To these campers a big bass is something you play not catch

Great State
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NORMAN, OKLAHOMA -- They are the giants of the orchestra, the tall, fat guy with the deep voice stuck in the back.

String Bass is not a glamor instrument.

they don't get much of a turn at the melody.

Solos are few and far between says Dr. Anthony Stoops, Bass professor at the University of Oklahoma.

"Although the secret is that we lead without anyone really knowing it," he smiles.

But once a year kids who play the bass come from all over Oklahoma and even Texas to take part in something another bass teacher, Mark Osborn, thought might be a good idea years ago.

Mark Osborn, who teaches strings in Norman Public Schools, recalls, "There was a need for some bass instruction on the middle school and high school levels.

The annual Oklahoma Bass Bash started in 2004 with fewer than 20 junior and high school kids.

This year there are 40.

Luke Campbell still remembers Mr. Osborn trying to talk him out of learning to play.

He didn't care.

Luke, an 8th grader says, "Mr. Osborn asked if anyone still wanted to play bass and I said, yup. Count me. I'm in."

Osborn does actually try to steer kids to other instruments partly because of the bass' ponderous size.

"I try to steer them away," he repeats, "And if they say, 'no. That's the one I want to play', then I know they'll be hooked."

For Mady Hendryx this Bass Bash is her sixth.

She plays for her school orchestra and several different honors groups, but this event has become a kind of touchstone.

"I get to re-learn different things, new techniques and take away something different."

It is a rare sight to see this many string basses on one stage making music.

Teachers talk about rattling windows on certain low notes.

But the bass is nothing if not a versatile instrument, capable of highs and very lows, the rhythmic leader of any group, always in demand, and very powerful when they get together.

For more information on the annual Bass Bash go to

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