Franz Simandl (August 1, – December 15, ) was a double-bassist and pedagogue most remembered for his book New Method for the Double Bass. The older, established double bass method here is without a doubt the New Method for String Bass by Franz Simandl. This tried and true double bass. F. Simandl – New Method for Double Bass (Max Ebert).pdf – Ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online.
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There are two predominant double bass pedagogical methods in the United States today. This tried and true double bass pedagogical tome methodically takes the beginning double bass student up the fingerboard, half-step by half-step, exploring all of the notes in each position and connecting the new positions with the old positions in various etude and scalar studies.
Many of his ideas seem ill-conceived to me, from his advocating collapsing of the left hand fingers to his extremely specific ideas regarding instrument shape and size, the use of the French bow, and advocacy of bent end pins.
To be fair, I have always loved watching Rabbath himself play and have enjoyed listening to his recordings.
He is a truly creative artist speaking in a compelling original voice. I bought his Nouville Technique volumes when I was in high school, and although I did not agree with many of the fundamental concepts I read, I knew there was a huge amount of value in these texts. I learned many of his pieces and played them for recitals, competitions, and other events.
As I had student after student play them for me in lessons I have taught a LOT of private lesson students I came to two conclusions:. Also, my beginning 4th grade students had a terrible time reading the sharps and flats that Simandl put into even the very beginning of his materials. The first page of the Half Position exercises, for example, already introduces double sharps.
My 4th graders had just learned the D scale in school and old man Simandl was having them grind away on atonal and they really are atonal exercises with accidentals galore. On the other hand, they were learning their positions well even if they were bored. Also, their school orchestra used a different numbering position than the Simandl book, so I ended up avoiding mentioning position numbers whenever possible.
I liked the tunes the Suzuki tune progression is very well-conceived but was unsure about trying to use these books without any Suzuki training. I was surprised at the way the double bass positions were introduced and explained but was immediately interested. Although the book was Rabbath technique through and through Rabbath himself plays on the accompanying CDs I already started to see the possibilities of this method.
Progressive Repertoire fuses the Suzuki repertoire and the Rabbath technique with traditional double bass technique and repertoire with excellent results. Here is what I like about this method:. When a student starts in 3rd position they are able to play pentatonic tunes, which are much easier for the young ear to process and hear 3rds, 4ths and 5ths are much easier to hear at first than half steps.
Simandl has the students grinding away at half steps in non-melodic patterns the first time they put down their fingers. I have started students both ways, and the Simandl students leave their first lesson with a grimace while the Vance students leave with a smile. Vance presents the students with measure pentatonic tunes. Playing something pleasing to the ear makes a huge difference in how the student feels about their new instrument. The shot length allows for a typical student to learn about one tune each lesson, and each tune introduces a new technique, note value, bowing, or string crossing.
I used to never let my students pivot, believing that it would cloud their intonation. Over time, I realized that, by focusing on the six Rabbath positions and learning the pivot motions, most students did not need to stare at their left hand or fingerboard and could instead rely on their ear and their sense of touch to find notes.
Harmonically bads tunes and basic movements helped with this. Introducing this region early to bas students eliminates the traditional fear and discomfort of the thumb position.
I have had many dobule students who are completely comfortable in the neck positions and a total mess in the thumb positions. Early introduction of these positions makes the thumb positions no scarier than any of the other positions. As an experiment, ask a professional bass player sometime to demonstrate all of the Simandl positions.
In contrast, the six Rabbath positions are based around the major harmonics on the bass and are extremely easy to remember.
Have I become a Rabbath technique convert, then? Not by a long shot. The Simandl New Method teaches a bass player all of the necessary skills to play orchestral music. Those atonal, grinding exercises that I groused about earlier are actually EXACTLY what we bass players do in orchestra much of the time, and being able to read all of those accidentals across the strings is an absolutely essential skill for bass players in an ensemble. The comfort navigating the fingerboard and the flat position hierarchy taught by Vance no position is scarier than any other sets up a student for all of the challenges of Simandl, and the combination of both methods in this sequence much more effectively prepares the student world of orchestral music.
This combination has ultimately been the most successful comprehensive double bass pedagogical sequence for me—Vance for beginners and intermediate students, and Simandl, ochestral excerpts, and the traditional double bass repertoire Koussevitzky, Dittersdorf, Bottesini for advanced students. The Vance Progressive Repertoire method actually dovetails neatly into the world of traditional double bass pedagogical repertoire, since the last piece introduced in Book 3 is the Dragonetti Concerto.
Rabbath versus Simandl – a comparative study for double bass – Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog
I welcome any comments or suggestions on other double bass methods or pedagogical sequences that other double bass teachers have found effective.
