Double Bass music schools/programs for amateurs getting serious

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by John-S, Nov 16, 2021.

  1. Hello all,

    Not sure if this is the correct forum for this post. Please let me know if I should move this somewhere else. I've been playing double bass for a couple of years after having set down my electric bass about 20 years ago. I'm really excited to be playing with people and building my skills. In fact I am so excited that I am considering setting aside my primary career for a couple of years and diving in to my music studies full time. As an adult with a couple of unrelated degrees I am trying to figure out where I should go to seek a rigorous, methodical instruction in double bass performance. I don't need to end up playing for a national orchestra but I'd love to have professional chops. I have been playing both Classical and Jazz which is a blast and I am interested in studying both genres and participating in ensemble playing. I feel like I won't have a lot in common socially with students just coming out of high school and I don't need non-music related courses. So where can "serious" adult learners go for complete course of instruction? I'd be willing to re-locate if I found a good program. As an aside I'm also interested in travel so studying abroad is appealing as well. I've noticed that some college programs in Canada and the EU have fairly reasonable tuition by U.S. standards.


  2. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I applaud your willingness to "set aside your primary career" and immerse yourself in playing this challenging instrument. My question is: How deeply do you want to immerse?

    Enrolling in just about any college program to study music performance - for a degree - is going to require that you take some courses you don't need or want. Seek out a) the instructors from colleges nearby, and/or b) symphony players, to see if you can get private lessons; these people will also know of opportunities to play with others. Many community colleges offer "continuing education" opportunities to play in orchestras and bands, for a small fee. Sign up for adult music camps and the like. Oh, and ... practice every day.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
  3. pbass888

    pbass888 Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    If you are in the New York area I’d suggest my former teacher Joe Solomon. He is a real teacher in the jazz tradition. He is a former student of Lennie Tristano. Also I believe classically trained. He is an outstanding teaching that will work with you on Improving your musicianship and has a “total bass philosophy “ . Check out his web page and approach.

    Also Nyc (as noted in your background) is a great place to play with other musicians who are similar to you in their goals.

    If you are in NYC I would also suggest the New York jazz workshop and specifically classes by Dave Scott, Ron Horton ,John Herbert, Mark Momass(founder) . I have had the pleasure of playing gigs and studying with them as certain times during the last 20 years

    edit: I obviously agree with Mr Curry’s above post to find private teachers .
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
    Keith Rawlings, AGCurry and Ed Fuqua like this.
  4. BassyFred


    May 22, 2020
    You could cut down your job to 4 days a week and take private lessons from a university teacher to start the journey. Have fun!
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Another wholehearted recommendation for Joe Solomon, I studied with him for 14 years and am still in contact with him, he's a great cat. His jazz credentials are super solid (Lennie Tristano, Sal Mosca, Warne Marsh, Leroy Williams, etc.) as are his legit credentials (masters studies with June Rotenburg and Julius Levine).

    But over and above that specific recommendation, studying privately with a great teacher, in my opinion, is a much better path than pursuing an academic (university or conservatory) track.
    MikeDavis, pbass888 and AGCurry like this.
  6. mtto


    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    There are reasons to attend a university program. A fairly standard curriculum for undergrad music majors is 2-3 years of classical theory, 2 years of musicianship, some music history. A jazz program will either include all that plus jazz, or reduce some of the classical studies and substitute jazz theory and history.

    I went back to school after about 20 years. Currently in my 3rd semester of a 4 semester masters program in composition. I considered finding a composition teacher outside of a school, and decided I wanted the full program.

    Full disclosure: I made the opposite choice for bass. I was not liking my bowing, so got some lessons with Dennis Trembly and he helped me a lot.

    My undergrad degree is in composition. I had five years of classical bass lessons concurrently.

