Patrick Brennan – Double Bass, Upright Bass, Electric Bass Teachers

Double Bass, Upright Bass, Electric Bass
Guitar, Ukulele, Drums, Piano
M.M. Music Education

B.M. Music Performance
University of the Arts
Jazz, Classical, Contemporary

20190717_172646 (1)Aside from playing the bass, I also play drums, piano, ukulele and guitar and possess a strong working knowledge of music theory, notation, and history. I am a musician-educator with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance, and a Master’s degree in Music Education from The University of the Arts (UARTS) in Philadelphia, PA. I first began playing Electric Bass when I was 11 years old still living in South Jersey. After picking up the Upright Bass in 2014, and a lot of hard work, I began fully constructing my career. Throughout my studies and experiences at UARTS, I have amassed a wide range of skill sets in music performance, education, and music business/technology that I am confident will serve me well in all performance and educational landscapes. I have performed throughout the tri-state area with my own quartet as well as with various other UARTS ensembles.

When did you begin playing Bass, and why?
I had started playing the bass when I was about 11 years old. I had been playing guitar for a little while, and group of my friends wanted to start a metal band. At the time I was into a variety of heavy metal and a mix of classic rock music. When it came down to deciding who would play what, no one wanted to play the bass, and a friend of mine had been playing guitar longer than I had. So I decided I would give it a try and came to love it! I haven’t looked back since!

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
Throughout my musical career I’ve come to be acquainted with a variety of musical instruments such as Guitar, Ukulele, Mandolin, Piano, and Drums. Growing up my friends and I had always gone through musical phases. We had started a metal band where I had played the bass and would eventually move on to more serious forms of study. Then we had started a punk band where I had the opportunity to play drums. We then started a sort of “Folk-Punk” band where I’d play either Ukulele or Mandolin. After getting to college, learning how to play piano became increasingly more important for the study of music theory, and communicating personal musical ideas with others. In a lot of ways, I learned how to play these instruments through curiosity, demand, and real life performing experience.

What are your personal goals as a musician?
My personal goals as a musician are rather broad. I believe that you should never stop growing, and do whatever you must to make that happen. I personally enjoy the composition of music, so I try to make it a goal to write 8 bars of music everyday, not matter how good or bad I may be feeling that day. I feel that part of the beauty of being a musician is that we work on honing a craft, and honing a craft is never necessarily finished. 

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
Jazz! Let me explain; I had initially started studying classical theory in high school, I passed the tests but none of it necessarily made sense to me. This would follow me through community college until I had my first upright bass lesson. We would always cover a little bit of theory, and one day he explained the ii-V-I.(i.e all of jazz) and I said “Wait, this chord goes to that, then this to that?” he said yes. Confused, I said “and it always works?” and he also said yes. At that point all of harmony came together for me, years worth of classical harmony made sense after gaining what seemed like a very simple understanding of how chords tend to move together in what is essentially very old pop music.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
“Become a lantern to light other lanterns.”  Could be a bit cheesy or cryptic but this is something that one of my first upright bass teachers said to me, and I knew what he meant. While we intensively study music and spend hours upon hours away from the world in our practice rooms, we’re also growing as people through our craft, constantly exercising different parts of our curiosity and learning how to express through our instrument. That teacher in particular would spend multiple hours with me at a time, but he was imparting much more to me than just how to play the bass, he was also showing me how to be a better person, and how important it is to give that back to others.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
There’s so many! I feel the most challenging moment(or moments?) I experienced learning an instrument were overcoming the physical barriers that generally  come with learning the upright bass. Coming out of high school I had attended Camden County Community College for about 2 years in which I was enrolled in a few music classes playing electric bass. When I began looking at schools to transfer to for bass performance in 2014, it became very apparent that I would need to learn how to play the upright bass in order to get into music school. After this, I had one year to be capable of playing the upright bass well enough to get into school, and due to the physical differences between electric and upright bass, it was certainly one of the most musically difficult things I’ve ever done. 

What is your biggest musical achievement?
This past winter, after a lot of coordination and hard work, I put out a full album of original material with my group “Pat Brennan Quartet.” While the album is only 7 tracks long, the amount of planning for the circumstances was immense and I got a first hand look at the process of writing, recording, mixing, mastering, and finally releasing original material in an ever changing musical climate. Another musical achievement i’d like to mention is having the privilege of performing and writing for, the UArts Rick Kerber Tribute Ensemble for three consecutive years. The group is comprised of 6 horns with rhythm section, and primarily plays original material. It was a wonderful, and at times intimidating, playing experience that helped me grow and always kept me on my toes.  

Favorite thing about teaching?
I love the learning process. Like most things, there’s always more than one way to do something, and learning music is no different. Through teaching I get a glimpse into how other minds perceive the subject at hand, how they may see something differently about something I’ve seen as the same for years. While I teach i’m also learning, and it’s an extremely gratifying experience to reach a goal together.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Never stop listening, and that can stretch well beyond music. No matter what your taste is, there’s always more to be heard, and being open to hearing what the world has to offer is extremely important.