There are many other quality bass methods out there Nanny, Bille, Petracchiand any new ideas are appreciated. Read the follow-up post to this article with special blog guest John Tuck.
Progressive Repertoire Simandl, Franz: Jason Heath is the host of Contrabass Conversations, a podcast devoted to exploring music and ideas associated with the double bass. His blog and podcast are highly regarded in the music world and have been featured as top offerings in the world of arts and culture for the past decade. An active double bass performer and teacher, Jason is a member of the Board of Directors for the International Society of Bassists. I can really only speak as a student at this point.
But what I can say is that I wish I had had a more bass-specific technical background at a younger age. I went through the Essential Elements Hal Leonard series which teaches all the strings of the orchestra essentially the same material at the same pace. It moved doggedly slow, and was extremely boring. Even as my real private lessons began in high school, I was not highly exposed to any specific method, but rather bits and pieces of several.
Jason being my instructor for the mojority of highschool was probably experimenting with me and beginning to develop his current viewpoint on the subject. I had somehow acquired enough basic technique on my own over the years that I really just jumped into some rather serious literature.
This was great for keeping me involved and interested, but at times i feel like I had to take many steps backward to fix problems that most likely would have been solved at I begun bass with these methods. I still work on the Etudes and exercises out of these books, and can also admit, that because I am not a beginner by any means, the Simandl method proves it self infinitely more relevant to anything else I am working on, be it orchestral or solo.
Im also at the point where I am not bored to death by it, because I can actually see where it is relevant in my outside playing and can very much target the specific technical devices I want to work on. It is not a young student-friendly book. In my teaching I am going to try to mix it up more. It seems that some sort of mix would be ideal, like this Vance book, apparently, which I will check out. To really appreciate the simandl and get the maximum result out of it, I feel one really needs to already have a basic knowledge of the bass.
It sounds like your students will be more than prepared for that, Jason. My teacher started me with Simandl too. I was really bored to tears, but it really really helped the left hand alot. That I definitely have to agree. Now, I still do start my students with Simandl, but I write my own little pieces for them to play too.
Thanks for the great thoughts on the various bass methods. If I could do it again I would have all of my beginner students start with the Vance Progressive Repertoire books.
Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog
These tunes pulled from the Suzuki method and the sequence in which they are introduced make for a powerful sequence, and it is nice to have bass players learning the same melodies that all of the other string players learn—it makes them feel more like a string player and less like a percussionist. One of the difficulties with our instrument is how non-standardized it is in so many ways. The Suzuki method is so commonly taught for the other stringed instruments that it is the de facto sequence for the other stringed instruments, but very few double bassists are taught using this sequence.
This is important for bass students since we can only span a whole bas in our normal position. I do the same thing myself. I often work out of large sequences to help clean up things in my playing a couple of years ago I started from the very beginning and worked through the whole book. It really does teach you how to play in an orchestra.
Franz Simandl – Wikipedia
One of my double bass tutors started me on simandl. I have never tried Vance Progressive Repertoire books. I shall check these out when I get my hands on them. Thanks for the post. It would certainly be very difficult to make signifcant progress in the Rabbath technique using a large, wide shouldered, heavy bass with a straight endpin. With the imminent publication of the fourth volume of his method I think some of this will be cleared up.
My experience with it is limited—mostly from former students of Rabbath, never with the man himself. Combined with the pieces I was learning for orchestra to keep myself interested, that is. Hi Jason, I find your article very interesting you posted some of my videos long time ago. I had several years of experience teaching know and tried with several different methods.
I completely agree with you about the Boring thing when starting bass studies. Right know I wrote a small book containing 12 studies very melodic and very fun, wiht a very small difficulty in the left hand and lots of hard work on the bow. Im working know for about a Year and my studies prooved to be a very good complement for my students.
So they work with the formal method with all the boring but necesary studies, but they have a complementary etude each month that its on their level but its really fun and serves as a solo piece to peform on a recital.
Right know I like to publish my small book, because many people of different countries asked me for it mostly latinamerican countries because the text its in spanish Maybe you can help me contact some editorial that you think they will be interested on.
Thanks for your work blogging, your place its helping a lot for the world bass comunity. Which is the better? Probably we should study every system to enlarge our possibilities of fingerings.
Sorry for my no correct English, but I listen today to young students which play better and better which one or the other system. Hi Jason, I was just wondering, has your opinion of the Rabbath technique changed since you had a lesson with Sturm?
I could never imagine learning a quarter from the books about the Rabbath technique as I have learned from my teacher.
New Method for the Double Bass (Simandl, Franz)
Especially about the movement of the pivot. Unfortunately it is also impossible to find. It was not a method per se but was a great collection of fun stuff for students to play! Sure wish it would be reprinted!!