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Are there different approaches to teaching bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sync00, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. sync00


    Nov 23, 2005
    If I'm looking for a bass teacher are there any significantly different teaching approaches that I should be aware of or is there basically only one approach?
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Having had several different bass teachers I can say that approaches differ as much as the teacher's personalities and bass backgound differ. For example, some are sticklers for technique. Some are sticklers for theory and reading ability. Some want you to start trying to learn how to play a song by ear right away. Others want you to learn songs they pick out for you that illustrate what they have taught you in the class.

    I had one who was just a maniac about correct timing and groove. He made no bones about it, believing that if you don't have great timing, you will never be worth anything as a bassist.

    I have had a bass teacher who was very passive. He wanted me to tell him what I wanted to know, what songs I wanted to play, what techniques I wanted to learn. I also had one who was the exact opposite. He said it was nuts to learn to tap or to slap and pop if I didn't have basic plucking and fretting technique down and he was a real stickler for fretboard familiarization. So he taught me the basics first. I like that approach.

    I have had bass teachers who were actually guitarists, but knew "a little" bass. My BEST teacher was a gifted bassist who played first chair double bass in a symphony orchestra and electric bass in a Led Zeppelin-style band. He taught me the most and I enjoyed learning from him the most.

    When I moved to another country, I tried a teacher who was a perfectionist. He demanded perfect technique, perfect timing, unstinting dedication. He took all the joy out of playing. He often told me that he dropped students he didn't think had talent or promise. He was truly the Simon Cowell of bass playing. About that time, I had made the decision that I no longer wanted to continue playing in bands. The thrill was pretty much gone for many reasons. He was one of the reasons, but not the only one.

    I will say this about that perfectionistic teacher. He would be the perfect teacher for someone who wants to play professionally. He would iron out any deficiencies you had...but the other teacher...the double bassist/metal bassist taught me the love of music, passion and dedication. He taught me to play with feeling. The perfectionist made me feel inadequate.

    Choose your teachers wisely. If you do not get along with them for whatever reason, find someone else. Don't ever let one break your spirit.
  3. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    You can tell when someone can and wants to teach, and when someone just wants to take your money in the back room of a music store. Find someone with some enthusiasm for teaching and someone who appears to have a plan.

    Check out a prospective teacher at a gig. Does he/she play the way you would like to play someday?

    Avoid guitarists who also claim to teach bass. There are always exceptions, and you could find a winner, but most of the time, this is not too great.
  4. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    Zeppelin isn't metal!!! Argh!!! There was no metal before Sabbath!!! everytime hear people call zeppelin metal it makes me want to stuff a coaster in their mouth.

    oh, and, uh, make sure you get along with your teach.
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There's as many different ways to teach as there are teachers. What ISN'T really different is the basics of what you needto learn. The fundamentals of music are what you need to learn, a good teacher will have a multitude of ways to communicate them to students.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Decaf, Grug. Is that really what you thought you should add to this thread?
  7. phaneo


    Mar 14, 2001
    Fort Worth TX
    I just started lessons after playing for 12 years. The first lesson was way over my head. I finally explained that I knew nothing about music and today we started from scratch. Much better lesson. My teacher has a great personality, and is an awesome player. I hope to learn a lot from him. The only thing is direction. I'm curious to see how much he focuses on fundamentals. I can already play pretty well, just don't know much about it. We were working on a number system, seems to make sense, anyone else had this approach in begining lessons?
  8. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Sorry I aroused your wrath, Grug. My teacher has played in a series of metal bands and a Led Zeppelin-style band. He taught me how to play metal. I didn't explain the situation fully and should have.

    By the way, Grug, when I see angry posters here who have neither good manners nor correct punctuation, it makes me want to politely teach them how to punctuate. I wouldn't dream of threatening to stuff their mouths with coasters or anything else.:eyebrow:
  9. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    thats ok. im sure if i met you i wouldnt want to stuff a coaster in your mouth.

    the internet makes you dumb. everyone knows that. the charlie wenzel thread is pretty good proof. in retrospect ill probably discover this old thread in X amount of months/years and laugh at my own noobery, with bad punctuation and deranged ramblings, but im 17 and can use my age as an excuse for a little while longer, so i think i will. get ready for lowercase i's like youv'e (;) ) never seen!
  10. sync00


    Nov 23, 2005
    I live in a small rural town. There are two guys here that teach bass. One is from out of town and is only here one afternnon a week. I'm playing phone tag with the other guy and we haven't talked yet.

    Both of them are guitarists who also teach bass.
  11. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    Yea I went from a guy who taught me basically how to have fun with the bass. And his idea of practicing was to just play.. come up with cool riifs and jam.
    My jazz instructor is very strict. I must practice 6 hours a day, I must learn piano, I must get everything perfect. I must do everything with a metronome. There were no ifs or buts about it, I had to change a lot of my technique because of his instruction and he wouldn't let me use my own technique.
    I was getting better faster with my original teacher. But I'm getting more out of the jazz instructor. I've learned how to read and play piano among other things. There are different teachers out there and you just have to decide which one you're looking for. Ask and see if the instructors will let you sit in on one of their sessions so you can get an idea of what he's like.
  12. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Some day - thank him for this.