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Jeff Berlin asks - What Is Taught Without Only Teaching the Facts!

Discussion in 'Ask Jeff Berlin [Closed]' started by JeffBerlin, Jan 2, 2018.

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  1. DeltaTango


    Mar 22, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    What is the best way to go about getting the theory ingrained in the mind and body as you describe. I have studied some theory but I am sure not enough. Other than more classroom study and trying to understand theory while playing a tune or just listening and following the chart, how do I get to the “ingrained “ and ready to use without the great deal of mental processing part. I feel like I understand parts and pieces but the “ingraining” that I so desire is not there yet. Can you point me to a learning path?
  2. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    There is no reason to ingrain anything. There is a benefit of experiencing steady review. Just remember that while you are involved with your regard of musical content, you can still do everything that gives you pleasure on your bass. Learning isn't a replacement. It is an addition!!!
    hintz and Michael Schreiber like this.
  3. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    I was addressing that concept stack, as well as the title "What is Taught Without only Teaching the Facts".
    Most people know a collection of memorized actions, but if you want to access thinking in the moment of creation then you'd want to use as many deep learning techniques as possible.

    I've worked on a lot of technology.
    I've taught many people to do things.
    The most pervasive learning will be in video gaming.
    Are we teaching the player to enjoy the game, or does the player just magically enjoy the game?
    Quinn Roberts likes this.
  4. JLW


    Dec 5, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    Funny how this perfect rebuttal is conveniently ignored.
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  5. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    The more I read about things like this--with differing views as well, the more I am glad I did have piano & guitar lessons before starting bass & that it did help in learning bass & in figuring things out myself in addition to lessons.
    So some food for thought in this thread--I will need more time to go through some of it though.
  6. I have been teaching languages professionally for 35 years, and I don't agree with you. A large part of language teaching is precisely the monitored and supported development of performance skills in real time. Courses which only focus on the grammar and vocabulary of it all result in learners who don't learn how to do it. Language is something you do, and bass playing is also something you do. Now, I am not a great bass player - I have hacked it in cover bands in bars and that's the level I play at. Now I am approaching retirement, I find I want to take the instrument more seriously, and yes, I am now much more interested in learning the grammar of the instrument and the music.
  7. I wish I could have the time and the support for taking formal lessons and getting explanations on how the music I feel inside me frames into the vast sea of harmony ...
  8. Hi... I tend to agree as I believe (personal situation) I was gifted with a drum machine planted in my mind since I start to remember things, therefore, it wasn’t difficult to intuitively understand the mutual dynamics and interactions which have to establish between a bass player and a drummer (I actually found only a few drummers who could appreciate how silence in music has the same importance as a played note) ... however I guess that for many bass players this step may not be so straightforward so ... maybe the truth is in an in-between approach, although, and this is my opinion, an aspiring bass player who may not feel a small metronome in his head after some time, in order to expand his horizons looking at music under a broader perspective, may have to reconsider his/her situation/status ...
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  9. Hi ... don’t want to contradict you, however, because of my job, I had to learn three foreign languages, that is: English, French and Chinese (of course spoken with different degrees of proficiency - I’m Italian)...
    Last year I moved to Poland with another company ... bad situation there as only a few people is able to understand English ... long story short I had to start learning another language (Polish) ... the teacher adopted a “speak immediately with what you know” approach, which is basically ok, but without any formal explanations of the rules and exceptions ... being Italian I know how grammar is important in well structured languages and the Polish one seems to be quite complex as well ... I believe that in my case a mixed approach (informal/formal) would help as I frequently find myself asking the teacher about the reasons why a given sentence has to stated in a certain way rather than in another way ...
    Fergie Fulton and Andy Daventry like this.
  10. You’re not contradicting me! I totally agree.
  11. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Then the type of learning they (don't) seek will mean that is where they will stay. They have no use for the approach to learning being championed by @JeffBerlin. And if they are happy with that then all is well and good.
    From time to time I sit with the family and watch 'talent' shows on TV. The innate talent for whom the music comes first always stands above the 'stage school' bunnies serving up the same highly polished 'going through the moves/faking it' turds that clearly put the music second. IMHO 'playing from the heart' advice (groove, feel, pulling faces etc) that people so desperately seek cannot be taught in its own right - it flows from an intimate understanding of (the) music (that can be taught) and an equally intimate connection with the instrument that only comes through playing the music. YMMV.
  12. Fun Size Nick

    Fun Size Nick

    Feb 21, 2006
    Hong Kong
    I do think it’s a bit odd that you’re using the term ‘self-taught’ in a way that most people would not - ie that it’s encompassing all methods other than the one that you espouse, including those that involve a teacher other than oneself; whereas most people use this term to describe learning on one’s own without any teacher. As someone who works in communications for a living, I find that if you try to reappropriate a term like this, it usually only serves to confuse or annoy your audience. Just my 2c.
    Andy Daventry likes this.
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I redacted your quote above; then numbered the content that I have responded to.

    1. I do accept you are trying to inspire people. But you can only inspire people to a level of knowledge that is limited by their intellect, the quality of their memory, and their motivation. As one approaches this intellectual plateau, it becomes difficult to comprehend increasingly difficult concepts. Many people are not capable of approaching your level of knowledge mastery. You need to accept that you have exceptional talent in some areas of intellect that are beyond what most people are capable of, and factor that into the way you try to motivate others. It's not one size fits all. Everyone has different abilities and experiences, and you have to remain humble and tie into individual needs if you want to inspire.

