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FILIP STASIAK

Kontrabass

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Filip Stasiak Double Bassist

Filip Stasiaks musikalische Ausbildung umfasst ein Diplom in Kammermusik von der Wilfried Laurier University sowie einen Master von der University of Western Ontario und einen Bachelor von der Wayne State University in Detroit. Seine Hochschulstudien wurden ergänzt durch zahlreiche Kurse beim Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute und dem kanadischen Kontrabassvirtuosen Joel Quarrington. Derzeit ist Filip Bassist im Niagara Symphony, Solobassist im Peterborough Symphony und Solobassist im International Symphony of Sarnia and Port Huron. 

© Filip Stasiak

Video

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Im Interview mit Linksgespielt

01. Oktober 2021

Do you see yourself as a left-hander or a right-hander? And is that a part of your identity as a musician? 

I see myself as a left-hander primary. Outside of music, my left hand is the dominant hand I use for writing and other day-to-day tasks. I don’t see this as a factor in my identity as a musician and I rarely think about it when I’m playing. However, many musicians I work with use this as an identifying factor when talking about me. I have been introduced many times by musicians as the left-handed bass player. 

Have you always played your instrument ‚the other way round‘? 

Yes, I have always played left-handed. Years before I played bass, I started as a guitar player. When I first picked up the guitar, it felt more natural to hold it in the reversed direction. I couldn’t co-ordinate my hands and get them to work when I tried the standard way, so my first teacher allowed me to start playing left-handed. Since I was playing the guitar, this wasn’t a major issue. Left-handed guitars were already in production and could be found in nearly every music store. The issues of proper sound post and bass bar placement were not a factor that needed consideration.  

Have you faced any reservations or concerns from other people about learning the double bass left-handed?  

Yes, I did receive concerns from many local music teachers. Although their main arguments were that “left-handed instruments don’t exist”, that “it's never done that way”, and “your teacher won’t be able to teach you”. Those reasons didn’t seem convincing to me. I now know that any reasonable luthier would be happy to build you a custom instrument or help you reconstruct an old one. With regards to the teacher not being able to teach me; doesn’t the teacher use their own instrument during lessons and not mine? Why would it matter what kind of instrument I’m playing? 

From where did you get support? 

I received most of my support from my private teachers in University. Their argument was that “music is music, and if you play well, then that’s all that matters. You don’t listen with your eyes”. 

Did you have a role model in left-handed playing? 

I did not have any role models in classical left-handed playing. However, my favorite guitar players happened to be left-handed. Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain were my favorite musicians long before I figured out that they played reversed.  

How did you come by your instruments? 

My main bass which I use today is an Emanuel Wilfer which I purchased in 2004 while doing my undergraduate degree. This instrument was custom made for me. Initially I investigated the option of reconstructing another instrument, but the cost was very high. It made more sense to purchase a completely new build rather then disassemble and reconstruct an old one. The price of a student model instrument, in addition to the cost of re-construction, worked out to the same value as my new Wilfer.  

My second “backup” bass is also a Wilfer, built in the 1970’s. I purchased this instrument in very damaged condition for $200 and it needed to be completely taken apart and rebuilt. The price of the repair was the same as the cost of the re-construction.  

Do you play in an orchestra? What are your experiences with left-handed playing there? Have there been any problems? How could it be solved? 

Yes, I play in a few orchestras; some as a permanent member, and as a substitute in others.  

One of my permanent contracts was won via a blind audition where all rounds were behind a screen. Most people in the orchestra didn’t seem to mind when they found out what I look like. For those who did have a problem, it was difficult to make the argument to reject the contract since this was a blind audition and my playing meet their standard at the time.  

I received two other permanent contracts with small part-time orchestras as an appointment rather then through an audition process. I was offered the positions based on my reputation and experience as a player. I’m very happy that they were more concerned about making music rather then with how the players on stage look like. These are the types of musicians/groups I enjoy working with.  

As a freelancer, I did receive some resistance from a few orchestras. The contractors were concerned that my bowing is a distraction and takes away from the uniformity of the group. I also have been told that some people think that I play left-handed in order to stand out and be noticed; This is not true. However, if they genuinely believe that this was my plan to receive extra attention, then it makes sense how they would be worried about uniformity and balance in a larger bass section.  

Has your left-handed playing ever caused any funny or strange situations? 

I had a few funny moments when players I worked with for several years finally noticed that I play left-handed. I had musicians who didn’t see me in their line of sight within the orchestra and never knew. It was funny to see their surprised and confused look.  

Does playing left-handed present any advantages? 

One advantage I found was during my teaching where I noticed that my students were easily able to mimic my movements since we were playing in mirror image. We face each other at lessons, and they seem to be able to copy my motions fairly well. This would be similar to how an aerobics instructor would teach in mirror image. 

The only other advantage that I see would be to a left-hand dominant person who is struggling to play the standard way. Unfortunately, at the moment, there are not enough left-handed instruments available to experiment with. I also know many excellent left-hand dominant players who play the standard way and have told me that they wished they would have had the option to start reversed. Since learning the other way was not an option at the time, they feel that this may have hindered their overall progress. It is difficult to measure how true this could be since everyone is very different.  

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