Opera North double bass player passes on top tips

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Local pupils were among a group of young string players from The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) who learned bass is best when a leading professional double bass player came to school.

Genna Spinks, who plays double bass in the Orchestra of Opera North, swapped the orchestra pit for the school music department for an afternoon, to share her knowledge and impart top tips on playing the instrument she loves.

In a masterclass style workshop, Genna first demonstrated the versatility of the double bass, from a piece by 19th century virtuoso Giovanni Bottesini to the chilling opening to the Jaws movie theme. Then it was the turn of the students, aged from seven to 17.

First up was Hannah Punnoose, from Scarcroft, who played a solo for Genna to feedback on.

Her top tip was to make sure you maintain a straight bow position by practising in front of a mirror. Once everyone had performed, they finished the session in rousing style playing all together.

Having started playing at the age of eight on a miniature instrument, Genna went on to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Juilliard School in New York.

Genna said: “It’s great to see so many bass players in a school – you’ve worked out already that the bass is a fun instrument.

“You can do lots of cool things with it in different kinds of groups; for me the fun part is playing in an orchestra with lots of people and every orchestra needs a bass section.”

Sally Ladds teaches double bass and cello at GSAL and invited Genna to school. She said: “We are fortunate to have so many double bass players in school and we wanted to inspire them by getting them all together and giving the beginners the chance to hear the older students play.”

Andrew Wheeler, head of the faculty of creative and performing arts at GSAL, said: “We’re delighted to have Genna here to motivate and inspire, giving youngsters the opportunity to hear other players and be taught by a first class bass player.”