CBC 232: Jory Herman on community engagement, balance, and resonant churches

San Diego Symphony bassist Jory Herman is today's guest!

San Diego Symphony bassist Jory Herman is today’s guest!

Today’s episode features Jory Herman, who is a member of the San Diego Symphony bass section and has just released his second solo album titled Life.  In addition to playing in the San Diego Symphony, Jory is actively involved in community engagement in the San Diego area.  He has recently become Director of Community Engagement with Art of Elan and is an active teacher and clinician.

We talk about his early years in music, studying bass with Paul Ellison at Rice University, and his time playing in the New World Symphony, where he got bitten by the community engagement bug.  We also discuss the recording of both his previous album of Bach Cello Suites and his most recent album, as well as what it’s like to continue to develop as a player and a person after landing an orchestra job.  Enjoy!



Winning the Audition: Preparing for Audition Success

Winning the AuditionWelcome to Winning the Audition – a special series from Contrabass Conversations featuring advice from leaders in the field about preparing and executing auditions successfully.  This series is drawn from interviews conducted with dozens of bassists from orchestras like the Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, and Houston Symphony, plus some of the most influential pedagogues in the field.

Our sponsor for this episode is Discover Double Bass. This site is run by Geoff Chalmers and provides lessons and step-by-step courses on a variety of double bass areas of study. They’ve got free articles, string reviews and a show called Ask Geoff and Lauren where they answer questions from the double bass community. Geoff does great work and has built this into a tremendous resource for bassists everywhere. Check out over 70 free lessons and much more at discoverdoublebass.com!

About Winning the Audition

This series provides actionable advice that you can use to take your auditioning to the next level, and while we’re speaking with bassists for these episodes, the advice can certainly be applied to other instruments and disciplines as well.

This series is divided into four episodes: Preparing for Audition Success, Practicing Techniques for Peak Auditions, Preparation Routines That Work, and Sealing the Deal.  Special thanks goes to John Grillo, who was my co-host for many of these interviews.

Today’s episode includes advice from dozens of major figures in the bass world, including Lawrence Hurst, Michael Hovnanian, Ranaan Meyer, Ian Hallas, Brandon Mclean, Robin Kesselman, Ira Gold, Max Dimoff, Jack Budrow, Andrew Anderson, Rob Kassinger, Peter Tambroni, Greg Sarchet, Andrew Raciti, Marc Ramírez, Gaelen McCormick, Joseph Conyers, Colin Corner, Ju-Fang Liu, Jeffrey Turner, Owen Lee, Brad Opland, Alex Hanna,

Links from the episode:

CBC 229: BASS2016 Prague European Biennial Double Bass Congress Preview

Today’s episode features a conversation with Ursula Dieterich-Pedersen, who is organizing the 5th European Biennial Double Bass Congress, which will be taking place in Prague this September 20-25. Ursula and I got a chance to talk recently about some of the details for the event. You can find all the details for this event at bass2016.eu.

CBC 228: David White on Broadway, New York City, and Networking

David White performs on upright and electric bass in musical theatre

David White performs on upright and electric bass in musical theatre

Today’s episode features David White, who works as an upright and electric bassist in the world of musical theatre.  David is based in New York City and is currently on tour with the Bridges of Madison County.  We talk about his time at the Berklee College of Music and working as a bassist for Royal Caribbean, moving to New York City and getting involved with the theatre scene, a week in the life of a theatre musician, developing networking skills, and much more.  Enjoy!



CBC 227: Lloyd Goldstein on Yoga, Habits and Entrainment

Lloyd Goldstein is a certified music practitioner at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida

Lloyd Goldstein is a certified music practitioner at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida

Today’s episode features Lloyd Goldstein, who has transitioned from playing in the Florida Orchestra to his current role working as a certified music practitioner at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.  It’s so exciting to speak with someone who has continued to evolve so dramatically in his craft and career throughout his life.  Lloyd’s path is unconventional and inspirational.

