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Etiquette for finding a new teacher...

Discussion in 'Double Bass Pedagogy [DB]' started by Eric Hochberg, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    1) The fact that you're asking this is a good sign that you need more info than your current teacher may be able to give you.
    It sounds like you should get together with other teachers regarding the issues you're looking to improve. When choosing another
    teacher, make sure they have expertise in your desired area of study. If you want to work with the bow, find an orchestra player in a good local symphony, and/or one who teaches at the HS or college level.

    2) If you've decided you have had enough with your current teacher, just tell him in a nice way that you've decided
    to check out some other approaches and that you appreciate his help up to this point. He may be the first to recognize
    his weaknesses in certain areas of playing. Very few of us can do it all. If you still want to keep seeing him, do so, and arrange some lessons with others, too. You don't have to close the door unless you want to.
  2. Stan Haskins

    Stan Haskins

    Nov 17, 2005
    NY and Miami
    The best advice I ever got on this topic was: "go with your instinct: yes or no, right away, and trust your choice".

    I think it's pretty clear that you should just go find someone who's going to address the issues you want them to address. IME, teachers don't take this personally if you don't make it personal. Most private teachers are used to students floating in and out of their studio, anyway . . .
  3. MolluskGoneBad


    Feb 23, 2010
    Canton, MA
    Thanks for addressing this. We've had 2 more lessons since I posted this, and he's addressed a few of my concerns. Though I'm not sure I know enough to gather whether his reasoning is solid, I think you're both right and I will feel more comfortable with some more conventional and clearly scaffolded/pedagogical instruction. My goal is to play jazz bass, and my heroes are guys like Fred Hopkins, Malachi Favors and Wilbur Ware.

    I THINK my best way to get there is to spend a year or two getting basic facility on the instrument and getting my intonation and sound, bowed and pizz, as solid as possible before veering too deep into the more idiomatic areas.

    Is this thinking solid, and should I be finding a classical teacher to start with like I'm thinking, or should I try to find another jazz-centric teacher? I'm in the Boston area, so I'd imagine there are simple, solid ways for a beginner like myself to find someone appropriate, but I'm not sure what they are.
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    I think a teacher that works with beginners with the bow is who you should seek. A solid foundation will let you play any kind of music you want assuming you have the talent and work hard. You need to develop some chops.

    You like the Chicago cats! I was heavily influenced by Fred H and Malachi when I was coming up in Chicago. Used to hear them often. Very instinctual musicians.
  5. MolluskGoneBad


    Feb 23, 2010
    Canton, MA
    Someone PM'ed me a name earlier; I'm definitely going to look for someone who I know can really teach bow to beginners. Thank you.

    And yeah, I love the Chicago guys, though I didn't notice the common location thread until I'd been listening for several years. Fred Hopkins' playing was what made me want to play double bass, and Wilbur Ware's playing on the Sonny Rollins Village Vanguard recording was what sealed my fate after the first time I realized I was singing the bass solos while I walked to work.

    For a while it seemed like every other person I started to notice came out of Chicago. Favors, Ronnie Boykins, Richard Davis. etc. I only just found out today that one of my other heroes, William Parker, though he may not have come from there, studied early on with Wilbur Ware, not just Jimmy Garrison...
  6. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I heard Fred Hopkins the night I brought home my first bass. He, along with Reggie Workman, Parker and Peter Kowald were some of my inspirations to go get a bass.
    My favorite album by Fred is Songlines with Rashid Ali and Peter Brötzmann.
    It is VERY special.
    Oh, +1 on Eric's advice. Start with classical foundations. All your heros mentioned but Wilbur did that, but he was some kind of genius.
  7. +1 for a solid technical grounding, including use of the bow, with a skilled teacher of beginners. As a thinking adult you should make very rapid progress. Remember that as an older person the most important distance in the world (at least psychologically) is between the ears!!

    However, shouldn't you also try to find find a jazz group to get going with at the same time? There's no need to cloister yourself away studying until you are "ready" for jazz. How best to find like minded people looking for a chance to form a group or needing a bass player in your area is perhaps something this forum could advise you on?

    Best wishes,


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