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I am a new Middle School Bas Teacher and need HELP

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sonofabass, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. sonofabass


    Feb 10, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Mike Lull,MXR,Gruv Gear, Mono
    Today was the first day...ever that I started teaching one day a week in a middle school. Here;s the situation.

    It's an "after school program" in a urban area (yes, it makes a bit of difference). These kids (the only two that even showed up today were two young ladies, 10 and 13). Their only exposure to "music" is the largely disposable nonsense around us today. (I don't wish to start a debate, that's just my opinion)

    I teach privately which is, of course a one on one setting and people who take lessons in my home actually want to play the instrument...badly.

    These kids, although they seem like cool enough kids, don't even know what the instrument is about and I'm expected to show them something.
    I'd used Progessive Electric Bass before with some success. Although the play along tracks are fairly corny (as are most play-along cds) but it gets a student playing something relatively fast.

    My question is how do I make fundamentals FUN?
    One might ask "what made them fun for you?" and I would answer that I grew up in New Orleans where music was all around me and I had a sincere desire to do it and learn. No one had to "use" music as a way to keep me off of drugs, in school or anything like that. Shoot, if it was the only thing I did all day, I showed up for band :)

    Anyway. I hope that this sparks some healthy discussion and ANY advice is greatly appreciated!

    In advance, I thank you
  2. conte2music

    conte2music Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2005
    Dobbs Ferry, NY
    Check out the bass method by Tom Warrington called "Crawl Before You Walk"

    I think it's a pretty fun book, and incorporates very basic jazz style blues progressions. It's what I used to initially learn to play on my own when I was about 19. Unlike some other methods the tracks are actually slow enough that a beginner could keep up. Some play along tracks are so fast (tempo) that a beginner needs to practice forever just to get the etude up to speed to use the tracks.

    Other than that...Maybe try bringing pizza and ice cream to every lesson....haha
  3. mgriffith


    Aug 8, 2008
    I like the Hal Leonard series of Bass Method books written by Ed Friedland. They come with or without a CD, and I think the CD is a big help.

    Now as you say, the sample tunes/lines are corny, but they DO teach the fundamentals.

    My guitar teacher, realizing that sample songs that build foundations are often corny to kids/teens had his students pick out songs they liked and provide him with a tape (now it could be a CD or MP3) of the songs.

    He never one let on that he may hte Kiss or AC/DC, or whatever a student would bring him, and did not cram his love fo The Beatles and Yes down our throats.

    Anyway, he'd figure out how to play a selected song a week for each student, transcribe the song into tab (later music, when we'd learned theory) and it kept us interested. He even found ways to tie in the corny tracks with the "cool" songs, thus tying in the technique/lesson of the week with the song the student picked.

    This sounds like a lot of work, but it was how he made his money, so...

    Good luck, and know that you be unleashing the next great talent on the world with your encouragement and teaching. :)
  4. Martin Bormann

    Martin Bormann

    Sep 20, 2007

    It seems to me that you should just do the same thing as you do one on one. If a few of the kids lose interest, it's no big deal. They can just go play after school basketball.
  5. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    This is the truth. You can't save them all, and you won't. Be who you are and give them what you have with as much care and concern as appropriate and be happy for it. Some will take you up on your teaching, others won't. Do your best and let nature take its course.

    You say you grew up around a lot of music and that's a great thing... but you can't really be sure that is the reason you became a musician. There are plenty of great musicians who came from a no music background. What I mean from all that is we really don't know why people are attracted to the things the are.
  6. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    I've done inner city volunteer type stuff once or twice...be glad only 2 girls showed up. I was working with 12 "bright and gifted" kids, all it takes is one or two trouble makers (usually boys) and the whole group goes to hell...3 college students and their retreat leader and we couldn't get these kids to type the 1 paragraph they had to write to satisfy a grant they where given to teach them outdoorsmanship (after an hour, 3 had written anything at all, and one of those wrote gangsta rap lyrics in his box). Small groups are a lot easier to control and keep focused.

    I would teach them the lines to some rap or RnB stuff. You need to connect the bass to their music, make it cool, something that could impress their friends. Handing these kinda kids stuffy old books = automatic disinterest. Listen to the top 40 songs on BET or MTV or whatever. The bass lines to pop/rap are easy repetitive and do groove. Once you got them hooked then worry about fundamentals. Also I wouldn't kid myself into thinking these kids are going to practice at home or even come in contact with a bass outside your lessons. Make it bass playing in the here an now, get em playing something new and easy every week, keep it fun no hard work unless they express interest in becoming serious...in other words don't try to craft virtuosos, just try to show em a good time for an hour a week.
  7. sonofabass


    Feb 10, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Mike Lull,MXR,Gruv Gear, Mono
    I'm not implying that it's the reason I became a musician. What I mean is that I just happened to get sucked in to what was all around me all the time. Ah, but in reading the quote again I see how it might have sounded that way. I'm sure I would have wound up with a bass in my hand if I'd been somewhere else. After all these years I think it's just in me. Thanks for the feedback
  8. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I would echo the suggestion of teaching them bass lines from something they are already listening too. One of your co-workers will surely know what the kids are interested in. Find the simplest, most repetitive bass line of the batch, (it will probably be a looped sample, but that's just fine) and teach it to them.

    Perhaps, though, they'd be willing to learn something corny, if they can see the results quickly. Tell us more about your first experience with these two girls. What did you show them? How did they react?
  9. Here are few suggestions from a student:

    -If you happen to be awesome don't show off, lol. If your demonstrating a bass line with 4 notes you can play 6 not 34 ;p. Then show them what you did verbatim. A great as my teacher was he'd do some really cool stuff and then move on to something else when he could have just as easily shown me how the coo stuff was done.

    -Use old skool rap (NWA, Public Enemy, Ice T and such) and funk for demonstrations. 9 times out of 10 if they dig rap they'll dig anything with a solid groove and the bass IS the groove.

    -If you hear a recent tune that is a sample of something old skool, show them that song. For example, the song "Pullin me back" by Chingy just takes the melody from Jaco's "Portrait of tracy" and loops it.

    Stuff like that...
  10. sonofabass


    Feb 10, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Mike Lull,MXR,Gruv Gear, Mono
    Hey there. Everyone's suggestions have been awesome, with one thing I feel either I may have not accurate shared or may have otherwise been missed. So far I have a ten year old and a 13 year or who have never touched or even thought about the instrument.
    BUT - here's an idea that I have, I think I had or someone here suggested it. I just started working on it.

    We're going to be doing open strings first and just getting comfortable with the physics of the instrument. I have started taking the loops (ex: A / G / D/ A) and an open string Blues and, with Reason 4.0 stared "re-writing" the loops with more of a funk/hip hop voice. Major chords have now become minor or Maj7 or Dom7 which makes them sound a bit more like they are used to. Who knows I might even through a little synth lead line a la Dr. Dre on some. As far as NWA goes....I feel you but, er uh, I just started, don't wanna get fired yet :)

    Keep the ideas coming though I REALLY appreciate it!

    ALSO -
    If anyone has a few old beater basses that haven't been played in years and care to donate ( I need three more)

    OR STRAPS, please let me know. Thank you so much hfolks

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