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First double bass lesson...a bust??

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by mchildree, Apr 19, 2001.

  1. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Somebody give me some opinions here: I had my first lesson on double bass tonight with a teacher who plays in our local symphony and in many Atlanta symphonic shows, and also teaches upright bass in our University. She's was very pleasant, and made me pretty comfortable but she really didn't have much to offer me this evening. I told her I'd been playing electric bass for a long time and knew a bit of theory but that I was a rank beginner on double bass. I expected at least quite a bit of technique correction prior to getting into the theory bit, but she watched me play and said simply "you're doing fine", and only suggested I raise the bass a bit and practice for short periods with my left thumb taped down. She didn't seem to have any specific methods she'd want me to start on. Is this common? It almost seemed like some sort of initial consultation instead of a lesson. Maybe most of her students are much further along in their reading skills (mine stink!), and theoritical knowledge and she really didn't know where to start with me, or she was deciding where to start. She told me I could get a bow "if I wanted to, but it's ok if I don't" and threw out a couple of possibilities for books to work from. All in all, I guess I feel that too much is left for me to decide, and I don't feel qualified to make those decisions. She won't be available again for almost a month, so I have lots of time to work on it. She's the only game in town as far as DB teachers go. Am I expecting too much or something?
  2. Hmmm, it's kind of hard to give an opinion on this, as first lessons are always tough. After my first lesson, I almost had To change my underwear! :oops:
    I am surprised, though, that she didn't make any corrections on you stance or your hand position,
    unless you are a gifted natural and it was just perfect to start with. About the books, though, have you given her an Idea of what it is you want to accomplish? Of course you want to be able to play, but play what? Jazz, Classical, what? With so many things in question, it's hard to find a starting point that will lead you to your goal, and there is a
    different approach to each goal. For example if you want to jump into the classical realm, Simandl or Bille are good starting points. I also like Barry Green's bass Method. But If you want to take more of a jazz approach, Rufus Reid's evolving Bassist or Ray Brown's bass method are good. So I think that if you give a bit more thought to your aspirations, you will be much better able to present your ideas to her of the direction that you want to take.
    Good Luck!
  3. hey mchildree, seeing that we are in the same boat with the just starting DB thing i thought i would give you a little info on my first lesson. before the end of the first lesson he had me tapping out the left and right hand to linus and lucy, i was ripping it up.:) whoops sorry that was a dream. a bad dream.
    on the first lesson we went through, holding the bass, holding the bow, the first position and were to place my thumb. we only worked on the G string.
    we did bowing on the A, just open. he showed me the books he started with and still uses, "Bille Nuovo Metodo Parte 1" for classical study and "Ron Carter's Comprehensive Bass Method" for jazz study (which i still can't find anywhere). when i got home i whipped out my 4 track and my EB and recorded G Ab A B over and over then moved the pattern to the other strings so i could practice those.
    all and all it was the first lesson so it was a here is a bass, here is a bow, hold your hand like this, nice to meet you type of thing.
    the books he showed me he recommended but didn't force me to buy. we will be working on hand position and scales for a while, but that doesn't stop me from moving ahead on my own with 100% of my effort on proper form.

    good luck:)

    geez kind of long winded for a guy with one lesson:D
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA

    I just checked 10 different places, not a trace of the Carter book. It's not the "BUILDING JAZZ BASS LINES" is it?
  5. no its not, thanks for looking. i have the above book and still flip through it for the BG but the book he had was pretty old looking. the cool thing is it had a lot of picture of hand postitions on the neck.
    probally have to search ebay. :)
  6. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Okay Gruff, that makes me feel a little better. I guess I was thinking that my teacher would have a set regimen that she's found successful and I'd be put there and that so much wouldn't be for me to decide. But that's okay. She did ask me about my musical tastes and what I'd like to do. Honestly, my aspirations on upright are pretty simplistic (folk, blues, country/bluegrass) in terms of theory, but that's because I never considered myself really capable of diving into jazz. It appears that, even with this teacher, I'll need to choose a book/method for myself that I can work through with input from the teacher only monthly or semi-monthly based on her availability. A jazz book would be great if I could get the right one...that's what I'd hoped you guys could help with. Did I not see the Ron Carter book on the Lemur website?
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Sorry, that was Ray Brown's book at Lemur...
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The Rufus Reid "Evolving Bassist" has just been updated with a Millenium edition and should be easy to get - I bought it off the web from :


