The bass virtuoso who hated what he was taught

The bass virtuoso who hated what he was taught


norman lebrecht

July 20, 2016

Rob Wasserman, who has died at 64, longed to join the double-bass section of the San Francisco Symphony, but the teaching at SanFran Conservatory put him off.

‘I had these crusty old teachers that wanted to see things done a certain way, and I drove them crazy,’ he told ‘I held my bow wrong and really sawed at the strings. I started coming up with my own approach to tonality, using an almost Indian sitar feel in moving from note to note. Basically everything that was interesting to me was going to make me not a very successful orchestral player.’

He went on to play bass guitar for Lou Reed, Jerry Garcia, Stephane Grapelli and Van Morrison.

rob wasserman


  • Patrick says:

    Count me among those who treasure my “crusty old teachers” who “wanted to see things done a certain way”.

  • Standingstones says:

    I’d rather see an innovative musician than one who plays note for note like the teacher wants.

  • Bruce says:

    Sometimes you find out what you really want when you find out that you were mistaken about the thing you thought you wanted.

  • Gerhard says:

    While studying one should seriously try to learn what one’s teacher is trying to teach. Once one has mastered it one is free to do otherwise. If one can’t find any sense the teacher’s requirements, one should part ways. It’s as easy as that.