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Book vs Teacher.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MCBTunes, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. Ok, at the semi-intermediate level- I can play far better than beginners but cant reallyconsider myself intermediate because i dont really know anything :).

    That being said.... say i had $100(theoretical) would I get more out of a decent teacher? thats like a hour or 2 of lessons or would I get more out of sinking that 100 or however much into "bass books" theory, techniques, general improvement all considered.... maybe a combo of the 2, one lesson to make sure I have no bad habits coming, then books and self teaching?
  2. Growler


    Sep 26, 2004
    A good teacher will:

    1. Show you correct technique.
    2. Point out improper technique
    3. Provide insight onto playing certains songs/riffs/scales/beats
    4. Provide something/body to compare yourself to
    5. Someone with good/solid rhythm/timing to play with.

    Playing by book/tape/DVD is good but will not replace a teacher. For example, when I wanted to learn how to slap, it was much easier with a teacher than trying to watch the same 30second clip on tape/dvd over and over again. Plus you can ask questions and receive answers immediately.

    If you learn bass via book you are (IMHO) no more hardcore than if you learned with a teacher. It's all about the quality of your playing, not how you learned.

  3. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    The point of one-on-one lessons is that the teacher can coach you.
    They can listen and watch, point out areas that need help, encourage you for the stuff you do well (that part is important!), and set up a plan for how your lessons will go. A teacher is also someone who will expect something from you. This is invaluable! You will have someone who wants you to do well, and makes sure that you work towards your goals consistently.

    I would take one lesson with my teacher over 500 books.
  4. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    Dollar for dollar the books will win, but it you put in the amount of time you put in the teacher will win.
  5. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    It's easy to buy books. Not so easy to follow them in a logical and methodical way, at the correct speed.

    I vote for both.
  6. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    I always did both.

    Teachers move at a given pace, which maybe too fast or too slow for the student. I always liked to learn my lessons but expand beyond what he was telling me and then I would ask him questions on areas I did not get from the book. Lessons alone can turn you into a clone of your teacher's teaching style, so I'd encourage you to do both.

    ALSO, not all teachers are equal and not all teachers can teach all aspects of playing, so there will be times when it is necessary to subliment your current teacher with a more specialized one, and eventually you have to leave the nest and move on to a different teacher for a fresh prosective.

    Think of it like school, in 3rd grade one woman taught everything, when you get to HS or college the teachers are much more specialized.
  7. I've had trouble finding a teacher round here, so for the meantime i've orderd "The Bass Bible" of amazon. Was this a good buy ? (ps: I don't know anything about bass theory ect.)

  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You may have left the nest of your spelling teacher a little too early. Maybe you should have sublimated a little more.

    Anyway, there's just so much I disagree with here. First, let me preface these remarks by saying that I am talking about a PRIVATE TEACHER, not a class, not a clinic. The one-on-one experience of teacher/student, master/disciple, coach/player.

    Teachers move at a given pace - maybe the bad ones do. Good teachers move at exactly the pace to keep their student progressing. If I don't understand something, my teacher tries to come at it in as many different ways as possible/necessary until I can understand whatever concept we're working on or execute whatever exercise I'm working on. His only agenda is building a firm enough foundation in conception and understanding and ability so that I can move forward, get deeper. the concept of "we spent x amount of time on this, now we move forward no matter what you're level of understanding" is the mark of A BAD TEACHER.

    Lessons alone can turn you into a clone of your teacher's teaching style - if you have a BAD TEACHER who is just showing you their vocabulary of "tricks and licks", sure. All you are learning to do is parrot their vocabulary. But a good teacher is giving you a firm foundation in musical conception and understanding so that YOU can sound like YOU. Learning to hear with clarity, understand what you are hearing and how it functions, how to execute what you are hearing on your instrument, that's what a good teacher works on. How can that make you a "clone"?

    There is no book, video, computer program or website in the world that is going to listen to you play, week after week, and come up with a program of exercises that will progressively work on the weak areas in your approach and understanding in a way that responds specifically to the manner in which YOU learn things. Spending time and changing the approach to communicate in a clear and specific way the knowledge or skill set AS YOU NEED IT. No book, video, computer program or website can say "You're playing the notes correctly but it still sounds like you aren't really carrying the sound of the tonic in your head" or "your wrist is still carrying a lot of tension, try relaxing and using THIS muscle". No book, video, computer program or website is going to make sure you move past something when you haven't really nailed it.

    Yes, you have to try to find a good teacher. But when you do, the whole of the world of music opens to you in a way no static medium can touch.
  9. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Books will not cut it without a human that has knowledge greater than yours to explain what lies therein.

    Frankly, when my students bring book I tell them that they have wasted their money. Then I ask them why they came to me if they already own all of EF's books.
  10. AlembicBob


    Dec 28, 2004
    MA, US
    While everyone is saying that the teacher will provide you the better results, they aren't taking the economics into account. You mentioned having $100 to spend, and you're not going to get much from the 2-3 lessons that buys you with a teacher.

