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Can a $90 lesson possibly be worth it?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by PlayMoreBass, Sep 10, 2008.


  1. Here's the deal: I've never had bass lessons after noodling for a year, and I want some.

    I've been playing trombone for a decade, which means I have very strong bass clef sight-reading skills that translate well onto bass. I also know all the basic theory, as well as some not-so-basic theory. I'm familiar with the concept of "musicianship." Though phrasing, dynamics, and accents don't work quite the same on the two instruments, the concepts are old hat. I don't need someone to explain them to me, I don't need someone to explain to me how to read bass clef, and I don't need someone to tell me to assign one finger per fret and alternate fingers on my plucking hand. That said, I don't really know what I do need, which is why I need a teacher.

    I've found highly credentialed teachers who charge a lot of money, judging by the hourly rate thread ($90 and more per hour), and I've found less credentialed teachers who charge a lot less (say, $30 per hour).

    I had resigned myself to just paying $90/hour for a good bass lesson, but then I took a lesson with a guy who charged $30/hour. Clearly this guy hadn't quite earned his Music Education degree, but he worked with me on some stuff in a constructive way out of some books that he suggested I buy. It was informative, it was fun, I'll go back next week.

    I also signed up for a lesson with a guy in a music school who charges $90/hour, and after my lesson with the cheap guy, I have my doubts about following through with the expensive guy. I understand that you all can't see through my eyes right now, but can the guy who wants $90 really offer me a lesson that's three times as useful as the other guy? Is $90/hour a blatant rip-off? Or could it be the most illuminating hour of my life?

    And here's another thing: if I go to this lesson and I find after 15 minutes that the guy is a total jerk off, can I walk out? Pay him $20 and leave because it won't be worth my time?
     
  2. HaVIC5

    HaVIC5

    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    $90 is steep, but far from the most you might pay for private lessons. If you liked what you were doing with the $30 guy, though, there isn't any reason to pay for one 90 dollar lesson. Part of what makes private lessons work is the continuity from one lesson to the next. There isn't any time for a teacher to REALLY work with you if you just go in for one lesson. They might throw a bunch of material at you and tell you things to work on, but thats about as much as they can do. Granted, this has its place, but the benefits of continued lessons with a good can't be understated.
     
  3. brivello

    brivello

    Jun 27, 2008
    Philadelphia
    I think it depends on how much work you want to do. In my experience someone working at a music school will give you a ton of work to do, and expect you to do it all. Whereas the lessons I've had out of my local music store for $30/hr are a kind of move at your own pace kind of thing.

    Also look into where these guys play. Most bass professors at a music school will only spend 1-3 days a week teaching and the rest of the time playing. Find a recording, or go see them live.

    getting lessons is definitely a good choice though.
     
  4. Nagrom

    Nagrom

    Mar 21, 2004
    Western Canada
    90 bucks an hour certainly sounds like it would be worth it-to your teacher. Seriously, I've been paying $50.00 an hour for a guy who taught his first lesson in 1960 and has 50 years of symphony experience.

    I would think you'd be looking for a dozen lessons or so in order to make for a strong foundation, and to allow your teacher to find your weak points and strengthen them. $90.00 a pop sounds like too much.
    But,as in most things, first buy quality.
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Teachers who charge a lot of money for lessons and have all these accreditations are more for the advanced player who already can play well and just wants to move to the next level. A $30 an hour teacher is just fine for beginners and intermediate players.
     
  6. butchblack

    butchblack Life is short. Do good. Find and do what you love.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Waltham Massachusetts
    $90 an hour is steep, but not out of the question. Where you are relatively new to bass though you have a good amount of music background I don't know if the $90 lesson will be that much more useful then the $30 lesson. If you're comfortable and happy with the $30 teacher I'd study with him/her for awhile working on your technique and the bass' place in a band more then theory or reading, if you do them well now.

    With lessons I find the big thing is am I comfortable with the teacher and where they want to take me. I had moved to Ct. and was advised by someone that this teacher was THE one to study with in Lower Ct. He had great credentials. I took a couple lessons with him and and decided he wasn't for me. What I wanted was different from where he wanted to take me.

    At some point you may want to take a couple lessons with the $90 teacher. There is a piano teacher in Massachusetts, Charlie Banacas, who is the teacher if you want to play Jazz piano. He only takes students by audition and would probably be a waste if you weren't upper intermediate or higher player already. My guess is the $90 teacher might be the same.

    Do take lessons however. Just make sure you find the right teacher for now.
     
  7. mutedeity

    mutedeity

    Aug 27, 2007
    Sydney
    Sounds to me like you need concept development more than anything. You probably need a teacher that is going to go over how you might approach different types of music from a bass perspective. You probably need someone who is going to give you a series of etudal lessons and technical applications. You could probably get this from either teacher, but I would think that the best "credentials" for this kind of teaching is a good background in playing various kinds of music.

    If you have a good rapport with the $30 guy and you are able to discuss and develop ideas with them, you should probably continue with them. On the other hand there is no reason the more expensive teacher wouldn't be able to do the same. It all comes down to what you are getting for the money.

