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Has anyone taught themselves DB?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by ThePaste, Apr 27, 2001.

  1. I know the general consensus is that having a teacher is one of the most important things in DB, but has anyone taught themselves and achieved any success?
  2. Not if they want to learn anything.
  3. Ummm, so nobody can learn ANYTHING if they don't have a teacher?
  4. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    How to play out of tune...really well.
  5. Okay, here I go into treacherous waters....

    I only have a poor old Kay-Engelhardt, it's a relative piece of crap, I know. I have never had a lesson on it. I have however played fretless bass guitar for over 25 years, and trombone before that (scholarship to University of Cinti.- College Conserv. of Music). I realize that I will never be in even the top 10,000 Double Bassists in the world, but I can play in tune. I have a very good ear, and can pretty well nail any position true to fairly true to pitch.

    I really (probably) have no business posting here, I am an electric bassist first and foremost, but I had to speak up. I think it is highly arrogant to make the blanket statement that one cannot play the instrument without instruction. Come on! Successful cardiac surgery without instruction is almost impossible, but playing DB? If my only aspiration was to be principle bassist for the NYP, I would say that yes, I would absolutely need many years of study. But to find a nice walking groove to a bop tune? I have a good understanding of theory and intervals, if I had a bass that responded the way I wanted it too- well it would be much easier to play.....

    You may now shred me if you wish. I just had to throw my 2 cents (and my head) into the ring. I will now slink back across the aisle.....
  6. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    I started on violin at age 7, had private lessons for 4+ years, and started on URB at 11. My first and only lesson (until college) was from the school violin teacher - "Remember how your violin is tuned EADG? Well, bass is just the opposite: GDAE."

    When I went to college as a string bass major and was taught by Courtney and Gravagno of the Philadelphia Orchestra for one year each, a wonderful opportunity, most of the time was spent trying to unlearn incorrect techniques and bad habits, most of which I still have today. And I today regret that I didn't take it more seriously back then. That and the fact that I hate to practice significantly limits me as a player to this day.

    Ok, if you are just a casual player, sure, you can probably teach yourself bass as you would/could any other instrument. BUT if you really have any intention of really getting good at it, you should at the very least start off with a good teacher to learn the fundamentals, so that you learn to work with the instrument rather than fight with it. You'll go a lot further and the road will be easier.
  7. i picked up a cheap Crumbora about 2 months ago and the first time i taught myself was that i needed lessons.:)
  8. I'm not saying that studying with a teacher couldn't help me improve (there's lots of room for improvement!). I have played with a few of the jazz cats here in town, and have been told I held my ground, and recieved a compliment or two.
    The area I need the most help in is my bowing technique. I use a German bow, but have lately been feeling more and more uncomfortable with it. When I first bought one years ago I was shown the proper way to hold it, but lately it has felt more awkward than usable. No doubt a teacher could get me back on the right track.

    Arco is not a big part of my DB playing and I know that I am missing much by not having better technique with the bow. My vibtrato is pretty good (if I do say so myself- years of fretless). The biggest thing holding me back right now is the quality of my bass. It sounds good enough amplified - I have one of those so-damn-good K&K's from Mr. Gollihur and a Baggs Para-Acoustic DI.

    I think I'll go practice now.
  9. BassDude24


    Sep 12, 2000
    He did say "with any success" and I suppose that Fretless could say that he has had some success. Nevertheless, I see that lessons are crucial. I didn't take any for three years, and I did well, and i always recieved compliments, but when I took my first lesson, I then realized how much room I had to improve on. Lessons are essensial, they even help me with my BG playing. Not to downplay anything that Fretless said, but, if you want to make it anywhere you really should consider it, in the three short years I didn't take lessons, I had already picked up some nasty habits.
  10. Some guy named Rabbath managed to do it for a while.. but even he went and got edumacated.

    My playing skill has increased 3x EASILY in just 3 weeks of lessons (after "self-teaching" for 3 months), and I had 16 years of electric experience.

