Wednesday, April 6, 2016


April 6, 2016

Max is an amazing young man. A student at Fredonia State, he is teaching me upright bass, amazing enough in itself, but even more so due to the quality of his teaching. When we started just three short months ago, the only thing I knew about bass was what I knew from playing electric bass, which other than the placement of the notes, is an entirely different instrument. Once when the Green Bay Packers were having a bad season, coach Vince Lombardi took the team into the locker room for a pep talk. Holding aloft a pigskin, he began, "Gentlemen, this is a football." The fundamentals cannot be overlooked. Max began at the beginning by teaching the
components of the instrument, how to hold it and the bow. He focused on the details of how I shape my fingers around the fingerboard and the frog on the bow, how the bow contacts the strings, and letting the weight of my arm power the strokes.

He notices little things, like when I would let my left hand close up, causing notes to go sharp or flat, and reminding me of the fingering patterns that form the basis of playing the instrument, all the while, encouraging me, telling me when I have done something well, even though compared to his playing, I am obviously a rank amateur. At this stage in my life, I don't expect ever to be more than a hack, as someone once said, "It is possible to love music and be a very bad musician," but I am having loads of fun and meeting some wonderful people like Max. He will be a great teacher. He already is, and I am grateful to him. He doesn't have to do this; spending time with me at no charge simply for the love of the music and the instrument.

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