    This seems to be a standard text for Jazz and also has loads of pictures and advice about how to hold and play double bass, physical positions, how to develop a great sound etc. Enough to keep you going for many months! ;)
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    A good jazz book for beginner/intermediate level is Todd Coolman's "The Bottom Line", which you can find at www.jazzbooks.com .They have more stuff there than you could shake a telephone pole at.
  10. The Evolving Bassist and Ray Brown's Method are both great, but they have extremely little to offer a complete beginner. They do not teach positions at all; none of the material teaches the geography. They both have scales and arpeggio exercises;
    Evolving Bassist demonstrates building basslines; Ray Brown has some some great intervallic exercises, great rythmic stuff, and a lot of his licks; Evolving Bassist has those great open string exercises. But none of it is any good if you don't have a firm foundation in the geography from a traditional method like Simandl.

    Any DB beginner interested in jazz should use a traditional method and The Evolving Bassist as a supplement. Ray Brown's Method has little, if anything, to offer in terms of learning the doublebass. It's all about learning to play jazz on the doublebass, it assumes the student can already navigate the geography.
  11. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    C'mon...you couldn't shake a telephone pole if you hit it with one of Turner's seven-strings, although we'd be grateful if you tried.

    mchildree: Listen to Special K; you're not going anywhere without the proper foundation. Simandl's method is the godfather of most of us.
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I bet that crazy doubleneck thing he's got would budge a telephone pole if you swung it right.

    As far as the jazz vs. Simandl issue, I assumed that there would be some traditional instruction going on and was suggesting Coolman's book as a supplement. In my lessons, we're working out of Rabbath as the main staple but supplementing by working on bop melodies and transcribed lines. This works well even though my teacher isn't a jazzer, because we're focusing on how to finger written lines, how to navigate the shifts, etc. Without the more structured stuff this might not be comprehensive enough - but with it, it makes a nice bridge between my technical learning and my real life experience.
  13. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm a bit concerned about your teacher's lack of concern about using a bow. I think, even if you're going to play pizz 100% of the time, when you're coming at the instrument you really should spend a lot of your development time playing with a bow as it will expose a lot of intonation problems you just won't hear playing pizz.

    And I would second the recommendation for the Simandl 1 purchase. Most db players in the US can trace their training to the Simandl school (which is part of why you'll discover that it's fairly common to see Simandl and the Marcello sonatas on most db players' bookshelves).

    Here's a fun site put together by my teacher

  14. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I think this is probably the advice I was looking for. Because I'm a pretty well-known player in our city on electric bass, she may have some misconceptions about my theory base. I've only got the basics, and am starting at the very bottom as far as double bass goes. I need a method that starts at square 1. Simandl has been suggested by quite a few people in the various past threads on the 2XBassList, also. I'll have to get my reading happening at the same time.... Does the Simandl stuff assume a student is already a good reader?
  15. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Simandl starts from scratch
  16. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    That sounds like what I need. My middle name is Scratch at this point (Mike "Scratch" Childree)
    I'll give my teacher a call and make sure she's okay with that. Thanks for the input, guys!
  17. Ok, I admit it, My first Book was Simandl also, and the other stuff came later, after I had learned my positions, etc. I have to agree with Krackhousekey here, the best place to start is with a good foundation. Simandl begins with Open strings and moves on from there.
  18. I just signed up for DB lessons with a teacher who is in a local symphony. We'll be starting with Simandl, too!
  19. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    When I switched to German bow and started with Linda McKnight, despite a few years with other notable players, she advised me that I WOULD buy 3 children's books by Sam Applebaum to go along with the Simandl (Drew edition, not Sankey). The exercises are all short, but often surprising in how they illustrate a particular facet. And no matter what you're doing, by the time she gets done with the details, you know you've had a lesson. I guess the point is, the teacher is more important than the book.
    And every year, at the end of the orchestra season, I go back to her and work almost exclusively on fundamentals.
    And finally, it's an absolute fact that every 'classical' lesson I've ever had made me a better jazz player.
  20. my only question about the Simandl books is are there photos and the such. i have some of the books mentioned above like The Bottom line, Rufus evolving and ray browns but none as was said give a real starting point for the beginner.

    the teacher has showed me the first position "in his view" which i am sure is proper because he started with a classical back ground, but a book with some pics would be nice to have.

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