One of the fun things about running a blog is seeing how posts from many years ago still generate comments. The following comment comes from a discussion from 2007 about the merits of the Rabbath and Simandl systems as teaching materials for younger students.
I am a conductor, composer and double bassist with an active performing and teaching career. While I have been a bass teacher for 37 years, I have never allowed my thinking about the bass to stand still. This curiosity moved me to spend most of my 45 years on the bass experimenting with and analysing every approach or system I came across. I believe the result of this journey is a synthetic approach that combines the strongest elements of each set of practices into a cohesive yet open architecture that consistently produces rapid progress for my students… and now their students as well.
The author correctly points out that the “traditional” position labeling system (Simandl) is difficult to remember and offers little in the way of context that would help students make sense of either the geography/topography of the fingerboard and the locations of pitches on the strings. I still have to work to remember it after all these years. Rabbath’s reduction to 6 positions is defintely a step in the right direction and begs the question: Can we make additional improvements?
As I write this post, I am in the middle of composing an article on a fresh look at the double bass fingerboard that includes a system for labeling positions that is simple, logical and descriptive. In other words, the labeling actually supports the students’ decision making process with respect to shifting and fingerings as it confirms the location of pitches on each string.
I will return to add information when I complete the article.
Check out all the comments for the two previously linked posts as well–some interesting perspectives (and feel free to add your own, of course).