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How to get the most from lessons?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fishonbass, Sep 21, 2000.

  1. fishonbass


    Sep 21, 2000
    Hey, new guy here, hello to all. I stumbled across these forums a couple weeks ago and have been reading and finding great stuff ever since. Nice to find an active, informative site for bass players. My question is how do you get the most out of bass lessons? I've been playing about 5-6 months, jamming in a trio that plays mostly hard-rock/punk flavored stuff. This instructor is a working (and getting paid) blues player in the L.A. area, so I'm assuming he's okay. But, how do I know for sure? How do I get the most from my time with the guy? What should I expect for my money?

    Any advice or comments would be totally appreciated.
  2. the Qintar

    the Qintar

    Jul 24, 2000
    besides asking him what his credentials are, the only way youll know if hes worth it is if hes teaching you what you want to know and then some. most teachers are qualified, also very helpful.
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I think everything is in the communication. A good teacher will help you no matter what, but to get the very most from your lessons that you can, be sure that the teacher knows exactly what it is you want to learn. A good teacher will pick up on what sort of things you like to do to learn. If your teacher teaches the same exact way for every student, you won't get as much from someone who can take the information they know you want, and present it in a way that is fun to you. But it's still up to you to tell that teacher what exactly you want. After that, just go do it. Also, never be afraid to question them. Find out why they're doing what they're doing. A good teacher will be able to give you a good answer.
  4. fishonbass


    Sep 21, 2000
    Okay, so the lesson went great last night. We spent the first portion of the hour sort of exploring what I knew (that took about five seconds) and what I wanted to know. And, yeah, you guys are absolutely correct: communication is HUGE. It's a one on one deal, not like sitting in a college classroom, so the more I inform him of how I learn, what I'm getting, what's sailing over my head, and stuff like that, the more I'll get out of this. It's hard, though, in a way. Sometimes it's tough to say "Um, yeah, well could you go over that again because you just blew me away." It's humbling. But I think it's great stuff. Feels good to learn theory and proper technique and how to read music.
  5. fishonbass -

    I can speak as a teacher, having been one for well over 10 years now, as well as a student having been one for over 20.

    As was mentioned by jazzbo, communication...wait COMMUNICATION is essential. You seem to have picked up on that :). The hardest student to teach is the one that doesn't ask any questions, that doesn't ask for explanation of new or unfamiliar concepts/ideas. Never feel uncomfortable saying "I didn't get that" or "Can you go over that again, I'm not sure I understood", that's a teacher's JOB, to make sure you "get it". If a teacher ever gets cross with you for asking that kind of question, no matter how many times you do it, get another teacher.

    I go so far as to tell my students my home phone number, for two reasons: rescheduling; and so they can call me if they're confused or unsure of something they're working on. I'd rather spend 5-10 minutes on the phone attempting to get something straightened out for a student, than waste half a lesson re-doing something that was misunderstood and worked on for a week or two incorrectly. I make it a point to tell my students this at EVERY lesson, stressing that if there's anything they're unsure of, call, and I'll be very happy to help them get it straight.

    Another good idea is to get an inexpensive cassette recorder to bring to your lessons, record EVERYTHING. This will help you as you'll hear the examples that your teacher plays. It can really eliminate confusion and make things go much smoother during your practice sessions to have a tape to refer back to (I know it saved my @$$ numerous times when I was studying... :D).

    If your teacher hasn't already suggested or insisted (my choice as a teacher) on it, get a good 3-ring binder and fill it with staff paper. Keep ALL your lesson notes there, and any things that you come up with on your own as well. This makes it easy for both yourself and your teacher to refer back to previous work. Also, in the same place, write down any questions or problems you run into inbetween lessons, it's amazing how easily a trouble spot will slip your memory at the lesson. If you have that question/problem on paper right in front of yourself at the lesson, you'll remember to bring it up and that helps the teacher to help you eliminate it.

