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Is it time to move on?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Yonni, Sep 30, 2020.

  1. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    I’m on my second face to face teacher. My first teacher got me going and was enthusiastic and encouraging when I needed it but she wasn’t really listening to me when I stated my goals and raised issues I was having. So I quit and went online for a while. I did some of the well known sites (Talkingbass.net eBassguitar, Howtoplaybass.com). But I missed that 1:1. It took a year to find my current teacher. We get on and he’s developed me a lot more in terms of speed and agility. The problem is that he seems to have defaulted to learning song after song. I get that there are sound technique and timing reasons for his choices but it’s feeling very repetitive. A while back I asked for more theory as I’d like to improvise. He told me to buy a walking bass line book he recommended. I did, but we’ve never used it. Recently he’s been getting really political (he always was but now he goes on and I have to remind him that I’m there to play). We don’t Really share the same politics, so it’s not like I’m agreeing all the time either. But he is very experienced - 20 years of teaching with a First in music (Classical guitar) and he is patient and normally good to be around.

    Recently I’ve been doing more Scott’s Bass Lessons to fill the gaps in my theory and I’ve started thinking about getting lessons from someone seriously good (been on the cover of bass magazines) as I’d like to play more fusion type stuff. So my question is:

    Dear Talkbass,
    Should I talk honestly to him about my thoughts and concerns or should I just quit and follow the dream. My concern is that he’ll say all the right things to keep me as a student (things are tough right now) but will gradually go back to how things are now.
  2. Drucifer

    Drucifer Not currently practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
    If you don't tell your teacher what you want, you don't have a lot of chance of getting it. There are plenty of ways to talk about your concerns/goals/thoughts/issues in a positive way.
    Yonni and Malcolm35 like this.
  3. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    I have though, at least twice. Maybe I’m being over sensitive because I can tell that the lockdown has affected him badly. He’s a good teacher but I feel like I’m in a rut. I’m losing motivation and often now I just practice what interests me instead of the piece he has given me. I’m not clear on what his aims are anymore and I have the personality type that likes to understand how things all fit together (big picture thinker). So I struggle a bit if I’m expected to follow a path without understanding why or what the end point is. A lot of teachers (and I work in the field of adult education and development) put themselves in a position of “the expert” and expect people to simply follow their lead without realising that that doesn’t work for everyone. Without understanding that some people need more depth before they take the leap of faith. That’s what turned my head about the other potential teacher. She seems to get psychology and learning and places a lot of emphasis on the shared understanding and relationship. That sounds like a better fit to me.

    So I have a lesson next week. I will lay it all out for him, as I have done in the past. If things don’t change I guess I’ll jump ship. My hesitation is because I know that there is still a lot I can learn from him. The question is, would I learn it faster elsewhere?
    Drucifer likes this.
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    A teacher, as well as imparting knowledge, is supposed to inspire and encourage you and as a result bring out the best in your playing. From what you say, this does not appear to be the case. You say you have laid it all out to him previously and nothing has come of it. There is a difference between having the theoretical knowledge to teach, but the teaching skill itself is equally important. In my opinion, discussing political topics during a lesson you are paying for is not what a skilful teacher does. Perhaps the answer is as you mention above in your last paragraph. Tell him exactly how you feel about the current situation and give him one more chance. If things remain the same, move on.
    Yonni likes this.
  5. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    Yes, it’s kind of grown and is probably partly my fault. In the early lessons I was happy to chat for a bit as that’s part of getting to know each other and building a rapport. It just seems to be getting worse. He’s a pretty good teacher in that he can sense when I’m struggling and dials it back or suggests we play something for fun. Good teachers are hard to find here - it took me a year to find him.
  6. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    This is a business transaction. Why pay him for something you don’t want?

    “I want to learn more theory than songs and I don’t want to talk politics. Can we do that?”

    It’s that simple.
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Chatting and building a rapport is one thing. Discussing politics on time you are paying for is a different thing altogether. If he refuses to accept that you simply want lessons and not chat, then I don't think you have many options except to bail out.
    Yonni likes this.
  8. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    I’m sure his response will be to apologise and try to carry on. He’s already apologised once for sending me a link to a controversial video that my wife took offence to. That over stepped the line but we do What’s App each other stuff we think we’d like, such as bands, YouTube clips or Netflix shows etc. Generally, we have a shared interest in new music and documentaries. I guess we’ve slowly crossed the line from a financial agreement to a friendship at times, which isn’t healthy when I’m paying him.
  9. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Just an aside, you can get 1-on-1 lessons online too. I don't know how short your list of potential local teachers is but it is something to consider. If you are looking for theory and not technique, you aren't really losing anything by learning through Skype.
    Lobster11 and thabassmon like this.
  10. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    It’s a well known player based in the US that I’m considering. I’m in Scotland so it would all be via Zoom or whatever.
  11. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    Not to turn on the hustle or anything but if you are looking to switch teachers I'm in Scotland as well with spaces for students if you want to chat about stuff.

    It's hard to tell without knowing what music you've been given but there might be an exceptionally good reason why you've been set that music that doesn't quite reveal itself yet. Sometimes I feel a students can be better off not knowing how difficult a piece of music is or what I'm trying to get into their ears as it becomes a road block they put in-front of them rather than just approaching it the way they always do. It's a tough one.
    Having said that if you have a bit of a clearer idea of what you are trying to accomplish and genuinely can't see what the purpose of the music is and you aren't feeling you are getting any returns out of it then maybe it is time to switch.

