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How to guage my new teacher?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Low_Ryder, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Low_Ryder


    Feb 13, 2012
    I've never had any formal lessons, and I felt like this was the next move I had to make. I called around, and eventually was told about this guy that could teach me. He was described as one of only two that could really teach. I called him, set up an appointment, and had my first lesson yesterday.
    He is a classical guitar player. He appears to be very knowledgable about music, and already helped me to connect a few different things that I sort of know. He gave me several assignments/exercises to solidify some of the things we went over.
    My question is: Is there anything specific that I should be looking for in a teacher? Is there anything specific that I should watch out for? Thanks up front for any ideas!
  2. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011
    Well, I think the first thing might be that he needs to be a bass or double bass player, depending on your goals... Not a guitar, horn, sax, cello or any other player. (Except for piano if you are looking into theory.)
  3. Low_Ryder


    Feb 13, 2012
    That is one thing I was thinking, but everyone I heard about seemed to be guitarist primarily. This guy got a recommendation from a fairly respected bassist. I live in rural area, with the closest big city over two hours away.
  4. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011
    Measure out your options with online classes via Skype or the like.
    See if it pays off, depending on your situation and the price of the classes with that gentleman that plays classical guitar.
    There are many respected bass teachers that give online lessons, and I think it can be as good as the real deal. Snoop around the forums, I'm sure there are a few threads.
    This is all just advice derived from rational thinking, I'm curious to see what other, more experienced people than me will say about your situation, too.
  5. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    I started out with a great guitar teacher that claimed to teach bass.
    After spending enough on lessons with him that I could have bought a nice new bass I realized I was not really learning how to play the bass the way it should be played.

    I finely dropped him and waited 3 months to get a spot with my current teacher.
    This guy is a true bass player and great musician that can communicate.

    Three things to keep in mind looking for a teacher.

    Skill level. Go see him play. Is he in a top notch band or a sessions player? Is he on any CD's? Say away from wankers.

    Communication skills. It doesn't matter how much theory he knows or how great his groove or chops are. If he can not communicate with you so YOU understand what you are being taught , you are wasting your time and money.

    Observant, Does he watch YOU play and communicate to you how to improve. This includes working around any physical problems you may have that keeps you from having perfect form.
    Does he see any little problems or habits you have that need to be worked on until you have found a way to overcome them.

    You are paying him to teach you, not to sit and bask in his awesome glory and to be talked down to for a half hour.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think his teacher sounds pretty good. He's learning, and he's getting an actual music education rather than just being told where to put fingers. The idea that only a bass teacher can teach you music when you want to play bass is silly, especially at this stage of the game where learning the theory is more important.
  7. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011
    Well, true, but it only extends so far.
    It's like saying you can get a coach for basketball if you want to play football, you'll learn basic sports and get some of your body ready, but that's about it.
  8. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    your own improvement in ways that matter to you.

    without that, no purpose to studying with anyone.
  9. JesusMetalFunk


    Aug 11, 2011
    Make sure you are learning concepts and techniques, and theory.

    Not Songs. Nobody cares if you can play one cool bass riff etc.

    BUT, if you have the tools to figure out any you might need it will serve you well.
  10. Low_Ryder


    Feb 13, 2012
    I'm sure that's what I'll go with in the end. And I feel that Jimmy makes a very good point about being able to learn music from someone other than a bassist. So long as they know their stuff.

    Enough TB though. Right now I have to run through all the triads in the major scale. Remembering which are Major, minor, or diminished. listening for how they all for together, in various combinations and orders. (homework assignment #1) ;)
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I kind of dig what you're saying, but music is the same no matter what instrument you play. And knowing how music works is 90% of the battle of learning how to play an instrument. An actual bass teacher is always an great idea to get more into the finer points of the instrument itself, but as long as he's getting solid musical info to work on (and he is), he'll be able to apply it to bass so it's all good.

    I'll give you an example...Charlie Banacos was a pianist, but tons of different musicians in the NY area on many instruments would study from him because his lessons were universally excellent no matter what instrument you played. Jeff Berlin speaks of him in reverent tones, for example. So I'm down with our OP's teacher. I think it'll be great for him.
  12. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Jimmy is right. If there is a public library or community college nearby, check out some books and sign up for a basic music theory class that teaches how to read standard notation in bass and treble clefs, and provides an overview of basic music theory. Basic piano skills can be helpful to all instrumentalists, especially members of the rhythm section.

