10. San Francisco Conservatory – San Francisco, CA
Notable Faculty: Scott Pingel, Stephen Tramontozzi
Like other top schools on this list, including Boston University, Juilliard, Curtis, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, the immediate benefit students receive while attending the San Francisco Conservatory is having a direct association with the San Francisco Symphony. Both faculty members of the double bass department at SFCM, Scott Pingel and Stephen Tramontozzi, are members of the bass section of this esteemed symphony. Principal bassist of the San Francisco Symphony, Scott Pingel is known to be equally at home in both the classical repertoire as well as that of jazz, having previously played with the likes of jazz legends Michael Brecker and Geoff Keezer. Although you should expect a thorough training in the orchestral and solo repertoire while a double bass student at this school, you could probably improve your jazz chops as well should you wish to pursue that path.
9. Indiana University – Bloomington, IN
Notable Faculty: Bruce Bransby, Kurt Muroki
Former principal bassist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of conductor Zubin Mehta, Professor Bruce Bransby is a dedicated teacher who has sent students to many of the top orchestras throughout the world. Many of his former students are now teaching double bass at the top music schools in the country, including DePaul University’s School of Music.
Kurt Muroki, who has only been very recently appointed to the double bass faculty at IU Bloomington, is an award-winning concert bassist who made a name for himself in New York City while still a student at Juilliard at the age of 17. Although young for a teacher, Muroki has already become a well-known, in-demand professor and clinician.
Below is a video of Muroki teaching a Master Class at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
8. Eastman School of Music – Rochester, NY
Notable Faculty: James VanDemark
A New York Times article in 1981 reviewing a duet concert VanDemark did with Andre Watts had this to say about his musicality: “Solo double-bass virtuosos may be counted on the fingers of one hand, and James VanDemark, who teaches the instrument at the Eastman School of Music, is now generally reckoned to be among their number…he spins out melodic phrases with a patrician sense of their shape and contextual functions.”
A leading authority, virtuoso, and professor of the double bass, VanDemark has illuminated the double bass world, sending students to the very top orchestras, professorships, and prizes from major international competitions. He won his position as Professor of Double Bass at Eastman when he was 23. A recent radio show done on WNYC demonstrates a very unique insight into the philosophy of VanDemark as a teacher.
Listen to the Faculty: Here’s a classic recording of VanDemark performing the Trout Quintet alongside the Cleveland Quartet
7. Cleveland Institute of Music – Cleveland, OH
Notable Faculty: Maximilian Dimoff, Scott Dixon, Derek Zadinsky
An important faculty consisting of two young and accomplished bassists in Scott Dixon and Derek Zadinsky, as well as the principal of the Cleveland Orchestra in Maximilian Dimoff, who has held that position for seventeen years as of the time of this writing, the Cleveland Institute of Music is a top destination for many aspiring young double bass players. Dimoff is an important lecturer and pedagogue, having been a regular clinician and the “master” artist for many masterclasses throughout the nation.
In addition to the department’s affiliation with the Cleveland Orchestra, the studio sizes at this school are also kept to a necessary minimum, ensuring individual attention to the students in the double bass program.