How do you find an online double bass teacher?

Discussion in 'Double Bass Pedagogy [DB]' started by Anthony White, Apr 27, 2021.

  1. Over the last year, it looks like some? many? most? private music teachers have worked out how to give lessons online.

    Which kind of means that we all have a vast number of double bass teachers to choose from. It’s no longer a matter of choosing from the hand-full who live in my town and seeing if their timetable and my timetable can accomodate, then driving anywhere up to an hour each way…

    From Auckland, New Zealand, I could get a teacher from New York, or New Orleans, or LA, or Europe.

    But now, discovery seems to be the major problem. How do you go about finding an online double bass teacher?
  2. jimmyb

    jimmyb An Avid Indoorsman Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2003
    Elkton, MD
    Sub'd. I'd like that info myself
    LittleJon1 and Hummergeist like this.
  3. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
  4. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    You didn't say which genre of music your playing but I suppose it doesn't matter that much. Is there something particular that you want to work on? Or are you just interested in learning to play the DB well? Answering that question will guide your search. I think I'd start by researching performers and music programs and compile a list of the best regarded. If there's someone's playing that greatly impresses you, I'd check out their webpage and see how much they teach and if they're taking new students. You should be able to get an idea how much they teach based on what their website says and their calendar; if they teach a lot, they'll be faculty somewhere or regularly do clinics. As a rule of thumb, I tend to think experienced teachers are better resources for learning but there are exceptions and you can learn a lot from an inexperienced teacher who primarily performs by just being in touch with them and mimicking them.

    Another way would be to make your question more specific and tell us more about what you're looking for. Almost certainly, you'll get some good suggestions about great teachers from TBers.
    longfinger likes this.
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well sure. But the number of times my teacher had to physically adjust my posture, take bass and bow out of my hands to demonstrate something, or even something as nuanced as seeing the skin under my fingernails blanch (capillary refill) because I was gripping the bow too tightly - these are all things that are well nigh impossible to do over the inter webs. The bass is such a physical instrument and physics plays such a great role in sound production, I'm not sure that looking at a lagged version on an (at best) 18 inch screen will ever replace being in the same room with another human being.
  6. Dogfightgiggle


    Mar 4, 2020
    I’d recommend checking with some universities to see if you might enroll as a grad student at large.
    marcox likes this.
  7. And there’s nothing about this I disagree with.

    I would go further, and say that if a student can find an in-person teacher who is already in the musical community the student wants to play in, the teacher can provide mentorship and introductions and advice and recommendations.

    But also, there is a long history of people from small places visiting or moving to big places because of the opportunities to learn, and to exist in a community where a thing is practiced - whether it is music or science or visual arts or writing or technology…

    A jazz musician from Boise, Idaho, might move to New York City to access the the jazz expertise and the jazz community that exists in New York. But another might not be able to move to New York, because of financial barriers or family obligations or connections, or other limitations. And a jazz musician from Auckland, New Zealand might be further limited by immigration laws, as well as even higher financial barriers.

    But imagine if that person could access just some of the expertise that exists in a major jazz centre? Would that be amazing? I think it would be. I think it is.
  8. I didn't, mostly because I thought it would be an interesting question in principle - how does any potential student find any potential teacher online? Are the dozens of teachers on TalkBass who have had to go online over the last year recruiting any new students, or are they only teaching existing students? And then maybe as follow-up questions, what works well teaching online, and what doesn't?

    But on me - I started playing double bass in my early thirties, about eleven years ago. My focus is jazz, but have had dedicated classical teachers too - for several years I had both a classical teacher and a jazz teacher at the same time. I did the first year of a jazz performance degree at the California Jazz Conservatory as an 'adult student' when we were living in San Francisco. I was gigging around the Bay Area as well. When our first child was born, we moved back to New Zealand and I kinda put the bass away and barely did anything with it for three years. About 18 months ago I pulled my bass out again because I couldn't stand how much I missed it, and I've just carved out time in my evenings to practice. I was shocked by how much time it took to get my intonation back to somewhere reliable, and it still isn't as good as it used to be.