    I've had teachers with slightly awkward view points as well and often I felt like I was the teacher trying to steer the course of the lesson instead of the student. But yeah, like I say drop me a message if you are feeling it's time to move on as I'm confident I could help out.
    Yonni likes this.
  12. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Sounds toe like you needs a teacher with more training, and who will get you studying/playing jazz. Perhaps check and see what is available at any local college that has a music program.

    No matter what, it's your dime - if he wants someone to listen to his politics, he should be paying you.
    Gorn and Yonni like this.
  13. Chad Michael

    Chad Michael Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2001
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Student - teacher connection is a thing....

    Had the fortune of a local keyboard player / school music teacher for private lessons many years ago. He knew exactly how to listen to goals, and help me to reach them. I wanted to learn about chords / progressions / theory / and how to develop hand independence. IOW being able to play chords with the right, and a bass line with the left, then chords with the left and lead with the right. Was able to perform keys on stage later in life.

    Keep trying to find the right teacher... I'd bet a great deal of them have an agenda for teaching, but the right one will listen to you and give you what you want to buy, not just what they want to sell.
    Yonni likes this.
  14. Exactly what Gorn said above.
    You are paying him to teach you what you want to learn. Tell him it’s theory from the book he told you to buy, that you want to learn. If he won’t do that, get someone who will.
    Gearhead17 and Yonni like this.
  15. I don't know why this is even a question. You should always study with the best people you can find.
    Yonni likes this.
  16. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    From reading your responses, it seems you are way too nice to your teacher. You need to remove the personal aspect out of the equation and help yourself. This teacher has already crossed the line and made you uncomfortable. Cancel the lesson and better yourself.
    Renaissance likes this.
  17. Yonni


    Oct 31, 2016
    I had my first lesson since posting last night. Usually we go straight into a play through of whatever I’ve been working on but I jumped in and said let’s just talk about the lessons for a bit first. Turned out to be one of the best lessons I’ve had after that. We talked a lot about how he saw the lessons going and why he did what he did. I explained what I wanted and how I need to understand the background/bigger picture. We’ve both committed to a new aim. I understand him better, he understands me better and there was no politics at all. I think we’d just fallen into an easy pattern but he was working to a plan to get me to a certain technical level (roughly UK grade 6). I could have easily walked away last night and looked elsewhere but I think it’s worth sticking and committing to the new plan. It’s definitely got me more motivated again. At the end of the lesson he even apologised for his political comments last time. I hadn’t even raised the issue (I was ready to stop him in his tracks if he started though).
  18. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Wonderful news! Good luck with everything.
    Yonni likes this.
  19. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Great news. Hopefully he won't need any more reminding to keep his mind on the job at hand.

    Best of luck. :)
    Yonni likes this.
  20. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Sounds like you have things going in the right direction. One thing you might want to consider is you don't necessarily need a bass player to teach your theory.

    I'll give you a fairly extreme example. When I went to college I did not plan on majoring in music. But I took the two courses I thought were most important, Music Theory and Ear Training/Solfege. I did not take any lessons for the first year, but I did play in the second big band ensemble.

    After it became apparent that I did not have the memory skills to excel at the high-level math classes I was taking, I changed directions and declared a music major for third semester. After that I took all of the core music classes such as Music History and Class Piano. I also took private lessons on upright bass and played in more ensembles as required to satisfy the obligations of the partial scholarship I had won.

    The way I approached it is I learned a concept in the theory class. Then I worked through the concept on piano. Only later did I apply the concepts to bass. During my lessons on bass, we rarely discussed anything related to theory. It was more about the proper way to play the bass, rather than how to understand and interpret music theory.

    The theory classes I took were classical. So they covered diatonic 7 chords, voice leading, and harmonization of the major and three minor forms. This provided a pretty decent foundation, but I had to figure out how to read jazz chord notation myself.

    I wound up buying a copy of the Real Book and one of the young guitar instructors mentored me on how to interpret jazz chord notation. I dropped out after third semester, but continued working with the Real book, so I could get better at reading chord notation and improvising bass lines from lead sheets.

    When you a learning to think about music theory while simultaneously playing the bass, it's really not about bass technique. In fact the way I learned to read changes in the Real Book is by slowing the music down so much that I could think about the notes that made sense. I would even play totally out of time so I could roll the ideas over in my head. I might work on just one bar of music with one chord, spell out the chord tones, and then try to play different combinations of the chord tones to see how they sounded. So really I was primarily focused on the theory.

    As you get more advanced you learn to expand your consciousness a bit so you can also think about none-chord tones. But there is so much going on that you really have to take it slow until you start to develop more of an automatic intuitive feel for it.

    It takes a considerable amount of time, but eventually the chord symbols become archetypes that you brain processes automatically because you have a library of different patterns associated with the archetype for each chord. You do still think about the theory, but you won't have to take things so slow.

    I also learned quite a bit by copying bass parts from recordings. I actually played in a university big band for a couple of years when I was still in high school. At this time I could read music notation, but I had no real concept of music theory or any idea how to read chord symbols. The band director gave me the music and recordings. I learned the patterns from the recordings and could follow the bars in the music, so I was able to rehearse and perform with the band as if I actually new what I was doing. Learning by ear taught me a lot of walking patterns, that I was later able to associate with the chord archetypes. Basically as a veteran player you see a chord symbol and can imagine variety of ways to play it.

    Anyway...it's a life long journey. I hope you have some fun and do some amazing things along the way.

    12BitSlab, Spin Doctor and Yonni like this.
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