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How can I know that I have a good teacher?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Pacer1991, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Pacer1991


    Aug 14, 2012
    So I'm new to TalkBass, new to actually studying the bass, though I got my electric at seventeen. The teacher I have, he's actually who I went to when I first got it, though I haven't seen him in years. Just starting out, I'm not really sure how to tell whether or not this guy and I are a good match.

    He's sincere, he's a good bassist - but I'm not convinced he's a good teacher. Right now it seems that he's just trying to teach me songs. My lessons are also only thirty minutes long, once a week.

    On my fourth lesson (I've had five) he gave me my first scales, which made things feel more balanced, but today he didn't even mention them. He didn't even go over the song he's been teaching me and gave me another one to learn, "if you want to, it's up to you."

    **I probably could have condensed the above, but I really wanted to hear the opinions of a seasoned bassist. I come from a family of musicians, all of which are skeptical, but none of them are bassists. They play brass, guitar, or piano.
  2. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    Not every great player is a great teacher. My bad teachers were guys who did exactly what your teacher is doing now. Every week he just wanted to teach me a song. Sometimes he would give me something more substantial, like a scale, but he would fail to give me enough information about it to let me know why it was important to learn or even how to use it. It didn't make much difference because he would seem to forget we talked about it by the next lesson.

    I bet there's a large population of musicians in this world that makes a living by teaching students a new Green Day song every week.
  3. Pacer1991


    Aug 14, 2012
    You know, when he gave me my scales, he said they would help to develop my ear or to write bass lines, but never elaborated further. And like your instructor, this week he never brought it up. I was hoping that maybe after a few lessons, he'd help me find a balance between songs and, as you said, substance. Or that somehow, it would work out. I don't know. At least I have an idea now as to what not to look for in an instructor.

    So how do I know I've found a real mentor?
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It's not always easy to find the right mentor, but I think you know that you've found the wrong one so at least you have that going for you. Check out your local college music dept. and see if they can recommend someone.
  5. I agree 100%, I have had teachers that started out really well and I learned quite a bit, but after a few lessons there is no more structure and because they are probably winging the lesson for that day, there is not much on how to apply or use what they teaching, I would come back the following week thinking we'd carry from the last lesson, only to find my teacher just about clueless about the previous weeks lesson.
    I feel a good teacher should be dedicated enough to have good teaching structure that they can use or taylor to what a student needs.
    Having said that some of the best lessons I ever recieved was from a busy session bassist, he did not do a lot of teaching becaue of his availability but if someone needed help with a certain technique or bad playing habit he was happy to help, he could not offer weekly lessons so he would spend quite a bit of time seeing what a person needed to be working on, he would then find or make up all sorts of exersises to help with that, then it was up to the studednt to work on that stuff until he was available again. He had a lot of playing experience in different styles of music and was willing to share it. The only way to benifit from any lessons is to put the hours in everyday, I have seen people get almost nothing out of good teaching because they think by going once a week it's going to do it for them, after six months they stop because they feel they getting nothing out. A good teacher can really only show someone what they are going to have to learn themselves.
  6. sackvegas


    Dec 1, 2006
    Good post.

    I had a few different teachers and that was ALWAYS my biggest complaint. Absolutly NO structure or planning involved in the lesson. 1/2 hour a week and every lesson was completly different from the last, the worst part is the conservatory I was studying at couldn't give 2 shats, as long as you paid your money they were happy.

    A good teacher is VERY hard to find.
  7. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    learning a song a week is basically what all the kids in garage bands do. (That's how I started out and almost everyone I know.) It's not till a few years later that there may be a realization that song structures have certain recurrring patterns and that there may be some benefit to learning soem theory -- usually when the new singer wnats some song in a different key.
    I'd expect a little more 'structure' from a teacher.
    I'm a great consumer of music books and even there, it's apparent who has some sense of how to build up information into knowledge. Ed Friedland is a good example of someone who understands teaching/learning.
  8. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Being a good teacher is a skill in itself. If you're not satisfied with him (and you don't sound like you are) then ask around for recommendations of someone else in your area.
  9. Bass Mentor

    Bass Mentor

    Apr 30, 2012
    Nashville Tennessee
    endorsing artist: Lava Cable, E&O Mari, Rupert Neve Designs
    It is a different mindset when teaching.....you must always study music content, etc.. the understanding of fundamentals that connects the ear, mind, and fingers together--I've been a pro bassist since 1975. I currently do sessions in Nashville ( since 1992) and I work with my students on the above fundamentals while explaining why what they are doing is working or not working..... .. I feel the teacher's role is to provide correct information, true encouragement as well as the ability to assess the student's weakness...when you know the fundamentals of music and good chordal playing...you are able to bring your own creatively into your playing -- I've taught all of my students in music fundamentals and chordal function for over 25 years....and some are working pros now...they all sound like themselves not just a clone of me or anyone else...that's because they have what the music requires and can then bring themselves into it...and they can really hear.......I enjoy teaching and it is a demanding craft and art
    Best to everyone on this wonderful forum...!!

  10. Being a new bassist my self i was thinking about taking some lessons and since it wasn't mentioned, what do lessons cost from a good, competent teacher?
  11. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    I see em' listed on Craigslist for as low as $20 an hour all the way thru to personal websites of highly accredited bassists offering $100+ per hour lessons, and every price in between. I guess it depends on how big the population is close to you that will dictate how many choices you have. My teacher comes from a family of teachers & musicians, & bass is his #1 instrument - he charges $40 per hr in his home a few blocks from me. Check the local ads, music stores, & good old fashioned google. :bassist: (or is it NEW fashioned Google?)
  12. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    all the teachers ive had, from guitar to bass and even drums currently are what i call "muscle memory" teachers. they do not teach you anything of significance ... they just sit there making money waiting for your muscle memory to nail whatever it is they are teaching.
  13. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    The thread title is a very good question, and I could get very deeply into this as I train teachers for a living.

    All I'll say for now is that the only real way to judge the quality of teaching is by quality of learning. That isn't always easy for a student to self-assess, which is why trust is a very important element of a productive teacher-student relationship. But if you are feeling like you're not making much progress, that might mean that there's something wrong with the way you're being taught (or not taught).
  14. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    You are learning.
    From what you wrote, that is standard procedure for a lot of teachers.
    If we don't show you songs/licks you lose interest and drop out.
    I push both scales & licks/tunes at my lessons.
    I stress the ABC's of music constantly.
    Just ask him for more scales.

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