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After years of struggling with the guitar...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by progrmr, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. progrmr


    Sep 3, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    I think my original instructor did me a great diservice.

    Picked up guitar as a mis-guided youth - just wanted to play songs and such so I never really "learned" how to play. this was back in '84.

    So 2 summers ago I buy a nice takamine and find my old instructor from when I was a kid - told him I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, not just songs. So he starts me out with this beginner book that he recommends which starts teaching me the first 3 notes on each string.

    Long story short - I get frustrated because I'm not doing anything except memorization. I don't even understand the notes or the layout of the fretboard.

    I get my first bass yesterday because I still feel this "tug" to play music and decide to try a new direction. And in the week leading up to my bass getting to me I learned more than I did in all those years of playing guitar.

    I never knew there 12 notes in music, that there were 7 natural notes with flats/sharps between some. Playing scales was just fret memorization for me. Now I'm starting to understand how and why the scales work, the notes involved - which leads inherently to an understanding of patterns and intervals.

    All this in a week and on my own without paying a cent! I really feel that my instructor did me a diservice not telling me about this stuff early on so I would at least have had an understanding and maybe most of the guitar stuff I struggled with would have been much easier.

    I want to take lessons again but I'm thinking "how the heck can I trust that I found a guy that isn't going to do the same thing to me again??" ? When I hire an instructor, I'm hiring a guy to lead me. Lead me to be a successful musician, not a jukebox.

    Any recommendations on what to look for when considering an instructor? Anything I can do that might help me avoid the pitfalls of the past?

  2. first time I had my lesson my teacher asked me what I wanted to learn,... and every so often I ask for a challenge but 9 times out of 10 I say 'I want to learn slap, I want to learn some theory etc',... he knows im not good with theory so chucks it in when he can but he also lets me choose what I want to learn,... I had a guitar teacher that made me learn songs I hated and didn't want to play put me right off,...

    just make sure you have control of your direction of where your being lead,... in the end, learning is all about having fun whilst doing so! if you get stuck on something or are hating a particular aspect, ask if you can move on for a bit and come back to it later :) another good step is to get any bass book that has 'intermediate' in it,... gets frustrating when most of them are the 'bass for dummies' kind which is all good and well but doesn't help you if your beyond that!
  3. elgato


    Sep 8, 2008
    Pacific NW
    My third teacher was the best I ever had. His policy was that for each lesson, I learn something I want to learn and also something he thinks I needed to learn. It really worked. On the days when I didn't want to learn what he brought to the table, at least I always learned the song I wanted. It was a requirement that I be prepared with something I wanted to learn, so it forced me to think and listen to music. He also always brought a different guitar or amp as well and taught me about gear.

    I'm going the route you are too, progrmr. I'm strictly taking up bass after playing guitar for years. It's really refreshing!:bassist:
  4. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Wow - it sounds like that instructor really hosed you.

    Coupla ways to find a good instructor:

    - Get a recommendation from someone already taking lessons with a prospective instructor.

    - Read the ads in a local music publication or website. I think the odds of finding a good teacher go up when you find a pro advertising, as opposed to just hooking up with people teaching out of a store.

    There's two cents worth.
  5. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    One more thing, though:

    Choose the instrument you Want to play. The one you have a Passion to play. Try not to choose an instrument just as a default after giving up on something else. That's not a great way to start.

    Ok, three cents now.
  6. progrmr


    Sep 3, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio

    Nah, I want to play bass to start a new direction and I'm really excited about playing bass. I felt tired of the guitar - no passion about picking it up. Part of that was probably the lack of knowledge. I also just wanted to play guitar because I thought the guitar was more important than a bass (as I said...mis-guided youth :) ).

    It is nice to kind of start over with an instrument that I have no experience with, no bad habits to break, no history with. Nice, fresh start again and I'm definitely into it.
  7. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    My first bass instructor left me with the feeling of "I will never learn to write music, just be a juke box." I could read very well and I knew all the notes on the neck (from the school band) and that was it. I told the guy I wanted to learn how to write music. The guy had me playing a mode a week for 5 or 6 weeks on end until I just quit...He never explained what they do or how they work, just made me play them until I got bored, quit and went back to playing RATM tabs in my bassment.

