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Ever had a bad lesson?

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by musicman5string, Feb 21, 2006.


  1. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    I'd like to share an experience I had several years ago with a well-known bassist. I won't name his name. I'm not here to smear anyone. He plays electric bass primarily and is on the scene in NYC. The reason for me posting this is to find out if anyone else has ever had similar experiences.
    The bassist in question was playing at a club in NYC one night and was totally burning it up. After the set, I talked to him a little and asked for a lesson. He said sure, gave me his #, and I left.
    I called him a few days later and set up the lesson. When I got there, it took about 2 minutes to realize this guy was on something, or coming down off something, and was not in the exact "frame of mind" to be conducting a lesson at $100 an hour. Here's how the "lesson" went:
    He begins by putting a classical piece in front of me and says "read it". I don't remember what it was, but I fumbled through it and made plenty of mistakes. He then proceeds to make a face and begins to play it, but he makes many mistakes as well. He says "Yeah, you need to work on your reading".
    After this, we play "Stella By Starlight", which consists of me playing the head, then walking while he solos for 57 choruses.
    When he's done, he says "You need to learn that head". Meanwhile, I can assure you I played that melody spot on. I even have a tape of it.
    Then he says "Let's do some groove stuff". So this was me copping a groove in E mixolydian he set up so he could then solo for another 10 minutes staright. I actually just stopped playing after awhile to see if he would even notice. He then says "Yeah, you need to work on your groove."
    Then he takes me to the piano and says he wants to check my ear. Sure, I could name minor 7, dom 7, major 7 #11, half dim chords, etc. Then he basically puts his left foot on the keys and I'm like "?" He then says... you guessed it: "You need to work on your ear".
    Now mind you, I did, and still do, need to work on all those things. Who doesn't?
    The most bizarre part of this then came when I began asking him questions about his own playing, since up until now I didn't get a word in. He proceeds to answer me by quoting, word for word, Jaco's responses in the instructional video he did. I also have this on tape.
    By now this "lesson" had turned into a real drag, to say the least. To top it off, when I asked him what his favorite rhythm section was, he says "The Miles band with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb". OK, he might've made a mistake saying Red instead of Wynton Kelly, or Jimmy instead of Philly Joe. Or maybe he just really didn't know the band, and by now my patience had worn off, and I didn't care.
    As he went to the batroom, possibly to snort up some more, I seriously thought about leaving without paying. But then I knew I'd run into him again one day, since he IS actually a monster player and I do enjoy his playing. So I paid him and left.
    Oh, and the lesson wound up being 50 minutes long instead of 60, but that was allright by me since it was already 50 minutes too long anyway.
    Anyone else with similar experiences?
     
  2. WOW!! I would have snuck off. I know some people that would key his car if they had that experience. I hope that never ever happens to me.
     
  3. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Even the most phenomenal players are just regular people, don't expect them to be anything else but regular people.
     
  4. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    I don't expect regular people to rip me off.
     
  5. Yeah, $100 is pretty steep for such a lesson. Did he even say any way how you could improve your playing? Or just that you need to? Still, I think that's the mature thing to do: stick it out, pay the guy for his time (and yours), and not call back. Good luck next time.
     
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    +1. But I think it's also that there are plenty of teachers out there that probably have no business teaching either. Just cause you can tear it up on stage doesn't mean you can relate to a student or help them out in an optimal way.

    I had a sucky experience once as well. It was with a new guitar teacher back when I first started to learn to play jazz. I told the guy that I was a total newbie and hardly knew anything. After telling him that he still proceeded to go way over my head and not even ask if I even remotely understood any of it.
    I paid him when it was over and told him that I'd call if I wanted another lesson ( of course I didn't). A week later he calls me to complain that I was dissing him for not setting up another lesson - that he deserved and demanded more respect just cause he was a some small time pro from Ohio.

    Dude had no clue how bad he failed to help me in the way I needed. All I really wanted was someone who was patient enough to show me everything at my pace and not his. Too bad for him - all I lost an hour and about fifty bucks. Still it's lame. Life is too short for bad teachers.
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That's a drag, but the best and most positive thing to do is chalk it up to experience and move on. Some people are not good teachers, and some people can be jerks...and some others are so good and so nice that they make up for the jerks. Go get yourself a lesson with Rufus and you'll feel some balance returning to the world of mother****er players. :)
     
  8. On my first lesson my teacher was soloing for a big amount of time but I really enjoyed it. I was a total noob and my fingers couldnt take much, so I needed some breaks and he knew it. I also learned what the bass can do and I really thank him for that, cause it gave me a goal to achieve.
     
  9. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    He did not say how to improve my playing at all, other than the usual "Yeah, you should transcribe the players you like".