    Have you studied any of the motivation theories? If you truly want to inspire people that might be a good subject to delve into.

    2. Basically I agree that goals do not change the nature of what can be learned. But goals do matter because people can't learn and retain music theory in its entirety in an instant. You can't look at theory from a macro level because we can only learn a bit at a time, and memory is finite and ephemeral. As result, we have to prioritize which new material to learn and continually review concepts we have previously mastered. We use goals to determine what to study and when. Additionally theory is often foundational, meaning we build more complex ideas off of basic ideas. Therefore goals are used to determine an appropriate order of study and review.

    3. I learned to read using phonics and many people today use a system called whole language. Over my lifetime many words have come and gone from common usage, and punctuation rules, which vary by style guide, have changed significantly.

    I do see some parallels here to learning music theory. Like the written and spoken language, theory is infinitely complex, changing, and taught with a variety of methods. The minimum one should hope for is to develop a solid foundation that allows one to cover a wide range of popular styles. Luckily many styles share common rules, but when we are presented with an unfamiliar style, we may need to learn new rules or exceptions to rules. People with a love of theory may continually rebuild and expand their knowledge of theory for the duration of their life, but how is theory applied to performance?

    Much of what we do while performing is intuitive and instinctual rather than academic. Much like we don't think about grammar or spelling rules when speaking or writing, we don't play music based upon our direct intellectual knowledge of theory. Rather, we simply play what sounds right based upon our role in the context of what we hear, where we are in the musical form, and where the form is heading. So, in essence the role of technique is to translate the symbols we use to visualize and communicate theory into the notes we form with our instruments.

    For a thought experiment, think about how difficult it is to apply theory to an instrument you have not learned. How do you approach this situation differently from performing on an instrument you have mastered.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
    mikewalker likes this.
  14. Within my limited knowledge of the subject, this is brilliant, and I can't find a way to disagree with this.
  15. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    And if your like me, the muscle memory and ear remain long after the academic understanding has subsided.
  16. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    This post includes what is known as reductionism. This approach ignores the fact that the experience of music is subjective, and depends on what each listener brings in the way of inherited ability and accumulated experience. I recommend that Mr. Berlin take a few more courses in psychology before he continues spouting his views on learning.
    Fergie Fulton and Wasnex like this.
  17. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    P.S. I still don't understand what my dear TB colleagues are emotionally-discussing about. :rollno: :confused: o_O

    I still don't understand why many TB members are so adamant to argue with one of the greatest Bass players in the world. :rollno:
    (Is it some kind of form of ...?).

    I don't like Death Metal music but I would not go to the Musical Metallurgy forum and start arguing with its members.
    But so many TB members are doing the same while engaging in "heated" quarrels with one of the Great Bass Guitar player in the world.

    Instead of getting so much knowledge from Jeff Berlin about SOOOOO many things, we are just engaging in some "strange" debates that teaches us NOTHING.
    What is this argument about?

    You want to learn on your own - LEARN OWN YOUR OWN!
    You don't want to to hire a teacher - DON'T HIRE A TEACHER!
    You want to subscribe to Scott's youtube channel - Pay the money and subscribe!
    And so on...

    I am a big supporter of learning Music - Music Theory, Solfeggio, Harmony, Composition, Arrangement, Musical Analysis, etc...
    I would highly recommend for any bass player to learn the piano.
    I'm a big supporter of learning from Classical Music compositions/pieces.
  18. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Totally, and I think this is part of the problem with a lot of teaching methods and materials - they tend to go off at the deep end outwith the context of any solid foundation. Walking on quicksand, if you will.

    I recall some books in a series I looked at in the 80s. The first one covered how to hold the bass, the notes of the open strings and how to play a major scale in a box pattern. The next book was straight in with modes and improvisation! Nothing in between about how diatonic chords were built, their relationship with scales/key, their function in a given key, cadence or modulation, the differences and relationships between major and minor tonality, keys or the names/function of notes in the key. There were generic lead sheets with chord symbols and outline bass parts in a few simple genre, but nothing explaining what the chord symbols actually meant and therefore no clue to why the given bass part was as it was or how it related to the harmony or how it might be modified in the context of a melody - perhaps a tall order as none was given!
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  19. bench


    Dec 28, 2007
    EXACTLY THIS! thank you...
  20. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    It helps to slow things down when you are trying to translate the theory to the instrument. Basically, stop and think what you want to do, place one note at a time, repeat until you can do it smoothly, and then start bumping the tempo.

    Practicing arpeggiated chords in all inversions and playing diatonic and altered modes is also a good way to build a foundation. Or practice modes and scales in intervals such as thirds, fourth, fifths, etc, or play. The pattern for thirds for example: 1,3,2,4,3,5,4,6,5,7,6,8,7,2,8,8,6,7,5,6,4,5,3,4,2,3,1,2,7,1. You could also pick a key or mode and play the diatonic triads or 7 chords in a similar fashion. The best way to learn is to try and make up your own way and have fun with it.

    I have lost most of the academic knowledge I had, but I remember things starting to click and beginning to perceive the relationships between notes as mathematical or spatial. It felt kind of like a spiritual experience and I think it's a bit different for everyone. Unfortunately I left school shortly after that so I never got totally to relative pitch and a clearly hearing intervals and chords in my mind, but I was very close. The key to getting as far as I did was a daily focus on theory and lots of time banging on a grand piano.
    mikewalker and DeltaTango like this.

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