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Feeling Discouraged by a competent teacher

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by LordPanze, Mar 30, 2016.

  1. So i'm still learning the basics of playing my bass guitar. My current teacher is very talented and knows his stuff, but I cant comprehend much of what he tells me. As he sits across from me, explaining scales and showing me them, I can't put what he says onto my own bass. Where as my looking up tabs for songs is very easy for me to understand. Looking at the frets by numbers rather than fingers/finger placement as numbers is working for me more. My point is, every lessons leaves me feeling discouraged and inadequate despite my being fairly decent at what I practice at home. Are there any good bits of advice I should follow? I wan't to enjoy learning, not dread it.
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    You need to explain your frustrations to your teacher, it sounds like they are going too fast or failing to explain everything. On the other hand, are you actually working on the lessons between lessons? One of the biggest issues is that students think the learning happens at lessons, it doesn't. The learning happens between lessons when you apply the things you have learned to what you are doing. Lessons are for you to be exposed to new ideas and get feedback on the ideas you have been working on.

    A good teacher should flip your head sideways and have you leave the lesson thinking. It isn't throwing you under the bus as much as it is forcing you to fly. I constantly stump my students, it makes them think. I think this same reason is why Jeff Berlin is such a divisive teacher, that guy will flip your head and make you think (I'd personally love to take a lesson from him.) If you are feeling discouraged it may just be you being uncomfortable at this type of scenario. I don't know your situation intimately so I could be very wrong, there is always a chance the guy is leaving you in the dust which isn't the sign of a great teacher. Again, communication with your teacher is the answer here. If the teacher is a professional that shouldn't balk at your feedback, they should use it to develop themselves.

    As a teacher I understand that learning tabs is easier to comprehend but learning music, notes and scales, will go a lot further in making you a better player. A teacher who just teaches you songs from tabs is the absolute worst kind of teacher. While this may seem awesome starting out it will greatly hamper you in the long run.
    zontar, nolezmaj, Ductapeman and 7 others like this.
  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    If you want to enjoy lessons, you have to embrace them, including the homework. You don't know anything yet. Except one thing. That you can play a song if you read the numbers on the tabs on the internet.

    Believe me, tabs are a bad way to start. You can learn where to put your fingers and memorize it to impress your friends, but you will never understand why you are doing it. When it's time to jam with some friends, you will be able to play the songs that you have memorized. But when someone starts to improvise, you will freeze up and not know what to do. You'll be the "Show me how that goes again" guy.

    The early days are the hardest. Ask questions if you don't understand. Have your teacher repeat himself if necessary. Put your shoulder to the wheel and practice what you are being taught. Spend at least as much time working on your lessons as you do playing your tabs. Don't get impatient. You will only get out what you put in.

    Playing bass is a fun thing. Playing bass and understanding music makes it a completely natural and beautiful thing.
    MTFD24, MCF and ColdEye like this.
  4. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Drop the use of tabs now.
    Stay with your teacher,ask him to slow down.
    You'll thank me later.
    Scatabrain likes this.
  5. blowinblue

    blowinblue Kind of not blue. Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SoCal USA
    Based on my own experience as a student...the merely competent teachers can leave you feeling discouraged, the great teachers leave you feeling encouraged.

    M. M.
    Gravedigger Dav likes this.
  6. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    That's the difference between learning songs, and mastering your instrument and learning music.
    Most of us can improve greatly in mastering our instrument and learning music, which will make learning songs easier.
    It might seem hard or boring, but it's where the real money is.
    carl h. likes this.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Definition of oxymoron:

    Feeling discouraged by a competent teacher.
    Bassist4Eris and Salicete like this.
  8. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    A truly competent teacher will find a way to make their lessons work for you.

