TMEA 2022

INCLUSION IN THE BASS SECTION

Texas Music Educators Association
Friday, February 11, 2022

Clinicians (click name to see bio)
Jesus Apodaca, Andrew Goins, Grace Lewis, Nick Scales

Q: Why are we doing this session?
A: There is an outdated stereotype of who can successfully play the double bass, usually driven by physical characteristics. HOWEVER, with proper equipment, modern pedagogy, and an open mind to individualized setup, ANY student CAN successfully play the double bass!

EQUIPMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
•Smaller is better than too big
•Have an adequate selection of standard sizes (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, & if possible 5/8)
•Have correct size bows (bows come in 1/4, 1/2, & 3/4)
•Setup is CRITICAL (if you struggle to play it, that will be amplified for your students)
•Have a variety of stool heights, or stools that are easily adjusted by each student
•Whatever they’ll use at school, they should have an equivalent at home

COMMON INSTRUMENT SETUP ADJUSTMENTS
•Raise the height of the bass beyond standard to facilitate bow arm reach
•Angle bass more steeply to balance reach in both hands
•Adjust lateral angle slightly into body to address access to G string
•Lower or raise bass to address larger body types having trouble with balance
•Tall perch with foot supports for very small stature students

COMMON BOW HOLD ADJUSTMENTS
•German bow tip drops – check for 2nd finger under stick to lift tip
•French bow tip drops – extend 1st finger slightly for increased stability
•Difficulty maintaining French bow hold, esp thumb slipping – use rubber tubing on grip

COMMON LEFT HAND ADJUSTMENTS
•Roll weight into 3-4 to assist with difficulty in the left hand stretch
•Use micro-pivots for very small hands
•If double-jointed, allow collapse of 1st knuckle to facilitate stability in 2nd knuckle

REPRESENTATION
While not limited to bass sections, women and people from non-white cultures are historically underrepresented in bass sections. How much of this is because we as teachers have allowed a physical, cultural, or socioeconomic barrier to prevent students with a demonstrated interest in playing the bass from successfully pursuing the instrument? What solutions can we find in our teaching and in our communities that would help ANY student have the opportunity to play this wonderful instrument?

PHOTO EXAMPLES

French bow, 1st finger extension
German bow, 2nd finger on stick
Example of steeper bass angle for access
Collapsed first knuckle for double jointed
Leaning bass into left hand for standing balance
Bass height raised for access
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