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Calling all bass teachers, I need some huge advice

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cassanova, Jul 1, 2005.

  1. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    So, I have a 54 year old inquiring about taking lessons from me. The only problem is, Im not sure of what to teach him.

    I cut/pasted his email to me below. Any and all help from those who teach on a regular basis would be appriciated.

    Its difficult to answer your question of what exactly I want to learn. I'm
    not sure if I honestly know. I played a little bass as a teenager. As I grew
    up I always thought about getting back into it but never did. About 8 months
    ago I accompanied a friend to a music store. He is an accomplished guitarist
    with about 40 years of experience. It took about 5 minutes in the store for
    me to get re-hooked.

    Over the last 8 months I try to practice every day. I'm to the point that
    with a little practice I can play pretty much anything that is tabbed or I
    can listen to and figure out. I am fairly comfortable with most of the
    scales and I know where most of the notes are. I'm still working making my
    fingers move as fast as my brain and attempting to reach 4 frets.

    I am not at the point where I can just sit down and jam. I trip over
    turnarounds, fills, walk-ups and downs. Without a good teacher I am not
    going to improve much.

    I am also 54 years old. So my priorities are not the same as a 12 year old.
    I realize that finger exercises and proper technique are extremely
    important. However, I am looking for a teacher that will help me to play
    while I work on my technique, not instead of. Hopefully, that at least
    partially answers your question.

    I have been searching for a real bass teacher for the last few months with
    little to no success. I would sincerely appreciate any help you could give.
  2. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I don't teach so I don't know if my thoughts will help, but here they are anyway. :)

    He mentions he trips up over turnarounds, walk ups and walk downs. To me that means he would need instruction on forms like blues & jazz blues forms. To me it also means he needs to learn chords and chord arpeggiations. This way he can understand what notes he has available to insert into his playing & walking.

    He says he's willing to work on exercises but wants to learn songs too. That's perfect, because you can work in getting the guy off TAB and onto sheet music by teaching him to read his 'finger exercise' assignments you give him.

    You could also work songs into some of these finger exercise assignments. Like you could tie all of this stuff together by playing Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl. You could use this song to teach him about progressions, chords/arpeggiations, blues forms and use sheet music or chord charts as a start to get him off TAB.

    Hope this helps.
  3. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    I don't teach either.. Hell I need lessons also!

    He probably would benefit from learning proper techniques. If he is self-taught so far he may have developed some habits that need to be changed before unneeded stress hurts his hands.

    Hope this helps,
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sounds like you should probably teach him how to read, verify his technique, and give him some rudimentary theory to me, and then see how he takes it. he may not sit still for too much theory, it sounds like, so you might have to do a sales job with it and mix it up with a goodly portion of working on fun stuff to get him to buy into it. Old people are hard to teach because they want what they want and don't often want to work on stuff they don't want to learn, so you may find yourself having to sell him on the idea that the theory is important to him figuring out stuff on his own.
  5. eots


    Dec 18, 2004
    Morris, IL.
    He's been playing less than a year. It may take a few lessons to get up to speed with him to see where he's at. Once you're at that point, you can evaluate where to go or where he wants to be. On one hand don't be too proud to say you can't teach him anything cause maybe he just needs personal practice. Then suggest some music that will challenge him.
  6. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I was planning on correcting any bad habits he may have.

    I think I am going to teach him the scales, intervalic relationships, arpeggios, and chord construction, all in the order of the circle of fifths. As I teach him this he will also be learning to read because his exercises will be written in standard notation.

    Im thinking this is a good place to start him because of his problems durring the turnarounds and not being able to just sit down and jam. I think if he knew this stuff he'd wouldnt have the problems at the turnarounds and would definately be able to just sit down and jam.
  7. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    I taught a 59 year old Teamster for a while when I lived in Brooklyn and I just asked him what he wanted to learn. He needed a lot of work on basics so I broke up the lesson into working on fundamentals and having him actually play tunes. He loved blues so that was a great starting off point.

    My advice is to see what they want to work on and if they can already play, see if they want to fill up any holes in their playing (theory, technique, reading etc.)
  8. I am a fifty-two year old, who started playing about 5 years ago. One of the problems that I have is that I am not in a band, but I am on a rota for playing in church. I really want to play regularly with the same bunch of people, and polish a set list, but in this environment, that isn't going to happen. In any other environment, I do not have the knowledge of the music to apply for, and get, a position in a band.

    Since this student has a friend who plays, I suggest you focus on what he will be playing in those sessions, and use that as the vehicle to build on, e.g: what else would fit, and why; have you considered this, because it ... ; etc. This will keep him focussed on playing, and motivate him to play better.

    The shortest time I spent with a bass teacher, was the one who fed me a whole term of modes, but could not (or could not be bothered?) to give me examples of where they were used. If your student cannot see the context, motivation to practice goes out the window (at any age).

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