Rx: Making the most of practicing.

In order to get the most out of a practice session on your bass, there are things that you can do to get your mind and body ready and what you can do to make things work in your practice. This lesson talks about some of them.

Specific exercises and concepts include:

  • physical centering exercises
  • stop bow
  • focusing on doing right action more than outcome

Stop bow looks like a useful exercise because it encourages you to take your time and work through:

  1. intonation
  2. shifts
  3. bowing

in a very conscious way before introducing rhythm.

There’s also some great use of juggling as a metaphor.

Articulation on the double bass

Rx: Separating and clarifying musical phrases.

Three articulation techniques are demonstrated and discussed:

  • detaché
  • martelé
  • legato
  • spiccato

An exercise for developing spiccato is demonstrated. It is a mix of detache´and spiccato to experience the similarity between them.

The other articulations are recommended to be worked on using Kreutzer’s violin etudes transcribed to the double bass.

Quickness: ending each note where the next note begins

Rx: Getting notes to speak clearly through quick string crossings.

The order of events for getting through a quick set of string crossings involves collapsing the actions by considering the end of each note to be the preparation for the next.

Exercise on ending each note where the next note begins. This means, the bow hand is on the:

  • right string
  • right bow plane

Variations suggested include in each of the zones on the bow.


String Crossing: Bowing with the long lever

Rx: Achieving efficient string crossings on the double bass.

Dividing the bow up into three zones— tip, middle, balance point — and working through crossing strings while maintaining the feeling of the tip of the bow.

Exercise includes playing thirds across strings using the three different zones of the bow but maintaining the feeling of the upper third bow zone. Variations include doing it on three strings and all four strings. The four string variation is pretty tough in the tip zone.

Also a string crossing exercise that uses all variations of bowing.




Double Stops

Rx: Blending the tone of two notes at the same time on the double bass.

When playing double stops, the higher pitched note typically needs to sound a little louder. But achieving this is tricky because we can’t quite change the speed or location of the bow individually since we’re playing both notes at the same time.

Some tips for playing double stops:

  • Bow should move at speed of the lower note
  • Tilt the stick towards and away to blend the two notes to taste



Harmonics on the double bass

Rx: Playing harmonics cleanly.

Discussion of two reasons to work with harmonics early in your study:

  • building the correct shape of the hand for thumb position
  • build confidence in the higher positions

Some specific mechanical issues addressed:

  • where to put the finger when playing harmonics on upright bass
  • how to reach the high harmonics by shifting weight/posture


Vibrato on the bass

Rx: Using vibrato on the upright bass.

Includes an exercise freeing noting arm movement and also for keeping the vibrato movement in an up/down motion using percussion accompaniment, and an exercise you can use to develop vibrato while you’re away from the instrument.

Discussion of two challenges for vibrato:

  • changing position/shifting
  • changing bow

Also discussion of thumb position vibrato.

Fingers and palm in up bow vs down bow

Rx: Achieve an even tone between up bow and down bow

A method of managing effort in the bow hand between the fingers and palm. This is meant to help deal with the natural imbalance in the bow and provide for an even tone on the upright bass.

From Michael Klinghoffer’s How to Drive a Double Bass series.

Includes an exercise called “the piano exercise” which focuses on balancing out the finger/palm forces to keep the sound even.

The “piano” part is a reference to a random piano thing he does at the beginning of the video so don’t get too hung up on that. The exercise is about making the tone even by balancing out the weight of the bow by manipulating it with your fingers and palm.

Preventing tendonitis

Rx: Preventing injury to the noting hand (or left hand) on the bass

Preventing tendonitis is a key skill of any bassist, beginner or not-beginner. This requires removing excess tension from our posture.

From Michael Klinghoffer’s Mr Karr Would You Teach Me how to Drive a Double Bass.

Includes demonstration of an exercise for noting hand pizzicato that relaxes the muscles of your fingers and thumb.