Friedland pursues musical passion through bass, teaching

On Sundays, there is rehearsal for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) , then a rush to another rehearsal for a different orchestra, then the next morning there’s GBS Jazz Ensemble rehearsal, then at least two hours of independent practice after school.  This is only a glimpse into the schedule of senior Ben Friedland, a bassist at South involved with many different music groups using both upright and electric bass.

According to Friedland, he grew up in a very musical family; each of his family members played at least one instrument, and his mother was a music teacher. He said she was the one who convinced him to begin the bass at age nine, but he didn’t immediately warm up to it.

“I thought it was too big, and I didn’t really like the sound of it,” Friedland said. “Then, I ended up doing more activities. I joined some orchestras, I joined [Midwest Young Artists], and I ended up liking it a lot actually. So, it took me about a year to get used to it. I mean, now I love it, but it’s kind of hard to get into it.”

Friedland said music has also played a major role in his life, due to his family and the amount of time he spends playing and listening to it. It’s also hard to balance his busy schedule with academics, according to Friedland, but many of his classes are music related as well.

“Every day of the week for me consists of music […], especially on the weekends,” Friedland said. “I probably couldn’t live without music, probably ever.”

Friedland also teaches the bass to freshman Maya Dominguez. According to Dominguez, they met through South’s jazz band, and he has been teaching her the basics and helping her improve. Friedland portrays many good characteristics while teaching, according to Dominguez.

“His best characteristic would definitely be patience,” Dominguez said. “He’s so calm whenever I screw up or have a ton of questions.”

Over the years, Friedland has had many of his own teachers who taught him notes, technique and musicality. Although his current teacher, Trevor Jones, is not someone he sees on a regular basis, Friedland said he still has a great impact on his bass playing. Jones agrees and said that he wants to help Friedland develop even more than he already has.

“Ultimately, for any teacher, what you want to see your student do is not only grow as a musician but essentially be able to teach themselves,” Jones said.

According to Jones, Friedland has also had some struggles with the bass along with his success.

“I wouldn’t sit here and say he’s doing a poor job, but there are just things in there that are really, really difficult that he struggles through like any other person that plays bass.

When it comes to advice for aspiring musicians who may be struggling,  Friedland said to avoid taking the easy way out while learning a new instrument.  According to Friedland, starting out with a tougher instrument, such as a classical guitar, will only make it less difficult to learn simpler instruments, like the electric guitar.

“I started with upright bass, and then I moved to electric bass, so I think it’s always better to start the hard way and then go the easy way,” Friedland said.  “[…] I’d say don’t always go the easy route; it will be tricky, but it will get better in the end.”