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For those who teach bass: Please help me out here (everyone welcome)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by yoshi, Jan 10, 2004.


  1. yoshi

    yoshi

    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Hi, I started teaching my dad bass last week and got him started with a basic finger picking exercise based on open strings. A week later he's got it down nicely so I've started work with the fretting hand.

    I was pretty lost as where to start on this so went with a major scale. I've noticed that he was having real trouble doing it for some time and I'm certain it's because I'm moving way too fast (I remember how hard it was to learn a scale with the correct fingering back in the day).

    Any hints one what to do prior to this or should I just stick at it?

    Cheers!
     
  2. There could be two things going on here...First, make sure his left hand fingers are all working well for fretting. The major scale isn't the easiest pattern, and may be too big a leap from simply open strings. Don't worry about major scales right away. Instead, work on fingering exercises in the first position.

    I'm teaching my 8 year old son, and we're doing more finger strength and note ID over the first 5 frets. His hands are too small right now to "properly" finger a major scale, so he needs to do some shifting anyway.
     
  3. Do warm-ups and stuff...

    1st,2nd,3rd,4th fret on E,then A,then D,then G...then back down. that'll get him warmed up
     
  4. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    What did the open string exercise consist of? Has he learned other basic stuff like what quarter, half, and whole notes are?

    If he is ready to move on from that I would teach him the notes of the fingerboard (begin with the first 5 frets and moving on slowly). First would be on the E string: E F F# G G# A, A string, and so on. Make sure he knows the meaning of enharmonic (notes that are played on the same fret and string but have a different name). This will be helpful when learning scales. Work up some exercise with these, making sure he listens carefully to each note being played and he is able to name the notes.

    If you want to begin him with the major scales show him how a scale is constructed (don't just say 'oh C major is C D E F G A B C'). Show him how the scale is played in both open and closed position. That way his fingers can get used to playing the major scale pattern (I find that playing G Major, for ex. is difficult at the 3rd fret and does take some getting used to.) and also the open position so he won't always have to rely on patterns and he can put his knowledge of the fingerboard to the test.

    Remember to take things at his pace and make sure he is at an understanding before you move on.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  5. yoshi

    yoshi

    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Hi, thanks for the info so far.

    He already knows about timing and can read music in bass clef (although not apply it to bass of course) as he's been doing bass drum in a marching band for some time now.

    I started to teach the C major scale over at fret 3 on the A to begin then realised it was too hard so moved it up to the C at fret 8 on the E string. It seems to be going better from there.

    I had also written out a chromatic scale for him so I'll pass that on next time and put the major scale on hold.

    Thanks for the suggestions, keep 'em coming!
     
  6. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I always start beginning students with major scales in conjunction with songs they know and enjoy, once they get basic technique down.

    I don't think that it's "moving too fast" in that it teaches you proper fingering right away, before you can pick up bad habits. It's a bit frustrating at first but most people are able to nail them after an hour or so of practice.

    Try teaching your dad how to play a song he likes that is in a major key, and then explain to him what the major scale's role in the line is. I find that to be a good intro to applied theory.

    You'll probably find he is suddenly far more interested in learning scales!
     
  7. Somebassguy

    Somebassguy

    Nov 5, 2003
    Everett Wa
    Going right into scales may be too overwhelming for any beginner. Scales are overrated anyways IMO. It's important to know them (specifically for learning proper fingering) but like somebody already mentioned in these forums, the best thing about scales is to forget them. Get your dad into learning triads! Have him learn all 4 positions, major, minor, aug, dim. Triads are much more practical for chordal theory anyways. There are many positions of each triad also that are equally important to learn. If you have a guitar at home which most bassists do, play chords along with him, for eg, play a C maj chord and let him play the C maj triad to it, then a C minor etc. This will also improve his ear training. Once he gets comfortable with triads play some 12 bar blues with him and let him go and have fun with it. Blues is something everyone can relate to and is a ton of fun to play.

    EDIT: Ok, just reread this post, so before you guys hammer me about my scales theory I need to state that I think scales are important to learn. EVERY bassist should know all scales inside out in every position on the fretboard, but DON"T rely on them. Learn it then forget it ;)
     
  8. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Somebassguy - I understand what you mean, and I don't fully disagree. But I was wondering, in this situation, how would you explain to the student what a chord is? As in how is it constructed? A chord is made up the notes of the scale, but what is a scale? A chord is the 1st, 3rd, and 5th, but what do those numbers mean? And does the student know what intervals are?

    EDIT - "Learn it then forget it" - Haha I have that same philosophy in a sense. :)
     
  9. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Going right into scales may be too overwhelming for any beginner.

    No offense, but my experience has told me otherwise. A major scale is a pattern that most people's ears are already familiar with.

    Get your dad into learning triads! Have him learn all 4 positions, major, minor, aug, dim. Triads are much more practical for chordal theory anyways. There are many positions of each triad also that are equally important to learn.

    I agree, but how can one easily grasp the concept of root-third-fifth in a triad if they haven't yet learned about intervals?

    Blues is something everyone can relate to and is a ton of fun to play.

    Not for everyone... especially not for some kids who have their blinders on and are only into metal or electronica

    JMHO :)
     
  10. yoshi

    yoshi

    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    I second that - I introduced it as 'this is our (bass players) version of the 'doh-re-mah thing..', he immediatly knew what I meant soyour comments spot on!

    I will put more stress on triads rather than full scale structures to start but only for ease purposes (last 'lesson' he got down the first 4 notes of a scale aka 'half of it'. I'm certain it'd be more rewarding to learn a full triad. In theory :p ).

    Lesson 2 is on hopefullytomorow so expect a revisit of 'guuuuuuuuuuuysss!!!heeeelp!!one1!!1' ;)
     
  11. Funkateer

    Funkateer

    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I'd use a 12 bar blues to motivate the rest. He can start out just playing root/five, graduate to 7th chords, ionian/lydian/mixolydian. And every bass player worth his salt can play the blues, he might as well start now ;)