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Double Bass Study at The Hartt School

Success for a professional career in music must include the highest possible performance skills and the broadest possible musicianship. The Hartt Double Bass Program is uniquely designed to make that happen.

Hartt offers an intense, thorough, and comprehensive program in double bass. The program offers nine hours of study per week that provides students with a broad knowledge on the instrument's possibilities, repertoire, history, and future. Classical and contemporary performing skills are acquired through rigorous technical training. Students will increase their current knowledge and skills and also learn those aspects of the instrument that they are not familiar with.

During each semester, students attend weekly private lessons, orchestra excerpt classes, mock orchestra auditions, bass ensemble rehearsals and performances, studio repertoire classes, group techniques/scale classes, guest master classes and presentations, and various performing opportunities including a Bass Studio Recital.

The Hartt Double Bass program is competitive, yet friendly, and is the right size to give each student maximum individual attention and performance opportunities.
For audition information, please visit the audition requirements page.

Classical Studies

Private Lessons

One-hour, weekly, private lessons focus on technical and musical development. All aspects of classical and contemporary styles and techniques are learned through the use of scales, exercises, etudes, and solos. Students will acquire a well-balanced repertoire of baroque, classical, romantic, and contemporary concerti, sonatas, and other solo pieces. In addition to the lessons, participation is required at all of the in-house and guest master classes and mock orchestra auditions. Graduate students are expected to present two solo recitals and undergraduate students are expected to present a full Senior Recital. Each student is assigned an accompanist for the semester.

Orchestra Repertoire Class

Class meets one hour per week. All major excerpts from the symphonic literature are studied and students are expected to master all technical (bowings, fingerings, intonation, etc.) and stylistic requirements. This course helps prepare students for a career as a professional orchestra musician. Course work also includes two mock orchestra auditions per semester.

Bass Ensemble

Comprised of undergraduate and graduate bass students, various sizes of ensembles are formed from trios to octets and rehearse twice weekly. The literature studied includes original works and transcriptions from all periods of Western Music and contemporary pop culture. Repertoire ranges from Moteverdi to Metallica. Special projects in the past have included working with composers on new pieces, collaborating with choreographers on movement related works, and performing with a Balinese Gamelan Orchestra. Concerts are presented each semester and occasional performances are given off-campus, the most recent being at the Bang On A Can Marathon in New York City.

Studio Repertoire Class

This course is designed to supplement and increase the student's knowledge of the repertoire for the double bass by listening to recordings, examining scores, and discussing relevant topics. Each semester focuses on a different topic such as Bass Soli from the Orchestra Repertoire, 20th/21st Century Double Bass Concerti, Chamber Music with Double Bass, The Art of Transcription, History of the Double Bass, Contemporary Techniques and Literature, and Schools of Playing and Important Bass Players.

Scales/Technique Class

All aspects of double bass technique will be developed in a group setting. Exercises will focus on tone production, left hand, shifting, vibrato, string crossing, bow strokes, fingerboard geography, etc. Various scale and arpeggio systems including Simandl, Rabbath, Morton, Billie, Levinson, etc. will be studied.

Master Classes

Each year, there are several in-house and guest master classes from major performers/teachers. All bass students are required to attend and expected to perform at these professional coachings. The guests, bass faculty, and students provide comments, criticisms, and feedback. A partial list of past guests include, Edgar Meyer (soloist), Eugene Levinson (Principal, The New York Philharmonic, Juilliard School), Tim Cobb (Associate Principal, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Juilliard School), Don Palma (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New England Conservatory), Larry Wolfe, (Boston Symphony, New England Conservatory), Jeff Bradetich (soloist, University of North Texas), Michael Cameron (soloist, University of Illinois), Richard Hartshorne (soloist, Apple Hill Chamber Players), and Marji Danilow (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Mannes School of Music), Ed Barker (Principal, Boston Symphony), and Orin O'Brien (New York Philharmonic, Juilliard).

Mock Orchestra Auditions

During the two mock orchestra auditions each semester, all students will play orchestra excerpts chosen from the works that they are studying in orchestra, orchestra excerpt class, lessons, and on their own. The bass faculty, the students, and guests provide comments, criticisms, and feedback.

Guest Presentations

Each year, a guest is invited to present a lecture/demonstration on some aspect of his or her work. Past guests have included Joel Morton on the "History of the Double Bass", Mark Dresser on "Approaches to Improvisation," and Paul Higgins, "How to Avoid Performance Injuries."
Studio Recital
Each semester, the Double Bass Studio will present a public recital. All bass students perform a work from the solo literature.

Technology and Improvisation

Students are encouraged to explore the world of music technology using the double bass studio's electronic music system. This system includes an Eventide Orville, a T.C. Electronics Fireworks, a Mackie 1642 Mixer, a Macintosh G4 Desktop, and Tannoy Monitor Speakers. In addition, students are encouraged to take the Free Improvisation course, which is offered each semester.

Double Bass Faculty

Robert Black

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