1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

How to tell if a bass teacher is @#$% or not?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by CodaPDX, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. CodaPDX


    Feb 2, 2009
    I'm going in for an introductory lesson with a local bass teacher, and I was wondering if there are any particular things I should watch out for, or questions I should ask him to see if he's worth my time and money or not. There's definitely other teachers in the area, so the sooner I can weed out the ones that aren't worth my time, the sooner I can start really learning from someone who can actually teach.
  2. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    If they don't have a plan, if they equate showing you where to put your fingers with teaching you to play, if the instrument is the reason instead of the music, if they don't read, if they can't keep time, they're a lousy teacher.

  3. I always thought that a little theory is good, but once you have an idea of how to play (don't need to look at your fingers when you pick, can fret properly, know where roots and 5ths are) a good teacher should show you how to play what you want to learn, within your abilities of course.

    Mine was a stickler for theory, wanted me to get through all the Mel Bay book nonsense. At 14 all i wanted to play was metallica. He refused to show me at first but finally helped me out with it once i showed that i could somewhat play the instrument. That's what made him a good teacher. Otherwise i would have quit.
  4. Like JTE said, a good teacher needs to have a plan. They also need to be able to articulate that plan to you so that you understand why he or she is teaching you in that manner. I went to my teacher many moons ago wanting to learn how to play Motley Crue, Dokken, Poison, etc. He told me that anyone can learn to play songs, but he wanted to teach me how to play the instrument. I was skeptical and bored at first, but his insistence on teaching me how to play bass and not just songs was spot on and absolutely 100% worthwhile.
  5. If you're going to look (and put under the microscope) all the teachers you have an introductory lesson with, sorry but, from your opening statement it comes off as though your running auditions for a teacher; you need to meet them half way.

    JTE, and Spectorlover72 hit the nail dead on. The reason most students quit is due to boredom. They come into a class with the "I've been messing around with the bass for a year on my own attituded, and don't feel I need to learn how to place my hand, how to keep time.......". Get the idea that because of this they will not teach the basics out of your head it will bring boredom on quickly. Secondly you will not be playing like the pro's after the third lesson, this does deter some and they quit. So keep an open mind.

    Inquirer around at local music stores and see who they recommend, chances are a couple of names will keep popping up. Then when you take the intoductory lesson, ask how they map out the lessons, and be straight up with the teacher. Most good teachers will ask how much you know, and what your experience with the insturment/music is.

    Once you have settled on a teacher remember, its a two way street; you get out of it as much as you put in.
  6. CodaPDX


    Feb 2, 2009
    Well, as it turns out, I did essentially audition a few teachers last week, and while all of them knew their way around a fretboard and could definitely teach me some things, one of them definitely stood head and shoulders above the rest. The thing is, I wasn't looking for someone to show me the basics - I'm way past that. What I was looking for was someone who could help me push through the roadblocks I've begun to encounter and keep me moving forward as a player. Strange as it may seem, only one of the teachers I saw was responsive enough to breeze past the basics once he saw what I could do and start challenging me right away. I'm not saying one lesson has me entirely convinced, but I'll definitely be going back for a second one this weekend.
  7. For me, there are a few signs I've learned after studying with 6 main teachers on bass.

    1. If the teacher focuses more on himself (herself) during the lesson, as in soloing on their own bass rather than merely demonstrating their lesson, avoid them.

    2. Find out their credentials. Where have they played? For/with whom? Are they established teachers - i.e., do they teach at a local music school? You will be learning from their experience, so you should approve of that experience.

    3. Do they communicate well without a bass in their hands? If they cannot converse well, chances are that they cannot teach well either, as teaching is the communication of experience and knowledge from one person to another.

    4. You should walk out of a lesson with your mind reeling. There should be SO much material that you will have to work hard to master everything presented. This amount changes with the level of the student (what challenges me may not be challenging to you or vice versa). If I'm not being challenged, why would I continue with that teacher?

    5. What are YOUR objectives? Why do you want to take a lesson? What do you want to get out of it? Is the teacher able to help you meet your objectives?

