Sunday, 3 June 2007

Double basses for the young

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Emily wrote: Children - the hope of humanity! Photo taken by XM.

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Photo courtesy of Cool Insider.

It was observed that many of the children who have came forward for the hands-on session after the performance, Esplanade Presents: At the Concourse: Basso Bravo!, were intrigued by and excited about playing the 2 metres tall double bass.

If I were a child, I would probably imagine the double bass as an awfully tall, giantic monster. Afterall, it would be at least twice my height. Hey, but this double bass "monster" does not bite. In fact, it is a gentle soul. One can pluck its strings to make different kinds of sounds. One can pull the bow at various parts of the double bass to make different sound effects. It probably feels good to be able to "conquer" and play interesting music on such a big instrument. A double bass can be an enormous, gentle and huggable good friend.

For myself, it was a humbling and fun experience sharing the double bass with children during the hands-on session. The children had unknowingly taught me some new ways to explore and look at the double bass.

I was reading up on the subjects of Training Programs for the Young and Basses for the Young from Paul Brun's New Histrory of the Double Bass. Interestingly, I learnt that as early as the 1950s, Pierre Delescluse taught the double bass to young children on cellos fitted as double basses. Such instruments he called cellobasses. A bass in cello form however proved awkward to handle.

Much later, makers have been building miniature 1/4 size double basses. Such double basses would indeed, in my opinion, make the double bass much more accessible to the young ones who want to start learning the instrument at a young age. Gosh, it makes me feel that I have started out too old for the double bass. Then again, one is never too old (or too young) to play the double bass.

1/4 size double bass. Image taken from Music Corner Ltd.

At this point, I recall a brief conversation that I have had with dear Emily a year or two ago. I remember that she has a vision, if resources and opportunities permit, to start pedagogy double bass classes for children. If I were a parent, I would feel well assured to have my child learning the double bass from Emily. She is firm yet so engaging and fun. I wish her dreams come true.

For related online information and resources on learning double bass for the young ones, you may visit:

Brun, P. (2000). New History of the Double Bass. (ISBN:2-9514461-0-1)

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