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Jeff Berlin discussing music education part 3

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by john turner, Feb 12, 2010.

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  1. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    this is a continuation of jeff's thread sharing his thoughts and experience on music education. the previous thread can be found below...


    edit(jt) : also, as an addendum, this is for -jeff berlin- to share his thoughts on music education. if you require clarification of his points, or would like to discuss them, then by all means, jeff has shown himself to be very open to that.

    but if you have an agenda, do not pursue it here. if you have vastly different views, then start your own education thread, with your own name on it. do not troll this one, or risk losing your membership at talkbass.
  2. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Thanks Roy and Bill. I very much appreciate your advice.

    Bill, you are correct in saying that I am my own obstacle. I have no reason to learn to play the bass other than the fact that I've always wanted to.

    When I talked to the guy playing bass at rehearsal last night, he told me he'd been playing electric bass for 20 years, and played upright before that. He's a very good player. My heart sinks a little when I hear someone say they've played 20 years. Wow, 20 years. I'll be 58 years old in twenty years. My 5yo daughter will probably be married in 20 years.

    I get into a mode of wanting to rush it, then I hear that infernal Christie Lane song, "One day at a time". That's really all I have. One day at a time. My goal today is to get better than I was yesterday. That's a bitter pill for me to swallow sometimes. It's a lot like going through physical therapy. I injured my shoulder once and it was a year before I could raise my right arm over my head, but I tried every day.

    As a life long lover of music, I've been conditioned to seeing musicians play music. I've never seen them practice. At some point anyone who plays an instrument had no idea how to play it. That's where we all start.
  3. Billnc


    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    I'm 50 in two weeks. The journey (I've let my intellectual ups and really bad mistakes known) is really where it's at. When you realise you won't get it all it's actually freeing, Jeff and Mick Goodrick and others are still learning along with the rest of us.

    You'd be amazed at what you can get in two years, in baby steps. You can become a functioning musician in that time. After two years the progress seems to slow, though the bursts like my reading break throughs do come.

    See, the day you go "I GOT IT!" and you never have to practice or stop learning isn't going to come.

    You know the one instrument I ran into trouble with, is supposed to be the easiest! Bass, I started following all this advice and "NEW methods" etc. Then took a lesson a couple years ago. I was telling the teacher all this stuff (and yes like I asked Jeff) I wasn't doing because I didn't want to sound like a frustrated guitar player on bass. You see I stopped studying music on bass and just studied "bass". So the teacher plainly told me he worked on Pat Martino lines on upright and I was sitting on a goldmine and refused to use it!

    Jeff and he have helped clear my head of some very clever publishers and marketers. I plan on another lesson with the guy soon.
  4. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    This is the very thing I love. There may be a day where I say, "I've had enough", but never a day where the learning stops.
  5. engedi1


    Sep 16, 2005
    As my old orchestra teacher used to say "Perfection is a moving target" This is something I learned studying DB in college. Getting better and mastering a certain skill, just meant you were now ready to move on to the next skill. Music is like mountain climbing, there is always a a bigger mountain to climb. That's why it is great.
    I too love to practice. My work and family scenario keep me from gigging as much as I would like, and if I can spend a couple of hours with the bass I feel rejuvenated. I don't really understand the mentality of not wanted to learn and grow. Once your skills reach a certain point, learning and growing are more fun than just playing "Higher Ground" over and over.
    Thanks for this thread Jeff, please keep it up despite some frustrations!
  6. Yeah thanks again for the thread again Jeff, and thanks to John Wentzien who got Jeff over here with his initial 'why Jeff Berlin should be president of all music education' thread... So what's everybody working on at the moment?
  7. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    54 doesn't hurt-much. ;) I can remember being a 18 year old College Freshman and getting lost in the changes while jamming on "Girl from Ipanema" with my roomate playing guitar. I thought to myself, "By the time I'm 34 I'll be a really good Jazz Bassist if I keep at it." I was right-but then I thought, "if I can do this at 34, what can I do at 44?". And so on....I think that's why I do it. It's fun :)
    You won't need 20 years, well-considered and directed lessons and consistent work is a great timesaver. Good Music Teachers are like good Whitewater Rafting Guides-we keep you off the rocks and moving forward, IMO.
  8. squirtle


    Feb 11, 2010
    I took Ed Frieldlands "Bass Method Book I" for the lesson.
    He asked me to play a few lines from it. As I read the notes on the page, I had to stop and recall the names of a lot of the notes and I couldn't count out the beat and think of the name of the note at the same time. At this point it's one or the other. Accurate notes out of time or accurate timing, missing a few notes. Until finding the notes from the page becomes automatic, I think timing
    (rhythm, tempo ???) is going to be two separate issues.
    Maybe I need to get a drum book also.
  9. engedi1


    Sep 16, 2005
    +1. Here is an outline of my general routine:

    1. To warm my hands up and because I love Bach so much, I usually run through the slower movements of the G major or C Major Bach cello suite. This is also great reading practice.

    2. Then, to improve my reading of funk lines and syncopated 16th note rhythms, I often read through Jamerson transcriptions from the Standing in the Shadows of Motown Book.

    3. Having warmed up, I then proceed to chew through the Chord Studies for Bass book. I review the C Major, and have starting working on the C Minor.
    Having done this for a while, maybe 30 to 45 minutes I then...

    4. Practice some Jazz. This generally will be out of the Real Book, which I have in treble clef so I don't forget how to read treble clef, or the Charlie Parker Omnibook for bass. My goal is to learn the head, and then play through the changes. Roy suggested that I walk through the changes arpeggiating as follows: 3rd, 5th, Root, 7th. This has done more than anything else in years to get the harmony in my head. It really makes you think about the harmony and not just let your hand lazily play patterns you are used to.