    Just wanted to share my experience with the O.P. If you want the theory/musicianship/history series, plus other music classes, some of which you might not even realize you want at this point, go for an academic program. If those sound like courses you don’t want or need, then all the other advice you’re getting above is sound. If you want the classes, even a good community college program could serve you well.

    tldr: music school coursework is only unwanted or unneeded if the student doesn’t want or need them. Maybe you do want them?
    Jason Hollar and AGCurry like this.
  7. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I think private lessons and practice are the main thing. If you did two, one-hour, private lessons a week, and practiced for several hours a day, you would be doing an equivalent amount of work on the instrument as most music majors - just without the academic classes. Maybe you could get some other private
    instruction on theory, if you feel like you need it. You could also work toward getting into a community orchestra or chamber ensemble, and then you would be getting a performance/rehearsal experience similar to a music major.

    I would never discourage anyone from getting a music degree, because I think it has value. But, the academic component of a music degree is significant, and may or may not be good use of your time, depending on your goals.
    AGCurry likes this.
  8. Thanks to everybody that responded. It's been great to be able to read the various perspectives. I've been given some great ideas and some food for thought. Thanks for sharing the names of some of the teachers who you have loved working with. I really appreciate that kind of information.

    I am interested in some of the academic parts of a music program. Theory, history, composition, ensemble playing and instructional time all sound like things I would be interested in. I feel like I have gaps in my knowledge which could benefit from a systematic approach.

    The community college approach makes sense and I'll spend some time looking into programs in the area. As I mentioned before, I'm also a person who enjoys being in new places so an international program could be a lot of fun any pointers in that direction would be appreciated!
  9. zootsaxes

    zootsaxes Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 6, 2015
    Memphis TN
    I've got significantly less chops and experience than most of the folks here, but I've got something to say that may help: I never really got into Aebersold play-along records as a saxophonist, but as a bassist, I'm getting a lot of benefit from picking out and assimilating lines from them. I'm currently hung up on Lynn Seaton's killer work on #89 "Darn That Dream" - really easy tunes at manageable tempo for the most part, which makes the choices that Lynn makes much more significant and impactful. Its really easy to build any number of systematic approaches to learning based on these records (tunes, 12-key-work, lines, feel, intonation, bowing, etc). Having been through a 'bebop factory' myself (IU jazz studies/saxophone), I would never recommend anyone ever pay money for jazz-school unless you have the money to burn because you'll never get a return on your investment (except in personal satisfaction, contentment, and peace of mind - maybe). If you want my (free and potentially controversial) advice about how to get better at bass (and quick!), start sacrificing other aspects of your life (start with sugar, screens, and sex - trust me) and request that 'the powers that be' in the universe invite you to achieve your goals in short-order. Life is sort of quid-pro-quo -- give a little, get a little / give a lot, get a lot. Teachers are great as a signpost and occasional guide through the 'enchanted forest', but no-one is going to be able to tap you on the shoulder and give you the "gift of jazz". It can't be taught, it's gotta be caught.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2021
    Jason Hollar and s van order like this.
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Certainly to each his own. But ALL of those things you list were available to me studying with Joe, either directly with him or through dint of association with his studio. Plus just being a bassist in NYC, you’ll never want for opportunities to play with other musicians, everybody’s looking for bassists. In an academic setting your teachers will all be teaching to the middle of the class, those who outstrip the middle don’t get challenged those who fall behind (generally) don’t get a lot of special attention to insure their complete comprehension of the subject. My favorite example is the progression of ear training classes, one can get bumped through an entire range of ear training classes by making better than a D. Or even better, pass/fail. A private teacher doesn’t move on from ANY skill set until that particular foundation is firmly in place, 100%, no matter how long it takes. Academic courses also tend towards easily quantifiable elements - does the student use the element taught in the way we taught it, rather than how well or deeply one hears the music.
    It is my experience, but I’m not alone in it, that music school got me to where I could sound like I could play, but private instruction was what got me to actually making music.
  11. Thank you Ed. Sage advice.

  12. Primary

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