Ottawa Symphony Orchestra

Beginner Double Bass

Introductory | Strings | Winds | Harp | Percussion
Ottawa Junior Youth Orchestra | Ottawa Youth Orchestra

Photo by Kate Settle Photography

The largest bowed stringed instrument in the modern orchestra also used frequently in jazz ensembles, especially played pizzicato. The double bass, usually considered a member of the violin family, is tuned in fourths and has the sloping shoulder and flat back characteristic of the viols. It has a deep range, going as low as three octaves below middle C. Also called bass fiddle, bass viol, bull fiddle, contra-bass, string bass.

The recent development of miniature double basses (in graduated sizes similar to violins and cellos) now enables children as young as six or seven to begin studying this important orchestral instrument without losing years of potential study because of the instrument’s size. Previous musical experience is helpful but not necessary. Parental support, however, is essential (parental attendance at all private lessons and guiding the daily home practice sessions is essential for students younger than 10 years of age)


The Double Bass:

Students in this course may borrow a bass for the OYOA school year for their personal use (see the OYOA instrument loan policy).


The Academy provides a high-quality instrument at no cost for each student through our instrument loan program (see OYOA loan policy). To ensure that students have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of the instrument, in addition to the group lesson each week, the Academy subsidizes 25 mandatory private, half-hour lessons. 25 lessons would normally cost $750, but under this program, the cost is only $450, paid in two equal installments of $225 by post-dated cheque at the first meeting (the cost of these private lessons is in addition to the tuition for the group lessons.)


All classes are held at the Ottawa Technical Learning Centre, at 485 Donald St., Ottawa.

Performance Opportunities:

Each year, the Beginner Double Bass class performs in free concerts at the OYOA. As well, other performance opportunities occasionally arise.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Why should my son/daughter play bass?

 A: The double bass is a very in-demand instrument, and will offer your child many new and exciting musical opportunities. Should they choose to, they will have the knowledge and opportunity to perform in a wide variety of settings,  including string or full orchestras, chamber ensembles, big band jazz ensembles, modern and traditional jazz small groups, and popular music groups (including country, bluegrass, folk, and rock).

Q: Isn’t the double bass too large an instrument for my child to play?

A: Not if they find the correct size. Many manufacturers have recently started catering to the growing need for fractional-sized basses. Basses are now available for rental or purchase in sizes ranging from 7/8 or 3/4 (standard sizes used by adults) down to 1/16. There is also the option of converting full-sized or ¾-sized cellos to basses, known as “cellobass” instruments. These converted instruments are a valid option if fractional basses aren’t available.

Q: How old does my child need to be to play bass, and what size bass will he/she need?

A:  Any child old enough for instrumental lessons can study bass, provided they have access to an instrument that is the correct size for them.

Audition Requirements:

There are no audition requirements for this ensemble. It is assumed that participants are new to the instrument, and new to reading music.

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