    I'm a solid, intermediate player. I can comp well, and people would call me for gigs in the Bay Area. I can solo, but I'm not happy with my melodic concept. I'm part tempted to do a deep dive on soloing over the blues. Another part of me is tempted to do a deep dive on bebop soloing. Or maybe both at the same time. Whatever it is, I really want to work on my ear, my ability to hear harmony at a deeper level, and on connecting my vocal-voice to my instrument - hearing what I want to play and playing it.

    By the start of the 2022 university year (February in the southern hemisphere) our youngest will be in pre-school several hours a week, and I'm going to talk to the jazz programme at the university here about enrolling.

    I've been in touch with some local in-person double bassists who teach, but haven't found a match - not taking students, not being able to find a time that works for both of us, etc.
    Lorin Cohen and longfinger like this.
  9. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Cool, thanks for the briefing. Are you asking for recommendations for on-line teachers? or just focusing on the broader topic of how one goes about the search and selection?
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, that all depends on what you are looking to actual "study", right? Addressing the physical approach to the instrument is something that will present the most benefit from physical presence, no matter how far in the hinterlands one lives. The limitations of "distance learning" are an obstacle, so any opportunity that exists to remove that obstacle should be pursued. But sure, the study of functional theory, arranging, ear training, these sorts of things can be more easily communicated at a distance. However, for subjects like these, why limit yourself to "double bass teachers"? I was lucky in that my teacher, bassist Joe Solomon, had a deep pedagogical approach to teaching jazz improvisation (having studied with Lennie Tristano and studied and played with Sal Mosca), which we could have done even by sending tapes back and forth through the mail. But I had to clean up a good 15 years of sloppy physical approach I taught myself by NOT having a double bass teacher who I could stand in the same room with and learn how to produce sound with a relaxed, tension free physical approach.

    And while it's true that not everyone has the wherewithal to pick up and leave where they are living and move to a larger metropolis that presents more resources and opportunity with which to surround oneself, if one is SERIOUS about getting as deep in whatever endeavor is their focus, at some point you have to make the move. Only YOU can decide where your comfort level is, what you're willing to sacrifice or unwilling to sacrifice. Don't think of it as a moral judgement, there are so many good players who have made the decision to raise a family or to make a comfortable living and not scuffle and have managed to make a place for themselves in their locale. You just don't hear of many of them that make the jump from "local legend" to "major influence on their instrument".

    I stayed in NYC because it was such a great resource for me, to learn and grow as a musician and as a person. I was never going to make it to the small and pointy top of the pyramid of bassists who made a good living playing only jazz in NYC. But I would not have experienced the growth I did had I stayed in Augusta GA for those 32 years. It was a choice that Kate and I made together and, I have to say, I think she made much further progress in becoming self-realized than I did.
  11. Most of us teach online now. I find it to work fine, there are a few things that are easier in person, but nothing that can't be overcome. I have been doing it for about 6 years now.
    Initially, I had former in person students that stayed with me online when I moved. Now I have several online only and I don't see them progressing slower or having different issues. It is an obstacle that has to be addressed, but not impossible.
    I think different perspectives are great, so a mix of driving an hour each way and more regular online lessons would be your best bet.
    A good in person teacher is best. Your ideal teacher, but online might be just as good. If you are less likely to cancel online, then I'd say weekly online lessons are better than sporadic in person lessons.

    Anthony White likes this.
  12. The ISB teacher directory is a great suggestion. Thank you!

  13. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    You are welcome.
    As an advanced adult with practicing and learning skills already I don't think you'll have any difficulty with online lessons. I would suggest, if you haven't already, working out your Zoom "use original sound" flow, with wired headphones or earbuds and a decent microphone, placed for both voice and bass. TBH, earbuds with a mic (4 conductor plug) will be fine once you work out the cable issues with playing. Recording a meeting or two by yourself and getting your own procedure down will make lessons more about the music.
    If you possibly can, the convention is a wonderful opportunity to meet players, teachers, schools of thought and sub-communities. The 2019 convention at Indiana was 1300 people sharing experiences, learning and a sense of community that is unique to our instrument. Online will present challenges, not to mention the wrong time of day for you - but if you are wondering what the bigger pictures of bass are, it's the place.
    Anthony White and Tom Lane like this.
  14. So many online music schools are popping up. People do prefer in person lessons, but in this pandemic, sometimes online is the only viable option. The technology is constantly getting better.

