My textbook,  An Introduction to Double Playing is available as a multimedia book on iTunes for the  iPad here.

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Plateaus in Learning

Plateau Learning

Plateau LearningPlateau Learning 2

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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. The best advice I ever read about investing is this: When is it a good time to buy / invest? Now! Market up? Invest. Down? Invest. Stagnant? Invest.

Start at the Motley to learn about investing.

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.

If you have no experience or don’t want to do the research, go with an index fund.

To get started, I recommend Betterment ( use THIS link to save us both some money ) for mutual fund investing and RobinHood for buy individual stocks. I recommend these two because there are NO FEES to buy or sell.



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From Men’s Health

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More help on bowing for young players.

A few post ago I gave some tips for helping young players figure out bowings. Below are some sheets I use. Continue reading

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Dean Markley Turbo Tune

I bought this Turbo Tune from Bob Gollihur’s store. It’s a great accessory! Save your wrists and change string very quickly.

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Planet Waves / D’Addario Guitar Dock

I just bought the Guitar Dock from BassStringsOnline and I’m impressed! Easy to clip on and the clamps are have rubber on them to protect the surfaces. The larger clamp end is heavily textured for a solid grip. The piece that goes around the guitar neck also rotates to give you more options on where you mount. I’m traveling and with this I didn’t need to use my bass stand.

For around $20 this was a great buy. The construction feels solid and it works just as advertised. Highly recommended!

IMG_2919 IMG_2920 IMG_2921 IMG_2922 IMG_2923 IMG_2924 IMG_2925

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Are YOU ready to conduct graduation?

With my simple arrangement of Pomp & Circumstance, your string orchestra will be ready in no time AND sound great!

Cover Page

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Beware of being helpful!

Several years ago I was hired to do an Easter church service gig in a very affluent suburb of Chicago. I was excited as it was great music, close to where I lived, and decent pay. There rehearsal was at 9am and the service at 11. The chamber orchestra comprised local gigging musicians and hired guns. The chorus consisted of volunteers from the church – mostly elderly women. Both ensembles sounded lovely.

 I arrived early to setup – as all musicians do! I was the only bassist and was in back just in front of the choir which was behind a wooden railing. We were going through the music and all was good when one of the singers just behind me dropped her music.

I stopped playing, picked up her music,handed it to her and continued playing. She said a pleasant thank you and continued singing. I thought nothing of it. Picking up her music was the right thing to do, right? Apparently not!

The conductor stopped and sternly asked me what the problem was and why I had stopped playing. I explained the situation and reassured him that I knew the music and the performance would be fine. He was not happy about the situation! So here was a church director and I had tried to do the right thing by being helpful. My mistake! I was never hired back in that church!!

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What Counts as Practicing?

What are your thoughts on what does or doesn’t count as practice?
We spend a lot of time with our instrument but what really moves our playing ahead?

Leave your comment below!

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The String Emporium

from the String Emporium:

My name is Steve Koscica and I own and operate a web site dedicated to the upright bass.  While we do sell cellos and cello strings (and cases), our specialty and dedication to the upright bass is unrivaled.  We’re one of the biggest bass dealers in the world!  Personally, I have been a professional orchestral bassist for more than 25 years.

We offer everything from smaller fractional upright (student) basses, plus basses in every possible price range, all the way up and past the $100k range.  We sell our bass strings at the lowest prices in the world as well as just about every possible accessory.   On our website, there are tons of informative articles about choosing the right kind of bass strings (can be confusing for a lot of people) and there are other informative articles about the different types and makes of basses.

Also check out their sites for all orchestra strings:


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Bow Hand in Game of Thrones

Hmmm.. An anachronism? A modern bow hand?

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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.

Continue reading

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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?

Continue reading

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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

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

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

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

YMCA – The Village People

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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