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College Help for a bass player!!

Bassplayer16Bassplayer16 Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
edited August 2009 in Music Major
Hi Everyone,

I have been playing bass for about 9 years going into my senior year and Ive decided to major in Performance. I have been websurfing for different conservatories and universities a while but I wanted some more help... I have been taught through the Simandl books (gotta love the orange book) on german bow... In terms of my playing repetorie I have played Elegy Bottesini, Sonata No. 3 Vivaldi, Eccles Sonata and Dragonetti Concerto. I'm currently working on the Bourees from the bach cello suites.

I have thought about applying to Northwestern, CIM, IU, Eastman, MSM and Boston University.

If anyone could give me some advice on where to apply that would be much!!

Post edited by Bassplayer16 on

Replies to: College Help for a bass player!!

  • RIEMANNRIEMANN Registered User Posts: 1 New Member

    The following teachers are top for double bass.

    Ed Barker (at BU)
    Tim Cobb (at Juilliard, MSM)
    Paul Ellison (at Rice)
    Bruce Bransby (at Indiana)
    David Moore (at USC)
    Hal Robinson (at Curtis)
    Edgar Meyer (at Curtis)
    Larry Wolfe (at NEC)
    Leigh Mesh (at Colburn)
    Chris Hanulik (at UCLA)
    Tim Pitts (at Rice)
    Todd Seeber (at NEC, BU)
    Orin O'Brien (at MSM, Juilliard)
    Peter Lloyd (at Northwestern)
    Larry Hurst (at Indiana)
    Dianne Gannett (at Michigan)
    Jeremy McCoy (at MSM, Columbia University)
    Al Laszlo (at CCM, Juilliard)
    Max Dimoff (at CIM)
    Jeff Weisner (at Peabody)

    Those first few are really the top.
  • BassDadBassDad Registered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    Lots of excellent suggestions there if the OP is at the top of his year's applicant pool. Many of those schools will require a concerto, or at least two movements from a concerto, that is more difficult than the Dragonetti. The Koussevitzky and Vanhal are popular audition pieces these days and, if you can pull it off, the Bottesini.

    If the OP wants to remain in the Simandl tradition, many of the New York and Boston schools lean in that direction, while Curtis and Rice lean toward the so-called Rabbath technique. I don't know Weisner, but some of the teachers at Peabody and particularly those who studied with Hal Robinson have also been in the Rabbath camp. Hal himself is scheduled to do something like four lessons/masterclasses next year at Peabody and may continue that in the future, so bear that in mind too.

    The OP will have to find out which of these teachers play German bow themselves, which are willing to accept students on German bow and which would want them to make the switch to French, if that is an issue.

    If the OP is interested in both Classical and Jazz, then I would suggest adding the programs at University of North Texas and Oberlin to the list.
  • Bassplayer16Bassplayer16 Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Wow thank you both for all of that great info! I do have a question though regarding requirements for auditions. The only school that I have seen that requires two movements of a concerto is Curtis. In terms of the other ones, I figured that playing the Dragonetti Concerto (which granted is a little easier then others) for a fast tempo piece and Elegy which is much harder then say Eccles would suffice for schools like BU, Eastman, Northwestern and CIM. For IU I thought I would also play Eccles for the second piece. Would it hurt my chances to not play Kousse or Vanhal? Once again, thank you both for your help!!!
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    Not being the parent of a bassist, I can't speak to the rep, but in general, the advice is to play the highest level piece you can that still allows you to showcase your technique, intonation, and musicality comfortably.

    To try and do a more difficult piece when you're "iffy" or marginal, or have to struggle with a particular passage may not be to your benefit. The other side may be that while you can pull off the work technically, there may not be enough of a comfort or skill level to allow some subtleties and nuances to put you in contention. A more familiar, somewhat "easier" work that fits like a glove and you can nail will still allow you to shine.

    It's not all about being "perfect". Audition panels are looking for current skill level, trainability and potential for development in addition to technical precision.

    Decisions like this are hard to access on a forum. Ideally, they should be made in conjunction with your teacher/mentor who most often best can assit and guide you in the process. Other viable sources of input are opinions/critiques from professionals, local college level faculty that can help in providing a detached, unbiased eye (or ear).
  • BassDadBassDad Registered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    It is hard to say for sure, since I do not know how many openings there are in specific studios or the number and talent level of the students against whom you will be competing. In my daughter's senior year of high school, it seemed like Kouss/Eccles was the most popular combination at auditions for the top programs. A few played Vanhal and one or two attempted the Bottesini, but that was shortly after Edgar Meyer's astounding recording of that piece came out. With that version fresh in the judge's heads, it was not the best choice that year. There was more variation on the slow piece due to wider repertory availability.

    While what violadad says is certainly true, you could be putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage by playing Dragonetti at the top schools/studios, even if you play it quite well. It is much better to do that than slog through Kouss or Vanhal, but those programs usually get more applicants than they can accept who do a very nice job indeed on the harder works. That is not to sat that you should change your audition piece, because audition season is not all that far off.

    Has your teacher gotten any students into the programs in which you are interested? They could be extremely helpful in finding out whether a well-played Dragonetti will get you past the first cut.
  • Bassplayer16Bassplayer16 Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Hi he mentioned that a few years back a student got in on dragonetti although
    I'm not sure where haha. As of now I'm leaning more towards boston bc I love
    The city and I'm terms of grades and ec I could def get in? What so you know
    Of there music department? I know obv of tanglewood and what not but what
    About the bass teachers
  • BassDadBassDad Registered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    Other than Barker and Wolfe (whose studios will be quite competitive), I do not know a whole lot about the Boston teachers. Here is a rundown by school.

    BU: Barker is one of the best in the business and he gets lots of applicants for not many openings. The competition for his studio will be as intense as it would be at places like Curtis and Rice. Wolfe's studio is also likely to be pretty competetive, but not to the degree of Barker's. I don't know as much about Orleans' and Seeber's popularity among auditioners, although my daughter reports that she thought Seeber was a very good teacher at Tanglewood. With Barker and Wolfe, BU has one of the best bass departments around and it attracts a lot of students who will happily put in a year or two with one of the other teachers in hopes of moving into Barker's studio later. That drives the overall level of competition up, even for the less well-known teachers. A lot of the Tanglewood BUTI bass players tend to audition there. If you stack up well against that crew, you may have a decent shot.

    NEC: Orleans, Seeber and Wolfe also teach there, but there is less emphasis on academic scores for admission and you get a slightly different set of people auditioning there. I don't know much at all about Palma. NEC has a reputation for not offering much financial aid, if that is a consideration.

    BoCo: Wolfe teaches there as well. I do not know anything about Holt, Levy or Roy. I once heard their orchestra play and it did not seem quite up to the level of BU's or NEC's, but they could have just been having an off day.

    Longy: I am not even sure who is teaching there these days. I just looked it up - Delache-Feldman and Van Dyck. I've never even heard them play.
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