My textbook,  An Introduction to Double Playing is also available as a multimedia book on iTunes for the  iPad here.
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Need a clinician for your school, music department, string sections, or college music education / string class? I’m available!

“…[Peter] offered a full day of interesting insight, thoughtful analysis, and enjoyable music-making for the students in my program and myself.” – Mr. Michael D. Blostein , Averill Park High School, Averill Park, NY.

I was fortunate to work with local students this past winter (2013) in River Forest, IL.

 “Peter participated in our string workshop at Roosevelt Middle School in River Forest. He came super-prepared to work with and motivate our students. Peter brought materials he had created just for our workshop and presented each kid with their own copy. His enthusiasm was motivating. He is very passionate about teaching and about stringed instruments, especially the string bass.” – Mr. David Wuersig, director

And from a parent of one of my private students (9/24/13):

[Student] tells me he won first chair bass, and he’s the only freshman in his bass section! Thank you for all your good work with him!!!

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Valse Miniature for Bass & Strings

An arrangement I did of Valse Miniature for bass and strings is now available for $6.

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Current Trajectory

I recently had a student ask me if he was good enough for a specific ensemble he saw on television. I said no and he was sort of crushed. So I explained my response.

path_illustration3“It’s not that you couldn’t do it, but on your current path you’re not going to make it. However, you can always change

that path – that’s the great part! You can always hop on a new road. But that new road will require more practice, lessons, etc.”

That really helped to change the tone of, “No, you can’t do it.”

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Tip to Learn or Teach Bow Distribution

This past weekend I was practicing and working on some rather fast sixteenth note passages. I wanted to get the down bows and up to be exactly the same length – and very short. Hmmm. I could be out stickers on my bow like I do for students. Nah, not accurate enough. So I thought about putting White-Out on the hair so I could see the distribution. No White-Out in my desk. A-ha! But I have lot’s of paperclips!! Below are pictures of what I did. It worked well and provided I nice tactile stop and aural click at the ends of the stroke.

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Sharpening the Practice Saw

MostlyBass ClassicPost

“Sharpening the Saw” is one of Dr. Stephen Covey’s ‘habits’ in is 7 Steps for Highly Effective People.

It came to mind yesterday when I was practicing. I’m getting back into ‘shape’ and practicing after traveling for the holidays – I’m also getting back into my gym routine as well. I noticed my mind and focus wandering a bit both in musical practice and in the gym.

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Hoffmann v. Shen 1/8 Basses

MostlyBass ClassicPost

A while ago I ranted about Shar’s Hoffmann bass and their awful customer service. I also praised the Shen line of basses. See that rant here. My school has a 1/8 size of each. I stand by that rant now more than ever. The Hoffmann fingerboard has warped unbelievably so. The Shen is a rock. We bought our Shen from Classic Contrabass and Michelle does her own bridges.

Anyway.. I took some snapshots today of each bass. Take a look. Continue reading

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Education Rant

MostlyBass ClassicPost

Disappointed that your students aren’t going to music school? Perhaps you should be disappointed that they are. What? Did I just say that? Continue reading

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Rejuvenate Your Playing

It happens to all of us. We practice. We have our routine (which is good!). We have our allotted practice time and organized it into a balance diet of exercises and music for an efficient route to progress.

And then after a few months, stagnation sets in. We’re zoning out, tuning out, and feeling generally flat.

What can you do to get you out of this artistic rut?

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Ear Training References from Rock & Pop

Descending Tri-Tone – YYZ – Rush

Secondary Dominant – She Hates Me – Puddle of Mudd

Half Time
Take On Me (at 3:05) – covered byMxPx

Cadence
iv – I – Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel

Progressions
I – IV – V   – I Love Rock n Roll – Joan Jett
I – IV – V with Arpeggiated Bass – Stir it Up – Bob Marley & The Wailers

I – IV – V – IV  – Undone (The Sweater Song) – Weezer

V – IV – I   – Sweet Home Alabama

I – IV –  I – Beverly Hills – Weezer
I – IV –  I ( With Descending Bass) – Car Carrier Blues – Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon

Major to Minor – Stealin’ – Uriah Heep

Metric Modulation
Rage Against The Machine

Intervals
Tri-Tone – Purple Haze or YYZ
Descending 4th – Under Pressure / Ice Ice Baby
Ascending Octave – Simple – Phish
Descending M3 – Simple – Phish (toward end of riff with with 10th (Mi) to 8ve (Do)

Scalar Motion
We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister

Blues Scale
Sunshine of Your Love – Cream

Time Signatures
5 to 7  Schism- Tool

Syncopation
YMCA – The Village People

Rhythms
Quarter Note Triplets – Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

Bass Line Movement
I – b7 – Fields of Joy – Lenny Kravitz

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Dusty Links

MostlyBass ClassicPost

I’m currently weeding out my bookmarks that I’ve saved for YEARS. Many don’t work, but I’ve also rediscovered some gems.

Here are a few good reads:

A Brief History of the Double Bass by Lawrence Hurst

Instrument Jokes

Six Golden Rules for Conquering Performance Anxiety by David Leisner

Information by Hans Sturm

…and this last one is a bit self-indulgent – it’s Bill Merchant’s page on C-Extensions. He built mine and I think they’re just great.

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More Public School Audition Ranting

MostlyBass ClassicPost

Ugh. I just finished a lesson with a wonderfully nice student with an upcoming audition. Apparently, the local high school is having Russlan and Ludmilla as their excerpt of choice for current 8th graders / incoming freshman. Russlan? Really? Come on!!!

