Years ago, when we went looking for a private instructor willing to teach both Classical and Jazz String Bass lessons, we really hit the jackpot with Pat Klobas. Even in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's quite a tall order. We had three pretty high-level recommendations for him, and those recommendations would be our golden ticket. Klobas is Lecturer of Jazz and Classical Double Bass Studies at California State University East Bay, a very busy performer and composer, and my middle-school and early high-school musicians were just starting to get serious. I can truly say that Pat offers as much bonhomie and community as he does esoteric knowledge of the largest string instrument. String Bass is not for the weak. It is a physically demanding instrument, to be sure. People don't realize but serious bassists have to give up fingerprints for their art (years of grinding on thick wire-wrapped strings, blisters, blood and layers of callus upon callus...). It requires 150 pounds per square inch of pressure on any string for a successful clear note. In addition, while sections of a jazz big band play and rest, the bassist is going non-stop, backing soloists, then breaking into a solo of their own. And, many jazz charts are quite long, in excess of 10 minutes. Because of my proximity to this instrument and its mastery, I read his interview with a certain appreciation. In Pat's words...
1. How do you find a balance between imposing your own ideas over the student’s creativity?I think of myself as a guide that instructs students with a musical appetite, to express themselves through music on the double bass. I am an expert on my instrument with years of training and performing experience. Anyone with this background has developed ways to accomplish their objectives in a way that makes sense, at least to them. This of course, doesn’t mean they can instruct another person. To be a successful instructor, one needs to have a logical approach to their topic that they can convey with clarity and a willing participant. An instructor assumes the student is open to suggestions and will follow them as part of the path to solving problems associated with a given objective. The concept of imposing (“to force others”) one's ideas is not the point. Force should not be involved in any way. The ideas of an instructor are gifts to a student whom can follow or not, depending on their receptivity and willingness to trust the instructor.
It is often said that music is a language. I believe this to be true. Getting to the creative part of language whether speaking or writing would be similar to the steps to musical expression except for a major obstacle. The musicians’ chosen instrument. The ability to obtain facility on an instrument is part of a musicians’ life’s work. The mastering of the chosen instrument will play a crucial role in the ability to express ones thoughts through music. Limited abilities will produce limited complexity of thought. At the same time simplicity can have just as much meaning as complexity. This will be where the human personality will show its colors. This is where the instructor plays a role that the young student rarely has, technical advice. Creativity is alive in every step of the process. The teacher or guide offers direction but only the student can literally teach themselves. Therefore the student must translate the meaning of the directions to application. Keep in mind that all artists are life long students. There is more than one way to do almost anything. As an instructor I try to show the student the quickest and most efficient ways to accomplish solving problems that may block a person's path to self-expression.2. A recent publication, Guitar Zero, claims: Practice + Parent Support = Musical Achievement.Assuming parent support includes lessons or school classes, do you see this statement as accurate?My first thought is confidence [is also required]. In addition I would say, due to the complexity of the tasks associated with playing music well, without expert instruction a student could practice hours a day with little results. A good instructor has economical ways to problem solving that saves immense amounts of time and no one has time to waste.3. What is your approach to teaching a student a process as intangible and personal as improvisation?I believe a most fundamental approach is one that Miles Davis described as the steps he uses in his musical approach. “Imitation-Assimilation-Innovation."Imitate the instructor. Imitate an artist on a recording. Imitate written music. Imitate a poet, a painting…anything.Assimilate by dissecting musical ideas and their components. Assimilate ideas of a writer or painter in the same way.Innovate. Don’t think about all the technical stuff you learned by imitation and assimilation, just play! Experiment. Be clear of intent and honest about ideas. Leave the junk out. Practice.
4. What qualities have you seen in students that seem to predict future success in music?What is success? I’m sure it is different for everyone. Maybe accomplishing one’s goals is a way to talk about success. Having spent eight years in music school and reflecting on the experiences I’ve enjoyed with my colleagues over the years I will quote what John Patitucci told me about this topic. He believes that a strong, focused and directed work ethic was the key component to his achievements. I went to school with John and he worked his tail off. He was 18 at the time. He had seemingly unlimited positive energy. Always friendly and supportive of the other music students but would only talk to you for a quick minute. Then he was off in the practice room. Always the same, chat for a minute then back to the practice room. I remember him saying “I want to play with Chick Corea”. I’m thinking uh-huh, right. Well he didn’t even know Chick at that time but sure enough a few short years later he was an original member of Chick’s Electric Band!It was the same with my friend and colleague principal flutist of the San Francisco Opera, Julie McKinsey, first to hit the practice room in the morning and last to leave at night. Both of these incredible musicians had the work ethic but also the human respect and warmth with their colleagues that gave their music that extra sensitivity.
