Offstage: Bobby

Behind-the-scenes with the Omaha Symphony

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Not up close but still personal: Bobby Scharmann

Bassist Bobby Scharmann made good use of his unexpected time outside the concert hall: he's become a somewhat of a professional YouTuber! He's using his channel to instruct and mentor musicians virtually—check it out for advice, practice techniques, musings on musicianship, and more!

After months outside the concert hall, though, our musicians are excited to be performing in their element again—Bobby is no exception.

"I haven't played with an orchestra since March, so I'm really looking forward to playing our October concert with Beethoven 3 (All Beethoven) and the classical pops concert (Saturday Night Classics). I've definitely missed the sound of the Holland center, so I'm looking forward to reacquainting myself with the acoustics of the hall! It's been so long..."

We stopped by Bobby's house north of Dundee a few weeks ago to catch up with him and his cats, Ike and Marth.

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Bobby came to Nebraska after completing his masters in bass performance from the University of Indiana to begin his doctorate at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He joined the Omaha Symphony back in 2016 and has been here ever since!

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We asked him about music, Omaha, and what he likes to do in his spare time:

How did you choose your instrument?

Well, I used to play piano and viola, actually. But in middle school, some close friends were starting a rock band and needed a bass player. My older sister had an electric bass in her closet that she never played, so when she was out, I “borrowed” the bass from her and just never gave it back. A couple years later I got my first double bass to play in jazz band and orchestra, and the rest is history!

What’s your favorite thing about being a musician?

The trajectory for improvement is literally limitless. I enjoy activities with a high skill ceiling, and the fact that there is always something to learn and improve upon is really inspiring to me.

What’s something people might not know about being a professional musician?

The practice. Many people see and hear the product of sometimes hundreds of hours of practice for a single performance, which itself is built on a foundation of tens of thousands of hours of practice. And that practice truly never ends.

If you could choose another instrument of the orchestra to play instead of the bass, what would it be?

I actually always wanted to play cello. When everyone chose instruments in grade school, I expressed interest in cello, but I was told there were too many cellos and no violas, so that’s what they handed me!

What do you wish you had known as a student?

How to ask better questions, more often.

What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?

Playing video games, hanging out with my cats, running, and gardening.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional musician?

Honestly, I’m not sure about this one. I did one semester of college in electrical engineering and absolutely hated it. I became a musician because I realized I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. That being said, I could see myself doing something in technology.

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What’s your favorite Omaha restaurant?

Salween Thai!

What’s your favorite thing about Omaha?

Reasonable cost of living.

Do you have any party tricks?

If you consider perfect pitch a party trick, then yes. “Bobby what notes are in this chord?”

What are your top three desert island pieces?

Mozart 40, Hilary Hahn playing literally anything Bach…pass on the 3rd piece. There’s just too many to choose from!

What would you tell someone who has never been to the symphony but is interested in attending a performance?

Go! Get your feet wet. I feel like the symphony can sometimes appear unapproachable from the outside, when it’s anything but. You don’t even have to know anything about the music being performed – just show up and see where the music takes you.

What advice would you give someone looking to live a more musical life?

Learn an instrument if you haven’t before, or if you used to play but stopped, start again! Also, there is no such thing as “but I’m too old to learn an instrument” – one of my best students is in their 70’s!

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Meet the rest of the orchestra here.