  11. That's true amcrory, but remember also that Edgar Meyer has made a career on a bow that's warped, been broken twice and even gnawed on. So should we discourage people from buying quality bows? I don't think so. Meaning that just because one acclaimed virtuoso manages to pull something off doesn't mean that it should become common practice or even remotely recommended.

    As far as the subject at hand, I recently moved from Cleveland to Boise. The single greatest thing I miss are my teachers - moreso than my <i>family.</i> Good instruction should be a top priority, and that goes far beyond music. At the same time, in my current location there's only one bass teacher and I'm skeptical as to how much I can learn from him, so I've been going on axioms of my previous teachers with little to no evaluation of my current playing. So I can't really harp about getting a teacher as fervently as I should without being at least slightly hypocritical.
  12. A couple more reasons to hire a teacher:

    Sometimes there are flaws in your playing that only someone else can pick up on and suggest a way of correcting it. The other night I was at my lesson with Craig Thomas. He kept hearing that I was slightly flat in the area between E and the G octave harmonic. I knew I'd occassionally play flat there, but I couldn't figure out why. Answer: posture.

    And studying with a cat this good, listenning to what he plays, his suggestions, etc. make you hear things you wouldn't previously have heard. So it's not enough to be able to honestly say you can play anything you hear in your head. I can play anything I hear in my head, but obviously I'm not hearing the sh*t he hears.

    Any dope of an audience member can tell you you're great. Any musician on the same level as you is gonna think you're happenin'. If a teacher, whose job btw is to tell you you suck, tells you your good, that's a good indication you might not need a teacher. I suck enough for two teachers to have to tell me about it.
  13. I don't know. On the one hand you EXHORT others to get a teacher that can be "objective" and critical about your playing, and know enough to help you, but on the other hand you say not to give any credence to compliments...but I would say your story only refers to one particular form of compliment - the compliment from the person that wasn't really focused on what you were doing to begin with. As you say, Art was really talking about his own playing, which is similar to when I play a gig and think I suck but I get a huge compliment from someone in the audience who actually wasn't really paying attention to me, but just having a good time and digging the general vibe of the club - they were digging how they felt, not necessarily how I was playing.

    So I guess what I am saying (I know this sounds confrontational...but it isn't meant to be) is that it's both - *critical* observers and your own self - that need to validate, criticize, and yes, COMPLIMENT your playing. Positive reinforcement DOES help, but not without some negative. Also, one of my main goals when I play live is to make people experience emotions - to connect with the people listening to me. Also to connect with musicians I am playing with. Not just to focus on me, me, me....that tends to get me nowhere fast. In that way, the whole interlocked "thing" that's happening (myself, the musicians around me, and the audience) becomes my teacher while I am playing in a group setting. As cheesy as it sounds, the general vibe becomes my instructor.

    I don't know if I even disagree with you, I think in a way I am agreeing, just pointing out that the Art Pepper story doesn't necessarily point to a universal truth about compliments, but instead to a universal truth about a particular kind of compliment. And its actually a really good, instructive story, so I don't even mean to imply I am belittling it...
  14. By the way, I know what Dave means by "dope of an audience member" but it still kind of bugs me. Let's say this "dope" is a auto mechanic. If you were watching him fix a car and told him he was doing a great job but he wasn't, would you be a dope? I don't think so. People come to see music for a reason, and we shouldn't assume they are dopes. They pay your bills. And while they might not be able to analyze your playing for $#$#, that's not really what they are there for. That's not their job. Don't think your audience is full of dopes, or you're wasting your time.
  15. When someone in the audience says, "you're great," what they are really saying is, "I enjoyed listenning to you; in some inexplicable way, you moved me." That is not a qualitative statement. I might think I have a great auto mechanic, he keeps my car driveable. But in reality I wouldn't know Edgar G. Bentley or Antonio Ferrari from Rufus-the-second-shift-guy at Pep Boys. I don't have a problem with the relationship either way. It's not meant as any disrespect. And to the average audience member I might as well be Mingus.

