Excerpt from beginning of Foreword by Caroline Emery
“Bow Works: Progressive Technique for Double Bass” is a volume designed to enable the formation of good habits. Every step has been analysed and is presented gradually, carefully and progressively. Most bad habits and poor technique come from rushed and far from well thought-out steps and activities completed in the early stages of playing. Outside influences, such as pressure from parents, schools, orchestras and using poor equipment, often play an unhealthy role in the first lessons. The first steps are crucial, as we are aiming to establish the skills needed to play the instrument. The double bass is a complex and large instrument and it presents demands that have to be explained and understood in a simple and clear way. The best results are achieved if the learning is experiential, physical and communicative. The issue of stamina is not to be underestimated whilst learning any instrument. However, the double bass presents more challenges than most, particularly when dealing with young children and growing bodies.
I have aimed to present each step carefully and clearly with plenty of opportunity for reinforcement. “One thing at a time” has been the guiding concept. I can hear the critics cry “Oh it does not go fast enough!” Just do it and then you will see and you will be totally amazed. Patience is a great skill to acquire and the results of learning to focus and concentrate are absolutely rewarding to watch. What is more fascinating to realise is the potential for these skills to transform the learning in other areas and disciplines. Remember what you are thinking may not be anything to do with the student experience. Aim to put the student and their experience first at all times.
My first book “Bass is Best” was published in 1988 when I was 26. It was written out of desperation to create suitable material for the first generation of mini-bass players. Established British composers wrote the piano parts for this volume, producing a rich aural and musical experience for the students and enriching the available repertoire. Having used the material in Books 1 and 2 alongside other resources for nearly 30 years, I am still frustrated with how challenging the first 3-4 years of learning can be for students. Also, as a professor in a leading conservatoire, I can see many technical issues and difficulties in older students’ playing. The same issues can be seen over and over again and I resolved to change this experience by writing this material.
In this volume there are no piano parts or distractions because I want the student to focus entirely on listening to themselves.