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Klinghoffer: Mr. Karr, Would You Teach ME How to Drive a Double Bass?

Klinghoffer: Mr. Karr, Would You Teach ME How to Drive a Double Bass?

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Revolution - A dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people's ideas about it.

When I began to study the double bass in 1950 the strongest pedagogical influences were the method books written by the Czech bassist, Franz Simandl. His published materials were then considered to be the bible of double bass studies. My association with this approach to playing was further cemented by the instruction that I later received from Herman Reinshagen, who was a Simandl disciple. The Simandl concept involved using only the first, second and fourth fingers for half of the fingerboard (the other half used the thumb, first, second and third fingers). His codified approach was vertical with an emphasis on positions rather than a horizontal, intervallic perception of how the notes relate to each other on all four strings. In the 1960s when I observed what electric bass players were doing, I began to eschew or modify the Simandl method in favor of a four-finger technique that placed more emphasis on an intervallic understanding of the location of all notes in relationship to any given finger on any string. I realized that for strenghthening one's hand I needed to start using the third finger as much as possible. It seemed that the Simandl method not only instilled within the player a fear of using the entire fingerboard, it did not address the issue of holding the instrument to accomadate playing all four octaves of notes from the lowest to the highest. As regarding the old manner of bowing, I was disappointed in the lack of emphasis on the importance of bow-speed and the positioning of the bow between the fingerboard and the bridge.

After making alterations to move away from the traditional concepts of doublebass playing I was so pleased with my own technical advancement that I incorporated the 'revolutionary' ideas in my student's lessons.

Even after having written four books that define my new approach, no student of mine ever understood what it was that I was attempting to convey better than Michael Klinghoffer. What he has accomplished in bringing clarity to his 'revolutionary' method, Mr. Karr, Would You Teach Me How to Drive a Double Bass, is so brilliant, so clever and so comprehensible that I am thrilled to recommend it to all serious students of my instrument. Michael Klinghoffer is a masterful teacher who is a prime leader in the new age of double bass playing. -Gary Karr
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