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First Upright Lesson Report

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by degroove, Feb 27, 2004.

  1. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    First let me say that I was doing everything wrong in the week I just fooled with my rental before taking lessons. I was holding the bass improperly, and using the wrong four fingering technique.

    My instructor has quite a history...the highlights include being instructed by some guy who played DB on one of Jaco's albums, and he has an autographed Rufus Reid Book. Now I am one degree separated from Rufus, and four from Jaco ;)

    Anyway, we worked on my grip on the bow, French bow if I remember. Its not very easy to do this properly despite getting sound out of the bass.

    He also showed my 7 positionns on the fretboard and is getting me to work through Simandl book. I was better at this then the bowing. I could play through some major scales well.

    So, I am working through Simandl for fingerings, Rufus Reid Evolving Bassist for Etudes and Bow work.

    So, you guys are right. It is very hard to pick up DB without lessons. I am also glad you recommended renting to make sure that its something I am going to stick with.

    He also told me that DB is probably the most DEMANDING instrument to play... :bawl:

    Just kidding. Back to work in sight reading too...
  2. Hey degroove....i'm having one of my bad days when I can't let anything slide! Please don't call your fingerboard your fretboard! Hang in!!
  3. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    OK - bad habits, I still have. Fingerboard. Got it...
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    yeah.. my first lesson in the way back my instructor from the Naval Academy band taught me the e flat scale...OY...I'll never forget that.

    IT has been my experience as a student of the cello and the bass AND as a teacher of the bass that teachers (myself included) are more like policemen than teachers for those first lessons - always correcting every little thing...

    Just hang in there...work, work, work...
  6. Homer Mensch perhaps?
  7. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    Couldn't recall. I will have to ask again.
  8. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    :mad: Frustration :mad:

    Man, this weekend I TRIED to practice, but I couldn't figure out if I was holding the bass right, bowing right, and using my fingers properly. Also, becuase my teacher rosined the bow for me, I don't even know how to do that. I am also not sure if my bow is "tight" enough :bawl:

    We covered so much so fast that I am LOST. I will go back this week for futher clarificaiton.

    I feel like I can't even play anythign till I get the basics done, so I fell like I can't do anything for now. :mad:

    Its so frustrating. :(

    Anyone ever been there in the very beginning?
  9. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    you cannot recall your teachers name ???
  10. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Is this a joke ? YOu went through 7 positions ? Unheard of for a first lesson....
  11. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    His name is Dill. Its short for a full name.

    He walked me through the position on one string. Trust me, I am slowing his ass down next time. :D

    I need to start very basic. Otherwise, there is another guy who teaches on the side DB. If it feels unproductive, I will go on to the next guy.

    My instructor seemed to jump around A LOT and try to do too much...
  12. MartinT


    Apr 16, 2003
    San Mateo CA
    Hang in there. Studying double bass comes with a steep learning curve, but also with its generous share of frustrations. If your teacher is like mine, he will come back to what he covered in the first lesson over and over again until you're at a point where the critical concepts have become engrained in (muscle) memory and in your style of playing. After that, he will still continue to emphasize these concepts until you're at a point where you can correct your teacher. This will take a while and come at the expense of much, much practice, frustrations, desires to reduce your instrument to firewood etc, but also with the occasional reward of pulling soul-melting music out of your bass. And then there are days when you just can't get a decent tone out of any string no matter what you do. You could be tired and stressed from work, a temperature or humidity change can make the bass respond differently and you're not skilled enough yet to accomodate for it and many other reasons. My teacher advocates the following solution for these cases: Put the bass down, go do something else, try again tomorrow. With continued practice these episodes will become easier to deal with, but at the very beginning it is almost impossible to find out what the problem is to begin with.
    One of the most valuable excercises (for any level bassist, specially as a warm-up) is to bow open strings, long notes (whole notes at quarter=54 works well) and concentrate on good, even sound throughout the bow stroke, gain awareness how your back and thorax muscles contribute to the bow stroke, work on string crossings so that your bow is on the next string at the end of the stroke on the previous string, get the feel of how the different strings respond and react to the bow (how they "pull back") and enjoy the sound of your bass. My teacher said there are top bass professors who will have beginning students bow open strings for 6 months before they allow any left hand use :confused: . At any rate, welcome to the wonderful world of the contrabass. It's a great journey!

  13. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    Yeah, you have a good point. My girl was laughing at me. She asked me why I was putting so much pressure on myself and if I was really doing it for the enjoyment. :D

    I thought, damned, good question. I proceeded to help do some destruction work in the bathroom using a sledgehammer to break up a cast iron tub we are replacing.

    I just pretedned it was the bass for a while! I gotta lower my expectations I think...my perfectionism and need to be great at everything might ruin it for me if I let it.

    Thanks for the advice.

    For whatits worth - despite the problems, even If I was using ok form, I was able to get tone from the strings using the bow.
  14. degroove there are some glaring inconsistancies with this teacher...even other than the one DonZ brought up about the seven positions. He's got you using four fingers?
    The fact that you say "French bow if I remember"?
    The four finger technique is not that uncommon, but, something strange about the way he's teaching you....also the fact that you don't seem to be too sure of the bow style you're using. Maybe try one lesson with another teacher just to be sure?
    It doesn't seem like he's accommodating you very well :confused:
  15. Its quite natural. I came from electric bass, and it made it so frustrating to come from an instrument where I felt relatively good about my skills to an instrument that instantly reminded me of how far I had to go with theory, let alone physical technique. I think in ways it told me more about my ear and my musical ability in general than it told me anything about the specific instrument. I couldn't hear note or chords very well, let alone intonate on a double bass.

    Its humbling. 5 years into the DB and I am still learning and practicing basic things at times, but I think its the challenge and the exhileration of actually progressing sometimes that keeps me going forwards. The better I become at double bass, the better I become musically.
  16. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    LG, I'm with you all the way. My experience with DB, law and so many other things is that after five years I am done with the beginner mistakes and ready to move onto new mistakes.

    Last summer I had some lessons with a well-known player. Four hours. Bb and F major scales. I learned a ton, too, and I've been playing DB since 1978.
  17. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    French Bow - is becuase I couldn't remember which grip he was talking about, again, he went fast.

    As far as fingerings, he said three fingers, Simandl style. I had to get the Simandl book. I am going to give it one more try. If not, there is another guy who said he can do it on the side.
  18. degroove


    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    Yeah, its hard going from fluency and the ability to make some beautiful noise to the DB where I am having trouble with the basics. Its so humbling! I never thought I would feel like a beginner with the transition,but I do. :)

    Tonight, I did some practice with the bow after reading some online stuff and Rufus book over and over. I feel like I was getting at least a bit closer.
  19. Yeah, the transition is a tough one. I too am 5 years in and still wonder at times why I made the switch, but then I have a small victory and that question goes away. Don't stop it gets better!
  20. You know, I've never thought about you slabbers having to come from a faily accomplished musical area into being a complete beginner. That must be frustrating and humbling.
    I gotta hand it to ya!
    And lerm it's nice to see a picture (your Avatar) of a Dbassist with a good left hand position!

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