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  • Improving Clarity: Left Hand/Right Hand Coordination

    Improving Clarity: Left Hand/Right Hand Coordination

    There are several reasons why a passage may sound sloppy. One of the more prevalent ones, however, is incorrect coordination between the two hands during passages of separate (i.e. not slurred) notes. For such passages, the fingers must completely stop the string before the right hand, or bow, articulates. While studying violin pedagogy with Mimi... »

  • Preparing for College Auditions

    Preparing for College Auditions

    As someone who has taught at the University/Conservatory level for a number of years, I get many questions regarding undergraduate music school auditions. Some questions are specific to my school, but many are general requests for advice. As I am currently deep into audition season, I thought I would summarize some of my more common... »

  • Left Hand Thumb: Pressure

    Left Hand Thumb: Pressure

    Note: For Left Hand Thumb positioning, check out the previous installment. When there is excess tension in the hands, the source is often improper use of the thumb and its corresponding muscles. The thumbs of both hands, just like all the fingers, should use minimum effort and pressure to achieve any particular technical goal. Pressure... »

  • Left Hand Thumb: Position

    Left Hand Thumb: Position

    For all instrumentalists, excess tension should be a source of concern. We should work to eliminate it as much as possible. For string players, and especially bassists, excess tension can not only lead to technical and musical inaccuracies, but also to physical discomfort and injury. Sometimes these injuries can be resolved or worked around, other... »

  • Dr. D’s Guide to Improving Your Walking Bass Lines

    Dr. D’s Guide to Improving Your Walking Bass Lines

    I regularly see students who are unhappy with their walking bass lines. Perhaps they don’t like how their lines lead (or don’t lead) from chord to chord. Perhaps they find themselves falling into predictable patterns over and over again. Perhaps their range is limited. Perhaps they just don’t find their lines satisfying. All of this... »

  • Pacing Your Solos: A Guide to Improvisation

    Pacing Your Solos: A Guide to Improvisation

    It is not uncommon for students of improvisation to approach their practice without a real plan. They simply start trying to improvise a solo, without really focusing on When, How or What to play, hoping things will simply get better over time. I was certainly guilty of this. It’s one reason I developed my expandable... »

  • Consistent Weight and Legato Bowing

    Consistent Weight and Legato Bowing

    One of the most common deficiencies bass players have when using the bow is an inconsistency of tone in various parts of the bow. There may be times when such inconsistency is musically desirable, but it should always happen “on purpose” and not merely as a result of a lack of bow control. For example... »

  • Basic Vibrato on the Upright Bass – A How To Guide

    Basic Vibrato on the Upright Bass – A How To Guide

    Many students have trouble mastering vibrato technically and understanding its usage musically. There are numerous debates regarding vibrato usage in musical contexts, so today we will focus on a simpler matter: how to achieve technical mastery of this skill. From an instrumental point of view, our goal is to have complete control over the width... »

  • Dedication: A Guide to Practicing

    Dedication: A Guide to Practicing

    Recently I wrote to you about purposeful practicing. Purposeful practice can ensure that we are constantly solidifying our foundation and moving forward, both as an instrumentalist and a musician. However, creating a practice plan and schedule with intent is simply the first step. We must put this plan into action for it to be successful.... »

  • Intentional Practice

    Intentional Practice

    Too many instrumentalists begin their daily practice session without knowing specifically what they wish to accomplish that day. If they think about their practice goals at all, they do so in a cursory, vague and last minute manner. Even worse, some serious students think the goal of practice is simply to “put in the time.”... »