    Personally I think $90 is a lot to pay unless that person had a high profile and were in high demand and were going to teach you specific concepts and techniques no-one else could.

    As far as walking out and paying $20 I think you should understand that you are paying the teacher for their time. If the fee for their time is $90 that is what you pay. A lot of teachers ask that you pay up front anyway. You don't go to a therapist and after 15 minutes say "I don't feel like you are helping me, here's $20". You pay them for the full session.
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Missed this the first time. Of course you can't! And it would be considered an extremely rude thing for some newbie to decide after 15 minutes that this teacher, who's made music education his entire life and has forgotten more than you know, doesn't know what he's talking about, throw him a $20 and walk out. You need to cancel asap if you don't want to go. And if you do go, know your place, show some respect, and sit there for the full amount of time and learn something.
     
  9. Thanks for the comments. I've been pleasantly surprised with how split the discussion has been. I really expected everyone to come down on one side or the other. I was initially convinced that I would go, then I decided that I would cancel, and after reading what's here, I'll go (and don't worry - I have the basic human decency to stay the whole time and give the man his due. However, I'm sure that you can understand, what with the importance of building a solid foundation with a teacher over the long term, that the possibility of shortening my time with the cheaper teacher by three lessons on this possibly dangerous/wasteful expensive guy would drive me to seek ways to be a bit of a spendthrift.) I accept that I may not be ready to take advantage of everything this guy has to offer, but I've been upfront with him about my experience, same as here, and since he's willing to work with me, I leave it to him to know that he can be effective.

    And if things don't work out, then lesson learned.
    Well, if things do work out, then lesson learned also, I guess.
     
  10. Deacon_Blues

    Deacon_Blues

    Feb 11, 2007
    Finland
    Here you get good lessons by pros knowing their stuff for 20-40 euros per hour. The city is not big enough to justify more expensive lessons here and there are rather many teachers available. However, if you want to get lessons by "famous" people, it will cost you more. (Supply and demand...) I just don't think it would be worth it unless you're already a good player just looking for some new ideas and to gain some extra inspiration.

    Try a cheaper teacher in the lower price range. If it turns out he can't teach you anything you don't already know, look out for another one. I'd say it's a waste of money to go to spend money at a top-notch player/teacher having only one year of experience playing bass.

    Just my 0.02 €.
     
  11. DudeistMonk

    DudeistMonk

    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    I would say your at a similar level to me and I'm taking lessons with a $40 dollar "its over when its over" guy. Which translates into at least an hour lesson and another hour of random musical chat sandwiched in there. At $40 an hour this guy knows more than I will probably ever know, teaches really well and I will probably be taking his lessons for years to come.

    When you get busy in life and don't practice for a week you are just pissing away your money with a $90 lesson. With $30 dollar lessons if your lazy every once in awhile it wont put you in the poor house. How dedicated are you? Can you keep up with $90 worth of bass work every week?

    I would expect to be doing a lot of repetitive chord and scale memorization work for either instructor. Is it necessary to pay $90 to run scales? In fact I don't think its necessary to pay any money to run scales, and if I knew what I was supposed to be studying I could have done all that stuff for free, before I started taking lessons...In my mind I pay for stuff like breakdowns of songs, chord theory, pointers and tips and clarifications, motivation not to disappoint, and someone who has been there before charting a practice course for me. Give me my chords and scales for the week but you also better teach me something I couldn't have gotten out of a $10 dollar book.

    If I where you I would ask them both for a lesson outline "What are we going to be doing for the next 6 months?" Then make your decision. You might find they have very similar plans for you. Also if you are up front with $90 dollar guy he might just recommend someone cheaper to get you up to par, knowing you'll be back to him when the time is right.

    +1 to listening to the guys recordings/seeing a show, I'm sure the guys style will start to rub off on you.
     
  12. DocBop

    DocBop

    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I would say if you have to ask you aren't ready for a advanced teacher. If you've been playing long enough you would know what you want from a teacher, you would of heard of the teacher and know what they can offer. You would of interviewed the teacher when setting up the lesson and have a feel for what the lesson will be like before making the appointment. So it's as much about the student being ready for the teacher and well as background of the teacher.
     
  13. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    $90 is on the high side, but it could be worth it if the teacher is very good.

    I used to pay $60 an hour from a professional, working, platinum-record winning bassist. I had to quit because his touring schedule and my schedule were always at odds with each other.

    Now I pay $30 an hour with a younger professional player. He doesn't have the platinum records, but he does have a masters in music.

    I've gotten different things from each of them, which I couldn't have gotten from the other. My point is they both charge differently, but both were well worth what they charged.
     
  14. that sounds high to me. i would look around. i pay 20 for half hour, and there aint nobody more smarter at the bass than him.
     
  15. Earthday

    Earthday

    Sep 22, 2005
    New Hampshire
    My assumption is that if he's charging $90 an hour to teach, his priorities are elsewhere and he's only willing to teach if its REALLY worth it to him. If he was serious he would have to have some deal like first lessons are $40, so people can see what they're getting before being $90 in the hole.

