In fact, I had him on the podcast not too long after the book was published to talk about his unique way of integrating multiple technical approaches to the double bass. At pages, this book in an encyclopedia on left hand approaches that may, upon first glance, seemingly contradict each other. However, Marcos blends tradition fingering, pivoting, four finger chromatic fingering, and thumb position into a stream of exercises, making me look at the bass in a different way. When I heard from my good friend Geoff Chalmers of Discover Double Bass that Marcos would be heading to England to film a course , I decided to work methodically through Tao of Bass, going through the various exercises and taking notes on my progress. I thought that it would be interesting to do this work on my own and then see how my perspective would change hearing directly from Marcos through this course. It totally rocks.
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There are two predominant double bass pedagogical methods in the United States today. This tried and true double bass pedagogical tome methodically takes the beginning double bass student up the fingerboard, half-step by half-step, exploring all of the notes in each position and connecting the new positions with the old positions in various etude and scalar studies. Many of his ideas seem ill-conceived to me, from his advocating collapsing of the left hand fingers to his extremely specific ideas regarding instrument shape and size, the use of the French bow, and advocacy of bent end pins.
To be fair, I have always loved watching Rabbath himself play and have enjoyed listening to his recordings. He is a truly creative artist speaking in a compelling original voice. I bought his Nouville Technique volumes when I was in high school, and although I did not agree with many of the fundamental concepts I read, I knew there was a huge amount of value in these texts.
I learned many of his pieces and played them for recitals, competitions, and other events. As I had student after student play them for me in lessons I have taught a LOT of private lesson students I came to two conclusions: 1 They were learning good left hand position.
Also, my beginning 4th grade students had a terrible time reading the sharps and flats that Simandl put into even the very beginning of his materials. The first page of the Half Position exercises, for example, already introduces double sharps. Double sharps! My 4th graders had just learned the D scale in school and old man Simandl was having them grind away on atonal and they really are atonal exercises with accidentals galore.
On the other hand, they were learning their positions well even if they were bored. Also, their school orchestra used a different numbering position than the Simandl book, so I ended up avoiding mentioning position numbers whenever possible. I liked the tunes the Suzuki tune progression is very well-conceived but was unsure about trying to use these books without any Suzuki training.
I was surprised at the way the double bass positions were introduced and explained but was immediately interested. Although the book was Rabbath technique through and through Rabbath himself plays on the accompanying CDs I already started to see the possibilities of this method. Progressive Repertoire fuses the Suzuki repertoire and the Rabbath technique with traditional double bass technique and repertoire with excellent results.
Here is what I like about this method: 1 Starting in 3rd position traditional 4th position — When I first started teaching out of this method, I jumped ahead to the first position tunes, but over time I realized the value of starting students in 3rd position. When a student starts in 3rd position they are able to play pentatonic tunes, which are much easier for the young ear to process and hear 3rds, 4ths and 5ths are much easier to hear at first than half steps.
Simandl has the students grinding away at half steps in non-melodic patterns the first time they put down their fingers. I have started students both ways, and the Simandl students leave their first lesson with a grimace while the Vance students leave with a smile. Vance presents the students with measure pentatonic tunes. Playing something pleasing to the ear makes a huge difference in how the student feels about their new instrument.
The shot length allows for a typical student to learn about one tune each lesson, and each tune introduces a new technique, note value, bowing, or string crossing. I used to never let my students pivot, believing that it would cloud their intonation. Over time, I realized that, by focusing on the six Rabbath positions and learning the pivot motions, most students did not need to stare at their left hand or fingerboard and could instead rely on their ear and their sense of touch to find notes.
Harmonically simple tunes and basic movements helped with this. Introducing this region early to bas students eliminates the traditional fear and discomfort of the thumb position. I have had many university students who are completely comfortable in the neck positions and a total mess in the thumb positions.
Early introduction of these positions makes the thumb positions no scarier than any of the other positions. As an experiment, ask a professional bass player sometime to demonstrate all of the Simandl positions. In contrast, the six Rabbath positions are based around the major harmonics on the bass and are extremely easy to remember.
Not by a long shot. The Simandl New Method teaches a bass player all of the necessary skills to play orchestral music. Those atonal, grinding exercises that I groused about earlier are actually EXACTLY what we bass players do in orchestra much of the time, and being able to read all of those accidentals across the strings is an absolutely essential skill for bass players in an ensemble.
The comfort navigating the fingerboard and the flat position hierarchy taught by Vance no position is scarier than any other sets up a student for all of the challenges of Simandl, and the combination of both methods in this sequence much more effectively prepares the student world of orchestral music. This combination has ultimately been the most successful comprehensive double bass pedagogical sequence for me—Vance for beginners and intermediate students, and Simandl, ochestral excerpts, and the traditional double bass repertoire Koussevitzky, Dittersdorf, Bottesini for advanced students.
The Vance Progressive Repertoire method actually dovetails neatly into the world of traditional double bass pedagogical repertoire, since the last piece introduced in Book 3 is the Dragonetti Concerto. I welcome any comments or suggestions on other double bass methods or pedagogical sequences that other double bass teachers have found effective.
There are many other quality bass methods out there Nanny, Bille, Petracchi , and any new ideas are appreciated. Further reading and resources:.
You can order with confidence. We are OPEN and well-stocked. With abundant cautionary procedures, the bassists at Gollihur Music are still maintaining our normal online business hours and shipping out orders every weekday. Do note that some of our suppliers have been suspending or limiting operations, though, so a small selection of products from those particular manufacturers may have lower stock availability. But we have a warehouse full of the bass-ics! If you ask, I will always suggest that you start your upright bass adventures by studying with an experienced and schooled teacher. The "Simandl Method" is a very common and well-respected methodology for learning the instrument with a teacher , and this is the full method book, which features Etudes which are short compositions for solo instrument, intended as exercises as part of the program.
30 Etudes for the Double Bass (Simandl, Franz)