We get into all sorts details about Lloyd’s life like his “burning bush” moment that propelled him into a career on the bass, his circuitous path to the Florida Orchestra, discovering François Rabbath, the multiple benefits he has experienced from his practice of yoga, and how he came to find himself in his current role as a certified music practitioner.



CBC 226: ISB 2017 Convention Preview

ISB 2017 Preview 300 x 300This is a special episode featuring International Society of Bassists 2017 Convention Chair and Artistic Director Nicholas Walker discussing plans for the upcoming convention.  This 50th anniversary convention looks like it will be outstanding, with several new developments unique to this event.  Enjoy!

International Society of Bassists 2017 Convention
June 5-10 at Ithaca College, New York

Other ISB-related interviews you may enjoy include:

CBC 225: Nicholas Walker on musical influences, performing, and Domaine Forget

Ithaca College professor and International Society of Bassists president Nicholas Walker

Ithaca College professor and International Society of Bassists president Nicholas Walker

Today’s episode features Ithaca College professor and International Society of Bassists 2017 Convention Chair and Artistic Director Nicholas Walker. In addition to teaching at Ithaca College, Nicholas performs over 170 concerts a year in a wide variety of musical genres, he is a prolific composer, and he has taught for many years along with Paul Ellison and François Rabbath at Domaine Forget in Quebec.  Nicholas will be hosting the 2017 ISB Convention at Ithaca College next June 5-10.

We talk about his early musical influences, his experiences working with Paul Ellison and François Rabbath, balancing performing with other activities, and the Ithaca double bass experience.  We also go into great detail about a day in the life of a student at Domain Forget, which is a topic that we talked about with David Allen Moore back on episode 162 of the podcast.

We also feature several musical excerpts from Nicholas, starting with excerpt of a tune with singer songwriter Tenzin Chopak called “Just Don’t Go.”  We’ll also play a few excerpts of some of Nicholas’ solo bass compositions, and you can find complete recordings on his YouTube channel.  Enjoy!

Musical Excerpts:

Interview Highlights

Background and Early Years

  • started on piano, picked up bass in 4th grade, playing jazz early on and music with friends in addition to the public school
  • started taking lessons with Duane Rosengard, who was a student at Eastman at the time
  • played in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
  • studying with Mark Foley
  • with many of the people surrounding Nicholas, there wasn’t a big distinction between jazz and classical playing – it was all part of musical life for him

Working with Paul Ellison

  • moving to Houston and meeting Paul Ellison
  • Paul’s teaching style
  • the Domaine Forget double bass experience
  • Buddhist philosophy – any student who shows up has earned the right to learn
  • Paul’s comfort moving from student to teacher role

Working with François Rabbath

  • the right time to hear something from a teacher
  • how, exactly, can he help each particular person
  • his first experience meeting François

A Day in the Life at Domaine Forget

  • put the bass players in a barn and let them work
  • get up early
  • 8:30 am – all meet together – 25 students plus the two teachers
  • bodywork and 90 minute workout together
    • Stretching
    • Yoga
    • Feldenkrais Method
    • Alexander Technique
    • Pilates
  • bass workout together – all done by ear and by rote – no music stands – working together in a big circle
    • shifting exercises
    • bowing exercises
    • specific left hand techniques
    • hand frames
    • drop thumb
    • expansion
    • pivoting
    • hammer on / pull off
    • fingering patterns
    • etudes
  • at the end of the two weeks, they have a 90 minute routine that they do together without stopping – one exercise after another
  • all this material comes from meeting with all the students the first night and asking them their goals for the camp
  • 10 am – break followed by two hours of lessons
  • lunch
  • 1:30 pm – back in the barn for another 90 minute class with the senior faculty member
    • Paul does a lot of stroke work and body awareness
    • opportunity to introduce concepts like balance, arm weight, anything that came up in prior master classes
    • everything from the simplest open string playing to more complex bow bouncing, forward/reverse curve
  • 3:00 pm – master class
  • evening – concerts with notable visiting artists, bass recital, public master classes

