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Advice On Finding A Teacher

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Mar 21, 2004.


  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Apologies in advance for the long post.

    I'm going to be moving back to my hometown in Connecticut this week, and with all the family members there that will be able to babysit for me and my wife, I'll have a lot more free time and was considering taking some lessons.

    I took about six months of bi-weekly lessons when I first started out (over eight years ago) but that was the extent of that, and I basically learned everything I know by playing with other musicians and practicing on my own. I have a good ear but a limited knowledge of theory, and while this gets my by pretty easily in most situations, I have trouble in a lot jazz contexts and other musics involving non-standard chord changes and such. I'm getting more into playing jazz as well, so there's a little more emphasis on learning theory now.

    Here's what I'm looking for:
    I'd like to learn the fundamentals of all the chords and be able to know what chords I'm playing. I'd like to learn modes and theory elements and how to use them, like when it's useful to play a harmonic or melodic minor instead of a natural one. I'd like to memorize the fretboard, although I've always had a hard time memorizing it on my own. This would be a big help as I often don't know where I am when I take a run into the upper register and I have to work my way back down. I'd also like to improve my soloing as it's very pentatonic-based and I'd like to play more solos based on the harmony of the chords.

    There are a few issues though-I have terrible vision and I doubt that even with constant training I will ever be able to read music. Reading materials have to be within a few inches of my face to be readable, and I can't hold my bass and do this at the same time.
    I aslso don't know if I'll be able to find a bass instructor in the small town who will be knowledgeable enough in the subjects I'm interested in. Would you suggest finding a jazz guitarist or piano teacher? What are the sorts of questions I should ask to see if they're the right teacher for me? Any advice on finding ways around the reading aspect of it? And what's an fair price per lesson? Thanks a lot for any imput you can provide me with.
     
  2. Well, since your a bass player, taking lessons from a bass teacher would be best, but it is hard to find one that knows his theory and is able to solo decently. Since your more concerned with modes and theory, take from a piano player, because you said you want to learn more about chords too. There are probably more piano teachers in your town then bass teachers, so try that.
     
  3. Joe Turski

    Joe Turski

    Jul 29, 2003
    Connecticut
    m
  4. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Thanks Joe, but because of my vision I can't drive, so I'll have to stick with the couple of places in Norwich or the surrounding area.
     
  5. Joe Turski

    Joe Turski

    Jul 29, 2003
    Connecticut
    m
  6. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    I forgot all about that place! Might be a little far, but I'll check it out-I have a few friends in Mystic. Thanks again, Joe!
     
  7. Joe Turski

    Joe Turski

    Jul 29, 2003
    Connecticut
    m
    Any time! :)
     
  8. GooseYArd

    GooseYArd Guest

    May 15, 2003
    Hey Bryan. I think you're going to have a lot of luck with this if you can find the right people. I think it's important to study your instrument with someone who plays that instrument, so I'd do everything I could to find a bass player before I studied with someone who played a piano or guitar. The reason is, I think, that a large part of being motivated to learn the dry theory stuff is hearing a really, really sick bass player putting the material to use.

    I study with Lucas Pickford, who is one of those guys who has a really huge command of harmony and composition as well as being an extremely formidable player. He's a bass player who can play Coltranes licks over Giant Steps at breakneck speed, and when you see him do that, it makes it a lot easier to go home and practice scales.

    Fortunately a lot of these guys, Pickford included, will do correspondence lessons. There are some drawbacks, mainly that a lot of the personal interaction and BS-ing will be lacking, but the good thing is that the recordings can be used as a reference for a long time, and they do them specifically for each student. You can find his address via his website, lucaspickford.com, or let me know and I can put you together with him. Bruce Gertz of Berklee also does these, and there are probably several others in and around Boston. Pick can probably do some evaluation with you over the phone or have you record yourself, I'm not sure exactly how he does it.

    Also, I have learned most of the things you mentioned via the Aebersold books. The reading that will be involved is not really sight-reading, but rather reading a scale for memorization, or a short lick that you will memorize and play in a call and response track. No one that I know who has used these books has failed to make very good progress toward what you've mentioned, and just having the discs to play along with is huge. My guess is that jazzbooks.com probably does a braille music version of "Anyone Can Improvise", although from your description it sounds like the regular version would be totally workable. I'm still an awful, awful sight reader but I've made a lot of progress as a soloist with these books.

    One last thing that might be worth looking into is college music programs. Generally all the instrument-specific instruction comes in the form of private lessons, and most orchestra bassists I've met play some jazz and might be good candidates.

    The going rate now is about 40$ an hour, more for correspondence lessons because they time a lot of time to prepare, but you can probably get by with one of those per month, so it probably works out to be cheaper. Also a lot of guys here make housecalls, so that would be a totally reasonable thing to ask for.

    You ought to check with Craig Garfinkle here, he's a pretty sick player from what I've heard and probably knows some people down your way.

    Hope this helps, and good luck.
     
  9. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