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I'm Strongly Considering Leaving My Bass Teacher

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MissThemyscira, Feb 19, 2020.

  1. MissThemyscira


    Sep 8, 2018
    I've been working with my bass teacher for a few months and he's a nice guy. He can certainly play his bass well and is an accomplished player who went to a highly regarded school.

    The problem is that I dread going to lessons.

    1. There's no plan. I've repeatedly asked for some sort of structure but that never happens. I never know what we're going to learn each week and I'm not sent home with any homework. I had to basically beg him to teach me warm-up exercises. I have to ask him about things I want to learn, which is concerning because I don't know what I don't know. I'm someone who works well with structure, so this flying by the seat of his pants style doesn't work with me.

    2. Spurts of useful information. Some lessons are useful because we somehow get to talking about a useful subject, but most lessons consist of just learning a song and one lesson was random information about an esoteric scale. He also will forget what we learned in previous lessons.

    3. No emphasis on reading music. I played saxophone when I was younger so I'm proficient at reading music, but we never have any music to go over. I'll ask him about a song I want to learn, he'll listen to it and figure out the notes and then we'll play it. But none of this is written down so I tend to forget what notes were played during that song.

    I've come to the point where I feel like I'm wasting my money going to these lessons, just to leave frazzled and with no idea what to practice between lessons. I've expressed this to him but it's a lost cause.

    I think because I've improved through playing with other musicians, I have more of a grasp about what we're not learning compared to when I just started as a beginner.

    Any advice about what I should do to improve this situation? Or is it a lost cause and I should look for other local bass teachers?
  2. reddog

    reddog Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Keep safe my TB brethren!
    Song Surgeon slow downer.
    Can't change what you can't control.

    No structure, no memory, no progress means no mo money!

    Thank him for his time and move on. Don't burn bridges.

    Edit: Every teacher needs a lesson plan and to share it with their students.:thumbsup:
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2020
  4. reddog

    reddog Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    Talkingbass.net in the meantime
  5. You two are simply not a match. Bummer!
  6. J_Bass


    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Look at Maradona.

    One of the best players of all times.
    Terrible coach.

  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    You are paying good money - you should be able to get what you want. Talk with him/her, and tell them your expectations. If they can't won't give you that, you should be looking for a teacher better suited to your desires.
  8. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    If you want an organized and really effective approach, I strongly recommend skype lessons with Anthony Wellington Bassology - Anthony Wellington
    seang15, Clark Dark, B-Lo and 6 others like this.
  9. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"...

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    A person's ability to play has little to no bearing on that person's ability to teach. From what you've described this bass player is a terrible teacher. No homework? What? That makes absolutely no sense. No reading? Ridiculous. No lesson plan/overall plan? Then what's the point?! To me there should be no question in your mind - you need to find a real teacher.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2020
    Mvilmany, pcake, Salty007 and 16 others like this.
  10. Mr Cheese

    Mr Cheese

    Nov 8, 2019
    I was in a VERY similar situation with my teacher. Except he wasn't a bassist, just a guitar player "teaching bass". Everything I said was futile, either he didn't listen or forgot by the next lesson. I eventually left, went to a new teacher, and was met with the same problems. Last week, I became an academy member at "Scott's Bass Lessons", and its leaps and bounds better than my old teachers. I highly recommend it. Now, its not for everyone, and sometimes you need a face to face lesson, but I suggest you at least give it a try.
  11. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, chaat enthusiast Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Tells me everything I need to know. Bail!
  12. SacRush

    SacRush Supporting Member

    I have been in a similar place. I checked out a bunch of teachers, let them know it was gonna be a trial to see if we fit. The one I landed with was a guy who did our first lesson for free - more of an orientation. Told him I needed three things: Accountability, Music Reading/Theory and to clean up my technique. He teaches from Hal Leonard with some changes and I am advancing at a great rate. Keep looking around until you find a match.
    Or if you wanna come to Sacramento, I'll give you my guys name.
    Michael Bauer and LBS-bass like this.
  13. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    A good teacher will help you get get farther faster than you would on your own. There may be a few people out there who will never need a teacher and just pick everything up with next to no effort. However, I'd bet my house there are far fewer of those people than there are those who claim to be and that any kind of instruction wouldn't help them. There are also a lot of teachers who can REALLY play but simply don't have the skills to teach it effectively.

    I went to someone like your teacher when I first started taking lessons and it just didn't work. Funny thing is that the week I decided to tell him I didn't think it was working, he started that lesson by telling me he's happy to keep working with me but that he wasn't the guy to give me what I wanted. And he pointed to someone who could! I gave him a lot of credit for recognizing that.