The Double Bass Program at Ithaca

  • largely modeled on the way Domaine Forget operates
  • one of the nation’s oldest conservatories – Sevcik and Rachmaninoff were both on faculty
  • group classes for technique, orchestra rep, studio class in addition to lessons
  • alternative lesson approaches in addition to traditional one-on-one lessons

Performing, Teaching, and Composing

  • finding balance (or not finding balance)
  • being at peace with the choices you make
  • 170-180 concerts a year
  • the concerts and individual practice are where the “important stuff” happens

CBC 224: Peter Tambroni on Student-Centered Teaching and Life Planning

Double bassist and music educator is today's podcast guest

Double bassist and music educator is today’s podcast guest

Today’s podcast features an in-depth conversation with Peter Tambroni.  This is a “round two” conversation that builds upon the topics that we covered in our previous talk on episode 204.  Today we dig into fallacies surrounding public school teaching, instrument setup, life planning, instrument insurance, practicing ideas, teaching philosophies, and much more.  This episode is a gold mine for anyone interested in taking their teaching game to the next level!

Pete is the author of An Introduction to Bass Playing, which is now in its seventh edition, and is an active bass performer, teacher, and author.  You can learn more about Pete on his website petertambroni.com.

Interview Highlights
Fallacies Surrounding Public School Teaching
    • you don’t want to get too well-educated or you won’t be hired
      • Pete has never found that to be true in the various districts in which he has worked
      • everyone wants the best person for the position
      • most districts will do what they can to give you credit for your past experience
    • the right person for the job is the right person or the department philosophy-wise and personality-wise
      • people tend to focus too much on the nitty-gritty skills – it’s more about fit than anything
      • you should be interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you
  • replacing people that are:
    • good and well-liked
    • good and not well-liked
    • not good and well-liked
    • not good and not well-liked
  • Skills are easy to teach – personality and philosophy are not
  • people tend to not ask enough questions in job interviews
  • Pete always want to be somewhere where the administration supported fine arts performers practicing their craft – this was a question he posed in his interviews
  • look at the distribution of music teacher positions – are people full-time orchestra, part orchestra and part general music, etc?
  • what degree does fundraising play in the school?  this can turn into a nightmare
  • learning the other instruments as a music teacher
    • Pete took two extra semesters of violin and viola
    • music ed programs are not all requiring bass for music ed majors
Instrument Setup
  • the condition that many school basses are in – so easy to totally neglect them
    • a bass with action that is too high is a catastrophically worse situation for a young player than a violin with action too high
  • setup considerations for school instruments
    • fingerboard
    • bridge shaping
    • the need for a proper luthier
  • the extreme difficulty created for younger bass students by basses that are poorly set up
  • the advances that D’Addario has made in strings recently for students
Life Planning
  • investing vs. saving
  • index funds
  • Apps and programs
    • Betterment
    • Wealthfront
    • Robin Hood
  • IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • 403b investment programs for educators
Instrument Insurance
  • get a separate policy apart from your homeowners or renters insurance – these may not cover your instrument at a paying gig
  • Clairon
  • Merz-Huber
Practicing Ideas
  • teaching replacement fingerings
  • the challenge for bass players of heterogeneous string teaching (starting in D major, for example)
  • nothing beats Simandl for mapping out the fingerboard
  • Thomas Gale’s book Practical Studies for Double Bass is great for younger students
    • starts in 1st and 4th positions – allows for physical anchor point of thumb against the neck block
    • helps eliminate the “old-school bass vertigo”
  • teaching shifting
    • finding the goal note should not be a fishing expedition!
    • Mathias Wexler article about shifting in American String Teacher journal: “Throwing The Dart and Other Reflections on Intonation” from the November 2004 issue of American String Teacher.
    • this is a link to the shifting exercise Pete describes
    • shifting practice
      • play
      • stop
      • evaluate
      • play correct note if not in tune
      • repeat above procedure until shift lands right on
General Teaching Philosophies
  • try to teach for 10 years down the road
  • try to teach for the student’s next teacher
  • set people up so that things don’t need to be fixed in the future
  • having students nail a simpler piece versus struggle through a more difficult piece
  • empathizing with your students
  • don’t ask questions to “put students in their place”
  • it’s never strings versus band versus choir – though there are doubles, there are “string kids,” “choir kids,” and “band kids” – offering all programs brings music to a larger portion of the student body
  • we remember the emotion of experiences – emotion drives attention drives learning
How Gigging Helps You to be a Better Teacher
  • helps with empathy
  • opportunity to observe other players
  • opportunity to observe conductors
  • being respectful of the student’s time
Listener Feedback Links:

