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Choosing a teacher

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by JimmyM, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hi, hope I put this in the right forum...

    I'm a career electric bassist who just two weeks ago bought his first upright (an Upton plywood bass with Revolution Solo pickup and Glasser bow). I started out playing mostly rock and roll and funk, but over the past few years I've branched out into jazz more and more and I'm fairly accomplished with the theory, though like everyone I still have plenty to learn. But now I want to get serious about playing jazz on an upright so I can book some of the cool jazz casuals around Orlando. I also would like to learn how to use this bow and get into some classical music, but getting good enough to book jazz gigs is my prime concern at the moment.

    The thing I'm not sure about is what kind of teacher I should get. Should I be looking for one who specializes in jazz, or should I be looking for a classical teacher? Do jazz teachers as a rule teach you how to play arco? Do classical players often double on jazz enough to straighten you out on it occasionally?

    Also, I have a question about strings. I'm considering switching the strings on my bass from Obligatos to guts because I'll also be playing some swing and rockabilly and slap is really hard on the fingers even with Obligatos. I'm trying to make my bass a jack of all trades as much as possible, and while I think guts will do fine on a pizz jazz gig, how would they do for bowing? Am I going to have to jump through hoops to be able to get a good sound with a bow on guts?

    I'm a pretty accomplished musician but the world of upright bass is completely new to me, save for playing a rental a couple times on country gigs. So please forgive the low quality of the questions. They'll get more high-tech as we go along ;)
  2. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Most people would say that learning to play arco is a necessary part of learning the instrument, period. I was always told that good hand position/intonation cannot develop without use of a bow and I view this to be most true. I think any really good Jazz UB instructor should be a confindent arco player as well, and should be the instructor best suited for you. As you become more comfortable I would recommend getting more involved symphonically(a word?). Playing UB in a "section" under an Orchestra was one of the most "ear opening" musical experiences I have ever had..ENJOY!!!
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Ya got two different things going on here - learning to play jazz and learning to play a new instrument. The new instrument thang is going to be an impediment to getting the music in your head out, so you will definitely want to work with someone on physical approach. Legit teachers are GREAT at physical approach. And the good news is that they aren't going to move where the notes are on the fingerboard when you start playing jazz.
    I got the best of all possible worlds, I gotta bass teacher who studied with both Lennie Tristano and Julius Levine. So he's got improvisational concept AND solid physical approach. If you can't study with Joe (or find someone like him) you might want to find a good classical teacher for bass and a good piano player for jazz concept. Either concurrently (if you have the time and finances) or serially (you learn the instrument, then you start with the music).
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Here is what I did: Studied with an orchestral player and studied jazz with someone else.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    My 2 cents:

    The bow is an incredible and huge aprt of the instrument. But -- it takes a long time and a lot of work to get it going. If arco bass doesn't speak to you, I would say don't take it TOO seriously right out of the gate.


    It is a great practice tool. Learn to use it well enough to be an aid to getting your left hand together. If someday you want to get serioius about the bow, then all the better.

    As far as jazz v. instrument. I would recommend lessons with a couple of different people, perhaps at different times. You really need to be around someone who gets around the instrument well to show you how to do it. Takes lessons and study every bass player that you see. CHeck out who seems comfortable / at ease and who doesn't and figure out why. See whose tone you like and what they seem to be doing to get it (physical approach, setup, etc.)

    For the music, get with a pianist or horn player.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Guess I oughta quit playing and teaching, then. Damn... :meh:

    Jimmy - Seriously, I'd say that the big problem here is finding a teacher who can get you started on good technique for both of your hands to get you headed in the direction you want. I was in the same boat as you a few years back, except I was a jazz piano player who also doubled on fretless slab. I grabbed lessons from several different people when I could, and in my experience the "classical" guys were the best at helping with left hand technique, and the "jazz" guys, not surprisingly, were the best at offering useful approaches to the right hand pizz stroke. YMMV, FWIW, MYOB, SOL, LOL, ***, BBQ, etc.
  7. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I to am a veteran electric player converting to DB later in my career. I now wonder why I waited so long. Fender Bass bores me these days.

    I chose my teacher based on several things. Most important for me was I love the way he plays. When I see him on gigs I am absorbed by his playing. I hang on every note. His ease and facility, note choices, dynamism, and big huge buttery tone are exactly what I aspire to. After a couple lessons it became clear to me that he was able to communicate that to me in our sessions too.

    Turns out he's a monster arco player as well and we are just beginning to address that. I've not seen him touch a bow on any gig I've seen him play in the 20 years I've known him. Apparently he was originally going to be an orchestral player but turned to Jazz for his bread and butter. He suggested that I study Simandl with the bow. He thought it would help me focus my intonation. It's what he did in his process to play the way he does.

    The old adage is "if you want what they got, do what they did".

    Of similar importance if not more sometimes is the collective intelligence of the TBDB regular contributors. The quality of information gleaned from this website is amazing. I feel very fortunate to be able to read the musings of such high caliber talent. I have progressed as a player in a huge way by reading and participating in this dialog. I want to thank each of you for taking time out of your busy days to document your thoughts, struggles, ambitions, and victories with your instruments and the profession. I am grateful and humble in your midst.

  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Congratulations, Phil. It's great when you can find a teacher who inspires you, someone whose music you've followed for awhile. I had a teacher like that early on (a trumpet player, but the concept is the same) whom I hold personally responsible, along with my parents, for inspiring me to follow a career in music performance. It's been a lot of years since I took instruction from him, but I still think about his great influence often.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Thank you all for the replies. I shall sort out everything everyone said and make my decision on a teacher based on what you said, plus availability in the talent pool in the Orlando area. Thanks again!
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Check out Win Hinkle, if he's still around Orlando. He seemed to have a pretty solid physical approach when last I was down there. There's also Mike Ross over in Tampa/St. Pete, if that's too far or he's too busy he may have some suggestions for you. He's a really solid, creative player.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I remember Win Hinkle! I've met him a couple times when I was in high school. Terrific player. I thought I had heard he wasn't with us anymore, but then again I've thought that about lots of people that turned out not to be true. The other guy is definitely too far, but Win Hinkle is pretty close. Good tip, Ed...thanks!
  12. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Win is definitely still "with us," but I think he's in the DC area now, not Florida.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Oh, well if word gets back to him about this thread, let him know that by "not with us anymore" I meant "moved to DC."
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, e-mail Mike and see if he has any recommendations closer to where you are.

    It's too bad you weren't looking to do this 20 years ago, George Morrow was living around Orlando and working for the Mouse.
  15. George Washington Morrow...ouch!! Talk about a tempo player!
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    EXTREMELY bad. I was down for the last week of a 3 week master class a drummer buddy of mine was doing with Elvin and one of the drummers (Barry Smith) who was working the trio at the Lake Buena Vista Disney jazz club with George and some piano player who I can't remember (maybe John Bunch?) brought him by, cause he and Elvin knew each other from NYC back in the day. So it was a real treat to hear the two of them play with the piano player at the class (Harold Blanchard) and this tenor player Danny Jordan (great player). In addition to tempos, George had this great "interactive" approach to playing ballads, almost like he was playing obligato behind the melody...

    If anybody isn't hip, check out all those Clifford Brown/ Max Roach group recordings.
  17. *****
    Not to dis Sonny, but I love the ones with Harold Land.
    One of the greatest bands in the history of jazz.
  18. Libersolis


    Sep 9, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Great thread.. thanks for the advice

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