"As I've been teaching, I have noticed a need for pieces in what I lovingly call "The Danger Zone" of the fingerboard. At some point we all need to spend a little time getting comfortable in the region of the fingerboard that exists right before Thumb Position. I was at a loss for music that would be great for this purpose. I have used many combinations of etudes and solos but nothing was truly addressing the issues I found students had – I didn’t mind that each etude I found was a bit boring, though I’m sure my students did! But each solo I assigned would merely pass though the Danger Zone, never keeping the player in that region long enough to help them become comfortable.
In the fall of 2020, I asked David Heyes to write some pieces, perhaps a next level higher than The Adventures of George in order to help my students. David created such gems in George’s Grand Tour that no one noticed how proficient they were becoming in the Danger Zone! The pieces are fun, technically challenging, and musically rewarding. David has included extended techniques so the players can also explore the beautiful colours the double bass is able to create. I predict George’s Grand Tour will become a staple in many double bass studios around the world, as it has in mine" [Susan Hagen / Principal Bass, Boston Pops Orchestra / Assistant Professor, Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA]
"I've just taken a minute (finally) to read through the Grand Tour album and it is magnificent! I cannot wait to start using this when my 11 year old finished up her first book of George's Adventures. Thank you thank you for creating these little gems!" [Gaelen McCormick / Eastman School of Music, USA]
"George is an eleven-year-old violinist from Wiltshire (UK) who begin to study the double bass with me in late 2019, then aged ten. His violin teacher, Louise Padday, phoned to say she had a very talented young student but, even though he was making excellent progress on the violin, she thought he was really a double bassist. Shortly afterwards I received an email from George's mum, Elle, asking to arrange a consultation lesson but she and George both made it very clear that he was a violinist first and foremost. I suggested we organise an initial lesson and, if it went well, to book lessons from week to week and, if he didn't think the double bass was for him, we could end lessons when they wished.
That was over a year ago and George really is a bassist with a natural flair for the instrument. He is quite fearless, nothing is too much of a challenge for him, and from his second week he was able to play simple scales in tune on his quarter-sized double bass. One week I rashly offered to write him a short piece for unaccompanied double bass and, without any idea of where this project would take us, the first piece was written culminating in The Adventures of George.
I wanted a link to George and eventually came upon the idea of a ‘Grand Tour’ with the aim of visiting a number of European cities.
In the 17th and 18th-century the Grand Tour could last anywhere from several months to several years and was undertaken by the sons and daughters of the wealthy aristocratic families in Britain. They would travel to the leading European cities, usually accompanied by a chaperone, visiting the famous sights and leading galleries, often buying works of art and paintings which would eventually be displayed in their magnificent stately homes and London town houses.
Using the Grand Tour as my theme it was possible for George to ‘visit’ different European cities and I chose five which I had visited in recent years alongside three (Helsinki, Moscow, Venice) which I hope to visit very soon. Each city has its own character and style and I aimed to encapsulate the energy, beauty and vibrancy in a short and colourful piece for unaccompanied double bass." [David Heyes / March 2021]