    6. Teaching environment - are the surroundings conducive to learning, or is it in the teacher's living room, surrounded by screaming kids? Good examples include studios, dedicated home music areas, etc.

    7. It may take a couple of lessons for the BS detector to go off. As you begin to have more lessons, you can typically tell within the first lesson though. Be respectful - pay for the time, but just don't go back.

    8. Patience - a good teacher has patience with the student. If the teacher starts noodling away on his own bass while the student struggles with a concept, or is inattentive - don't give them your money anymore. Of course - this assumes that the student is prepared for the lesson. Good teachers will adjust the style of delivery to the student.

    9. Avoid teachers who are stingy with information. If they are good players, they will not exhaust their knowledge in a year of teaching, so there should never be a worry of not having anything to show you the following lesson.

    10. (+1) A plan. If they are just showing you random things on the bass, get out. A good teacher will be have a plan to help you meet your objectives, or if you prefer to submit to his (her) style, to adapt you to their style. Lack of a plan is just a way to continue taking your money.

    11. Playing tunes ONLY - there is a finite number of tunes that the teacher can show you in a limited time. The chances you'll play ONLY those tunes live is pretty slim. The ability to play any tune in a style or how to adapt to new tunes & chord structures, styles, etc. is much more valuable as a bass player (IMO). This depends on your own personal objectives & goals in playing, though.

    I hope this helps!

  8. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Have them articulate exactly how far they can take you and how long that takes.

  9. Zombbg4


    Jul 15, 2008
    Like Jeff Berlin says, a good teaches you to play music, not to play scales with a metronome. Or something like that. Basically, everything that's been said. Technique is important but only to play the MUSIC. Good luck, let us know how it goes!


    Dec 27, 2007
    If a teacher asks you to sit on his lap,i call fail...

    But seriously, ChebassĀ“s post is right on the money.
  11. They use a cowbell for a metronome?
  12. jschwalls


    Sep 4, 2007
    Savannah GA
    Also, if you actually have a goal in mind, tell your teacher. I have alot of students that come in and say, hey man, can you show me how to _________.

    I personally love that from my students.. I can always find some new technique or bit of theory to apply to whatever they are asking for.. instant 2 for 1...

    And if they want to learn something beyond there range, I show it anyway... It gives them more of a challenge to go home with...

    Only one of my students has ever seen me actually play... I refuse to show-off or do anything remotely impressive... Even on the sales floor. I think it intimidates more than inspires.
  13. butchblack

    butchblack Life is short. Do good. Find and do what you love.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Waltham Massachusetts
    From the sounds of the post it sounds like you have a good idea of what you want to learn, and what your roadblocks are. Find a teacher that will work with you on the things you want to work on. The one thing I haven't seen yet in this thread is teacher/pupil chemistry. I think it's as important as any other aspect in learning. We all learn differently. Find the teacher you connect well with. Yes they should have the necessary skills to be able to teach you properly but the skills with the wrong approach FOR YOU won't be as productive.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    1. Do you teach music reading and theory?

    2. Do you teach technique as recognized by the top jazz bassists and schools in the world?

    3. Do you stress jazz concepts and concepts on how I can make music on my own?

    I get a no on any of those answers, and we're done. I see no reason to waste money on a teacher who's going to teach you how to play some Flea song. I want to learn the stuff that got Flea interested in making his own music, not what he plays.
  15. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Are you in Portland Or? Who are you talking about? Who did you try out?

  16. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass


    I'll add to this saying that not only do we learn differently we respond differently to different types reinforcement/negative reinforcement. One persons harsh is another's tell it how it is.

  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Here's my thought on that. I'm not paying a huge amount of money to get stroked. I'm paying to get better as a musician. There's no need to be mean or nasty about it, but if I didn't want honesty, I wouldn't take lessons. You need to know that when you go take lessons that the teacher is inevitably going to tell you something you don't want to hear or make you do something you don't want to do. Again, they need to be nice and do it in a positive way, but sometimes you need your butt kicked ;)
  18. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    +1 and that sums up for me any lessons in life, on any subject...Inspiration. Does a teacher inspire you to be better, and does his teaching allow for this?

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.