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Can I give lessons with limited reading ability, and almost no slap skills?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by COOL AND DEADLY, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. I have been playing for 7 years, took some lessons, attended camps, etc. My theory is pretty good, I can read a little bit, i can't slap well at all.
    I would like to start teaching nooby bass players.
    Do you think I should have a basic mastery of slap and have my reading down pat before I start to look for students?
    I have certainly got by so far with limited reading and no slap, but I've been working on those areas, because it seems to me non-bass player's evaluation on how good a bassist is is synonymous with how well they slap. I don't care what anyone thinks, except for the fact that I'd like prospective students to respect my skill set, and what I do have to offer.

    So should I try to start teaching now, or should I wait until I progress as a reader and slapper?
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Teachers teach what they know. If you have information you can share that is useful, you can teach. Most dedicated players will have more than one teacher anyway.
  3. i do feel I have useful information, and am a pretty good communicator. So, I could start now, and by the time my slapping and reading catches up, I'll have that much more experience teaching.
  4. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Just a quick caveat added, Doc, but an important one, imo.

    As regards whether you can teach whilst lacking particular skills, I guess that depends on what any prospective student is after. Maybe you need to say to such prospects, "I can try to teach you what I know, but I can't teach you to read or slap because I'm not good at those things". Then it's their choice as to whether that is important to them or not.

    My own personal expectation would be to get a teacher with a reasonably well-balanced set of skills, but then it's not my money you'd be asking for.

    Just my .02 is all. :)
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    slap i could deal without a bass teacher knowing. reading skills should be better than "limited," though.
  6. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    If you are taking someone's money for lessons, please make sure that what you are teaching is useful.

    I don't know your background, but perhaps you shouldn't consider it until you can read, make lesson plans, understand learning styles, and have gained wide playing experience in different musical situations.
  7. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I would consider being able to read standard music notation as a necessity to be a competent teacher.

    Slap is a technique, but reading is a musical skill. You'll want to make sure you're teaching music and not "tricks".

    I am thinking that if you have to ask if you are qualified, you are probably not (this is in the context of having paying students, of course), which is not to say that you can't play. Being able to play and being able to teach are two totally separate things.
  8. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Here's a question for you:

    Let's say I'm a relatively new bass player - playing for maybe a year. I can play a number of songs. What would you teach me?

    Let's say I'm a totally new bass player - just bought my bass, saw your card up on the wall of the music store. What would you teach me?
  9. bass07


    Jan 11, 2009
    Pleasanton, CA
    I would agree that the ability to slap is not at all necessary to start teaching, especially to a new bass player. It's a style, not a necessity to play the instrument. Reading skills on the other hand... let me tell you, as a bass teacher who has had students who learned "how to play" bass and never learned how to read music, going back and trying to teach the student how to read music and play their instrument is SOOO much harder. Especially if tabs are involved in any way. Plus if you ever want to write down a riff for a student so they can remember it long in the future, good luck.

    Buff up on the reading, that's my advice. And it doesn't take forever to do either. Just a little more time working on it and you should have a general understanding of how to read and write (at least write down) music.
  10. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    As a player everyone should try teaching, it will show exactly how you understand your own playing and needs. Knowing something and explaining it are two different things, remember this is not advice that you can change later, this is verifiable information you are passing on.

    Many players like you have something to offer and that is good because you learn more as you teach so you increase your own skills and knowledge. The act of teaching has a way of making you a better player, because you have to make what you are saying understood, you now have to relate it to others and justify it.
    Work on the music related side more than techniques, techniques are wide and many and can sometimes side line lessons. Let students apply techniques in there own time, use the note and ear skills you give them relating to the bass as you see them.

    If the theory side of you skills are lacking you will be quickly found out in the information you give.
    Teaching is a responsibility giving to you, a trust that you can guide the student.
    If you feel you can do this then you can teach, but how effective as a teacher you will be will be decided by others around you. Good luck and enjoy the experience.:)
  11. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    If you feel an obligation to teach what you do know don't worry about what you don't know.
    The best lessons I ever took were prefaced with the warning, "I can only teach you what I do".
  12. Soverntear


    Mar 17, 2008
    depends on the student, allot of them will not want to learn to read. personally i feel everyone who plays an instrument should know how.
    after all literacy shows how devolved of a society we are in based on percentage of literate people. what does this tell us about our musical society?
  13. TortillaChip520


    Jun 3, 2008
    Unless you have unlimited amounts of patience, you wouldn't want to teach someone to slap anyways. Most frustrating thing ever.
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not trying to harsh, but I'd say no. Your job as a teacher is not to merely convey whatever "licks and tricks" you've picked up, you're supposed to give a student a good foundation in musical fundamentals.
  15. I think the last thing you need to worry about is "progressing as a slapper".. Learning to read is fundamental (remember those RIF commercials from the 70's?). If you can't read down a basic Frank Mantooth big band chart you've got no business, IMO, accepting money in exchange for teaching services.
  16. wade_b


    Jul 8, 2008
    If you can't read/write notation, then you'll be reduced to using tablature to give to students to rehearse with.

    Difficult subject to be sure, right?

    Some teachers exist to give the students "what they want", such as a quick path to playing certain tunes, riffs, or tricks.

    Others come at it from a sense of integrity I think: those are the ones that say - "read music", "learn these fundamentals".

    So I think for you the question is: can you live with yourself by "giving them what they want", or do you take the other road?
  17. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    I wouldn't learn English from someone who's never read a book.
  18. Jonny Mah

    Jonny Mah

    Nov 9, 2009
    As far as slapping goes, I don't think it's a big deal. The reading thing, however, is a MUST. If you can't really read music you have no business taking somebody's money for 'lessons'. I'm not saying that you're not allowed to play bass, or that you might not wind up being a really great player. I do feel, however, that when you decide to call yourself a teacher you have a responsibility and duty to present quality musical information to your students and let them do with it what they will. You cannot do that adequately (IMHO) if you yourself have not put the time into important fundamentals of music (ie. learning to read).

    On second thought, forget everything I just said. As a player who does a lot of gigs where I have to read, frankly I don't need the competition. Please keep producing musically illiterate players so I can pay off my car and put a down payment on a house and not have to worry about somebody snaking my work away from me.

  19. Thanks everyone. I do have some reading skills, I'm just not at the sight reading stage yet. I am dedicating some practice time everyday towards reading, and doing some slapping to round out my skill set. I have lots of time now that I got laid off and my girlfriend left me!
  20. jpTron


    Apr 19, 2010
    It depends on what your students want. I'm going to start taking lessons soon, but I don't want to learn how to read notation (yet). I'm going to take lessons to work on technique and learn modes, etc. So as long as your students are fine with learning things other than slap and reading then you should be fine.

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