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Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714814 12/11/05 06:52 AM
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Luke73 Offline OP
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After some recommendations from this forum, I've bought the Simandl Method from Amazon. I received it a few weeks ago, but now the teaching year is finished, and I'm off campus until February during our summer break.

So, I have some time to start tackling the book, and have progressed through some of the first few pages in an effort to improve my reading skills.

Anyway - I'm loving it. All of the exercises have been very easy thus far - but I know that's about to change! \:D

My questions is regarding what the best approach would be to working through the book in the most effective manner.

For those familiar with the text, would it be most useful to simply work through the book from cover to cover using my metronome at a fairly low speed, or would it be better to start each exercise at a low speed on my metronome, and repeat - working towards playing the section cleanly at a higher "target" speed before moving on to the next section?

If you recommend the latter, what sort of target speed would be appropriate for each exercise before moving on to the next?

Many thanks ;\)

BP Island
Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714815 12/11/05 09:12 AM
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davio Offline
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If your main goal is to practice your reading skills then I'd say work cover to cover.

If it is to work your technique (both right and left hands...which I believe is the main focus of the books), then approach each exercise as exactly what it is...and exercise. Don't look at it as something to learn and move on. The book has many levels of things you can learn from any given part of it. Use the fingerings suggested. Use the bowings suggested. Try taking one exercise and playing it with as many different fingerings as you can possibly come up with. Try playing it with different patterns applied to your bow strokes (ie. if it's straight 1/4 notes, play it up, down; down, up; up, up, down; down, down, up; etc.) separated, hooked, slurred, bowed up on the bridge, over the fingerboard, everywhere in between. You can spend an entire day working a single exercise. You'll be bored to drooling by the end of it but it is possible.

My suggestion is to spend some of your practice time doing each. Some time spent reading random exercises and some time spent really digging in to a few of them.

Above all...have fun with it. If you don't find joy in doing it you won't get as much out of it. It's the difference between the kid whos parents make him take piano lessons and the kid who begs his parents to let him. The difference between all the kids I'm surrounded with whos parents pay for their college education and they drink and party it away while some work their arses off to pay their way through because they want to get something out of it.

Good luck. Keep us posted on your improvement. Now get off the computer and go practice. ;\)

Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714816 12/11/05 11:05 AM
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Luke73 Offline OP
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Thanks Davio ;\)

I should note that I'm not using an URB to work through this book, but an electric bass.

The primary goal of using the book for me is reading practice, although of course my technique can always use improvement.


Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714817 12/11/05 11:24 AM
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davebrownbass Offline
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I worked through the first part of the book 3 times with teachers in my early years.

The key is mastery: you must master each exercise. By this, I don't mean to memorize each one, but be able to play without stopping as you read.

And play each exercise without looking at the fingerboard (except when you place your hands on the instrument initially.) This is essential for Simandl to work.

I don't recommend a practice tempo, but students generally take the book too fast. My advice is to play each exercise at a tempo where you don't make mistakes.

As you look through the book, you see that each position begins with the notes played in that position as lines A-B-C-D. These are not to practice, they are references. However, I have students play lines E-F-G-H and call note names as they play them (at least for the first few positions.)

I would heartily recommend that you use the printed URB fingering initially as you play. After you've mastered the first section of the book (ending with minor scales) go back and replay the book using a guitar style fingering.

Don't refinger the book!!!!! Follow the listed fingering exactly, including every shift. Some of the shifts won't seem obvious to you as the most logical what to play something. Don't worry about that; there is a hidden logic to the book.

For this reason, don't use a scattershoot approach. Master each exercise sequentially.

Simandl is designed for URB, and a significant problem is learning where you place your fingers on an unlined fingerboard. (People come up to me all the time and say, "I don't understand how you know where to put your fingers." "It's Magic.")

Generally, as you play a passage up the neck, you want to strategize your multiple shifts so that the highest note you play before you descend is played by the fourth finger. Simandl is excellent at building an intuition for this. If you learn Section 1 without looking at the board, you'll be able to shift through the first half of the board logically and dependably.

Magic, like I said.


"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.
Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714818 12/11/05 11:47 AM
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Luke73 Offline OP
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Thanks very much for that advice davebrownbass.

At the moment, I can play the exercises for F Major, B flat Major and G Major up to p13. at around 70bpm without any mistakes so far.

Does that seem like a reasonable speed, or should I take it a little slower initially?

Quote:
would heartily recommend that you use the printed URB fingering initially as you play. After you've mastered the first section of the book (ending with minor scales) go back and replay the book using a guitar style fingering.

Don't refinger the book!!!!! Follow the listed fingering exactly, including every shift. Some of the shifts won't seem obvious to you as the most logical what to play something. Don't worry about that; there is a hidden logic to the book.
So, play all of the first section using the printed fingering in the book, and then go back and play it again using guitar fingering?