    You'll be amazed at how much farther you can go with a bass teacher when you're well-grounded in the basics. Starting with a well-qualified musician whose primary instrument is something other than bass is OK; after all, none of us were ready for lessons with Mario Andretti the week after we obtained our driver licenses.
  13. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    I agree with Jimmy that beyond the mechanics of a specific instrument most of what we're learning is musicianship. However as someone who taught for many years I can say that no guitar teacher will turn down a bass student (for obvious economic reasons) and not every guitar teacher knows how to teach proper, bass-specific mechanics and technique. I spent many hours helping students "unlearn" what their former instructors taught them.

    If I was going to judge an instructor it would be based on:
    1. Curriculum: does the instructor have a written curriculum/method that meets my goals or is he/she just going to ask me what I want to learn every week, transcribe a few RHCP songs and make it up as they go. You can tell a lot about an instructor by how organized/professional they are.
    2. Teaching Capability: most private instructors are only skilled at teaching beginner to intermediate level students. The better instructors are the ones who only teach intermediate to advanced.
    3. Recommendations: human nature says that most students will recommend their teacher but find out who people 'in the know' would recommend. Where is the local music store owner or guitar builder sending their kids and/or clients?
  14. parmezans


    Nov 25, 2011

    Probably the best answer to your question, OP. Covers it all.
    All said, I would still look into some of the online teachers if your local teacher doesn't fill the criteria mentioned above.
  15. redname


    Apr 30, 2010
    imho, get a bass player to teach you.

    my teacher can play several instruments but he's known as a bass player in the local scene
  16. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Look, your teacher does not to necessarily need to be primarily a bassist, IF (and only if), this person can help you understand the bass' role in music, how to technically improve, theory, and how to prepare technically on your own (how to teach yourself).
  17. otherclef


    Aug 10, 2011
    Well as I'm sure already mentioned... the only thing he cant help you with now ( at your level ) is give you any insights about how to handle the bass physically. But you can research online to see what the bad habits may be and try to avoid them.
    If he seems cool and finding a real bass teacher is not easy where u are then why not just try to do his program for a while and see where it takes you.
  18. Classical guitar players are into one thing… playing guitar. They play seated, often with their right foot propped up on a mini footstool to push the guitar into their chest so that they can reach the entire instrument, not just the first four frets. No strap, used.

    Transferring to bass guitar, if you see this teacher let a serious student of bass guitar get away with the Nirvana shtick it means one of three things:

    1. Your teacher is not very good, or…
    2. He really needs the money, or…
    3. Both.
  19. iplaymetal


    Jun 14, 2010
    I took lessons from a guy named Tim Fahey out here in Vegas who is bass player and husband of Lena Prima (Louis Prima's youngest daughter). He was a great bass player, but he never made me play anything challenging. Where I am getting at is, make sure the person understands where you are at.
    It's a bit like giving someone your resume, you wouldn't get a good job without showing what you can do, and you won't learn anything new without first showing him what you know. Also, as you have been playing for a while, don't be afraid to let him know what you want to work on, and if he can't help, then he is not the right teacher for you.

    Be straight with the guy in what you want to know. Don't waste your money on lessons that you aren't profiting from.

    If he's solid on his theory and you want to learn that, then do that, and find a different teacher for bass playing techniques and the like.

    Good Luck!
  20. miltslackford


    Oct 14, 2009
    I disagree with this - I think people have different values with this, especially teachers, but for me, the best teachers I know are the ones that add a lot of value. The early stages - i.e. beginning students are the most difficult ones to teach and have the most problems which are difficult to identify and solve.

    You can have two types teaching at this level, the ones who can literally only teach beginners because it's the extent of what they know, or because they need money but they don't really enjoy teaching beginners. But you do find some teachers who appreciate the challenges of teaching people at this stage because they know how much of a difference they can make, and because they find the challenges interesting (and they are not at all simple).

    I know a drum teacher, for example, who has a PhD in music education and specialises in teaching beginners. In fact he's often complains that too many teachers have this attitude where they are so eager to show off their chops and teach advanced principles, that the resources available to people at the early stages are actually the most lacking. Why? Because good teachers usually don't want to lower themselves in case people associate them with that ability level.

    So I think if a student is a beginner and they deliberately look for a teacher who specialises in students at their stage it's no bad thing.

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