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Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Eleven Plus and the Double Bass

I am deeply indebted to Mr. F. Simandl for the basic information in this blog. He developed the `New Method for the Double Bass’ when he was an instructor in the double bass at the Institute of Musical Art at the Juilliard School of Music. His edition was in German and English. I must confess that I followed the English version on the left half of the page. Mr.  Simandl was born in 1840 and died in 1912. I learnt the early stages of the double bass from his book – but had to find easier material as his method of teaching progressed.

In the preface he wrote:

“Although the methods for the Double Bass which have appeared in print up to the present time have not been lacking in many good qualities, I have come to the conclusion that the majority are either not complete enough, or too complicated for general understanding to supply the student with a thorough education on this particular instrument in an easy and practical manner and in accordance with present day requirements.

We must be grateful for the length and sincerity of this sentence – but could he also have been writing about some of the present forms of eleven plus papers? I must confess that sometimes, when his material was remarkably challenging, I used to entertain myself by trying to make sense of the German. I could never make sense of his abbreviated pizzicato. Any proper bassist would recognise immediately my lack of ability and perseverance!

Some eleven plus exercises seem to testing children in elements of their language skills – rather than what some may consider to be cognitive ability. Good grammar, for example, may be useful for children going onto enjoy languages at grammar school. True eleven year old potential scientists, however, may not see the reason for exercises playing on the nuances of language.

There may be a place in the eleven plus for questions which explore ability in `an easy and practical manner in accordance with present day requirements!