Pat Klobas Bio
Pat Klobas-Double Bass
Pat Klobas is one of the busiest bassists in the San Francisco Bay Area. He grew up in Portland OregonAfter high school Pat moved to San Francisco to go to music school and join the music scene there. His talent as an accomplished accompanist in any field of music has opened the doors to many exciting and challenging musical experiences. The desire to have his own band led him to the formation of the Klobas/Kesecker Ensemble. The team of Klobas and Tommy Kesecker who write and arrange jazz inspired music has been well received by listeners- #32 on ‘All About Jazz’s’ national play list;musicians-Joe Locke, Richard Davis and Mike Marshall all singing praises and reviewers; Jazz Review writer Mark Gallo writing about KKEnsembles’ first cd ‘No Gravity’ as “a wholly riveting and engaging 10-song delight”.
These are some of Pat Klobas’s professional experiences that have accumulated over the years. Pat has had the great pleasure of performing with singers Michael Feinstein and his Quintet and big band, Rosemary Clooney, Shirley Jones, Jackie Ryan, Kristin Chenoweth, Idena Menzel, Paula West, Christine Ebersole,Madeline Eastman, Bobbe Norris and Elaine Stritch. In the instrumental jazz and world music arena Pat has enjoyed working with Zakir Hussain, Jessica Williams, Greg Osby, Bruce Forman, Scott Hamilton,Pete Escovedo, Jeremy Cohen and Quartet San Francisco, Turtle Island String Quartet, Scottish fiddlers-Alasdair Fraser and Athena Tergis, guitarists -Peppino D’Agustino and Danny Carnahan. Pat hasenjoyed working with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead and Further on a current project called First Fusion and Weir’s band Rat Dog. Pat was invited to be a featured jazz bassist with the San Francisco Symphony’s opening season gala featuring opera star Jessye Norman performing Duke Ellington’s music and has performed numerous times in the rhythm section of the San Francisco Symphony Pop’s Orchestra. As a classical bassist Pat has performed with the San Francisco Opera and Ballet, The Three Tenors, Skywalker Symphony, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and is acting Assistant Double Bass with the Marin Symphony.
Shorenstein/Nederlander ‘Best of Broadway’ performances include the Tony Award winning production of ‘Porgy and Bess’, ‘The Producers’, with Martin Short and Jason Alexander, ‘Fosse’, ‘Kiss Me Kate’with drummer Marty Morell, ‘Any Thing Goes”, ‘42nd Street’ and the world premier of Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’.
Pat is an active teacher of jazz and classical double bass in the bay area. His studio includes the position of Lecturer of Jazz and Classical Double Bass at California State University East Bay as well as his own private teaching studio. He is an original faculty member of the Golden Gate Bass Camp and co-leader of the Northern California Bass Club (NCBC) with Ed Williams and Barry Green. As a NCBC officer Pat has presented bass clinics with jazz legends Christian McBride, John Pattitucci, Rufus Reid, John Clayton, Robert Hurst, Brian Bromberg and Buster Williams.
Pat’s bass work includes many movie and TV soundtracks with the Skywalker Symphony as well as recordings with Linda Ronstadt, Randy Newman, Turtle Island String Quartet, Standard Deviation, San Francisco Chamber Jazz Quartet and the Grammy nominated ‘Star Wars Trilogy’ with John Williams.
Perhaps Pat’s proudest achievement is that of his original music and arrangements with Tommy Kesecker and the Klobas/ Kesecker Ensemble and their two cd’s the critically acclaimed cd ‘No Gravity’ with specialguest Zakir Hussain and the just released Klobas/Kesecker Ensemble cd ‘Moment’s Notice’.
Pat Klobas graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelors of Music degree and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Masters of Music degree. He currently resides in Oakland California.