The French double bassist and teacher advises building your muscles bit by bit


To play the bass, you must build up your muscles bit by bit, so that you have the endurance to play for two hours without stopping. At first, play for a few minutes at a time; then build it up week by week. It took me around two years to build up to two hours.

If you go on vacation for a week, you will have to begin again or you risk getting tendonitis. Start with half an hour, then one, then one and a half, then two. Always be careful. I never play for more than two-and-a-half hours per day.

On a concert day, I do not touch the bass before the performance – I warm up on the public. That is because you have to give your audience something more than just notes: they must cry when you play; they must be touched by each note. You cannot do that if you have played for hours beforehand and you are tired.

François Rabbath speaks about his left-hand pivot and crab techniques in The Strad's October 2015 issue - download through The Strad app.