By guitar fingering, are you referring to one finger per fret, as opposed to the three fret stretch of the Simandl method?

Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714819 12/11/05 01:38 PM
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BenLoy Offline
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I use Simandl fingering religiously below the 7th fret unless I'm doing some sort of trill or arpeggiated passage that necessitates one finger per fret technique. It's easier on the hands then trying to keep your hands stretched out like that all the time. Even Jaco would use Simandl fingering...although his hands were so big that he had little trouble with one finger per fret down in first position.

Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714820 12/11/05 04:29 PM
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davebrownbass Offline
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You are making progress if you can play up to page 13. Hopefully, you aren't looking at your fingers.

After this, though, the shifting exercises begin.

3 rules of shifting:

1. Shift with your thumb...the hand shape stays the same.
2. Keep fingers pressed down while shifting...the portamento shift.
3. Snap your hand from position to position.

And yes, I mean one finger per fret, after you've mastered the URB fingering.


"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.
Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714821 12/11/05 05:38 PM
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davio Offline
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DBB knows what he's talking about.

For some reason I had assumed you meant you were working on your sightreading skills rather than reading in general. Sorry, I was really tired when I replied. Do exactly as Dave says.

Cheers.

Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714822 12/11/05 09:33 PM
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Luke73 Offline OP
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Thanks very much everyone!



Yes, davebrownbass, I'm playing without looking at my fingers. The only time I look is when I initially place them on the fingerboard, but as you said - the shifting exercises are about to begin \:D

I've always practiced one finger per fret - even in the half position up until now. I must admit it's a significant stretch though. The Simandl fingering is certainly more comfortable. The exercises I've played until now have been using guitar fingering.

I'll go back to the start and begin again strictly using the Simandl fingering.

Many thanks ;\)


Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714823 12/11/05 11:14 PM
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Simandl is not only more comfortable -- it saves you from sometimes irreversible physical problems in the future. Even on electric basses, bad ergonomic habits have impacted careers. Be aware as you progress that hybrid/modernized methods are acceptable as additional or advanced material, and that in all of them there is a premium on using those hands and wrists correctly.


From Mike Lull basses , and keeping with the thoughts of many respected players and teachers on the big bass too:

"Over the years I have heard Simandl mentioned many times and have done some research to make sure I was not painting my own technical style into a corner. And lately, I've seen mentions of [François] Rabbath and another name or two, ones that challenge, I think, some of the Simandl assumptions on the big bass - which of course the electric bassist may benefit from examining."


I also googled at one time, some interesting anecdotes involving jazz monster Christian McBride's carpal tunnel problems, arrived at because a well-known band leader who insisted on high action instead of using an amp. Also, players on double bass who tune in fifths instead of fourths (such as Joel Quarrington and Slam Stewart) would have some interesting outlooks as well. Never hurts to get viewpoints of many types of experts.

Some of those people also mention Rufus Reid's book, and it seems like many of them mention George Vance's Rabbath-based studies: Vance's Repertoire For The Double Bass, Volumes 1-3.


And with that. I'll mention BenLoy, who in the past has said some good things about Rufus Reid and virtuoso, Edgar Meyer. I'll just lift a quote of Edgar Meyer from an older post of BenLoy's:

"Over the year I've realized it's all how you hear it; it's not a mechanical thing. So your best hand position is to have 20 options. It's the same for getting around the fingerboard: Having a well-defined set of positions and way you hold the hand is a great basis for playing, but it's not how you want to end up. Ultimately you have to work with a freer hand. When people see two bassists playing in two different ways and ask me which I think is better, I almost always tell them to learn both.

Of course, I shudder a bit in saying this because I don't want to send pople who shouldn't be doing this to an early grave."


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Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714824 12/12/05 12:56 AM
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jeremy c Offline
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Having been throught the book many times (and not being an upright player), my recommendations are:

First: do everything in the book with the fingerings exactly as written.

Second: go back and read your way through the book and see what happens.

Third: go through the book and "refinger" it in a way you think might be appropriate for electric bass....which could be one finger per fret and which would also include playing a lot of notes in higher positions on low strings.

Fourth: go back and read your way through the book again and see what happens.

Write back in a few years and let us know how it works out for you.

Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714825 12/12/05 03:44 AM
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Luke73 Offline OP
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Thanks very much for those comments ;\)

Quote:
Write back in a few years and let us know how it works out for you
Yes, it is rather alot of work - isn't it?

I'm enjoying the Simandl fingering in the half and first positions so far...much more comfortable.

I'm recording myself playing each exercise in Garage Band - it's very useful to play it back and hear errors in technique.

OK, back to practice - I'll keep plugging away at it then.

\:D

Thanks.

Re: Most effective approach in using the Simandl Method? #714826 12/12/05 05:11 AM
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I use Simandl fingering religiously below the 7th fret

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