Dennis Whittaker, bass faculty
- US News Ranking: #194 (tie) in National Universities
- US News Overall Score (out of 100): 29
- In-State Tuition & Fees 2016-17: $10,710
- Out-of-State Tuition & Fees 2016-17: $25,410
- Room & Board 2016-17: $9,849
- Total Enrollment: 42,704
- Acceptance Rate (from 2015): 60%
- Student – Faculty Ratio: 21:1
- 4 year graduation rate: 20%
- % of undergrads receiving Financial aid: 59%
- Average Financial Aid: $8,127
Double Bass Statistics
- Average number of undergraduate bass students: 6
- Average number of graduate bass students: 3
- Studio Class, Orchestral Repertoire Class, Bass Ensembles, Pedagogy classes offered
What Alumni Are Doing
- Curry Duffey (Houston Ballet, 2014)
- Juan Garcia is a professional bassist in Mexico City in contemporary performing ensembles
- Claudia Arroyave is a professional bassist and private teacher in Monterrey, Mexico
- Many recent undergraduates are now teaching in award-winning orchestra programs in Houston, as well as developing large private bass studios
Perspectives from Students and Alumni
Q: What are some favorite memories about studying at this school?
A: How we had a very friendly bass studio, we all supported each other. I also really enjoyed my international friends cause we would be the only ones practicing till very late each day, and that made me feel never alone. My teacher was also a great support and inspiration since day one, even though I graduated about 7 years ago, I am still learning from him. He always made sure I understood whatever he was trying to explain and he still helps me and guide me when I have doubts now as a professional musician and instructor.
A: Huge variety of performance experiences including opera and ballet. Of course my lessons with my bass professor were fantastic.
Q: How did this school help prepare you for your future endeavors?
A: My teacher always talked to us about what we would do once out of school whether at playing or at teaching, he always had great advice. As an orchestra musician, a lot of the repertoire I got to play at the University Orchestra I get to play it now and I always feel prepare cause we had a very good orchestra teacher too.
A: I developed good bass technique and musicality which continues to be useful everyday as a luthier. The education classes I took have helped me prepare presentations and lectures. By going trough the education program, it gave me better insight into the public school system. The shop I work for does a huge amount of business with school districts. I spend a lot of time interacting with orchestra directors. I feel I can speak their language a little better because of my education training.
Q: What advice would you offer others thinking about studying at this school?
A: That they should definitely do it. It is a great environment to grow at. Mr. Whittaker is an excellent teacher that cares about each of his students, and really helps you be the best you can. The Campus was also very nice and had a great community, plus it is in a great city.
A: My number one advice is really think hard about the cost of school. I personally do not think a performance degree is worth racking up debt over. Regardless of where you study, coming out of school with little or no debt will put you so far ahead of your peers.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about this school?
A: I miss it dearly and I would definitely go back and do it all over.
A: Going to school in Houston is great because there are fantastic gigging and teaching opportunities. You can actually earn income playing bass during your studies.
Claudia A, Joey N
Perspectives from the Bass Faculty
Q: What are some of your favorite experiences teaching at your school?
A: I love the spirit of collaboration and cooperation in the city of Houston among the bass community. The morale in the bass studio is always high, and I love watching the students work together in developing playing styles, pedagogy skills, and networking across the country. Students often take advantage of the musical and foodie culture of Houston, and they always surprise my by their resourcefulness.
Houston is a hub of world-class public school orchestra teaching, and the teachers look to UH as a valuable resource. Houston also is home to the Houston Symphony, Ballet and Opera orchestras, as well as a thriving outreach and chamber community. The opportunities for exposure, pedagogical development and chamber outreach are extensive.
About The Bass Faculty
Dennis Whittaker wears many hats as a professional bassist in Houston, Texas. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education from Baylor University, and with a Master’s of Music from Northwestern University. His teachers include Paul Ellison, Jeff Bradetich, Eugene Levinson, Mark Whitney and Michael Cameron. In 1987, Mr. Whittaker won the Gary Karr Foundation National Double Bass competition, and was the recipient of a fine bass donated by the Karr foundation.
He has been the principal Double Bassist of the Houston Grand Opera since 1996, and appears on six world premeire recordings with that organization.
He is the instructor of Double Bass at the University of Houston Moores School of Music since 1997. He has served as string area coordinator and coordinator of the “Tuesday recital” series, has hosted the Texas Double Bass symposium, and maintains a presence of master classes, low string festivals, and hosting visiting master classes in the state of Texas. Before teaching at the University of Houston, he taught orchestra in the public schools in Waco and Houston for seven years.
He has acted as a substitute bassist with the Houston symphony since 1996, appearing on two recordings with them under the Telarc and Koch labels, and having joined them on tours to Japan and Europe. He has also substituted with the Houston Ballet Orchestra, the Houston Sinfonietta, and the River Oaks Chamber orchestra.
He is a freelance bassist in Houston, serving in symphonic, chamber, jazz and studio capacities, appearing on numerous CDs with local artists.
Mr. Whittaker has performed master classes and performances in ShangHai, China, Amsterdam, Japan, Germany, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and Louisiana. He has also performed at the Aspen music festival, and as principal bass for the Festival de dui Mondi in Spoleto, Italy for GianCarlo Menotti’s nintieth birthday. He currently teaches bass and coordinates the Chamber Music program at the Texas Music Festival, and has served as the bass teacher for the Sound Encounters program in Ottawa, Kansas, and as a reviewer for Double Bassist magazine in London, England.
Mr. Whittaker’s students have enjoyed success at programs such as Tanglewood, Aspen, the Disney Young Musician’s orchestra, Domaine Forget, the Golden Gate bass festival, Tanglewood Young Musician’s Institute, Interlochen, Texas Music Festival, Round Top Music festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Instrumenta Festival (Mexico) and The Bach Festival. His students have gone on to study at Julliard, Mannes, the University of Southern California, Rice University, Northwestern University, Boston University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Baylor University and Indiana University.
Mr. Whittaker is a proud member of the American Suzuki Strings Association, American String Teachers Association, The Texas Music Educator’s Association, the Texas Orchestra Director’s Association, the International Society of Bassists, Kappa Kappa Psi and Phi Mu Alpha.
Education: MM, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1990; BME, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, 1988.
Prizes and Awards: Winner, Evanston Music Club competition, 1990; Winner, Gary Karr Doublebass Foundation International Bass Competition, 1987.