Hello Young Bassists!

In today’s email we’re talking about masterclasses and workshops. This is what comprises the main convention, aside from all the amazing performances,and what comprises most of our week-long program as well.  When you are not in rehearsal with your small group, there are so many options for workshops and masterclasses within the Young Bassist program. That’s right – these classes and workshops are just for US – no over 18s allowed. This gives you a much better chance to play for the great teachers, in an environment that is safe and supportive. After all, we’re all here in Ithaca to work on becoming better bass players.

I have a lot of information here, so please take your time, read through and browse the links for each teacher. When you have made some choices, please fill out this surveymonkey to indicate which classes you want to participate in. I will have paper sign-up sheets available in Ithaca as well, so you can wait if you’d prefer.

*for Jeffrey Turner’s class on Tuesday June 6 (our first day) I do want to get people signed up in advance. All others will have paper sheets in addition to being able to sign up online in advance.

What is a Masterclass? This is a bit like having a private lesson- students will sign up to play something prepared in front of a small audience of fellow students. The teacher will ask you to try ideas out, they may suggest different fingerings or bowings, or perhaps they will play their ideas on another bass (or yours!).  The masterclass is great for those who play – getting direct experience with major teachers, learning about how you feel and play when you are on stage and not just in the practice room – and great for those of us in the audience – ideas we can all take home and play with. Teachers will give suggestions and ways of practicing that apply to all of us, using the students’s performance as the starting point.

Who should sign up to play in a masterclass? Anyone who has a piece prepared. This is a time to fine-tune elements of your playing, so work with something you know well. Your piece doesn’t need to be the hardest thing you know, it can be anything (solo, etude, chamber, orchestral) that you are working on and know fairly well.

Each day will have masterclasses, and I want to be sure everyone gets a chance to play in a a class at least twice during the week. Please think about who you most want to play for and prepare your piece/s!

What is a workshop? These are hands-on classes with a specific topic in mind. We have teachers who will work on topics like Baroque style, bowing technique, taking care of your body as a musician, scales, modern music elements and more! Workshops are open to all students, and we will indicate if this is an advanced class, or if there is limited numbers of students who can take a class. We trust each musician to decide if they are suited for the class that is offered. Ask the director, Gaelen McCormick, if you are not sure if a class is right for you.

I encourage everyone to try a workshop that is out of their comfort zone. Maybe you are classical person who only ever reads music – try an improvisation class with Johnny Hamil! Maybe you are a jazz person who rarely plays with the bow? – try Tracy Rowell’s class and get some great advice on bowed sound.

Masterclass teachers

Jeffrey Turner – Pittsburgh Symphony principal bass
Francois Rabbath ** – composer, performer, teacher, creator of the Rabbath Method
Paul Ellison – Rice University, Domaine Forget summer institute
John Clayton – Talking Hands, international jazz bassist
Rufus Reid – author of “The Evolving Bassist” and international jazz bassist
Mimi Jones – international jazz artist
Caroline Emery – Royal Conservatory (London), author of “Bass is Best” and “Bow Works”
Ira Gold – National Symphony (D.C.) and Peabody Conservatory
David Allen Moore – L.A. Phil and Thorton School of Music at Univ. of Southern California
Tracy Rowell – Oberlin College
Todd Coolman – international jazz artist
Jeff Bradetich – Univ. of North Texas

While you are welcome to play whatever you have prepared at any class, I am making a special request that students who have prepared **Francois Rabbath’s music sign up to play for him at his class. You will have the rare opportunity to play for the composer to gain insight into his music.

Workshop artists

Heather Miller Lardin – Baroque performance style – this is limited to 9 people. There will be baroque bows available for the students to work with. If possible, have a short baroque piece or orchestra part ready (even just a small part of a movement).

Daniel Thatcher – self care for bassists – using tai chi and yoga ideas, we will learn stretches and other ideas that help us keep healthy bodies and keep us in great shape for playing the bass at any age.

David Pellow – a fun way to work with scales. This is an intermediate level class – students should feel comfortable playing the full neck range up to the g harmonic.

Barry Green- Anna’s Way workshop – this is a hands-on class on natural artistry. Mr. Green will talk about and use examples from his upcoming performance of Anna’s Way. All students will play in this workshop.

Brett Shurtliffe – The Art of Effortless Art – a fun, hands-on workshop using imagery and costumes (!) to help us project character in our music.

Mike Forfia and Christian Howes  – Creative Strings workshop – no music needed, Mike and Christian will lead a class in exploring our natural creativity in playing.

Johnny Hamil – improvisation for everyone! – have no fear, Johnny will help unlock our ability to improvise, whether you’ve been doing this for years, or cringe at the thought of not having music in front of you.

Ted Botsford – technique class – open to all levels – Ted will lead us through examples and exercises we can take home to keep our chops up all year long. Ted has recently won a new position with the L.A. Phil, he knows what he’s doing!

James Sullivan – post-tonal technique – how can we work on contemporary music that is outside our usual comfort zone? James will show us ideas for practice and help demystify approaches to post-tonal music. This is an advanced class. Players should be comfortable playing the full range of the instrument.

Tom Knific – Call and Response class – Tom has led workshops all over the world in jazz, improv and this “call and response”. This is a great way to get started with using your ears to play, no music needed, and Tom is a master teacher of this tradition. All levels.

Gaelen McCormick
Chair, Young Bassists Program 2017 | gmccormick@esm.rochester.edu

What I Love About ISB: I love that our bass family has all kinds of interests that we mutually encourage and support: brand new ideas in composing, fiercely focused discussions on the details of orchestral playing, raising the next generation of players with new pedagogical ideas and materials that are being written by our own members, showcasing the wide spectrum of styles that our instrument plays in. I’ve really never been a part of another group that is so broad in mission yet so committed to helping one another in practical ways.