1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Giving my first lesson tomorrow - advice?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Venom of God, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. Venom of God

    Venom of God

    Oct 8, 2007
    Hey guys, I'm giving my first bass lesson tomorrow (to a ten year old boy) and I'm a little lost on where to start, as I have no idea at all what kind of music he likes. I figure to begin with I'll get some basics into him like simple right and left hand technique and the names of each string, but I'd also like to at least teach him something he can practice between tomorrow and his next lesson (in a fortnights time). Any suggestions on what? I was going to say Smoke on the Water, but my girlfriend rolled her eyes at me and said no way! Thoughts?
  2. Smoke on the water is a hard bassline for beginners to grasp because it's groove oriented.

    Usually, they come in. I ask them why they're there learning the instrument and what some of their favorite songs are. We then get comfortable and learn how to sit, ow to properly hold and balance the instrument, and then I get them comfortable striking the strings and fretting the notes. On guitar, I have them pick open strings up and down with proper technique. Copying this is their homework for that week.

    How long is the lesson?
  3. Venom of God

    Venom of God

    Oct 8, 2007
    Well, since it'll be a private lesson it's as long as I want really, but I told his mum we'd do about 45 minutes. I can see what you mean about Smoke on the water now that you say that, I was just thinking it might be 'cool' for him to learn (or daggy, if I listen to my girlfriend!). You don't think it's super important for him to have a riff or line to practice as homework? I'm happy to just give him a few technique exercises, I was just worried it wouldn't excite him about the instrument. As I said though, it's my first lesson so I really have no idea.
  4. ACalbass


    Dec 16, 2011
    The worst thing that can happen to a beginner is to start up with a teacher that has not previously outlined a method of teaching,that has no route map,a target,a known sequence of events or chapters to go through.

    First thing first,you outline a lesson,you propose it to the student,see the physical problems he might have to actually play something,try to correct them or point in the right direction.
    You should try to start right off with patterns of scales exercises.
    Like when you start to read and write,you won;t understand the meaning of words,but the way they are physically represented,same way with notes in the fretboard :you can start showing him a pattern to practice with a particular sound,over time they will discover is a scale,by then,he can already play it.
    I find that a good starting point.
    Forget about any song for the moment,you should supply the tools and building blocks first.

    And for yourself,please take your time to prepare a plan for him,and for any future students.
    New students advance a lot quicker and farther when they get a strong and solid initiation that make sense.
  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    The format has already been done for you.... Get one of the beginner bass books, any one you like, and all of you start on page one. Bass Guitar for Dummies comes to mind. It starts off with how to hold it, tune it, how to make sound and how to mute some of the sound.

    Been a long time since I've looked at BGFD so I do not remember what is handled next, but, again the format is there see if you can life with that. Have the book Foundation Exercises by Chuck Sher handy. Here is the table of content - as a quide;

    Table Of Contents
    Preface - About This Book Lesson 1 - Making Music While You Find Notes on the Bass
    Lesson 2 - Exploring Rhythms on the Bass
    Lesson 3 - Some Sample Bass Grooves to Learn
    Lesson 4 - Organizing Notes into Scales - The Major Scale
    Lesson 5 - Hand Positions and Fingerings
    Lesson 6 - Organizing Notes into Scales - The Minor Scale
    Lesson 7 - Identifying Intervals Lesson 8 - The Importance of 1 and 3
  6. Edgar664


    Mar 12, 2009
    Seven Nation Army!!!

    Really easy, he could probably learn the whole song on the first lesson.

  7. dtiii


    Apr 22, 2009
    Be patient and don't be over-ambitious. It's not about learning a song or a riff the first week. For most beginners it takes time to develop the finger strength of the fretboard hand, as well as coordination between the two hands. Giving him a seemingly simple line may just frustrate him.

    After a casual chat about music and the instrument I start students off with open strings focusing on alternating the first and second fingers of the plucking hand. They play each string four groups of four - four measures of quarter notes in 4/4 time. We work the strings in order ascending and descending and then I start calling strings by name. The exercise lasts for a good 15 minutes give or take depending on the student. The student counts the fours with me and we play in time. This benefits the student in the following ways:

    - develops a foundation for plucking-hand technique
    - begins to internalize groups of beats and measures
    - develops a sense of steady time

    I play along with them on my bass. Once they get the hang of it I pick up a guitar or sit at the piano and play chords to accompany them. It becomes very musical so they tend to have fun. Week two is when I focus a bit on the fretboard hand.

    I hope this helps... have fun
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    These have all been fairly good points so far.

