Double Bass – Why Double Bass Players Continue to Use a Technique that Doesn’t Work (Musicians)(Psychology)(Pain)(Strain)(Injuries)(Posture)(Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on May 10, 2012

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Double Bass Technique, is published on this website in a PDF format. It is very detailed and practical, and it will give you the physical tools you need to take the limits off of your ability to create the accurate bass technique you want without sacrificing your body.
This ebook is also for sale on all AMAZON websites in a KINDLE format.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A. (MOVEMENT THERAPY)

As an Alexander Technique teacher, there have been times when a double bass player comes to me, and I show them how to play better than ever and they don’t continue. I’ve never actually contacted a bass player who didn’t come back after only one session and asked him or her why they didn’t come back, after they’ve had a taste of effortless performing.

But I have taken a look at myself and my beliefs and habits in general that don’t work, and I asked myself why I’m still doing them. It seems to me for every habit and belief we live by there is more than one reason we hold onto them, even if they aren’t serving us anymore. I believe there is one main reason why we continue to do what doesn’t work.

We continue to do what doesn’t work, because when we did what we did, we believed in what we did and lived by with such unconscious unquestioning conviction and commitment.

What does this mean? If a double bass player learns to play with a specific technique, no matter how poorly it has served him or her, he or she has probably never ever questioned this technique. By time this inefficient technique fails him or her, it becomes a matter of loyalty.

What do I mean a matter of loyalty? There was a particular family belief I had lived by, and one day I realized it did not serve me. In fact, this belief was a total betrayal of everything I now believed, so shouldn’t it have been easy or obvious that I should let this belief go? You would think so, but what I felt is that I SHOULD still continue to live by it, because I have lived by it. In some weird way this belief, that was a total betrayal of all I knew was true now, still felt bizarrely right or true.

This is what I think happens to double bass players who are confronted by a technique they have lived by that is hurting their bodies. They know the technique isn’t working, but it still feels right, because WHEN THEY LEARNED THE TECHNIQUE THEY BELIEVED IT WAS RIGHT, or why else would they have committed to this specific way of performance.

So, when a double bass player comes to me for an Alexander Technique session, is there a way for me to make it possible for him or her to make radical technique changes that won’t scare him or her off? In the Alexander Technique we usually spend most of a session helping a student let go of what doesn’t work technically rather than taking on the role of being a music teacher. I now realize that I have to make it safe for this to happen.

This means I have to gently and kindly and slowly enough guide a double bass player into letting go of what doesn’t work, at a pace that it doesn’t freak out his or her ego. I was so driven as a concert guitarist, that I would do whatever it took to get better. But in retrospect, this was not done lovingly. I wasn’t concerned for the effect major radical technique changes had on me on the thing that was most important to me, so ultimately I stopped playing.

I should never forget that the double bass player in front of me in an Alexander Technique session is more important than his or her instrument.

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