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How long did it take you?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by tplyons, Apr 30, 2004.

  1. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I've been playing double bass for about 2 1/2 months total, the last month has been relaxing my hands due to carpal tunnel syndrome, and I can safely say I'm the 2nd best bassist in my orchestra with 7 bassists. I can play everything note for note in tune with the 1st chair bassist, with the exception of 16th note passages and quicker 8th note passages. I can sight read rather well considering I've only been reading bass clef for 3 months (never tried as an electric player). Is this a normal transition period for previous electric players to double bass? Should I be able to progress quicker? I have yet to find a teacher... the music school first couldn't find a teacher, and now isn't returning my phone calls... It's been two months so I'm going to pay them a very displeased visit soon.

    Now that I'm done rambling, am I progressing quickly or what? Orchestra director says I'm competition for first chair next year.
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Bravo to you for beginning the journey. It's hard to start anything, any time. YOU NEED A TEACHER. YOU'RE HURTING YOURSELF. DON'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER.

    Bear in mind that the first chair and the last chair play the same sheet of music.

    It's not a race, Tim. One of my old bosses used to say, "It takes five years to get past the beginner mistakes . . . in anything." It sounds like you're doing fine and have years of satisfaction and learning ahead of you.
  3. Two Ply:
    You are remembering to enjoy the music once in a while, right?
    It's music: there is no finish line, so what's the rush?
  4. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Of course I'm enjoying the music! I've been a bassist for three years and finding a new love in double bass. It allows me to express myself in ways an electric bass can't and I love it! As far as the rush, I just want to be the best I can be!
  5. Dude you gota look after yourself (I agree with Sam) just as a matter of interest are you stopping during practice about every 30 minutes? If not you should be! Stop walk about and become aware of your body streach your arms and back. Does it hurt? If so don't pick up the Bass till the body has had a chance to heal! The bass is a very physical instrument. One of the things no one tells you about body builders is that although they do a massive amount of work they also spend a lot of time resting.

    Take it easy and enjoy the journey!good luck!

  6. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Yep, I'm very aware of personal health, especially in the way of repetitive stress injuries. I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, so I'm very aware of that, warm up plenty, and rest often. Thanks for caring :)
  7. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    TP, it really sounds like you're overdoing it, without any qualified guidance. There is no point in rushing like that. Take time off the bass, do some ear training, take piano lessons, etc... This will help you towards becoming a good DB player without hurting yourself irreversibly. Just think.
  8. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I dunno dude. As a youngster I was well on my way to a career as a professional trumpet player. I was like you, racing ahead and being the best at this and that and playing 1st chair in everything and then guess what? I couldn't play anymore. I damaged my embouchure (basically muscular failure) and goodbye trumpet playing career. I ended up going to college on piano. Decades later I'm now playing bass and with benefit of a past injury and a different outlook on things, I now approach my instrument differently.

    I agree with the concern everyone else has expressed. It sounds like you're doing great but you know what, to be blunt about everything you've achieved - so what (as Miles would say)? Being able to play all the notes doesn't mean all that much. Of course you need to be able to play them all but getting a good sound and playing musically are more important things to build in the foundation of your playing and technique. I've seen guys playing with micro-action that could run all over the fingerboard but they sound like crap and they have no idea how to play musically. I'm not saying you're one of those guys but that's an extreme case. What I'm saying is that you seem to be measuring by a different yardstick to most of the bassists I know.

    I never played electric before I started on 2xbass but I know from my own experience and my own hard work and my progress (I've been playing about 3.5 years now) that building up strength and endurance (let alone flexibility and velocity) takes a long time and that you can only go progress so fast.

    Comparing yourself to others (in this case in your orchestra) isn't all that relevant unless you know where they stand in the big picture. Although I've only been playing a short time on bass, I'm already in demand in my town as a bassist. However I don't for a minute kid myself that it's because I'm good - it's just because there aren't many bassists here and most of them aren't that crash hot so it's easy to be a bigger fish in small pond. If I was in another city I would be but an insignificant dot in the ocean.

    Good luck and be careful.
  9. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I'm in my second semester of a college symphoney orchestra. I'm playing with a lot of pro types of players as well as some students. Right now there are five string bassists and we are doing challenging material from the Romantic period, etc.

