Over the past month or so, I’ve decided to start practicing the upright bass and rebuild my skills. I’ve decided to practice what I preach to my bass students: spend 1/2 hour playing long tones, concentrating on perfect intonation, and then 1/2 playing scales.
I’m convinced that playing long tones is the best way to practice upright bass. It builds up strength, and it teaches you how to hold a note with good, steady intonation, even harmonics, perfect tone, and appropriate vibrato.
I’m reminded of the talk that Cameron Carpenter gave in Raleigh about the nature of the organ. Like a computer, notes are either on or off. Unlike the bass, you could casually press an organ note with a weak finger stroke, and it would sound exactly like a well-articulated note played with good technique.
Similarly, any mistakes you make on the organ ring out just as loud as the correct notes. This makes the organ an all-or-nothing proposition. Playing the organ, you have to be ‘all in’ or resign yourself to sounding crappy.