    Don't mistake a competent player for a competent teacher. They're completely different skill sets.
  9. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Ask your teacher if he minds you video taping your sessions. I told mine it was just too much good info in a short time, and I wasnt able to digest it all as it was happening, and my terrible memory made it fade quickly .. so he let me bring a laptop with a cam and record them. He always gave me enough to work on all week, and I think he even enjoyed playing for the camera :)
    ESPweasel, Luke19Boarder and pacojas like this.
  10. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    Sounds like this teacher is explaining things to himself, not someone who doesn't know the material.

    Find a new teacher. Better yet, just buy a good book from Amazon for the price of 1 lesson and work through the whole thing.
  11. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    Music reading is well worth learning - do that.

    But as already stated, being a competent musician does not automatically make someone a competent teacher of music; that's what's coming though my screen.
    electracoyote and MTFD24 like this.
  12. getrhythm


    Nov 2, 2015
    New Jersey
    I've always had a mental roadblock with music theory. It's very "mathematical", and math's always been difficult for me. And playing (pretty well) by ear contributes to my eyes just glazing over when discussing theory...or my ears taking over when (very rudiment-ally) reading music. I'd love to find a teacher with a different approach that can make this stuff more accessible to me.
  13. Robert B

    Robert B Somewhere under the rainbow Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2000
    Rittman, OH, USA
    Talk to your teacher and explain the problem. If after that he still can't present things in a way that you can follow, maybe a new teacher would help. Some teachers are just not right for some folks.
    Joedog and Sweet Willie like this.
  14. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    It is easier to read music if you know music theory however, lots of books teaching music theory assume that you know how to read music.

  15. I will say this, as a student of anything you have to stay focused and don't be afraid to ask questions or bring to his attention you are struggling with somethings. It is like when you learned to read a book in school you must apply the basics your teacher is giving you, no one can read before some teaches you, and no one is born with proper technique to play their instrument. I will mention the correct fingering of notes will become as easy for you as it is for you to play a video game. If your path is one of music, taking lessons is a great starting point. I personally starting taking lessons at 9 years old in school, I then took private lessons for many years, 7 years with the same instructor and 3 with another. I have been playing bass for 49 years this year and still having a blast. Good luck
  16. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    @LordPanze, how long have you been taking lessons? As many have mentioned, have you brought up your frustrations and issues to the teacher? If you haven't, do so immediately. That's the first step.
    carl h. likes this.
  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    There is a difference between being a talented player and teacher. Or you may just not be putting enough time into it. As others have suggested, talk to him and let him know the issues. It's your money - either get your money's worth, or don't continue paying the money.
  18. Sweet Willie

    Sweet Willie

    Dec 31, 2014
    Former moderator for now non-active Nordstrand Forum
    Agree with the advice to talk to your teacher about this, and if the teacher can't adjust, it might simply not be a fit and you might need to try someone else.

    Also, what "homework" does your teacher give you? It sounds like another possible cause is that the material for you to work on outside of lessons isn't presented well for you, or doesn't align well with what was covered in a lesson, or needs to broken down into more discrete chunks.
  19. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    go to Online Bass Lessons - Scott's Bass Lessons and supplement what you're getting in lessons there.
    I've been playing for 40 years (yikes!) and there's still loads to learn, and Scott has a knack of presenting even difficult stuff in a way that you can easily digest.
    Remyd, T_Bone_TL, whatizitman and 2 others like this.
  20. you have a teacher who is expecting you to cover a specific amount of instruction in a specific amount of time, just as if you were in school, sitting in class. You can choose to rise to the challenge or try to proceed at your own pace. From your description of your difficulties, it seems to be centered around your lack of knowledge of the basics - reading music and understanding chords, scales, finding notes on the fretboard, etc. You do not need a teacher for this. You can learn this on your own. If I were you, I would take a three week break from lessons and get the basics down, work hard at that every day, then go back to the teacher. Show him your command of the basics, and go from there.

    Clue - it's not personal, so don't go blaming yourself or the teacher. You are a beginner. Time to apply yourself and learn.
    Jeff Sarsippius likes this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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