CBC 223: Katie Ernst on Singing, Jazz Bass, and Creativity

Jazz bassist and vocalist Katie Ernst is today's podcast guest

Jazz bassist and vocalist Katie Ernst is today’s podcast guest

Today’s episode features jazz bassist and vocalist Katie Ernst.  Katie was recently featured in the Chicago Reader, and Jason Moran describes her as “a great bassist, composer, and lyricist, she has an uncanny ability to mix traditions… following her voice is like reading a great novel.”  She is one of Chicago’s most active young bassists, with two recent album releases: her solo project Little Words and her trio album Twin Talk.

We talk about Katie’s years growing up in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, her “yearly check-ins” at the Birch Creek Music Performance Center with Jeff Campbell, studying at Eastman with Jeff Campbell and James VanDemark, and her educational work at the Jazz Institute of Chicago.  We also cover the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program, her job directing the big band at the Wheaton Conservatory, differences between the New York City and Chicago jazz scenes, and much more!

Katie’s recent projects:

Listener Feedback Links:

Interview Highlights

Early Years

  • grew up in Naperville, product of Naperville public school system
  • piano starting in 1st grade – sang in church and in choir
  • took bass lessons with Jeremy Attanaseo in preparation for Eastman audition
  • Studied with Jeff Campbell and James VanDemark – worked on Romberg, Simandl, vibrato, other fundamentals with VanDemark
  • lots of summer camps in high school, fiddle camp, other camps – eventually found Birch Creek Music Center right before 9th grade – used Birch Creek as her “yearly check-in”
  • Jeff Campbell – focused on deep fundamentals  – applied lessons she learned during the summer throughout the following year
  • becoming a jazz vocalist while in high school – singing with the jazz band, etc.
  • the experience of playing the foundation and singing the melody simultaneously – interesting way to experience tunes
  • Katie encourages her bass students to sing as well – incredibly helpful for young improvisors
  • Katie got a bachelor of musical arts degrees at Eastman as well—kind of like a “doctorate lite’ – she studied linguistic analysis tools in jazz scat singing
  • Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program in Washington, D.C. – where she met Jason Moran

What drew Katie back to Chicago

  • didn’t want to go directly to a masters program
  • Eastman had a postgraduate internship program where they pay a stipend for you to work for a nonprofit
  • Katie called the Jazz Institute of Chicago and proposed that she be an intern
  • moved into Chicago itself – became connected with the community of creative music in Chicago
  • differences between New York City and Chicago jazz scenes

Current Projects

  • Twin Talk
    • interactive group – focus on exploring ideas together – elements of freedom and original compositions – groovy, melodic, experimental
  • Little Words
    • project under Katie’s name – Dorothy Parker poems set to music
    • powerful poems that have a singable quality to them – cultivated
  • Lessons learned serving as Big Band Director at Wheaton Conservatory
    • listening to the whole band
    • thinking programmatically when selecting music
    • how to articulate to a group of musicians how to “get” a certain style
  • Jazz Institute of Chicago – education program director
    • takes students to see performances
    • monthly meetings
    • opportunities to be an opening act for Jazz Institute concerts

Finding time for creativity