    The best advice I can give you is to prep something before hand so you know what you want to talk about. That way you don't end up all over the map, that is the worst kind of lesson. Write out your lesson before the lesson, at least an outline.

    A first lesson is usually best spent talking about the bass, and the basic fundamentals of playing it. Things like what the parts are and what they do, how to puck the bass, how to fret the bass.

    Nothing wrong with getting the Hal Leonard book and teaching through it, it gives you a guide map and home work. For a student of his age, I would make him learn to read if he was mine and that will give him homework. For the first lesson teaching a riff isn't a bad idea, it does get them taking it home and gets them involved. Find something the kids recognizes, something easy like crazy train or whatever, just something he is familiar with that way he will know how it goes. Not a necessity in my experience, but it doesn't hurt.

    You will probably be amazed at how quickly the 45 minutes comes up. Don't teach much longer than that, you will be throwing too much at him. You don't want to overload the kid, he will start forgetting stuff you tell him.
  9. NeilGB

    NeilGB Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2012
    SF Bay Area - East Bay
    Lots of good advice here. My first lesson was with 2 10 year old boys. Over the subsequent years I learnt so much about how people think and adsorb information from working with them that I feel it was me that got schooled.
  10. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    So how did it go?
  11. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    "Over the subsequent years I learnt so much about how people think and adsorb information from working with them that I feel it was me that got schooled."

    This is what always gets to me when people who know something thoroughly go into teaching. They have a very hard time taking on the perspective of the beginner. That's why some very experienced musicians will only take on the most senior students (that and lack of patience).

    I buy a lot of books, because I like learning from books and to me it's very obvious among various authors who actually has the ability to teach in an organized manner that builds lesson upon lesson that's progressing to an identifiable goal and who just puts out a lot of stuff they know. Not to say that those who put out a lot of stuff they know isn't valuable and useful once one has a framework to absorb it, but it's a special skill to build up from the beginning.
  12. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Please do not do what a particular trumpet instructor tried on me in high school. He was the trumpet professor at the regional university. After the first lesson, he condescended my horn, he condescended my playing, and according to him, the only "real" trumpet players were those who purchased a Bach C trumpet, a 1 1/2 C mouthpiece, and did nothing but try to become Bud Herseth (famous principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony).

    Well, after this unfortunate experience, we mutually agreed we weren't going to get along. I got my Dad's trumpet back out, my 3 C mouthpiece back out, practiced on my own, and proceeded to sit first section in school, co-lead in summer band camp, etc.

    In other words, don't try to artificially mould anybody. Find out what is there in each student and develop it.
  13. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    you can't go wrong with Hal Leonard Fast Track method 1 .....it has tab and notation and a great play along CD ....moves at a nice pace covers important ground throughout.

    I've been teaching for 3 years for a living now so i've learned alot and made some mistakes too.

    young kids need the structure of a method book unless they are extraordinarily interested in music....already have lot's of taste, look up bass players on youtube etc ....

    this is rare unfortunately.

    So i've learned, for a kid with middle ground drive and interest, it is really alot to expect that they will familiarize themselves with classic rock tunes like "smoke" etc and go home and try to match what they've learned by playing to a youtube or mp3......in my experience they don't even follow thru like this if you teach them today's biggest pop hit.

    many 10 year olds don't even know why they are at lessons, know of no notorious bass players, and are unaware of standard bass stuff .....

    it all depends on the kid .....8/10 will need method books ......a really studious kid can learn hal leonard bass method 1 - no tab ...all notation but my go to is Fast Track!

    with no method book, you'll spend half the lesson asking the kid if he's heard any beatles songs? ETC ETC ....

    Teacher - "well, what do you listen to"
    Student - "uhm, i don't know."

    Teacher - "What's the most popular song with your friends at school?"

    Student - long pause - " uhm, i don't know .....uhm gangnam style!"

    Teacher - "that's cool, it's better than sexy and i know it!" what else do you hear at school

    Student - "uhm ....i'm not sure"

    Teacher - 'what does your dad listen to in the car?"

    Student - "uhm ....i'm not sure .....uhm old music .....uhm ...walk this way!"

    Teacher then says ok ...let's learn a bit of Walk this Way! 7 minutes later you realize this is insanely difficult for a beginner at his 3rd lesson and 20 minutes has passed and you have to back track and give some value somehow!

    both of you leave the lesson with heads spinning ...kid thinks bass is absolutely impossible and just wants to get that PSP back in his hands!
    on and on .....
  14. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada

    Great words here!