    5 years later the guy I'm studying with now also gives me modes and chords, but in context and paired with songs and progression exercises. It only took 4 months to get through a good chunk of the chord and scale stuff once I realized its importance and started applying it and I learned about 10 songs and wrote a few of my own bass lines along the way. I have a far better understanding of bass and music than I ever did, and I wish I would have done these things 5 years ago.

    Moral of the story, you will have to do the grunt work but you also need to find someone who is a good enough teacher to make you want to do it. Also don't take bass lessons from a guitarist, its like learning to cook a steak from a baker, they may use similar tools and they both cook but the chef is going to make a much better fillet minion.
  8. pendergasta

    pendergasta .- .- .-. --- -. / .--. . -. -.. . .-. --. .- ...

    Jan 7, 2008
    North Carolina

    I'd spend a few weeks going through the lessons there (they're REALLY good, and FREE) and then you'll know a little more about whether an instructor really knows what direction to take you.

    Good luck with your endeavors, I'm a also a former guitarist (15 years) turned bass player, and I've finally found what comes naturally to me.
  9. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    My goal is still to write music. I'm not there yet. All of my favorite co-conspirators know a bazillion songs. So I'm trying to approach it that way. Start building up a book of songs that you can find lyrics and chords for, bonus if you can get a CD or MP3 of the tune and start learning them. This pays off later when your band(s) need songs to play. Your songbook (originals or covers) is your calling card. Having a lot of songs from a lot of different genre's in your back pocket is a big advantage.

    And, if the teacher isn't inspiring you to keep at it, it's either you or the teacher. You can't get another you, so by process of elimination...

    Perhaps you're somebody who doesn't respond well to instruction - perhaps you should go it alone.

    Music is rich and fascinating. If you are driven to learn it, keep at it. If one direction isn't working, find another direction. There are a million of them.

  10. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    Nice post.

    I always find it an interesting situation- the balance of teaching younger people stuff they want to know how to play (songs) so that they continue to be motivated to practice/play/be involved with music, but yet also teach them things they need to know which will ultimately be beneficial, but yet isn't "fun". Of course, the balance is somewhere in-between combining both in some fashion. This isn't always easy to do, at least in my experience. But I think that's the magic, tying in the music and technique into some coherent, discernable continuum or experience in which you the student comes out the other end, a better guitarist/bassist/whatever, and better musician too.

    I think by the simple fact that you're older, and all that comes with it, better communication, seeing the broader picture, etc... that you'll be able to find a teacher that will help you avoid the pitfalls. Your ability to articulate your thoughts very well here is the best thing I can recommend in speaking to a new potential instructor. I'm sure most will interject theory to some measure or another, as you get to a point and it's simply very difficult or impossible to "connect the dots" musically without tying in some theory in there.

    Talk about your experiences. A good instructor will keep these formost in his/her mind in helping chart a way forward.
  11. shatterd


    Feb 24, 2008

    Some really good online bass lessons there. The instructors are great! You get access to the entire library of lessons for a few dollars a month. There are enough lessons there to keep you busy for a long long time...especially if you are a beginner or intermediate.
  12. progrmr


    Sep 3, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    Thanks! - I'll check 'em out now.
  13. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Alta Loma, California
    hey prog! Welcome to Talkbass!

    I dunno where you're from, but if you can, try and locate a teacher who regularly teaches jazz to students. Try going to a local community college if you have any around. You will get exemplary instruction in every aspect of music.
  14. Nappa


    Dec 20, 2006
    Fargo,North Dakota
    I have had 3 teachers in the past 1 year and a half. My first teacher was very talented and knew how to teach. He started me off with Money by Pink Floyd and said he was teaching me it because it would build up my pinky strength, it has!! He as with all my teachers are going to a class that is music-oriented at the local college and need a few weeks of teaching to pass. Before I could learn any more my 2nd teacher came a long, he was laid back and easy-going. He was was in the same class as my 1st teacher. My 3rd teacher who filled in for my 2nd teacher for one month taught me the most, he hammered on my technique and would rather have me have good technique then know how to play a song. He is in a metal band while my 2nd teacher is in a bluegrass band. Back to my current teacher the 2nd one. He tries to apply theory to the songs that he teaches me, but it takes a few lessons to get it. In the last 3-4 weeks we he has been teaching me How Many More Times in the format of 12-bar blues, teaching me parts that sound well over it while he is playing the part and switching between me soloing over it and me playing the main part.

    Back on topic, look for a teacher that can apply "boring" things to "fun" things, but also makes sure you don't play with any bad habits.

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