Teaching my wife, need guidance.
I play quite a few different instruments, starting with guitar and moving on to pedal steel and some "world" folk instruments. I have a pretty solid grasp of music theory and feel I can become proficient on new (to me) stringed instruments quickly.
My wife wants to play music with me and her choice of instrument was the banjo and I started teaching her after reading some basic beginner material. Well, very soon after, my job relocated me to the UK, for 1-2 years, and we chose to leave our instruments behind and come back for them later. In the meantime, I found a Kala UBass and thought this would be far easier for her to get a grasp of actual music instead of worrying about the technical demands that a beginner banjo player experiences. As well, it's a perfect travel instrument. So, we bought the Ubass and my theory seems to be valid. She is progressing extremely quickly. I got her playing simple root notes to basic chord progressions (started with "Wicked Game") with ease. She downloaded a fret tutor for her iPhone and now has the first 5 frets memorized quite well. She now knows the musical notes, understands simple concepts like octaves, scales, etc. I'm actually stunned at how fast she understood the major scale. I taught her the numbers/intervals and within minutes she had the notes of every major scale written out. She quickly grasped the physical pattern and understood she could slide it up and down to play in different keys. I literally have had to tell her about 5 times that there are no sharps and flats between E/F and B/C. We've only been at it for about a week. She's probably been at it for less than 10 hours, total, including iPhone fret quizzes. On top of that, she counts solidly with the metronome and picks up little rhythm changes quickly. A big part of this is that she doesn't immediately make things harder than they need to be. She seems to have no mental roadblocks or preconceptions about music........maybe because she has no musical background at all.
In short, I didn't expect to be at the point where I need to figure the next steps for her this quickly. I'm not a bassist and we can't really afford continued lessons right now. Furthermore, I'm really enjoying teaching her as she's far and away the best student I've ever had. I've got to strike while the iron is hot. Where do I go from here? If I get no guidance from this forum, I'll probably go this route:
1) Make sure she continues playing root notes to my strumming and introduce more rhythmic variations.
2) Teach her 5ths by simple fretboard location relative to the root, but eventually push the scale study into chord construction so she understands what the 5th actually is.
3) Research and learn basic common bass lines, like "walking", etc.
We've already gone over posture and fretting technique which is far easier on the Ubass than a guitar (and far easier than a full bass, I assume). I've also taught her thumb rest strokes and the importance of muting. Haven't gotten to the walking fingers yet.
Good points all. Actually for me it would make a lot of sense to try in the following order what you suggested, 2,1 and then 3.
Trying new rhythms, grooves and time signatures while playing simple lines is also a very interesting lesson. Basic blues, rock, country, funk, jazz and even some latin rhythms should keep her busy enough.
Moreover, I think you have achieved something very important and that is that you allow her to apply all the new information while playing with her. I think this is the most important lesson you gave her, by far.
Personally, I'm a theory nut, I think the most important thing you can learn on bass (or any instrument) is theory. Teach her the scales/modes and how to apply them to different musical situations, teach her different time signatures. Show her how to apply all of this up and down the neck and in every key. I would get a full scale bass if at all possible. That will help with finger strength and technique. Help her learn composition, and how to improvise. Teaching is also a chance to learn a lot yourself! Good Luck my friend, I've heard that playing with a spouse/lover is a feeling you cant get any other way, and I hope you are feeling that yourselves.
Happy Bassing :bassist:,
+1 on teaching her theory. It's the best tool there is. Also, get her to play some regular bass parts, not just roots.
When ya'll get back to the banjo ya might have yer hands full when it comes to fingerpicking, heh, heh.
Wow, good for you, man! I'm pretty sure I would never be able to teach my wife anything without a 6-pack...
I think it's awesome you're teaching your wife! I teach music for a living, it's a pretty rewarding career. Try teaching her some simple finger exercises to build dexterity along with theory applied to the fretboard. Ear training is important as well. Playing what you hear in your head and understanding why it works is key to constructing bass lines. Good luck and I hope you can keep jamming with your wife :)
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