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Michael Montgomery

32 Folk Songs for the Young Double Bassist (arranged by Michael Montgomery)

32 Folk Songs for the Young Double Bassist (arranged by Michael Montgomery)

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About the Collection

It was my Suzuki mentor Virginia Dixon who first told me her young students could play some of their more simple tunes in the upper register of the bass, one and even two octaves above the register in which they were notated in the Suzuki Bass books. 

I was quite skeptical but decided to put some of my little nine and ten-year-olds to the test.  They had begun meeting for a weekly “group” class, and I realized if they could utilize the four-and-a-half octave range of their instrument, they could play in parts, and I could have a little double bass orchestra.  To my surprise, Virginia was right – little bass students who had been playing only a year or two could indeed learn to play in thumb position and even execute the harmonics at the end of the fingerboard – my ensemble would be able to play in parts!

But there is not, as one might imagine, a great deal of double bass ensemble music published for novice bassists, which makes use of the entire four-and-one-half octave range of the double bass.  Plato tells us, “Necessity is the mother of invention”.  So, finding myself in desperate need of this sort of repertory, I soon composed for the group two collections of (moderately easy) bass quartets, “Giants and Gods” and “A Celtic Suite,” both now published by David Heyes (  All of which brings us to the publication at hand.

It was clear to me that if young bassists were going to learn how to play in all four and a half octaves of the double bass range (and if they were going to understand how to play my quartets), there must be a resource that guides them in a non-threatening way to quickly understand and use all the registers of the instrument, preferably using short familiar melodies.

And so in this collection, eight to sixteen measure folk songs are arranged in all the instrument’s many registers. For those students who may have had some experience, it is hoped this collection will serve as a helpful review of the lower positions of the fingerboard (nos. 1-34 follow the nomenclature set forth by Franz Simandl in his “New Method for the Double Bass” (Carl Fischer; Revised edition, June 1, 1984)). For students not yet familiar with them, perhaps this collection will serve as an introduction to the higher positions and harmonics (positions in nos. 31-47 are defined following Francois Rabbath’s “Nouvelle Technique de la Contrebasse” (Alphonse Leduc)).


Listen to Michael perform the compositions.

Performance Suggestions 

I would like to make some brief comments to consider as you practice. Try to keep the fingers of the left hand curved so you can play on the fingertips. Remember that the left-hand fingers must get closer together as the hand moves up the neck into higher positions; the bow must be placed closer to the bridge as the left-hand moves into these higher positions or as the dynamic is increased. Be mindful at all times of the placement of the bow (how close it is to the bridge), the speed of the bow stroke, and the amount of arm weight resting onto the bow as you play. Always listen for resonance, intonation, and a good tone. 

 This collection is intended as an introduction to the various double bass registers. To continue to gain facility in the lower register, consider studying 77 Baroque Basslines for Double Bass or Contemporary Modal Solos for Double Bass and Piano by Milton Weinstein (Alfred Publishing Company, January 2010), and do spend some time with Simandl’s method book.

-Michael Montgomery

About the Arranger

Double bassist Michael Montgomery, a student of Robert Rohe (Principal Bass,

New Orleans Symphony) and Lucas Drew (Principal Bass, Miami Philharmonic), earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in double bass performance from the University of Miami, played full-time in the bass section of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra for two decades.

He now lives in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, where he teaches double bass at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville and privately in his home studio. Michael has composed numerous works for young double bassists (including over five dozen

short bass quartets for young students) which are published by Recital Music and two American publishers.

His articles about bass performance, literature, and teaching have been published in American Suzuki Journal, Bass World, and Pastoral Music.

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