    Maybe he's a great musician, and great teacher, but that sounds like some bad business to me. Its more important that your teacher connects with you and can communicate clearly to you than his knowledge and skill anyways. It's all about what you learn. Some of the most insightful lessons I've ever had were with a guitar player who's never even played bass for $20 an hour. He was very efficient in finding out what I knew, and filling in the gaps. I would say you would be better off taking four different 20 dollar half hour lessons from four different instructors, and seeing if any connect with you.
     
  16. I wouldn't say $90 is expensive, but it depends on who you're talking about. Also the $90 price tag doesn't mean the lessons will be better, this teacher may just have an inflated idea of his/her skills. I've studied with $40, $50, $75, and $100 per hour teachers and each had their strong points and weak points. You seem to know enough to know if a teacher will be worth it after a lesson, just go with your gut.
     
  17. willgroove2

    willgroove2

    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    I taught for many years, stopped then started again about 4 years ago.Teaching has never been my main source of musical income but I do have a B.A in music so I am qualified to teach although my gigging experiences are much more valuable to my students IMO.When I started teaching again I was charging $35 for a hour lesson but over the last 2 years I have increased my price to $50 a hour Why? Well what I have discovered is that a higher price attracts more serious students (at least this is how it is for me) I have had a lot of time wasted preparing lessons for people who wouldn't put any time in practicing or showing up on a regular basis but when I raised my prices I didn't have to deal with that type of student.I put ads up on craiglist at my new rate and got a few nasty "Who do you think you are I can get lessons for 15-20 a hour"Emails and my reply is;go ahead maybe that's who you should work with. I have 6 very dedicated students right now and that's as many as I can deal with.The $90 dollar guy feels that that's what he's worth; simple as that, but under no circumstances should you try to stiff someone and walk out of a lesson that's very disrespectful
     
  18. Robin UK

    Robin UK

    Feb 1, 2007
    I'd say it depends on how good the $90 teacher is, although obviously you don't know yet. If he is indeed an amzing teacher then i'd sugest going to him once a month or maybe elss often, and seeing the other guy ($30) more often, like weeekly or fortnightly (obviously scale the timing appropriately, say 4-1 or more). If the $90 teacher is that good, then he will be able to pick up on things you need to work on etc. pretty quickly and in an hour you should have plenty of stuff to work through for a while, and in the mean time, the $30 teahcer i asssume would respect the superior experience etc. of the otehr teacher, adn you can discuss things you didn't udnerstand/rushed you buy in the expensive lessons with him, whilst generally improving, playing ltos of stuff, and maybe doing things that you enjoy slightly more rather than things which will stretch you/exercises stuff.


    i have done similar arrangements in the past. I ahve also been to one bass worshop (doublebass) for an hour with only two attendants, and learned more than in a year with any of the other teachers i have had. he was pretty darn good thouhg, and that workshop was meant for 20 people.

    just my 0.02
     
  19. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    If I want to get the most out of any kind of instruction, the first thing I have to do is some kind of self-assessment and rudimentary goal setting. A highly qualified instructor can teach students things that they didn't even know you didn't know, and can make the journey fun and challenging, but few will set the bar very high unless it seems likely that the student's efforts will exceed their own.

    IMO/IME, the true value of an expert teacher isn't always the concrete skills taught, but the ability to assess your unique strengths and weaknesses and create a road map that's congruent with your stated needs. IME, the first session should be an opportunity for you to get to know each other so the prospective instructor can figure out where to take the prospective student, which path(s) will get you there, and how much effort will be required by both parties. Subsequent lessons usually reveal how honest each party was during the initial session.

    Although the instructor may have more knowledge and experience, it's ultimately up to the student to successfully manage their learning experiences.
     
  20. ZonGuy

    ZonGuy

    Sep 2, 2007
    I have paid well when I needed high end coaching. If I was auditioning to get into Julliard, I would consider coaching from someone from Julliard, and yeah $90/hr might be reasonable. I paid $60 for double bass arco instruction form a symphony pro and it was worth it. Still considering a lesson from Chuck Rainey in Dallas some day.

    May I suggest that what would work best for you is a skilled professional that respects your already-developed musical talents and can guide you throught the mechanics of playing bass quickly. If you can find this in a music store at $30/hr, great. It can happen

    However, to be perfectly honest, getting the best result from a local music store teacher will be hit-n-miss. A lot of music store teachers need students as a source of income and don't push their students to avoid driving them away. "Oh, you didnt practice this week - that's OK. We can always get it in the next lesson.". I do know some fine players that teach out of stores, but it is hit-n-miss.

    May I suggest a community college. They got your money when you enrolled and want results because they get evaluated partly on their student performances at the juries . My teachers at community college pushed me, drove me, and in one case, kicked my ass up and down the stage - and I am a way better player for it. (Bob F. - you reading this?).

    If you are going to spend the time and money for lessons, do what is going to work best for you. Around here, a semester course with private lessons works out to around $35/hr but you have to enroll in another performance course if you enroll in private lessons.

    Best Wishes for your continued musical journey.
     

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