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Do I have what it takes to be a teacher?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by csholtmeier, Nov 3, 2004.

  1. csholtmeier


    Feb 8, 2004
    omaha, ne
    I'm beginning to wonder if I have what it takes to be a bass teacher. I have been playing for 13 years, in various bands. I don't want this too sound vain, but every time I come off the stage I get a handful of people that tell me what a great musician I am. I have a solid foundation in theory and solid knowledge of various musical styles and techniques.

    What does it take to get started and what would be a good book to teach from? Any suggestions from current or past teachers would be greatly appreciated.
  2. dodgy_ian


    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    I'm not convinced on some levels that you have to be the greatest musician alive to teach, in fact I think it requires a lot more people skills then perhaps people asume.

    I've been teaching for three years now and I love it - I'm far from the best player, but I understand my theory, know how the bass works as an instrument and also have patience and the ability to take things real slow. To be honest you prob don't need a book, just a blank pad or a copy of sibelius and then you can make up your own syllabus/learning plan. good thing is you can reuse it with other people. Also if your not 100% confident in your abilities then only take on a few beginners, see how it goes and take it from there.

    Chances are if you're teaching yourng kids, a lot of them will want to play punk/metal/not too crazily complicated stuff so you can start them on their way.

    Also remember, the best teachers are those that faciliate rather than dictate - don't tell thm what to play, just give them the tools (technique and theory) and then see where it takes them (perhaps some direction will be needed at times!).

    Hey i rather like that phrase, think i'll use it again!!!

  3. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    As said above, it doesn't take music skill to teach. I've had about 14 years of musical experience and attempted to teach, and I found myself frustrated and unable to explain concepts because they came so naturally to me. IMO in order to learn how to teach, you need to learn how to learn.
  4. csholtmeier


    Feb 8, 2004
    omaha, ne
    These are really good insights! It reminds me of the saying (paraphrasing)- True intelligence is not measured by the knowledge one possesses, but their ability to convey that knowledge.

    I think I am going to take on a few beginners. I have some excellent dexterity drills, so maybe I'll start with that.
  5. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    I know it's a bit late, but I'm putting my two cents in...

    I, by far, don't have the talent and time behind me as you do, but I have taught quite a few how to play bass. Basically what I do, is teach them correct form firstly, and the names of notes on the neck. After that, I bounce back and fourth between theory and song playing, to try to show how theory takes place in song structure and what not. I don't know much theory (I can teach everything I know about it in I *think* 5 1 hour lessons) but it's still a start for people, something that helps I do think. After that, I usually tell them to play what will make them happy and have fun with, and direct them here.

    Hope this helped in some way.

  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I would advise against teaching any non-musical excercises to beginners.
    In my experience people (especially beginners) want to leave a lesson having learnt a cool bassline. The trick is to teach them good technique and a bit of theory by teaching them a great bassline at the same time :ninja:

    An example I use is HeadhHunters - Chameleon, it's a perfect example of 'one finger per fret', it uses the octave, which we all know and love on electric bass. Theory-wise it uses just two chords, so is simple for beginners to hear the chord movement. Plus, it's great for improv for intermediate players as it's a II-7 ¦ V7. Oh and it's a cool bassline!

    Also, I think it's very important thing to remember is that you can only inspire people so far. I love music and am confident that I have a great deal of enthusiasm, inspiration and advice to offer. But only when I have a student who wants to learn do I really enjoy teaching.

    The lazy ones are damned hard work. If someone isn't willing to put in the hours from the outset, or just doesnt want to learn, then you shouldnt beat yourself up about it. The fact of the matter is that it takes hours and hours practice to learn an instrument. Now there's no sense scaring themoff, and you can do a lot to give creative, fun homework (e.g. learn the C Major scale, then write a bass line using just the notes C, D, E, F and G.. you can see where this is going right?), but you do have to be honest with them and encourage them to practice

    I have one student who came to me with the worst technique in the world, honestly, and I had to sort that our before I could teach him anything else. Now, 6 months later he has really sorted it out and I'm really pleased.
    However, he's just not really intersted in the theory side of things. So I'm not going tp push it on him.
  7. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I agree with the things that have been said thus far - and I'll add one more item.

    Years ago I taught guitar. Most of my students were poor learners because they were kids whose parents wanted them to learn an instrument.

    Beware of this. If a kid is only getting lessons because of a parent's nudging, it might not be a good situation.

    Maybe consider screening applicants a little to filter out those who don't seem to really want to learn the instrument and to filter out those who are more than a little unrealistic about the work involved.

    Brings me to another point. Sometimes a student would show up who had made zero progress from the previous lesson. It was difficult to know where to go with the next lesson since the student hadn't done his homework from the previous session.

    At the same time, I must admit that I usually enjoyed giving lessons and I learned a lot by being forced to articulate my knowledge when trying to convey it to the student.

    Good luck.