A groovy kind of love makes for sweet music

INSEPARABLE: Lyneah Boom and her beloved Francis.
INSEPARABLE: Lyneah Boom and her beloved Francis.

The groovy 26-year-old Alaskan is adamant her instrument fits properly and securely in her car when she travels.

You see, the sophisticated Ms Boom plays the largest bowed-string instrument of the string family - the double bass.

Admitting it was certainly a different choice when it came to deciding which instrument she wanted to learn to play as a school student, Ms Boom has never regretted her decision. She knew she wanted to play something unique, something no-one else opted to learn to play.

"When I told my Mom I wanted to play the double bass she suggested I maybe try the flute as it would be easier to fit in a car," she said.

"But I knew I wanted to learn to play an instrument that would be different and challenging.

"It was a school requirement for all the students to play an instrument for one semester so while most of my classmates learned to play violins and cellos, I learned to play double bass."

Ms Boom admits it took "years of hard work" to learn to play the double bass. But along with learning the notes and bowing technique, Lyneah also worked hard to build up her strength in her left hand, to customise herself with the strong vibrations of the instrument and to learn to manoeuvre successfully from place to place when carrying her beloved double bass, which she has christened Francis.

"A lot of instrumentalists name their instruments because they're part of us, they're a part of our extended family," Lyneah said.

"Where I go Francis goes, even when I have to go car shopping."

Francis tips the scales at 20kg. Complete with his backpack carry case and additional padding when he travels long distances, the larger-than-life instrument can weigh as much as 35kg - quite a haul.

"He may be heavy, but he is a good traveller," Ms Boom said.

"Although when I moved to Australia from the United States in 2008, poor Francis was damaged on the flight. Despite his case being covered with stickers labelling him as fragile, he must have had a very large and heavy bag chucked on top of him because when I got him back I discovered the fingerboard which supports the strings was broken."

Luckily, Francis's playing days were not cut short on that fateful flight to Australia. After some tender loving care and a little repair work, Francis was restored.

It was during Francis's repair work that Lyneah was introduced to the North Coast Performing Arts Orchestra.

Earlier this year Ms Boom was elected president of this extremely dedicated group of musicians.

Along with Francis, she also plays cello and percussion for the orchestra.

The size of the orchestra suits her as a double bass player, as the sound produced by a double bass can be very overpowering in small orchestras.

"I love being a part of the North Coast Performing Arts Orchestra because I get to play fun and challenging music," she said.

"It is a big orchestra and that is great for Francis because he is well balanced in a large orchestra and doesn't overpower other instruments."

Ms Boom advises any music lover who is interested in learning to play the double bass to be prepared to learn how to move around with a large instrument.

"It is a fun instrument to play," she said.

"I think if someone is prepared to work hard, stay focused and stay interested in the double bass, it is definitely an instrument I would recommend."

When she and Francis are not working in harmony as part of the orchestra, Ms Boom sings alto in the North Coast Performing Arts Choir.

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