    Teachers aren't supposed to be objective. They're supposed to be hyper-critical. If a teacher ever told me I'm good, that would be my last lesson with him. Positive reinforcement is for children and insecure people.
  16. Ed: "You come perilously close to saying, in response to something I have said, that I don't listen to other musicians when I play." - if that's what I was implying, I am sorry, I could never even claim to know what you are thinking about, even if I had ever seen you play ;-)

    Dave: "Positive reinforcement is for children and insecure people." - I have to agree to disagree on that. You need to know what you are doing right or you won't keep doing it. I do agree that the negative is more important though. And I would have to just say that moving someone (or myself for that matter) is very important to my sense of my mission. However you're right, and I don't think I ever disagreed (and if I implied it I didn't mean to), that a pat on the back could even equate to let alone replace a teacher....
  17. yeah you got me. i agree on the ones dissecting my comments. i think on the "EXHORT" comment, i just meant that it seemed like at the end of your post you were saying that you should be your own critic, while eariler on you were saying that you can't be objective (or know) enough to do that, which i thought seemed a little contradictory, and i was just saying that there are probably some compliments (though I guess yeah, compliments is a dumb way to phrase what I am talking about, I am talking more about focused positive reinforcement) that can help you in the same manner that focused criticism can, and that both of them come from an external point of view, which is superior in instruction than yourself. i was unclear and such, sorry.

    on the "vibe is my teacher" i was just trying to talk about the less defined but very important instruction of feeling people respond to your music, and the feeling you get when you lock in, and learning from that. of course, it is not really a learning that is instructive or technical in nature, but its one of the reasons we play. it's why everyone can tell when something swings too...
  18. Hello again. Thanks all for the dialogue. I would just like to comment on a few things...
    I know when I deserve a compliment on my playing.
    Nothing annoys me more than being told "dude, you are great!" I know I'm not great, I know when I have good sets and bad. I would like to think those compliments that I mentioned here were not just meant to blow smoke up my butt. I value the opinions of the couple of guys that I have had a chance to sit in with, and I hope they were being honest and not just polite. None has yet said "come back and see me in 5 years" (or after 100 lessons).

    If I was going to make an attempt at gigging full time on DB, or even playing it in public more than 2 or 3 times a year, I would run to a teacher. I know my limitations and electric bass is my main instrument, but I will keep at DB for fun and entertainment.

    Lastly, I would like to say that I think it is very cool that we can have discussions like this. I know you all are right, a teacher would be great. Except for the "FECKLESS5" tag I appreciate all the ideas put forth. I suppose my main reason for not going to a teacher is $$ (currently unemployed).
  19. Ed, I am gonna have to quote myself: "about the less defined but very important instruction of feeling people respond to your music, and the feeling you get when you lock in, and learning from that. of course, it is not really a learning that is instructive or technical in nature". I am talking about the audience, yeah but also the band. The music all together. I am most definitely not talking about SHAPING what you do to pander to the audience (easy reactions) - that's more like learning how to manipulate an audience than anything (tho that's good to at least KNOW). Anywho, I think I was just saying that there is something in the totality of a groove, esp a really bad ass one, that can envelope a place. I would be the first to remind myself and everyone else that this is intangible %^$#, you might be able to fake it if your audience is full of "dopes", but more often than not faking it isn't gonna make you happy, unless you happen to be so insecure that all you crave is a reaction. I am more talking about the feeling in the air type of thing...the unrepeatable, but always craved, intangible "thing". It's something that's hard to make clearer than that.
  20. No I don't think you're misreading me. I will say one exception would be if complimentary part was followed by some "buts". If I go play something for a teacher and he says, "that was good," the lessons over and I just wasted $50. I'm paying the cat to tell me what sucked, and maybe how to fix it. I'm the midst of that I'm also learning how to make my practice time more effective/eficient and how to teach myself. I don't play excercises for either of my teachers. I only play music for them. That kinda leaves out the possibility of being told I just nailed something. Everything or anything the teacher isn't telling me about implies that it was alright, no need to discuss it. When I'm told to move on to something else, well, enough said. Dig it?

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