    Of course the biggest thing is to actually PRACTICE at home :D. Lessons are for going over what you're working on and learning new stuff to work on. It's amazing how many times I've had students that basically only worked on the "donkey work" I gave them AT THE LESSON :rolleyes:. I've heard hundreds of excuses/rationalizations: "I was too tired after school and took a nap...all week"; "It doesn't really make me play any better to work on it, I did the first week and wasn't any better..."; "All I want to do is learn Green Day (or insert any other band) songs, why do I need to know scales and arpeggios?". Don't be lazy (that's what all those "reasons" above REALLY were), not that I am assuming you will be ;).

    Lastly, make sure that at least some part of the lesson is about ear training. Hearing intervals, chord types, progression types, that sort of thing. I like to spend about 5 minutes playing "follow the leader", I'll play one note, the student finds it, then I'll play that note and another, the student has to play both, and so on. You'll really appreciate that skill when you try to figure out songs on your own.

    By the way I DO NOT transcribe songs for students, I prefer to give them the skills to do that for themselves. I will help them if they get stuck and have shown an effort to figure it out on their own. Transcribing songs for kids is NOT teaching, it's showing, and if you ever get a teacher that does nothing but that, you're throwing away good money. I will use portions of "common" songs to illustrate theory concepts though.

    Hope some of this helps....

    [Edited by Gard on 09-22-2000 at 12:28 PM]
  6. Just wanted to highlight that! :D

    He's right, Fish. It doesn't matter how good the teacher is - if you don't go home and practice the lessons, you won't get too far. Sounds like you've got you head on straight about it though. :)

    Good luck, and welcome. :)
  7. fishonbass


    Sep 21, 2000
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. Stingray, I figure since I'm paying good money for these lessons, to not go home and work hard and practice would be moronic. Plus, I don't want to go to the next lesson unprepared and have the guy think I'm a waste of his time. And Gard, that's some excellent insight from a teacher's perspective. Understanding things from the other side will help me give my instructor what he needs to be more effective. Also, writing down problem areas is a good tip. And I've already got questions rolling around in my head from last night's instruction like "wasn't there another note in that scale that I'm missing?" But, I was hesitant to call him to clear it up, thinking I might be bugging him. Based on what you've said, though, I think I'll give him a ring this afternoon. I'm sure he'd rather have me come to the next lesson with all this stuff done, rather than come in with incomplete homework and a bunch of questions he probably could've fielded in five minutes.
  8. fishman -

    Glad I was helpful, hope your teacher thinks like I do...if he don't and gets peeved at you for calling, IT'S NOT MY FAULT!!! ;) I'm sure he/she will be ok with it though. You'd be utterly astounded at the number of students I've had over the years that never practiced. Guess they figured it was mommy or daddy's money, what did they care if it was well spent :rolleyes:. From what you'd said already, I was pretty sure you were already straight on that stuff :). And really keep that tape idea in mind, excellent stuff that is. I just hope none of my lesson tapes from studying with Dave LaRue ever get out, I'd be RUINED!!!! :oops: :p ;)
  9. fishonbass


    Sep 21, 2000
    Ed, thanks for the input. Per 1), Yeah, you're absolutely right, it's a little tough for me to express what I want to learn right now because I'm so green, I don't know what I don't know. So, we're starting with generalities: right now I know one blues scale and I play in a simplistic hard rock band. But down the road, many moons from now, I'd like to be an accomplished blues and jazz player, with the tools to maybe take on an upright. That, I think, at least gives the instructor something to build on. And 2)I think this is an excellent point and may be the crux of the whole thing. How do I learn? What am I getting and what am I not getting? Am I confused and not understanding where my fingers should go or am I totally clear on the concept, but unable to translate that down to the muscles in my fingers and make them do what I want? I think, for me, the toughest part is gaining the flexibility and proper form to pull off the scales without hitting other strings, etc. I'm pretty fumble-fingered right now.
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Welcome, Fish.

    Even though this is a great topic, I'm moving it to General Instruction.

    Will C.:cool:

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