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school orchestra help!

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by JDtheBassPlayer, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. JDtheBassPlayer


    Jul 27, 2011
    Ok so this is my third year playing stand up bass, well really my third year all together. I play in the highest possible orchestra available at my school, it goes begging(my first year), concert(my second year), honors, and sinfonia(what I'm in now). Let me give you some background info. my first year I was considered by the others one of the worst. My second year nobody (or at least I didn't) care. This year I was put into second chair, until yesterday when we had our second chair test :crying: We found out today and I was put last :bawl:, now I am sad, but I'm one of those people in the orchestra that say "hey I'm happy to play" also for some reason I think it's not such a big deal that we're adolescences playing the same parts. Now my question is I really need some tips on playing. ANYTHING please, video, worded advice anything. I do have a private teacher, but I only have a short amount of time sense it's at school. I do practice, but the thing is with me even though I play in an orchestra classical music isn't something I listen to, just play. Thanks for understanding :)
  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    If you can afford it, take private lessons outside of school.

    Best of luck to you.

  3. Your second to last sentence is very telling; you have to listen to classical music. Listening to orchestral excerpts and solo string repertoire is extremely important, but something a lot of people overlook is listening to good opera singers. That should help you quite a bit away from the bass.
  4. JDtheBassPlayer


    Jul 27, 2011
    man the only opera I head was ICS vortex when he played bass for Dimmu Borgir! :) jk I've heard Pavarotti, and I did listen to Fran├žois Rabbath. I don't really have the money for lessons out side of school, but thanks so far! Keep the advice comming! :)
  5. Bugmeister96


    Jan 25, 2012
    I would rent a bass from a local music store or take the school bass home on weekends. Private teachers are always a good bet and, if you haven't already, develop vibrato! It's absolutely imperative for symphonic tone quality.
  6. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    This is good advice. I played string bass in orchestra for 8 years during high school and college. You have to get inside the music, study it, and learn to apply good technique to it, which will get better with time. If you want to be really good at it private lessons will help but so will a LOT of practice. It takes years to learn to play at the level of pro symphony players so give it time and be at peace with progressing at your own pace. The competition is not between you and the other players so get that out of your head....it's between you and the instrument.
  7. Practice.

    I'm in high school as well--realistically, you're not going to be playing any symphonies. Mostly, we play arranged abominations of music that was previously good.

    Anyway, best way to get a better seating in high school is just practice. At a high school level, the amount of kids who are thoroughly interested in their instrument at all is pretty low, and you'll know these kids immediately by watching them play. In my orchestra, out of the hundred kids we have, I'd say only about twelve of us actually want to play, and the rest do it because it looks nice on a transcript and because their parents forced them to.

    All you can do is practice--you don't even have to like the music, but know it inside and out, learn proper technique from a private teacher and you should get a better seating next time. No guarantees, of course--maybe you have a great bass section--but I've found this to work for the last three years of my high school career. Just caring about it is enough to take you somewhere.
  8. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
  9. Realise what you sound like - recording yourself? Do you articulate, phrase, etc, in a musical manner, or do you "just play" as in half interested, correct math-wise -ish? If the part is melodical, do you articulate it, like a singer would? If the part is rythmically, do you play it like a drummer/percussionist would?
  10. @Martin +10000!
    Record yourself and be ultra critical about everything you do. Intonnation, rythm, dynamics, tone fingering etc. Work like a dog for years!
    Good luck.
  11. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    I know you say you can't afford private lessons but even just a few can make a big difference. The school teacher is at best probably a cellist, more likely a violinist. The bass is a very different instrument. Two or three lessons with a real bass teacher could make a world of difference.
  12. ^What RSBbass said! I stopped playing bass in the 8th grade but I wanted to start playing again for high school so Before my freshman year, My parents let me have lessons over the summer just to get caught up. By the end of the summer, I improved so much my parents decided to let me continue having weekly lessons with my teacher!

    You would be surprised how far you can come if you just get a little extra help from a great teacher (emphasis on the great part). And who knows, if you apply yourself, your patents might let them be a normal thing!
  13. If money is a serious issue, some teachers might be willing to work with you provided you work hard and practice daily.
  14. BebeismyBass


    Mar 11, 2012
    I agree with ThumpPlunkJunk; practice is essential! However, you need a consistent and methodical way to practice, otherwise it tends to get unfocused...really quickly. Decide on and set up a practice routine. My teacher has me using one of the Rabbath scale books, so my summer practice routine went like this: scales (15-30min), audition/orchestral excerpts (20-40min), BREAK :), solo stuff/other stuff (30-...min). Obviously, as high school students, we don't often have the time to support a routine like that, but it's just something to base it off of.

    Also, with a practice routine, set a goal! I had to learn a certain bow technique for an audition, so I adjusted my routine and found an exercise that accommodated the technique that I did along with scales everyday. Your goal might be:
    • To be more in tune - so you might practice scales against a "drone", a constant tone playing over whatever you play. If scales, practice with the drone set as the fifth of the scale (if you're playing DM, set the metronome/tuner to "A") This helps with recognizing intervals.
    • To get a better tone - In order to achieve this, practice long tones/bows. Have your metronome out and set the tempo to, say, 60-80 (not fast). Now, practice using the full bow every beat, every half note, every whole note, for 8 counts, etc for as long as you can hold it. Make sure you're getting a clear, loud tone at all times, otherwise you won't achieve what you're trying to. Also, make sure your bow is straight and not lawnmower-y.
    • To always have as great a practice session as that one time when everything you played sounded as if it were played by angels - IMPOSSIBLE. jk. Well, it is kind of hard to ALWAYS have a session like that, but you can make your practice results more uniform by having a consistent setup. If you sit at school, sit at home. If you have your endpin out a bajillion miles at school, do it at home too. I'm not saying all this is correct, but consistency will help. :)

    Um...Oh! Also, if there's a youth orchestra in your town, consider joining that. It would mean more practicing, but it would grant you more ensemble experience outside of your school orchestra.

    And, finally, if there's a bass player in your school orchestra that you trust to be a great bass player and know what they're doing (and takes lessons so they're not advising you falsely), consider asking them to sit with you after school or at lunch sometime and just work some things out technique-wise. I'm sure they'd be more than willing. :) Hope this helped/wasn't boring or too wordy. Good luck! :hyper:
  15. I reread the original post and thought:
    'you got demoted in the orchestra after what?'

    One thing that players don't think about to much at your level is how to be a good tutti player or second player. Everyone wants to be the boss so they just practice playing how they think things should sound.

    My suggestion is this: try to be the best tutti player! Not so easy though...
    Other exercises you might incorporate into your everyday life are:
    1. try singing along with somebody else following all the time their rhythm, intonation and tempo.
    2. move with others- walk in step with your mates (don't tell them your doing it though, it might freak them out!)
    3. Be an assistant to someone. For instance, get a part time job in a bakery just to get practice at being helpful.

    All these skills are going to make you 'SuperTuttiPlayer' if you apply them to the bass. This will make you THE guy that all the principal players want next to them. So... soon number 2 then number 1!.

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