Here’s how I feel about that.

This infuriates me and is so discouraging to the students. Why not just ask them to quit and cut corners in their development?

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Getting back into shape

Here’s an older post over at Double Bass Blog about getting back into playing shape after a break. It’s short and simple but what is really prophetic is (once again) a seasoned professional emphasizing fundamentals.

 

 

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Food For Thought

I’m a big fan of David Allen, author of Getting Things Done and other productivity books. I subscribe to his email newsletter (which are far and few in between but full of great content) and this post is an an excerpt from one.

I think teachers, and especially those that teach beginners, should keep these concepts in mind.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“GTD KARATE”
For years I have woven the martial arts metaphor in and through my writing, training and coaching about Getting Things Done®. I had the good fortune to be able to study karate for several years in my twenties, and my familiarity with that field gave me a rich context of images and concepts to draw from.

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Solo Learning Tool for Young Players

MostlyBass BlastFromThePast Post

Here’s a tool I’ve recently developed to help my middle school students learn their solos for our upcoming solo festival. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Keeping it light…

Here are a two funny scores… You can click the thumbnails for larger images.

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Game Day

MostlyBass BlastFromThePast Post

Below is a newsletter / article from speaker and best-selling author, Jon Gordon. This one talks about practice and the performance.

 

Game Day


“You don’t love me. You don’t care. You’re not taking this seriously,” my wife said to me with tears streaming down her face as we left Lamaze class. We were expecting the birth of our first child. I was only 27. My brain wasn’t fully developed yet so I turned to my wife and said, “Its ok. I’m good on Game Day. I’ve always been good on Game Day.”

“Game Day. Game Day. Are you kidding me? This is not some sports event. This is the birth of our child. We need to practice.” She was right. Practice makes a difference.

Continue reading

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Planning Your Financial Future

Musicians tend not to be the most foresighted financial planners. This is understandable as most freelance musicians aren’t salaried. A paycheck here from an orchestra, some cash there from private lesson. We fill up the gas tank, get some groceries and go home, waiting for the next monetary infusion.

And through all of this, saving and planning for retirement are probably not high on the priority list.

But, with the current economic and market conditions, THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME TO INVEST! EVERYTHING IS ON SALE! It’s always a good time to invest and plan for your future. If you have no experience or don’t want to do the research, go with an index fund.

Not-for-profit employees have the option of a 403(b). As a school teacher I take advantage of this tax shelter opportunity!!

A great option for freelancers is a Roth IRA.

To get started, I recommend Betterment or Sharebuilder.com (now owned by Capital One).

 

 

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Quick Tips

MostlyBass BlastFromThePast Post

Here are some tips I posted on Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog recently.

-Use a toothbrush to clean and rejuvenate bow hair. Just brush the hair, then play.

-Rosin dries out, so get a new cake of rosin at least once a year. I have found that the freshness of rosin is more important than the brand. In the meantime, cut or scrape off the top of the rosin to get at the fresher stuff!

-In my public school teaching, I use car pinstriping to mark first and third positions on the bass. I also use a couple drops of white-out on the bows to mark beginning and ending of bow strokes.

-On my bass, I use nail polish to mark a few spots in thumb position. It’s a dark brown, so the audience can barely see it but easy for me to see. It doesn’t hurt the fingerboard, stays on, can be easily removed, and is cheap!

Don’t forget to check out my book,  “An Introduction to Double Bass Playing”.

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Otello Download

Click here to download the Otello excerpt. The ZIP file has the Sibelius file and MIDI file.

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Introduction to Guidelines & Considerations for Bowing

This is an oversimplified list of rules to introduce young players to creating bowings.
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1. The first beat of a measure should be a down bow. (Unless there’s a syncopation.)

2. ‘Ands’ (&) are usually up bow.

3. Rests can be bowed or count as a bowing.

4. Hooks may be used (especially in asymmetrical meters such as 6/8) but avoid 3 of the same bow in a row.

5. Bow lifts may be used

6. You may break one rule per measure.

*Unsure / confused / complex? – Find the end of a phrase that you want to be a down bow then work backwards

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Tips For Taking Care of Your Instrument

I received this email and although it was marked as spam it has good advice to prevent cracking and issues due to climate changes.

from Gary Bridgewood, Bridgewood Neitzert Ltd., violinsbn AT btconnect.com

 

Top Tips For Taking Care of Your Instrument

With the autumn comes lower temperatures, rain and changes in humidity, and with that our minds often turn to keeping the cold and damp elements out of our homes and possessions. As a musician your most prized possessions are likely to include your musical instrument(s) e.g. your violin, viola or cello.  Although you may already take good general care of your instrument, is there more you could be doing?  When you’re out and about playing in autumn and winter how much should you be worried about the atmospheric effects on your instrument and what can you do about it?  You may find yourself in a cold or draughty venue in winter or playing at an outdoor or marquee event at any time of the year – so just how robust is your instrument and what are the main risks?

Water and Humidty

Shrinking, swelling and distortion of shape are all things that can ordinarily happen to wood. In short the more humidity in the air the more wood will expand, and the less humidity the more it will contract. Water, humidity and extreme temperature can also have a detrimental effect on the glue used in the joints of a stringed instrument like a cello or violin.  If your instrument has had a lot of repairs e.g. to cracks this could make it a little more susceptible to the effects of changes humidity and temperature.

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