    In your case, the lack of a plan is a huge red flag and I'd bring that up to the instructor immediately - and also be prepared with my own goals. Maybe the teacher needs a starting point? Then again, maybe that teacher isn't a skilled teacher. But you have to find that out.

    Are you taking lessons at a store or some kind of music center? If so, and you decide a change is needed, talk to the store manager and ask who else teaches and explain your situation. You don't have to try to get your current teacher fired, just focus on finding the right teacher for your goals.

    If this is a private teacher, then you have to deal with that teacher directly. If they aren't the right teacher, then it makes sense to part ways. Again, you can do it nicely, no need to tell them that they s*ck! :) If your teacher has some integrity, he/she might even be able to suggest other teachers who could help you with your goals?

    I don't know how old you are, but I was about 47 when I started lessons. My first teacher was 20 and was completely unable to see why I gave priority to my adult job and family responsibilities and compared me to his 12 year old students who have loads of free time but still didn't practice enough. I get that 12 year olds can be lazy unfocused, I was one of those 12 year olds myself many years ago. If you're an older student, then try finding a teacher who understands adult students and can adjust his/her approach to their needs.

    So I called the teacher hat my first teacher suggested and asked him for a "free" lesson, basically a meeting to see if we'd be a good match. I told him I wanted to become better musician, not learn to play bass. We'd just used bass guitar as the way of teaching me music. I also said there'd be no tab in my lessons. I can use tab on my own and I get that it has disadvantages, but if I'm paying for lessons then we were going to use standard notation only. I also said I wanted to focus on theory, IOW the "why"s, and learn the rules so I'd better understand how to break them as I progressed. I spent about 3 minutes saying that and when I was done he actually hugged me and said that I was a dream student. We got along great and I learned a lot from him. Then, a few yeras later when my son was graduating high school, I said I'd finally have some free time to put into playing with a band. He told me that was the last thing he wanted me to do and HE fired ME at that lesson. Yep, he was done with me and wasn't going to teach me anymore. Since then I've played in several basement jams and I finally joined a gigging band last summer. I still have a lot to learn but finding a good teacher was a big part of me getting to this point as an older student. And playing with others will only accelerate the pace of your learning, so definitely keep playing with others as much as you can as soon as you can.

    TL/DR: Sorry for the long post. It sounds like you have a great focus and you need a teacher who can be just as focused in helping you reach your goals for yourself. Don't lose that! Ask if this teacher can be that person and, if not, then they're not the right teacher for you. Find someone who is.
  14. Is he the only bass teacher in your area? If not, shop around and find one that works for you.
    MVE likes this.
  15. J-Mags

    J-Mags Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    Bail! Either he's not a good teacher or he's not a good teacher for you.
    4 Strings Good likes this.
  16. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead!

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Exactly ^
    The ability to do something doesn't always equate to the ability to teach said skill.

    @OP - You sound like you are musically literate and passionate about playing, don't waste your time, skills, and money on somebody who doesn't appreciate your desire to progress and grow as a musician. The current teacher sounds like so many of the "Teach on the side" players that are just trying to make some extra money but don't really want to teach. From personal experience, I can tell you that those teachers will also drop every single student on a whim without so much as a week's notice. You're better off finding another teacher who will appreciate your enthusiasm and work ethic.
    4 Strings Good likes this.
  17. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I'm singing with the choir on this:

    Clearly, this is not the right teacher for you.
  18. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

  19. I'm in that area and have been thinking about looking for someone who can help me add some useful structure to my practice time. If you don't mind sending a PM, I'd like to know who you settled on.
  20. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    as a full time music teacher,

    this stuff drives me insane. One of the great things about freelance work is anyone can do it, but you are seeing the other side of this coin.

    in general, the best music teachers are people who have played the instrument professionally, but have professional training as an educator. Teaching, as much as playing, requires professional training.

    that being said, it costs top dollar to get a working pro who is also a qualified teacher.

    The only other consistent thing i've noticed would be top tier players who also have a reputation as a teacher. My long time teacher was in this category, no formal training as an educator, but a true master of the art form. fair enough, he has decades of experience.

    There is an undeniable trend that the best players are often not particularly good teachers. Obviously there are exceptions (Leonard Bernstein was an excellent teacher) but, in my own experience with roughly a dozen bass teachers over the years and throughout my 3 college degrees in music, the most fantastic players are so elite at that skill it seems unlikely they will also be elite in another.

    And after all of this, it's also perfectly okay to switch teachers. I personally do think highly trained teachers are like chefs; they can prepare nearly anything due to professional training. That being said, sometimes there is a better match out there for you.

    Good luck!!!

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