What are some bass education materials you'd like to see out there?

Discussion in 'Double Bass Pedagogy [DB]' started by Lorin Cohen, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. Lorin Cohen

    Lorin Cohen

    Mar 23, 2011
    Problems you'd like solved?
    Things you or your students struggle with?

  2. No offense to the many great middle and high school music teachers out there, but I would love to see a course in a music education credentialing program specifically about how to properly teach the fundamentals of bass technique.
    CSBBass and DrayMiles like this.
  3. Lorin Cohen

    Lorin Cohen

    Mar 23, 2011
    Great idea - thanks!
  4. Jim T

    Jim T

    Nov 28, 2004
    Melody studies, and soloing concepts and framework for bass players. There are some transcriptions, concepts, but little in the way of an organized stylistic approach.

    I really like the courses and books that Danny Ziemann has put out in recent years - seems to be a step forward IMO
  5. Lorin Cohen

    Lorin Cohen

    Mar 23, 2011
    Interesting - thanks for the input!
  6. I think there is more than enough material out there already.
  7. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    I couldn't agree more. My main obstacles to teaching kids are the badly set up instruments the schools have, not the lack of written material.
  8. lurk

    lurk Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    When I was learning - make that beginning to learn - I had a wonderful book called The Melodious Bass by David Walter that must be out of print cause I can't find it. Lots of melodies from various sources; the classical canon, opera, folk. I'd love to see it back in print. I haven't found anything close.
    touchingbass and Jim T like this.
  9. DrayMiles


    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I think I would like to find a way to make a student look inward more than outward for the reason they are playing... Is this able to be taught? I don't know... But, technique and no depth is a terrible thing to watch. This student would more than likely be older (aren't a lot of folks trying to get back to the enthusiasm they had at 13?) and, hopefully a little more mature mentally. What I think I'm trying to say is, that it would be nice to have well rounded players that allow themselves to have a giving spirit on the bandstand at least... With a spirit of giving, and openness of receiving knowledge. With them knowing it's not a darn competition on the stage (and that they don't spend lessons proving that they are better than their instructor). Just making sure that they don't advance in their careers and take on too much bitterness if they aren't stars by the age of 23.

    The only reason I think this... Is that in the digital world of cell phones, Amazon, and play alongs, that people maintain a certain level of people skills. I do see that deteriorating and I hear a lot of mediocrity these days from players of all ages... Mostly because they really aren't listening to each other as much as they should be.

    Hmm.... Maybe that's it... Maybe a component of listening internally and externally in every level of teaching music. Inspirational WORDS and demeanor from a teacher, in addition to what scale fits over what chord.

    Stuff I used to see reading bass player magazine and guitar player.

    Sorry, I was thinking out loud after pondering some things I've seen lately...


    Oh... And melodies... Bassists don't play melodies enough, or memorize enough heads from tunes. Then wonder why the bass solo was... bleh..
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
  10. markcr


    Jun 30, 2016
    How timely! As a beginning adult student, I'd love to see someone re-write the Simandl method book but change the exercises that appear early on so that I don't have to slog through all the difficult to read accidentals.
    dhergert likes this.
  11. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I'd like to see an instruction book that covers Simandl concepts, but really from scratch, for people who have a fundamental understanding of music, some theory and lots of experience with playing by ear and improv, but little if any experience reading. I'm not against Simandl, but it requires someone trained to sight read in order to do all the exercises with any level of efficiency. And I'd also like this volume to cover pizz fundamentals and perhaps even some slap.
    srbbass, Keith Rawlings and markcr like this.
  12. Bisounourse


    Jun 21, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    Some recomendations:
    - the 'Bass is Best' books (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) by Caroline Emery. They are aimed at children, but they are very methodical, use a very step by step basis and easy to learn songs (nursery rhymes etc).
    - 'Contrebasse pour tous' by Jean-Loup Dehant; also aimed at younger pupils. It starts with a position, then scales in that position, then etudes on that position, then songs, then orchestral exerpts.
    Both books are more aimed towards classical and bowing, but they are a great starting point for every DB player and a bit more 'musical' than Simandl.

