Murray Grodner's "A double
Bassist's Guide to Refining Performance Practices"
For those who are not familiar with Murray Grodner’s background, he
is Professor Emeritus, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
He has an impressive orchestral history, being a member of the NBC
Symphony under Arturo Toscanini, Principal Bass with the Houston
Symphony and at age 20 became Assistant Principal Bassist of
the Pittsburgh Symphony He is widely regarded as being
one of the most successful bass teachers of our time. Many of
his bass students play in major symphonies throughout the USA and
other parts of the world. He’s the best and it’s great
that he took the time to share his expertise, providing practical
exercises and insights on ‘string playing’. I am one of
the fortunate bassists privileged to call him ‘my teacher’ and
mentor. (I attended Indiana University from 1980-85.)
This special book contains (156 pages) isn’t
full of a bunch of boring exercises (with no visible purpose).
Yes, there are practical exercises with explanations of why and
what they are meant to accomplish. Mr. Grodner has always been
a hands-on player/teacher and prescribed books or exercises based on
the end result or need of the player. In other words, he
wouldn’t mess around or waste time with meaningless exercises that
had no end goal.
Here's a brief list of some of the major points that he
covers in the book:
- Part 1 (pages 1-22) Critical Analysis of Physical
Performance Techinques: topics include "Practice Habits,
Left Arm and Hand, Shifting process, the Bow Arm, Sound
Production, How To Problem Solve, Perfecting and Resolving
Part 2 (pages 25-100) Perfecting
Techniques Through Employing Scales, Exercises and Orchestral
Excerpts: Essential bowings to use for 2 and 3
octave scales; arpeggio fingerings, string crossing exercises,
trills, shifting exercises and related orchestral excerpts.
- Part 3 (pages 101-118) Informative essays for
Double Bassists: I found this section of the book really
interesting and includes practical thoughts on how basses work
"Basses, You Are Late", thoughts on Chamber music, French vs
German bow, Thoughts on teaching etc...even thoughts on
purchasing a good bass and bow.
Part 4: Analytical Phrasing
and Bowing for Solo Works, includes in depth suggestions for
studying the Prelude (Bach’s 2nd Cello Suite),
and both the Dragonetti and Koussevitzky Concertos.
- Part 5 is Preventative Exercises for Physical
Abuses (Related to Playing Double Bass.) A much needed
section which addresses physical overuse issues and how to avoid
This is a great book to have for anyone serious about playing or
teaching the bass! I have always thought if you can get just
one great idea, but an idea so grand that you can build foundations,
then the book was successful. Murray Grodner's
"Guide to Refining Performance Practices" has so many great
ideas and is built on years of wisdom.
Order here, or customers can see other
important bass method books here as well.