George Vance and a refreshing change to my technique
I am kind of doing some house cleaning on some posts I want to do:
About a year and a half ago one of my defining learning moments as a bassist happened as I was schlepping through my studies and practicing over a summer vacation. Previously, I had seen a couple students come in for lessons with these Progressive Repertoire for the double bass by George Vance books and at that point in my development I didn’t think that there could be any sort of change to the technique of the upright bass that Simandl hadn’t covered. I knew that I should for some reason humbly check into it. So I took some time to dig in and check out this new technique. It didn’t take me long to get through the first two books –there is also a great scale book called Vade Mecum, (which are all strictly technique through pieces and the third book is pieces to play with the skills you have learned), but what I solidified in my technique and teaching style was so incredibly changed by going through them meticulously so that I understood what was really happening with each exercise. I was completely inspired by the straight forward, no messing around method these books permitted. For someone that has gone through the Simandl book, this solidified a lot of things and filled in a lot of gaps that I feel like the Simandl studies lack.
Starting off with breaking the bass into Six positions by starting off in fourth position D to E on the string G before the break, and then dealing with the essential harmonics of the bass all the way to the third octave D on the treble clef (yes, you are reading in treble clef before the twentieth page)! All of this helps to make the instrument “simpler”, and the technique makes it attainable to know your instrument well. I strongly recommend this for your studies and if you don’t have a teacher to show you how it all works there is a video on Jason Heath’s blog explaining how to get started. I recommend a teacher if you are new to the bass to help you get started on many other aspects that will need to be addressed before you pick up this book. As explanatory note in the book you will read, “The division of the fingerboard into six positions of the hand is the creation of Francois Sabbath. This idea has been thoroughly explicated in his Nouvelle Technique de la Contrebasse (three volumes published by Leduc).