    Well, yeah, and I'm here now having a lesson with a player I like....who I'm liking less by the minute LOL.
     
  10. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006

    I won't say where this guy teaches, but was (is?) on the faculty of a well known school for several years.
     
  11. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006

    Yeah, you're right Chris; I've been meaning to call up Rufus again sometime soon. Luckily for me after my bad experience I had the chance to study with Rufus in college and he showed me what a real teacher is.
     
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I don't know where you live, but regular people rip people off all of the time.

    I think it's important to do some research before you decide to plunk down your hard earned cash. As has been mentioned not everyone is a good teacher also as bizarre as some people may be there's always something to be gained even if it's the idea that you need to do more homework before you decide to drop $100 on a one hour lesson especially when first class lessons can be had for less money from other pros.

    Let the buyer beware...
     
  13. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Ha! I think I might know who you're talking about, it's sounds very similiar to someone else's experience.
     
  14. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006

    PM sent.
     
  15. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    You got it bro. Rufus is the MAN.

    I've personally been very fortunate in this area. Every jazz bass teacher I've studied with has been wonderful as a teacher and a person. Also, most teachers I've studied with outside of school have recommended other great players to check out. This is a good way to know you won't be wasting your bread.

    Did I mention, Rufus is the MAN? ;)
     
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    My teacher plays some piano on my lessons and if there's something physical that I'm really just not getting, he'll pick up the bass. But I would be suprised in the extreme if i went in for a lesson and HE did most of the playing. i mean, I'm th eone that's supposed to be working on stuff.
     
  17. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Who are you studying with, Ed?

    In my lessons sometimes my teacher (Doug Weiss) and I will pick a tune and play bass duets. So one of us will play the head, then take a few choruses while the other walks. Then we trade eights and fours while the other guy lays out. It's a great way to work on your time feel and pulse. Also, hearing his ideas always inspires me and gives me new ideas to work on.
     
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Joe Solomon. I'm working on ear training (desperatley trying to hear ANYTHING!), singing open position triads in root and first inversion, I've got 4 tunes that I've been pulling apart for a few years that we do a specific improvisational exercise with (32 bar tune, each 8 bar section start with 3 bars of melody and improvise a line for the rest of the 8 bar section that consists of accent two triplets) that I play with no accompaniment. The lack of anything carrying the tune forward EXCEPT your own improvised line is a great way to see how clearly you're hearing everything. I've got a couple of Prez solos that I'm working on and "hobbies" ie melodies that I'm learning (STARDUST, CONCEPTION, I CONCENTRATE ON YOU right now) to start tearing apart the tunes. If there's any time left and there's not something on record that we want to check out, we'll play a tune or two. But like I said, Joe plays piano at the lesson. Not bass.
     
  19. STRONGBOW

    STRONGBOW

    Aug 26, 2005
    I studied with a major east coast jazz bassist for a year. He too will go unnamed. Although a jazz guy, his method and technique was strictly from Simandl, and he was brutal for the first 3 months about this, but he was right-- my intonation needed to be tightened up. He mostly taught from the piano and only got up to play the bass when I'd ask him to "show me." Then he would...othewise he sat at the keyboard chain-smoking and mostly just grunting. We moved on through all 3 Real Books, with occasionall remedial work on fingerings and scales. He lived in a 2nd story walk-up apartment with parking on the street. Several times after lugging my axe up there and pounding on the door I'd find out he had stood me up altogether or just forgot about me....but to his credit he always called me later to apologize...several times I called in with the cell phone to wake him up. He rarely spoke more than a few times in a one-hour lesson and almost never smiled. I remember one occasion when, aside from greeting me at the door, he only spoke 1 time in the entire hour. And when he did speak it was almost always in his low, Miles-like gravelly jazz patois or it was a grunt. Interpreting the grunts became a challenge. (hmmmm....was that a good grunt or a negative grunt?) Only half a dozen times in 12 months did he lean back, take a drag off his cigarette, give me a big smile and say, "There! That's IT. That's what your supposed to be doing," etc. He did complement me on two things: my ear and my ability with minor keys. In the middle of a lesson sometimes, his pot connection (another bass player) would knock on the door and walk right in (he had his own key), and walk all the way to the back of the place with a large brown paper bag...tending to disrupt our concentration. The guy never did drugs or smoke pot during my time with him, but these interruptions struck me as comical. This was a very trying year, to be sure, but I am still proud to say he was my teacher. People referred to him as "Mr. Taciturn." People were standing in line to get lessons from this man. Bad lesson(s)? You tell me. I really started freelancing with some serious cats after going to school with this teacher...
     
  20. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    "I Concentrate On You"...great frickin' tune. I gotta remember to call that tonight.