I had the opportunity to addend a master class featuring Tim Cobb this past Wednesday (5/28/08), which washosted by Northwestern University’s Peter Lloyd. In addition to serving as principal double bassist with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, Tim serves as principal double bassist for the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. Prior to his appointment in the Metropolitan Opera in 1986 (where he initially served as associate principal double bass), Tim was a member of the Chicago Symphony, obtaining his position in this orchestra during his senior year at the Curtis Institute while studying with Roger Scott.
Tim is a towering presence as a teacher in metropolitan New York, currently serving as a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music, SUNY Purchase, Rutgers University, and Mason Gross School of the Arts, and he is the current head of the double bass department at the Juilliard School.
If you’re interested in seeing Tim Cobb in action, check out these two videos featuring Tim teaching lesson segments:
John Grillo, our co-host and regular contributor at doublebassblog.org and contrabassconversations.com, studied with Tim at the Manhattan School of Music for his Masters degree, and dozens of other successful professionals active in the field also spent time as a student of Tim.
Major Pedagogical Points Covered by Mr. Cobb
Though I wish I had the opportunity to attend sessions like this more frequently (work, family, and distance all factor against a person as they get older!), I have done some summaries of classes by other major double bass figures in the past, including a post about Chicago Symphony principal bassist Joe Guastafeste and another post about Boston Symphony principal bassist Ed Barker (this post was one of my very first extended blog posts, so be kind if you happen to click through!).
The Northwestern students performing in this master class did an excellent job, and Tim discussed some of the following topics in this master class (which I unfortunately had to cut out of early due to the 10,000 random freelancer jobs I do on a daily basis):
- Pacing and phrasing – finding good tempos for Bach (Tim prefers slower tempos these days)
- Taking time at the ends of phrases – letting the music breathe before continuing extended phrase structures
- Choosing when to dynamically paint the musical contour (louder when higher, softer when lower)
- Shifting concepts
- Bow speed
- Keeping the thumb down while playing in thumb position
- Proximity of bow to bridge (exploring the area closer to the bridge)
- Using a wide dynamic spectrum
- Developing a wide bow placement palette
More Master Classes at Northwestern to Come
It’s really great to see double bass activities of this caliber occurring at Northwestern University. I’m a graduate of this institution twice over, and (though some people have accused me in the past of being overly critical of Northwestern’s music school in posts like Northwestern’s School of Music is Falling Apart… Literally!), I’m overjoyed to see Peter Lloyd bring this kind of energy and vitality to this institution through ispiring double bass events such as these. Kudos, Peter!