    5. Also, Roy has me doing something very similar to what Jeff said. He had me take my favorite 2 bar lick from Parker's solo on Ornithology, and then play that lick through the cycle of 4ths, and also going down my whole steps and up by half step. This is actually more challenging than it sounds, especially the cycle of 4ths.

    Of course all of this is with my metronome blazing away;) (JK Jeff, don't shoot me)

    This takes me about 2 hours, and if I could just find another hour to work on transcribing, I would feel like I had really accomplished something. Really tough to find 3 hours with my day job and three kids to juggle (and my wife like to talk to me sometimes)
  10. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    When you find out where the notes are out of time, it will be easy to execute them in time. I'd just take my time with Ed's book-using a drum book is overly complicating things. Take it a step at a time.
  11. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    This is something I learned from Jazz Pianist and U of M Jazz instructor Vince Maggio. The idea is that practicing the arpeggios this way on a ii-V oriented tune (say, Autumn Leaves) helps you to hear the 7th-3rd voice leading. For example Am7-D7 would be:
    C-E-A-G to F#-A-D-C
    The object of the game is to always voice-lead by whole or half step if possible. Don't forget to break away from steady quarter notes and try different rhythms-as soloists we get to be Anti-Bassplayers ;)
    I'm glad you're enjoying the lessons. :)
  12. Man I need to get the jamerson book, and a great trombone book... And a good whitewater rafting guide haha, your routine looks pretty great though! I'd like to work my way up to something like that, just got the chord tone thing going on and I'm starting to transcribe walking lines, I know Jeff says not to transcribe bassists but I think quarter note lines may be the place to start in terms of actually writing down what i figure out...
  13. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    This thread (and its predecessors) have contained some great tips on how to improve, both from Jeff and from several other contributors. My practice has become a lot more productive and enjoyable in just the last week or so and that's at least partly down to some of the stuff I've read in here.

    I used to play some jazz about twenty years ago, but then my playing fizzled out for a while and when I restarted I concentrated on other things. But just recently I've been getting back into the jazz thing, walking over changes, and I'm loving the rediscovery. A lot of this has been connected with the band I got together for my Dad's 80th birthday party (see my thread in Off Topic for more on this) and several of us in the band are keen to continue playing jazz in addition to our more regular fare.

    I'll be keeping a close eye on this thread and expecting to learn quite a lot as a result.
  14. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    I haven't been here for a while due to personal circumstances, but have loosely followed along.

    The chord studies are reaping good benefits for me, as I am able to incorporate this knowledge into what I have already been doing with very good results. It has made it much easier for me to navigate changes, and more important, to understand those changes. My ear has improved tremendously.

    It is my goal to really get into jazz. I need to locate the right teacher here in central NJ for this.

    In the second half of this ongoing thread, I offered to send a pdf file of Jeff's August '98 BP column to anyone that wanted it. A bunch of you have received it from me already. I want to keep that offer alive for anyone reading part III of this amazing thread!

    If you want this, just PM me your e mail address.
  15. Billnc


    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    You're so close to Philly, bass player paradise! Does Christian McBride teach?
  16. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    BTW..Thanks for sending that article..very helpful indeed!:D
  17. engedi1


    Sep 16, 2005
    The Jamerson book is really great. Not only has it exposed me to motown for the first time (I'm 32), and opened my eyes to what a genius he was, it is actually VERY challenging for me at least, with my square classical background, to try to sight read the syncopated 16th note passages. Also, alot of the tunes are in keys like Gb or Ab minor that have 5 or 6 flats and that is great practice to learn to navigate these keys.

    I agree with you that a lot of value can be gained from learning walking bass lines, especially if want to play jazz on upright, in the real world. I totally recommend transcribing PC , Ray Brown and guys like these who play with great melodic sense, great harmonic understanding, and groove so hard.
    OTOH, I Jeff has advised against this and is recommending transcribing the solos themselves from the greats. This would probably be more stretching and difficult and I am going to accept his challenge!

    Thanks for the lessons Roy. As soon as my biz picks up and I have some free cash that doesn't immediately disappear into my kids stomachs or the light bill, I'll call you!
  18. so the 5th to the 1 is not a strong lead,or a desired lead,or do you mean stay with the whole or half step in terms of practice
  19. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I thought about this last night while I was driving home. The guy playing bass last night is a phenomenal player, but I'm sure at some point you hit the "law of diminishing return".

    I'm sure as a new player, I'll learn by leaps and bounds and see rapid improvement. Within a week or so of getting my bass, I could play scales and knew the intervals. I could read number charts and play a song. Going from not even knowing how to hold a bass, to that was a big leap. As my skill progresses, I'm sure the size of the leaps will decrease until I get to the point where I'm working hard only to make fine adjustments to my playing.

    My hope is that some day, however long it takes, that my bass becomes like my voice. I can just "play". Listen to a song a couple of times and say, "I got it" and go.

    I've said before one of Jeff's favorite quotes, "the music is in my head", but that's actually not true. The capability to make music is in my head. It's the mechanics to get that music out that I need. I have a good teacher, and I have the drive and desire to practice. The missing ingredient is time.

    As the Carpenters said, "We've only just begun". :)

    For you Nashville guys....if you're not already attending a church on Valentine's day, come over to Bellevue Community Church (www.hopepark.com) and worship with us. We're going to absolutely rock the house. You'll get to see a fine bass player in Tim Denbo too. Oh yeah...and a big tall ugly oaf on the top of the choir riser (effectively making me about 10 feet tall) singing baritone. :)
  20. actually the better you get means there are fewer obstacles to overcome....in the beginning i had to slog all the way through every chart,and now i can usually do them with a little extra work on tough passages

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