Finding the right teacher
I am 17, and I have been playing bass for a few years now. I don't like to "float my own boat" but I have gotten pretty damn good. I have outgrown most of the bass guitar teachers in my area (many of whom are not much more than a guitarist that happens to own a bass guitar and can show a beginner a trick or two), and I am not sure where to go from here. I want to further my musical education, but I don't want to waste my time and money sorting through teachers who want to teach me what I already know. I took and passed "Music 101" in the form of an AP Music theory class at my High School, and while my sight reading and timing improved considerably, my bass guitar technique did not.
I do have some idea of what I want to learn (odd time grooves, six string bass technique in general, chord inversions [Beyond 1st and 2nd inversions], 3 and 4 finger right hand techniques, Allan Holdsworth-esque scales [He basically can play any scale from any position on the fretboard, which i find impressive]) but I just don't think there is anyone out there to fit this match...
I guess what I am asking is where to find a teacher. Craigslist most likely won't cut it in my situation. I don't want to go to college for music because I would rather have money, and my local library only has so many books. It doesn't help that most of my influences don't actually play the bass guitar either (Tosin Abasi, Allan Holdsworth) although Jaco Pastorius is one of my all time favorites. Any advice? Is it even worth having a teacher or should I just keep learning on my own?
While some people are happy to learn on their own, I think that generally here on TB the consensus is for a teacher.
You could always check out your local music store. They often have advertisement boards with teachers offering lessons. Another option is lessons through skype.
Scott Devine ( a fellow TB'r) is a great teacher and AFAIK does skype lessons. His site is a great all round one.
He also has an interaction type bass course. All is explained here :
You can learn a lot on your own with the treasure trove of material available on YouTube and the net, but I've been taking "knee-to-knee" lessons from a professional bassist for over a year now and I can tell you that nothing beats having someone who knows what's going on seriously critique your technique and correct mistakes before they become bad habits!
Choose your teacher carefully. Make sure the two of you "click". Keep looking for another and don't be afraid to cut loose if you find someone better.
I know you said that you don't want to go to college, but what you are looking for might be found on a college campus. Many music professors and instructors give private lessons in their studios, and it sound to me (a music major from way long ago) that what you need is that kind of help. You are correct in saying that many bass teachers are really guitar players primarily, and have a bass sitting in the corner of their studios.
Not to change your mind, but there are other perks for spending time on a college campus. You can continue to study music theory, improvisation, and play with other fine players. You may learn as much from other players as you would from any teacher. The contacts you make on a college campus may pay off for you the rest of your life. You can totally immerse yourself in music of all styles, and find mentors that will be there for years to come to help you.
Do all colleges offer help to bass players? No. You should do the hard work to start "hound-dogging" out those folks that can help you the most. I noticed that you live in Baltimore, the home of Curtis Institute. Curtis is probably the best music school in the world. Many string bass players are also very good electric bass players. The University of North Texas, Berkley School of Music, and many others schools offer programs in jazz.
You don't really need a teacher for chord inversion if you know how to construct a chord and what an inversion is.
For the scale thingy, you may try to play the circle of 5th of 4th scale/arpeggio by always starting on the lowest note possible and stay in the first 5 frets of your bass. You'll see many share many notes and that you can pretty much play everything if you do some inversion instead of a box pattern.
So for what I just covered you don,t even need your bass or a bass teacher to get it. For the technic you may need a bass teacher but I don,t think you really need to.
I mean, you did have some exercices to play 2 fingers ... do those same exercices with 4 !!! no need to reinvent the wheel you know.
The only place I think that a teacher is really important is for the odd time signature because you need a way to break it and count it to make sense of it and again the bass isn't really important to get that.
And you know, I have been to college to have a degree in music but even if I had teachers to guide me and all but there is also a lot of stuff that I selftaugth because no one would cover that kind of stuff and because I already had a good fondation so I could extrapolate from that point and use my knowledge to draw some link between what I know and what I'm looking for. And you really don't need the internet for any of this.
One last thing : a teacher will know what you need to work on, not you. You may think you are ready to learn all those thing but you may lack some good fondation or your fondation isn't as strong as you think. On the other hand going that far may help your general grasp of music theory and all but still.
It is worth noting that I have had teachers before, they just don't suite me very well anymore.
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