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First Bass Lesson -- and perhaps the last

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by phdwiz, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. phdwiz


    Mar 11, 2009
    So, a few weeks ago I went to my very first bass guitar lesson. I told the instructor that I used to play the piano (over 30 years ago) and the trumpet/trombone (over 20 yrs ago), but I have never really played any plucked string instruments.

    He starts out by pulling out a tab version of War's biggest hit (Low Rider) and starts playing the piece so I can hear how 'easy' it was. Now I just told him that I hever have played bass and needed some instruction on technique. So, I tried to play Low Rider but (obviously) I cannot keep up with him. On top of that, he continuously bashed my instrument for being less than $1000 (for a first bass? yeah, right...), which pissed me off.

    Is this a standard way to teach a new bassist or is the instructor doing exactly what needs to be done? What is the 'best' method for teaching bass to a newb?
  2. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    Find another teacher - immediately - and give the lesson thing another chance. The experience you describe is not in line with what a competent, mature, and seasoned teacher does during a lesson. FWIW, the bulk of the students I have play basses that sell for less than a grand.

    Please mention where you live, either here or in your profile, so the TB community can recommend a good teacher.
  3. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Yeah, sucky teacher. If your bass needed a setup to make it easier to play, I can understand mentioning that, but otherwise, he needs to shut up and teach. Start with what the notes are, some basic finger exercises to get some dexterity, and start from there.
  4. WayneS


    Apr 9, 2007
    Well... I cant tell ya. I've never taken a bass lesson. That does seem pretty harsh though. I would probably take my money elsewhere. I have played since Christmas of 1989 and I consider myself a pretty darned good bassist.

    My point is that lessons arent the end all be all. They are not a requirement to be a bassist. However, that being said... Over the years I have had to unlearn some bad habits.
  5. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    A book would have been cheaper, and not so mean.

    Find a new teacher, give it a chance.
  6. .Miles


    Feb 28, 2009
    Detroit Area
    Ya man, don't let some guy who figured out you can charge people to "teach" them ruin your experience learning. The lessons I've taken from my previous 5 different teachers over the years (I'm the teacher now. HAHA /digress) have been one of, if not the best investments I've made in my entire life. It takes some time finding the right teacher. Like I stated before, 5 different instructors....2 of which were FANTASTIC and made me want to do the whole bass playing thing for a living.

    But don't go back to that guy. :meh:
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That teacher is a class-A idiot.
  8. Oh jeez...he really gave you a hard time about your bass being not up to his standards? Stupid. A real teacher would ignore your bass, provided it works OK, and focus on you.
    Hope you'll give it another try, with someone else.
  9. A teacher should be trying to develop the best he can out of the tools he has to work with (the tools being knowldege you already possess, instrument you have, etc etc etc.) not doing what this fool did. IME most teachers aren't like this, so look for another and don't go back to this guy ever again. He sounds more like he's on an ego trip than trying to expand on knowledge, nurture skills and reinforce good technique to students.
  10. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Central Illinois
    Your experience sounds real similar to mine. Mine was 25 years ago btw. I had been playing trombone since I was a kid and at age 27 decided to pick up bass. Started to teach myself out of some Carol Kaye books but also thought I should also find a teacher.
    There was an older guy at one of the music stores in town that I knew as a good jazz guitar and bass player. I signed up for lessons with him, Since he knew I read music already he put some music and chord changes in front of me had me play some scales and stuff. After about a half hour he stopped and said "man you don't need to take lessons, you'll be a fine bass player, save your money and just keep doing what you're doing" :eek:
    So I went across town to the other music store and signed up for lessons from another guy who also knew me as a trombone player. He had me do a rather demanding (at the time) fingerboard exersize that was running up and down the fretboard on one string at a time. Great exersize but as a beginer with very little strength and coordination, difficult for me at the time. He kept saying stuff like "man, you really need to learn to play in tempo" and other negative stuff. Looking back I get the feeling he didn't want the competition in town as a bass player. (I don't think he got many gigs)
    I ended up sticking with teaching myself through the Carol Kaye books (Thanks Carol!) and teaching myself by playing along with poular records at home. One month later I was in a band and haven't been gigless since.
    Keep looking for a good teacher but don't stop if you can't find one.
  11. BassBob185


