Cathy Elliott looks through Jon McCullough-Benner’s book featuring bowings, fingerings and useful tips for standard audition repertoire
An Auditioning Double Bassist’s Tool Kit
155PP ISBN 9798557926553
An Auditioning Double Bassist’s Tool Kit does what it says on the cover – it provides ‘Bowings, Fingerings and Useful Tips for Standard Audition Repertoire’. In a lockdown project Jon McCullough-Benner, a bassist and tutor at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, has chosen standard works by Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Verdi, Strauss and Mahler, and provided the reader with a guide to practising the extracts while also pointing out the common pitfalls when performing them.
Each excerpt appears twice. The first version is comprehensively fingered using a systematic fingering scheme that includes indications of when to open and close an E string extension gate. The second version is without fingering but uses dotted hairpins to indicate the musical shaping. Between the two versions are a plethora of ideas for how to practise each extract to give it rhythmic stability, to make sure each note has a good start to it, and to ensure coordination. Players are advised about bow placement and a target tempo; they are encouraged to use looping in their practice, and to record themselves and listen back.
This is just the book if you have done lots of auditions and are needing inspiration for new ways to tackle old problems, or if you are daunted by the idea of an orchestral audition – or, indeed, if you are fresh out of college and feeling somewhat alone preparing for your first audition. A second edition is reportedly on its way.