    But I agree with Damon Smith and Neil G.: there is a plethora of material out there.
    dhergert likes this.
  13. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    I'm not sure I understand your displeasure with Simandl. It does start from scratch. Also, the exercises, for the most part are easy to hear: scale and sequential passages mostly. What would make it easier to work with?
    Quinn Roberts likes this.
  14. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    Well, it starts from scratch if you already sight read music or if you are on track to do so, otherwise the ~120 pages of exercises are basically useless.

    It's important to remember that the there are large communities of highly musical people who don't use or read music. If Simandl in its current pure form was an absolute requirement for playing double bass, those communities wouldn't play it at all. But they do.

    How much better would it be, though, if a form of Simandl was available for folks who don't read music, or who don't read it well, or perhaps even don't care to read music???

    These communities do have detailed written methods for conveying instrumental music, it's just not what a person finds in Simandl or any other double bass books.
  15. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    No, it starts with open strings and then adds fingered notes. That's how you learn to read music on a string instrument. You don't need to be able to read before page one.
    Nobody is saying Simandl is a requirement for anything, but, to your second point, you want to be able to learn Simandl technique without learning to read music? Could that be done from recordings? I don't think that level of knowledge could be conveyed without music notation, either standard or tablature. If someone paid me enough, I'd do an edition of Simandl in tab.

    Then, why would you need Simandl, or any other method book? What exactly are you looking for?
  16. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I think I've answered the OP's question sufficiently for myself and other people with decades of experience playing, creating, improvising and even teaching music by ear, without musical score...

    If there was such a book, I'd like to be able learn Simandl techniques by continuing to use those skills and tools, and I know there are communities that could also benefit from this kind of book.

    Clearly, your comments and online demeanor demonstrate that with your experience, your POV is different than mine. That's absolutely fine; I'm not going to change, nor am I going to try to change you. We've both made our points.
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I think I know what you're after, but I'm not sure a book is the best place to get it per se. In one sense, the plethora of video instruction platforms available these days are attempting to fill exactly that niche. A fingering concept can be readily explained in a video without the need for the viewer to be able to read music - even a "Simandl 1-2-4" concept could be explained without too much trouble. It would be up to the student to be able to apply the concept to actual music, though, and without the help of a teacher or guide many beginner/intermediate students might not have the vision or drive to do this. I think we all have the seeds of auto didacticism in us, but it takes a certain type of focus - some might even say obsession - to make those seeds grow. Good teachers basically just water and fertilize those seeds at regular intervals.

    But since the concepts themselves can be explained in the video medium, then a written method in any style will suffice as a place to apply them. Books like Mel Bay's Note Reading Studies For Bass, or Standing in the Shadows of Motown, the Bach cello suites, or any other source of notated music can be the vehicle to explore the basic fingering techniques within.
    roswell1965, Joshua and dhergert like this.
  18. Simandl is a great way to learn to read. By the time you can read the first F exercise, the rest of the book is easy to read. An average adult musician coming to the double as you describe is reading Simandl fine after about 4-5 weeks. Kids can be faster. Reading basic exercises is the shortcut to learning to play the bass well. Either you are happy where you are, or you want to go forward. It is your choice.
    Just take that first exercise one note at a time and you will be reading fine before you know it.

  19. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I'd like to see a comprehensive book - with pics - of how to position the bass, both standing and sitting. It'd explain the different goals of the height of the bridge and the nut, comment about bent wrists and extended elbows, arco, a good jazz pizz tone and how that's different from a classical pizz; bent endpins. Talk about stool height, leaning the bass back and holding it up perpendicular to the floor. I see problem solving descriptions with 10 students of all different heights and sizes with accompanying photos.
    IME, there are lots of different opinions about the criteria of properly positioning the bass and much of it is just old wive's tales passed down since time immemorial.
  20. Trimmo91


    Apr 29, 2015
    Advice on holding the bass and end pin height. The biggest obstacles to developing good technique.