I had a blast chatting with Gabriele Fritz, Eef Weenink, and Katja Boenninghoff at Bass Camp NRW in Heek, Germany.
Here are some perspectives from all three of them:
Jason: Maybe just go through and introduce each of yourselves and how long you’ve been going to the camp. We can start there. I have many more questions than we have time for!
Gabriele: Okay. I’ll start. Gabriele, I’m 56 years old, and I started playing the bass about seven years ago.
And with that, I came to Heek to the bass camp. I couldn’t play anything, but it was so inspiring, the atmosphere and the learning atmosphere. So I decided every year I’m coming back to Heek and learning something new.
Eef: My name is Eef, and I’m 67 years old. I’ve played the double bass for about 10 years. One day I heard about this camp here in Heek, and I don’t live very far away, 20 miles or so. So I started coming. I learned a lot, and I’m still coming .
Katja: My name is Katja, and I’m 56 as well. One day I was walking around Lucca, Italy, and I met Gabriele Ragghianti, not knowing who he was, and asked him about bass classes.
He sent me to Uli Schneider here in Heek. That’s what brought me here first time, and I’ve been playing for five years. I’m thrilled, because you get all kinds of input and we are already full, almost full!
Jason: And I was just saying this when we were having dinner: I’ve been involved in many bass camps in different areas, and many times they’re oriented towards people going to college.
So maybe 14 to 18, and often they welcome adults, but sometimes it can be a bit like maybe there’s only one adult or two adults and you feel like a little awkward. They’re all playing football or whatever, or running around like teenagers. And so, what I’m noticing here, and I think I’m onto something, is we were just talking about like you all the adult learners have.
You have your own kind of community here in this camp, and you’ve been coming back year after year, and you’ve even organized before the camp. So maybe whoever wants to talk about it, or maybe all of you add in your thoughts, but just talk about what your experience has been like as an adult, like coming here and like getting what you’re getting out of the camp.
Gabriele: I was just kicked in by my teacher having no idea at all about age groups or anything. So I just took it as it came. I thought, okay, there are a couple of adults, there are a lot of kids, and it was fine with me and I wasn’t press.
Some kids play already being very young and for us, being the geriatric part of this camp was very inspiring to see what you can achieve actually. So we formed a group over the years with us adults, and the last few years before the pandemic, we had more time to think and to plan.
For the past couple of years, we had our own little, “Bass Parallel Camp,” arranging our own scores and having fun just playing and trying and arranging things for ourselves.
Eef: There’s a girl walking around here, Louisa is her name. And the first time I came, she was six or seven years old, and she was sitting beside me, could play better double bass than I could. She’s still coming. I think she must think that I’m part of the furniture here, but it’s so nice to see how they were.