being way in over your head can be really painful at times, particularly when the folks that you're playing with are demanding (as they should be) -- but you'll learn really, really quickly if dig in, do your homework, and keep trying.
  16. Ah yes...this old thread. Actually playing in a lot of groups where you are challenged is a good thing. Just don't confuse what you do to try to keep up and fake through it with true technical competence. I've gone back to practicing simple things like two-octave scales and Simandl Pg. 69 for a portion of my practice time because I don't feel like I ever really master those things to my satisfaction. I don't know who said it, maybe Bille, but it went along the lines of it's better to play a C major scale really well, than a concerto poorly or something like that.

    Good Luck to you