    If I read what you say correctly, you believe that you are a technically capable player, but you are lacking in the theory of music that would let you grow your playing. If what you're looking to do is improve your technical understanding of how music works and what fits together with what, then I think books will be the most cost-effective way to get you there. The quantity of knowledge to be absorbed on the music theory side is just to great for you to get much out of a few face-to-face lessons.

    If I am mistaken, and you're looking to improve your playing technique, then you might get value out of even a single lesson with a good teacher. Your combo idea might be the right approach for you, as the way you describe it makes sense. I'm not sure how common this approach is, so you will need to be careful about identifying the right teacher to work with in this manner. What's the scene like in your area? Do you know of any good teachers?

    Let's look at the money side of things a little closer. You said $100. Obviously, you're going to run through that very quickly if you try to go with weekly lessons. On the other hand, might there be more money behind it to let you take a $30 lesson once a month? That should be enough for a teacher to act as a guide and help you with technique.

    Teacher or books, you don't seem to have a lot of cash to make mistakes with. I believe it will be easier to spend $20 on a book and give it a shot, then go to a teacher if you're not happy with the results. If you go through a couple lessons with a teacher and decide it's not working for you, your initial stake will be all gone.
  11. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I wholeheartedly disagree with you. I am sure that if the student discussed the scenario with the teacher the money limit that the teacher could pack quite a bit of info into two or three lessons with enough "homework" to last a year or two.
  12. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    Here's the deal...

    Go to college, become a music major. While in college, take lessons on every instrument you can :p If you can't take lessons, after a year or two, the knowledge you have should be enough to moderately teach yourself with a book. Once you get your degree, move to a state that you can take a test and become a sub teacher. Look at how much money you saved, you can know play every instrument on earth and you have a great day job... if only someone would ahve told me about this plan before I dropped out of college... :bawl:
  13. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002

    Ignorance is Bliss...
  14. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004

    It's hell having half a degree and not being able to even get a job at a beer store... I'm hoping to go back next year and get my degree if my schedule will allow it. Maybe even part time till I can get a degree.
  15. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Believe me...It's no better with a "Full" Degree.
  16. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    Well, here in Ohio with just a bach degree you can take a test and then you can substitue teach. Around here, they are in great demand. I have 3 college friends that do it. It doesn't even have to be related to ed field. Music, english, bussiness... it's all good.

    I know a couple bluegrass musicians that do it too and it works great for them. So I have a plan.... :p
  17. AlembicBob


    Dec 28, 2004
    MA, US

    That's a pretty big blanket statement when you paste in a multi-paragraph post. One thing I was observing is that the thread originator lists location as "Martensville, Sask, Canada." I don't know anything about the area, but it doesn't sound like Boston, NY, LA, or Nashville. Saskatoon isn't exactly tiny, but there may not be all that many quality bass instructors in residence. At least, not the volume and quality that some of us may take for granted.

    I think you'll be hard-pressed to find an instructor that wants to provide you with a year or more worth of study materials for the cost of a month's worth of lessons. I also think that when you walk away with that year's worth of material, that you might as well have bought some quality books. How is any instructor going to prepare a year worth of lessons for you without knowing how quickly you learn, or which of the new things you'll be learning are going to give you trouble? How are they going to ensure that when you try out a new technique, that you're performing it correctly? The answer is that they can't. At least, the lesson plan can't be that much more personalized than what you would get out of book or video instruction. It will have to be a bunch of canned theory and practice exercises, just like what you'd get out of a quality instructional book.

    Certainly, the time you spend with a quality instructor will have significant value beyond what you can read in a book. To be more clear and brief, I think the only way you significantly benefit from an instructor is with regular meetings. That could be as infrequent as quarterly and still be helpful. If you can afford some sort of regular instruction schedule, then go for it.
  18. Think've it as an investment in getting a Teacher who will show you HOW you can learn stuff and WHAT to learn ie: from the internet or go to your local libaray for books I'm sure they have plenty or even doing a sneaky by going to the music store and have a cameraphone and take pictures on pages of books :D just don't blame me if you get caught .
  19. Serg


    Dec 22, 2004
    I think you can learn more with a teacher
  20. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    What books and videos or DVDs can never do for you is LISTEN to you play and WATCH you play so that if there are any important deficiencies in your specific technique or your sound, those deficiencies can be corrected.

    In fact, in just one class, a half-way decent teacher can point out many things to you about your playing that you just didn't realize.

    Just some examples, one class I had with a double bass player he showed me my definite tendency to lift my fretting fingers too far from the fret board, thus wasting much time and energy. I was also attempting to fret without ever using my pinky finger because it was weak. He gave me the confidence to use it and showed me how my playing suffered by failing to use it.

    Several years later I had a class with a Nashville touring pro bassist who showed me the "moving thumb" technique and the "rest stroke." Both of these techniques helped my playing tremenedously, but I have never read about either one in any book, though I think Bass Player magazine mentioned the moving thumb once, but it didn't sink in until I was actually shown by that teacher.

    These are just a few examples of what teachers as oppsoed to books taught me. I apply this to sports or other technique oriented activities. Tiger Woods doesn't read books to improve his golf; he uses coaches. Serena and Venus Williams don't read books to improve their tennis.

    Books and DVDs are valuable adjuncts to your development as a bassist, but teachers are even more so.