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  • 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.”... »

  • Mental Practice

    Mental Practice

    We all have strategies on how to practice when time is short. There are times, however, when even a short practice session is not feasible. In times such as this, mental practice can be a valuable tool. Mental practice is also valuable as a regular part of your sessions. For such practice to be valuable,... »

  • Holding the Upright Bass

    Holding the Upright Bass

    There are a plethora of ideas on how one should hold the double bass and new variants seem to surface every day. Some stance decisions will be made based on specific performance situations, but most will reflect someone’s pedagogical background (i.e. who their teachers were) and personal preference. For example, it is unlikely you will... »

  • Working with Drones – Introduction: Improving Intonation

    Working with Drones – Introduction: Improving Intonation

    One of the best ways I know to increase one’s intonational precision is to play against a held drone note. It is excellent not only for left hand finger spacing, shifting, but also for improving one’s aural pitch discrimination. You can create your own drone note using a looper, midi program, etc. or your metronome... »

  • Developing Stamina

    Developing Stamina

    I have trouble with stamina, especially when playing difficult music. How do you develop stamina? – John H. Developing stamina can be a real challenge on an instrument as large and as physically demanding as the upright bass. If developing stamina is a goal you need to achieve, I would suggest focusing on the following... »

  • Chops vs. Groove

    Chops vs. Groove

    A while back, someone asked me to discuss the concept of “Chops vs. Groove.” The reader didn’t elaborate very much, but the impression I got was they felt having, or perhaps displaying, “chops” and the ability to groove were somehow mutually exclusive. Although someone can groove pretty hard with only a moderate level of technique,... »

  • Tips for Memorizing Music

    Tips for Memorizing Music

    I have trouble memorizing. Do you have any suggestions? —–Gina D. In general, if we have played a piece enough times, we often find we have memorized it without trying. However, some pieces (and styles of music) are more difficult to memorize than others and may require special attention. Also, on occasion, we may also... »