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Checkpoints for Home Practice: Bass

Fine Arts University OrchestraBy Alex Scott

General Position

  1. Stand with knees relaxed and feet shoulder width apart.
  2. The left foot should be in line with the end pin.
  3. Hold the bass with your left arm at arm’s length, straight up and down.
  4. Make sure the instrument is centered in front of the left foot.
  5. The middle of the neck should be at shoulder height.
  6. Turn the bass one quarter of a turn to the right. The bass should now be at about a 45-degree angle from the body.
  7. Keeping the body, especially your shoulders, relaxed, tilt the bass back and allow the bass to rest on your pelvic bone or stomach.
  8. You should be able to balance the bass without the aid of your arms.
  9. The nut of the bass should come to eye level.
  10. Adjust endpin as needed.

German Bow Hold

  1. Hold bow in left hand.
  2. Extend the fingers of the right hand.
  3. Place the screw of the bow into the web between the thumb and first finger.
  4. Bend thumb so it lies on top of the stick.
  5. Keeping the index finger free of tension, extend the finger and place it on the stick of the bow facing you.
  6. Keeping the pinky free of tension, place the pinky underneath the frog.
  7. The middle finger and ring finger will fall in the gap of the bow. Keep these two fingers relaxed, and don’t allow them to curl up.

Bow Arm

  1. You do not need your muscles to press the bow into the string. This traps or kills the sound. Use the weight of your arm to freely draw sound from your bass.
  2. Your bow needs to go faster to play higher notes because these notes vibrate faster.
  3. Is your bass set in a position so that when your bow is straight and even to the floor it is also straight to the bridge?
  4. What about your hair? Are you using all of it?
  5. Does the motion begin in your forearm? 

Left Arm and Hand

  1. Is your hand in a relaxed position? We should not have to extend the fingers of the hand.
  2. Is your elbow relaxed, not too high or resting on your bass?
  3. Is there a natural line from your hand to your forearm? Do not break your wrist.
  4. Do you hear the same sound as an open string? Your finger needs to make a new “nut.”
  5. Are your shoulders relaxed?
  6. As you approach higher positions, let your bass neck rest on your shoulder and lean forward from your hips.
  7. Is the weight of your arm helping you to hold the string down?

General

  1. Are you listening?
  2. Are you being musical?
  • Music Department
  • Cogswell Hall, Room 103
    422 South Eleventh Street
    Indiana, PA 15705-1071
  • Phone: 724-357-2390
  • Fax: 724-357-1324
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  • 8:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m.