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Is my new instructor teaching me bad habits?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by ole Jason, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. We have a new cello/bass instructor at my university this year. My old teacher left during the summer without prior notice so I suspect the hiring process was a bit rushed. The new lady is an excellent cellist but she has admitted to me that she has NEVER played bass before, doesn't know any of the rep, never studied the different technique books, etc. Thus far there are two things that I'm a little unsure about.

    She teaches to NEVER use the wrist in playing. She says the wrist and elbow should never move, the entire bow stroke should come from the whole arm no matter what. My old teacher taught just the opposite so I'm having a horrid time trying to adjust.

    The other thing is the way in which she wants us to hold the bass. She us to wrap our legs around the sides in a way so we can move the bass from side to side without using our arms, the way a cellist will use their legs to push into or pull out of a stroke. In order to do this I'm having to put the bass at a crazy angle for playing. I also have very short legs so I'm really seeing no benefit at all from this.

    Does this sound strange? I'm not trying to be a snotty student who doesn't want to adjust to a new teacher but when an instructor admits to never playing bass and then proceeds to teach you technical things on the bass it can leave one a bit skeptical.
  2. dblbassmike


    Apr 14, 2002
    Detroit, MI
    you should have some bend in the arm. Especially in the wrist, especially if you are playing french bow. I don't know how you manage to produce your articulations like they way she taught you? They way cellist play and bassists play are totally different to certain degrees.
  3. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I'd be very skeptical. Unless you are sitting to play, which cellists do 9 times out of 10 unless I'm mistaken, how will you achieve a proper relationship to the instrument by her method, especially given the more ample proportions of the bass? I'd respectfully say that you feel your existing technique was what benefits you most on the instrument. Perhaps she can concentrate more on repertoire and other aspects of your instruction, since it seems the nuts and bolts technical side of the bass isn't this person's specialty? The best instructor I had in school recognized the unique needs of each student and respected the differences in technique that each person leaned toward, unless they were just totally off.
  4. GirlBass


    Jul 31, 2005
    New York
    You are at school to learn the BASS. Not the CELLO. You should find a bass teacher ASAP if you are really interested in doing this as a career. Or even tjust to enjoy playing without injuring yourself. I find it amazing that she can tell you that she has never played the bass, then in the next sentence tell you what you can and can not do while playing. The bass and the cello are completely different, and should be taught as such.
    It's great that she's honest with you, but do you really want to completely change your technique for some hack that doesn't know what she's talking about??
    Also, someone said 9 out of 10 cellists sit? I believe they all sit, except that time yo-yo was playing in philly and his chair fell out from under him. But that's yo yo. Bassists can sit or stand, and both are legitimate choices for playing well.
    You need a bass teacher. Please don't change your technique based on what this woman tells you. Call up your old teacher and give him hell for bailing with out helping you find a decent replacement.
  5. Thanks for the response guys.

    I do sit while playing but still yet... the sheer girth and thickness of the bass prevents one from holding it in the same way one holds a cello. I even play a small bodied bass and it's not possible for me to achieve what I'm being asked to do and still play musically. This is something I'm going to discuss in my next lesson. I really do not see any benefit in using my legs to push or pull the bass, if anything it destablizes my posture.

    I do play french bow. I'm not so skeptical on the whole unmoving wrist just yet, I'm willing to give it a try. My main concern at this point is that it will be difficult to do proper articulations near the tip and it will be difficult to maintain a straight arm when playing string crossing passages on the E and D strings.

    I suppose I should have said that I'm not a bass performance or education major. I'm a music merchandising major but double bass is the instrument that I play. If I were a performance major, believe me, I would already be gone haha.

    I'm going to try and track down that book Brent, thanks!
  6. bpclark


    Apr 30, 2003
    West Central, OH
    I think she is very wrong on both counts. It sounds like even though she admits that she doesn't know anything about bass, she just assumes that it is a big cello. Before the first bass lesson she should have done a little research, called a bass player friend, gone to a symphony with a pair of binoculars and watched the bass section, or logged into talkbass and asked a few questions.

  7. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    I would voice your concerns to the head of the music department. Ask if it is possible to study with a local area bassist (if there is one). I'm sure that the school is going to understand your concern and help you out in any way possible. You DO have a very valid concern.

    Good Luck,