    Oct 25, 2007
    Rocking Chair
    That teacher is dumber than a claw hammer when it comes to teaching bass. Ditch the teacher and stick with the bass, you will be glad you did.
  12. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Do you sincerely think the treatment you got was useful or typical? I would have said politely, "Good bye!" :eyebrow:

    Teaching bass or teaching anything, for that matter, can be done well or poorly. Having had lots of poor teachers, most of us have low standards. :scowl:
  13. phdwiz


    Mar 11, 2009
    Of course I didn't think that was typical. I understand a little bit about music, having played several instruments throughout my early years. I hadn't had a face-to-face music lesson in a few years (as in over 30), but I know I did not learn as much as I thought I would. I left this dude a few weeks ago and will not go back.

    For those of you who can remember your first lessons, what did you cover at first? Scales? Basic technique? How to actually hold the instrument?
  14. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    1) What are your goals and interests?
    2) Strings, Parts of instruments/terms
    3) holding the bass sitting and standing
    4) L & R hand positions
    5) index finger pluck on open strings
    6) tuning
    7) exercise for playing even quarters on open strings
    8) exercise for playing even quarters at 5th fret AND LH finger exercise.
    9) naming notes on fretboard
    10) 1 to 3 ultra-simple riffs, notated and echoed back.

    See you next week.
  15. funkmangriff


    Dec 29, 2007
    the first thing i teach my students is your right hand technique, your right hand (plucking) in my opinion is more important then ur left (fretting hand, other way round if ur left handed of course!) as bass is about rhythm. THEN scales and strengthening the fretting hand, THEN reading skills, i dont believe in TAB.

    When someone starts to read TAB some people will only use it, plus it makes reading notation seem hard! so i started by writing rhythms, and then adding arpegios using the same rhythm, the students dont know it, but theyre sub-conciously learning how to read! (sneaky init!)

    *edited* forgot that i name the parts of the instrument first! THEN i go to plucking hand technique!!!!
  16. Mike Shevlin

    Mike Shevlin

    Feb 16, 2005
    Las Vegas
    You should email this 'teacher' a link to this post so he can read what the bass comunity thinks of him. Until you find a new teacher, you can look up the hundreds of free youtube clips that have lots of information for all levels of playing.
  17. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Central Illinois
  18. Gintaras


    Dec 11, 2004
    Kent Island, Md.
    a good teacher is definitely worth it. Every lesson should be an inspiration. It is for me!!!! I have a great instructor who is both highly educated and experienced. He also plays guitar, piano and subs at least once a month as a drummer. Once in a while he will jump on the drums and we play together to work on syncing with a drummer.
  19. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    I started to give guitar lessons to beginners last year. I don't know that particular song or how easy it is, but despite that I can tell that that particular "teacher" had no clue what he was doing. A beginner simply don't have the dexterity developed to play anything fluently. Anyone who have played for a while can easily check how it was to be a complete beginner - just turn your instrument upside down and try to play. Not very easy I suppose. But that is how it is for a beginner.

    Find a new teacher, one that knows what he's doing, and focus on building up a sound technique. With your long experience in music, you will learn quickly once you get your fingers up to speed.
  20. Hazybass


    Dec 28, 2007
    Yup, sounds like you found a jerk of a teacher. I was lucky, when I found my t\first teacher, he started me with naming parts, and then went on to some serious finger excersizes, then onto playing scales to a beat at which point he said"now you can play bass" that was pretty cool

    I was pretty retarded when I first picked the thing up, but was determined I could do it. I couldn't even get my fretting hand to work the same string as my plucking hand.

    Check out bassplayertv.com there are some lessons on there that start right at square one that are very good IMO. The link is through bass player magazine online.

    when you finally play with a band and realize how fundamental bass is, you stop playing and the soul drops out of the music..it's a cool feeling

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