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Are you always prepared for your students?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by vindibona1, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    There is a world of difference between telling you to 'look for ii V I progressions and handing you a list of tunes or copy of the progressions. Did he know ahead of time this was going to be where the discussion lead? (BTW, finding ii V I progressions in the Read Book is a lot like finding sand in the desert)
    Private lessons are very different that following class instruction, and you should know that. Working with one student will often include a discussion that leads to things neither student or teacher could predict, and a good teacher will see a 'teachable' moment, and not shy away from it because they aren't totally prepared.
    Are you prepared for your lesson with a mindset to learn, or are you more ready to show?
    Wasnex likes this.
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I agree that sometimes lessons veer from the prepared plan, but if a teacher is going to suggest something like that, he/she should help - give a list of specific suggestions, email some more information...
  3. Picton

    Picton Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2017
    Reading, MA
    With respect, OP, we aren’t the people you should be saying these things to.

    Your teacher might be fully capable of meeting your expectations, but not if you don’t express them. To him, not here.

    I’ve taught for nearly twenty years now, though not music, and as a teacher I value an organic experience between me and my students. I believe in reflection and preparation, but even moreso I believe in letting lessons follow their own course if I think learning is taking place.

    So no. No formal lesson plans. I haven’t done those since grad school, and my employers seem to think I’m a pretty good teacher regardless.
    Wasnex likes this.
  4. vindibona1


    Apr 18, 2015
    Granted. For whatever reason the teacher was insisting that I tackle that aspect. While I can write chapter and verse about trumpet playing, my professional bass playing experience has been limited mostly to musical theater where obviously everything is in standard notation or chord notation.

    I think this just isn't a good match. I am pretty sensitive to energy and attitude and this guy doesn't seem to be relating to me or my needs. I think my communication skills are good and I was very clear as to what my short and long term goals are as well as my lesson expectations. I tried to make it clear as well as to my preferred learning style, but he didn't seem to want to make any adjustments.

    A few things... I agree that typically standard notation accompanies tab. "Sending me off to do homework" with open-ended assignments is not only a waste of lesson time but a waste of my personal practice time. It suggests that I find the source material that I am unfamiliar with where he could take 5 minutes and provide it (as I do for my trumpet students). I didn't need him to "work out fingerings" but to demonstrate STYLE, that which he was critical of. When one doesn't get nuance on a piece that he should be familiar with ONLY a demonstration will illustrate the nuance. And no, a 6 string guitar isn't the proper vehicle to demonstrate bass chords any more than one can go from 4 string bass to 5 string bass seamlesslly without any time allowed for adaptation.

    I get lessons veering off from the plan. But that's one of the aspects of professional teaching. Just this past Thursday I was supposed to coach a brass section, but when I arrived I was told I had to conduct the entire band. While that was a deviation, I was fully prepared to do so as I had studied the entire score to see how the brass section fit in with the other sections. It's simply a matter of being prepared... or even over-prepared. Teaching music is no less a serious job than being a doctor, lawyer, plumber or car repair guy and should be treated with the same sense of importance.
    buldog5151bass likes this.
  5. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    The most important idea I get from your response is you probably need to find another instructor. I suspect it may be difficult to find one who meets your expectations because you have advanced musical training and yet are a beginner on bass. Also you seem to have a really strong paradigm about exactly how lessons are supposed to go. I suspect your expectations are grounded in the way things work in the brass world, and if you are primarily a classical player, you may have even more mental hurdles to overcome, as a commercial bassists will typically have a totally different way of approaching and thinking about music that is probably very foreign to you.

    FYI, My instructors frequently did not take their own instruments out of the case during my lessons. If they needed to demonstrate something to me, it was typically done on my instrument, and usually this was unnecessary because they could talk me through whatever coaching was needed.

    You see the instructor using a guitar to teach you how to interpret chords as a hindrance. I see it as a huge advantage, because you get to hear the chord in addition to playing the notes. As a music major, I worked through every new theory concept I learned in class on a piano, so I could hear the interaction of the voices. This is important when you are learning to play bass over a chord chart as well, and I see it as a huge advantage. Also as I said previously, the fingerings on the lower four strings of a guitar are exactly the same as on your bass, so it should make sense for the instructor to demo basic finger patterns to you. It seems to me this approach would work quite well with most people, but you don't have enough experience to understand why. So you are being fussy and assuming the instructor is doing a bad job.

    Honestly my impression is you may have forced the lesson before you were ready for it. Since you teach music you should already know your key signatures and chords shapes. Before you get to this type of lesson on bass, you need to also have a fairly solid understanding of where the notes are on the fingerboard. This would allow the instructor to discuss what you need to play from a theoretical standpoint, and then sound the notes on guitar if you need a little push. You will then see the fingering and hear the notes an octave up, and be asked to repeat the pattern on the bass. This should not pose any sort of problem for a person who teaches music. I would think you would have had years of solfege training and can transcribe music at will.

    One caveat: In the event that a lesson focuses on technique instead of how to interpret a lead sheet, then I agree it's important for the instructor to actually demo proper technique on bass. The point is, the instructor may choose different tools for different types of learning. Learning to interpret chord symbols is primarily a mental exercise.

    IMHO, you are the student, so it's not your position to tell the instructor how to teach. But, if you don't like or understand the instruction method, you may try negotiate with the instructor. The instructor may have a valid and defensible reasons for doing things a certain way that you may not grasp. If the instructor refuses to accommodate reasonable expectations, find someone else. Unfortunately you may find it's not easy for someone with your unique experience and goals to find someone who teaches exactly the way you want them too.

    Good luck!
  6. iTzPrime


    May 30, 2016
    Guess it is ok, if it just one or two tab charts.

    Sounds good so far.

    At this point he is still a good teacher. As far as I understand it was your second lesson with him, so he doesnt know your knowledge on figuring stuff out on your own. If he does, he just wants to challenge you.

    Did he showed you what a ii chord, a v chord and a I chord is? If yes, that is a good exercise, not everything needs a demonstration.

    Chords are very hard to demonstrate on bass, my teacher always demonstrates them to me on his acoustic guitar. I have a bass strung from e to c, so if he shows me chords and I want to play them it is a great transcription exercise.

    I dont think you are unreasonable, i just think you have completely different expectations. In Austria modern music education is more about giving a framework on how to self learn and practice. After a fixed schedule to learn the most basics of the instrument and theory (learning to read and intervalls), a lot depends on the student. Most of the time the students suggests pieces he aims to play and the teacher will help him create the framework on how to do this (transciption exercises...).
    It seems to me you expected the old school of music education, where everything is given to you on a silver platter. Given you are struggling with figuring stuff on your own, you seem a bit out of your comfort zone.

    I would suggest that you tell your teacher your worries. Most of the time they just don't know what the students feels, especially when you haven't had a lot of time together. After talking to him, I would suggest to take another lesson a week later and see how that plans out.

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