Ask the teacher - Mary Condliffe


The Cardiff-based double bass pedagogue explains why her students’ health is her biggest concern

What ages and standards do you teach?

I teach both children and adults from beginner standard through to conservatoire level. I love teaching adults because they have such a thirst for knowledge. What you say can open up a whole new world for them and they really appreciate your help. Youngsters tend to take it for granted that you’re there to teach them, but it’s lovely to see them getting pleasure from their playing. They’re easier to read – you can see when they love it and when they’re not enjoying themselves.

How do you start a beginner?

I get the pupil comfortable with holding the bow and moving it, making sure they’re relaxed and not gripping. I aim for a flexible hold where students can move their fingers and thumb, and control the bow. It is important to make sure they have the right size bass and stool. When the student is perched on the stool, both feet should be comfortably flat on the floor. 

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