Characteristics of Successful Double Bass Students According to Phoebe Russell

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Cite this article as:

International Journal of Music. (November 26, 2021). Characteristics of Successful Double Bass Students According to Phoebe Russell. International Journal of Music. Accessed July 13, 2024.

In addition to being the principal double bass in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, you also teach at the University of Queensland and the Queensland Conservatorium. What are some characteristics of successful students?

Teaching is something that I’ve become increasingly passionate about over the last couple of years. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how I can be a better teacher, mainly by analyzing works and trying to understand problems from various perspectives. When we’re just practising on our own, we might not be as critical as we could be, but when we are helping someone else, at least for me, I’m much more aware of these things. Right now, I just have university students because I don’t have a ton of time to devote to students who aren’t older or more serious yet. I’m a very invested teacher, so I do a lot of work for the individuals to ensure their success. Next year, I’ll have five students, and for me that’s the perfect amount. I’ve very much enjoyed my teaching work so far and I look forward to what the future holds.

I think students who have a proclivity for resilience end up being successful, and those who are hard workers. You have to work ridiculously hard to be a working musician. It’s a really tough road to take, and successful students amaze me with how they continue to push and work, knowing that it will eventually pay off. I also think curiosity, perhaps even more so than the other personality traits, will take a student a long way. It will cause a student to go to concerts, to hear new things, and to ultimately make informed decisions about what things they like and don’t like about different performances. I encourage my students to go to as many concerts as possible, or wherever you get your inspiration from. You can work really hard and be a strong player, but everyone needs inspiration to remember why you love what you do through the hard times.

Do you have any advice for students looking to make a career in music?

Honestly, the best advice I can give is to always remember why you love music. That’s something my teacher used to remind me of regularly, and especially in difficult periods like we’re in now, it’s very important to stay inspired. I like to put on Puccini operas. Put on something beautiful and remind yourself of why you do all this work, rather than getting worked up about not winning auditions or competitions. Often as a student, I would be so obsessed with little details that I would sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. You have to be obsessed, but not to the degree that it obscures the broader goal. As cheesy as it sounds, the most important thing is the love of music.

External links:

Full Interview: “Playing Solo and Orchestral Music on the Double Bass Are Two Separate Kettles of Fish”
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