    Its been a stretch to get physically fit for this instrument but I'm almost there. However, if anything hurts -- my hands or anything else, I really try to stop playing for awhile. If my left hand gets too rigid I try to apply some pivoting in extensions, etc. I've gotten realistic about how long this is going to take as far as getting proficient. I'm also studying jazz on both electric and upright as well. ALso working on singing. Its a full-time job and I have a job as well.

    I have a teacher for upright and I think I'd be lost without a teacher to remind me when I slip into old bad playing habits. Its also helpful to get out and listen to other players and think about their technique. Yesterday I went to an orchestral/choral concent and I noticed some really bad technique with one of the bassists. I recognized it because I tend to stick my elbow out too much and I realized it made his playing very jumpy. I've been playing a little over two years. Tonight its the jazz/swing band, in two nights its the orchestra and another lesson. Its taking awhile but, as mentioned before, it isn't a race and I'm playing out. That's important to me.
  10. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    The "get a teacher" thing is not something that everybody here just says for the heck of it. Many are speaking from their own experiences of trying to do things without a teacher. As an adult student and an experienced musician, I have pretty much directed myself on the instrument since I took it up. That is, I pretty much say what we're working on. And I only have a lesson perhaps on average every three or four months. HOWEVER despite that, there is no way in heck I could be doing this without my teacher (who I am in regular e-mail contact with and answers my every question for me). Without his help I would surely have developed bad habits and I would have taken a lot longer to get to where I am now. Perhaps getting by without a teacher is possible with some instruments but on the 2xbass, I think someone is wasting their time if they try to go it alone.
  11. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Good point Adrian. I don't take lessons every week, probably more every other week and I tend to bring my questions about my experiences playing in the orchestra and in my jazz band and with other things I want to learn to my lessons. For awhile I was taking a college class where I had to learn classical repertoire for a performance, so the lessons were stricly in that mode.

    I do tend to determine what we work on. However, there have been things that my upright teacher presented that I would have never thought of that have been really helpful. Recently I was slipping into some poor bowing technique that my teacher noticed, so I got back on track.

    More directive lessons, even as an adult are also very helpful. I studied with a well-known electric bass teacher. Took about 9 lessons. Very directive, we jumped from one topic to another and it was all taped, which I also do at my upright lessons. I still refer to those tapes because they are so rich with good ideas. There's just different styles of teaching and its a matter of what is right for the situation and the particular blend of teacher/student personalities. But, again, I credit so much of my musical growth to my teachers and always will. That goes back to my first piano lesson at age 6.
  12. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    BE AWARE OF BURN OUT. I was jugging along just fine a few years back after picking up the double bass for the first time (orchestra and jazz band). Like yourself I was making some great progress. Although my physical condition was fine after about a year of Serious study I hit the wall (much like the 20th mile of a marathon).

    I only just recently took up the bass again and wish I knew then what I know now.

    Plus you need time to relax. Piano and taking in more music is always a plus.

  13. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Was just curious what you learned about BURNOUT. That's a reaction to being under a lot of stress. Could be mental or physical or both. Were you trying to do too much too soon? Big expectations? Learning DB, imo, is a Slow process. I've had to learn to keep musical goals realistic and under balance since I'm also practicing electric bass and some vocal work as well. Helps to write things down and keep track of practice times and what I practiced. Also, very important to take the time to do things I enjoy besides music and be around people that have nothing to do with music. Just have some fun in a different way besides music.

    The DB has that physical stress aspect. I've been playing a lot of DB these last few weeks, more than usual, and I just have to take a day off at times.
  14. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I spent a night in the hospital two weeks ago, after experiencing pressure in my chest, and other cardio-like symptoms. A series of tests, including a stress echo, ruled out any cardiac damage. A followup visit with my (new) doctor suggested a stress-related hiatal hernia. In the process of analyzing the root of my physical problems, I looked at my booking calendar for 2003, and discovered that I'd worked 331 nights out of 365, and worked on a couple dozen CD projects during the day, including a couple as producer. This has been a typical annual schedule for at least ten years. I'm guessing that I hit the wall; strange that I didn't see it coming.

    The end result is that I'm no longer taking work on Sundays (I was regularly doing runs of 50-60 night in a row). Because I love my job so much, I was blind to the fact that I was doing too much of it. I made some dietary changes and am trying to get just a bit more sleep, and feeling a lot better than I was two weeks ago.