    As a general guide, for those giving lessons, and those taking lessons, most folks start the search in Google, and Google is very geographic in its displayed results.

    If I type "online upright bass lessons" and I'm in Montreal Canada, you type it in Auckland NZ, another types in in Houston Texas, etc, we will all get different results displayed. This has to to with Google My Business listings, ads, SEO etc.

    Even on the Internet, physical geography still matters.

    Even if we all type "upright bass lessons in London, England", we will get different results based on where our device locates us to Google.
    Anthony White likes this.
  15. Ha! That is of course true, and I hadn't thought of it.
    I use a VPN as a matter of course, for data privacy reasons, but I still have it set to New Zealand so that my results are more useful. I'll try setting it for somewhere else, and see what my search results look like.
  16. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    How does a VPN affect your google search results or apparent location ? WHOIS puts you somewhere else ?

    While you are looking around, Jason Heath's Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog | your source for double bass news and resources does a great job of aggregating worldwide bass things , and the podcast thirteen years and eight hundred episodes in, regularly includes conversations with Jazz and improvised music players from everywhere.
  17. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    I briefly tried on-line lessons recently, but stopped due to my dissatisfaction with the medium. Neither my instructor nor I was horribly adept at the technology.

    I would suspect that one hurdle to check off would be the extent to which both teacher and student were equipped to interact virtually. So many teachers/performers present themselves very professionally on-line. A student really shouldn't struggle with anything less. Heck, you can see the vast difference even in personal videos folk around here post. You might be better off with a slightly less capable teacher, if the interface were more effective.

    I would expect a teacher to have a well thought out and set up studio - rather than ad libbing it w/ a phone on a music stand. Good audio, video, lighting, etc. Similarly, the student needs to commit to setting up in a manner that the teacher can see and hear all they need to, at the same time the student can see/hear the teacher. At the very least, I'd expect decent laptops or tablets on both ends.

    But for someone in a poorly serviced area, or seeking some specific training, on-line learning is an absolute boon.
  18. marcox


    Dec 10, 2007
    I'm currently taking online lessons from Katie Thiroux in her role as an adjunct professor at Mt. Sacramento Community College in Southern California. (Yes, in my advanced middle age I am once again a college student.)

    Our technology setup is not complex: we meet on Zoom, using the built-in cameras on our respective computers and the built-in mics on our headphones. (All Apple devices, fwiw.) Perhaps the sound quality might be a concern if I was working on a nuanced development of my tone, but my main goal is become familiar with more of fingerboard, and the headphone sound is more than adequate.

    In addition to being a great player, singer and arranger, Katie is a serious and thoughtful teacher. We meet every 2 weeks, and she follows up each lesson with a summary of what we covered and the exercises I should work on. I'm making demonstrable progress and enjoying the process.

    I learned about Katie's availability on Instagram, where she regularly posts videos of helpful tips. Her pitch: the cost of enrollment and tuition is quite a bit lower than the cost of booking private instruction with her directly. I paid ~$300 for 8 hours of one-on-one instruction — a bargain in my book.
  19. Lorin Cohen

    Lorin Cohen

    Mar 23, 2011

    Hi Anthony,

    I'm based in NYC, and have been teaching online with great success for sometime now.

    I've posted on other threads here that I believe teaching is about a TRANSFORMATION the student has gone through from the beginning of studies to the end of studies. In other words, has the student met the Lesson Objectives and fulfilled any agreed upon goal(s)?

    Meeting these objectives and fulfilling pre-determined goals, undergoing a TRANSFORMATION, can occur just as powerfully online as in person.

    Hope that helps- feel free to DM me if you have any add'l questions/thoughts!

  20. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    Based on what you said about working on soloing and singing what you play, I would recommend taking a lesson with Katie Thiroux. She’s great with that. I did one lesson with her last summer and learned a lot. She gave me a document with very specific things to work on. You can contact her via Instagram.
    marcox likes this.