RCM double bass tutor Caroline Emery reviews the latest in B&H’s series for ABRSM students and others
Grade by Grade: Double Bass
Boosey & Hawkes
Grade 1: 60PP ISBN 9781784542160 £11.99
Grade 2: 60PP ISBN 9781784545161 £11.99
Grade 3: 64PP ISBN 9781784542177 £11.99
Grade 4: 64PP ISBN 9781784545178 £12.99
Grade 5: 64PP ISBN 9781784542184 £13.99
This series is promoted as ‘the complete resource for the double bassist’ for each ABRSM grade up to Grade 5. The material has been selected by Cathy Elliott, an eminent and experienced teacher of young bassists who really cares about what she presents to young students. This is obvious in the presentation and choice of material and I can feel her style coming across in the books. Each one is nicely laid out and has an uncluttered look on the page, giving plenty of room for teachers to write their own individual notes for the students. There are piano parts, which I am glad to say are sold with the books and fit nicely into the standardised covers of the bass parts. I hope the students can be trained into keeping the piano parts together with their music. There are little activities around scales and very helpful sightreading activities, which give a complete and organised feel to the training. As well as aural tasks to assist students and parents in preparing for exams, there is a CD with each book, containing each piece played right the way through, followed by a repeat of the piano part minus the solo bass, for the student to play along with.
‘Grade by Grade’ is not a title I am particularly fond of, as parents often try to insist that tutors only teach for exams, and this title seems to support that view. However, I realise this is also powerful as a selling point and is part of a bigger series for all instruments. On the flipside, the books have plenty of material that one can work through very methodically, and will keep parents happy that a lot of very supportive work is being done. The five books each contain between 12 and 20 pieces – Grade 1 has the most, as the pieces are shorter. The styles are varied with quite a few arrangements and ample challenges presented particularly with rhythm and bowings. This series presents a large volume of repertoire and teachers may well choose not to use them ‘grade by grade’ after all.