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Donovan Stokes

Donovan StokesBassist Donovan Stokes currently enjoys a varied career of teaching, writing, performing and composing. As a soloist, he is known for his virtuosity and his extensive use of EFX and loopers. His acoustic solo album “Gadaha” (2006) has garnered high critical praise. He is a member of the Rockabilly group Four Star Combo and freelances in ensembles throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region in a disparate a range of styles.

As a composer he has composed a number of works and has enjoyed commissions from Barry Green, Blanka Bednarz, The International Society of Bassists Young Bass Division and Jerry Fuller, among others.

“Dr. D” also offers a range of online instruction in upright bass, alternative strings and composition. He is founder of the non-profit Bass Coalition and is the Artistic Director for an Annual Bass Workshop in Winchester, Virginia and for the Shenandoah University Performing Arts Camp.

Dr. Stokes earned degrees from Vanderbilt University (B.M.) and Indiana University in Bloomington (M.M. and D.M.). He is currently an Assistant Professor at Shenandoah University-Conservatory. Visit him on the web at donovanstokes.com

Articles by Donovan Stokes:

  • Freelance Gigs: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Freelance Gigs: Five Tips for Bass Players

    The last “Tips” column (on avoiding injury), was a popular one. So let’s continue this series with some tips on freelancing. 1. Be Musically Prepared If there is sheet music, review it. If there are recordings, listen to them. As much as possible, be familiar with all the parts. Be acquainted with the melodies, harmonies,... »

  • Avoiding Injury: Five Tips for Bass Players

    Avoiding Injury: Five Tips for Bass Players

    As bassists, our health is important, and paying attention to our routine is paramount to avoiding injury. Here are five tips to keep in mind to staying healthy and injury free. 1. Stay Loose Keep those joints flexible and muscles moving. Excessive tension is the enemy. Upright players tend to have problems in shoulders and... »

  • A Few Tips from a Traveling Bassist

    A Few Tips from a Traveling Bassist

    Performing on the road as an upright bassist can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. Here are a few tips I’ve learned on, and picked up from colleagues, to help things go smoothly. Be Physically Fit We don’t need have the physique of an Olympic athlete, but having a certain level of fitness will... »

  • Five Things to Remember to When Moving from Electric to Upright Bass

    Five Things to Remember to When Moving from Electric to Upright Bass

    The electric bass and the double bass (aka Contrabass, Kontrabass, Contrebasse, Upright bass, Stand-up bass, String bass, Doghouse bass, etc. etc.) are cousins. It seems intuitive that one plays both instruments. After all, we share a range, number of strings (generally) and a tuning (most of the time). However, the constructions of the instruments differ... »

  • Getting Back in the Practice Room: Regaining Inspiration

    Getting Back in the Practice Room: Regaining Inspiration

    Everyone who stays at this music thing for a time will likely find themselves lacking in motivation at some point or another. If practicing has become a chore, or if you can’t even bring yourself to pick up the instrument, perhaps some of these strategies might bring some fire back into your musical life. Take... »

  • Starting Back Up on Bass After a Long Break

    Starting Back Up on Bass After a Long Break

    Even those of us who maintain a regular practice routine may find ourselves taking an extended period of time away from our instrument. Vacations, travel, illness, work, incarceration, etc. can keep even the most dedicated musician away from their instrument. With an instrument as physically demanding as the double bass, we would be wise to... »

  • How Much Should I Practice?

    How Much Should I Practice?

    This is a question I get often from both serious students and amateurs alike. Since the answer depends on a person’s goals, and every person is unique, there is no single answer for everyone. However, I can make some general suggestions. My suggestions will presuppose a few things: You practice on a regular basis Daily,... »

  • Basic Care of Your Upright Bass: Part 2

    Basic Care of Your Upright Bass: Part 2

    While there are certainly deals out there, an upright bass can cost. Even a “student model” plywood bass, properly set up, can easily set you back around $2000 US. The prices only go up from there. Needless to say, most of us would like to protect this investment. The suggestions below are a continuation of... »

  • Basic Care of Your Upright Bass: Part 1

    Basic Care of Your Upright Bass: Part 1

    While there are certainly deals out there, an upright bass can cost. Even a “student model” plywood bass, properly set up, can easily set you back around $2,000 US. The prices only go up from there. Needless to say, most of us would like to protect this investment. Here are some basics everyone should know... »

  • Things to Know About the Bridge on Your Upright Bass

    Things to Know About the Bridge on Your Upright Bass

    Having a properly set up bridge on your upright is an important factor in the playability, sound and the long-term health of your instrument. Here are some things every upright player should know: The internal, not external, notches you see on the F-holes determine the proper distance of the bridge from the fingerboard. They should... »