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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. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Ahhhhh!

    Say it isn't so!

    This is the best thread on Talk Bass.
     
  2. Eminentbass

    Eminentbass

    Jun 7, 2006
    South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Amps and Sandberg Basses.
    Thank you for your time Jeff, I think your advice on musical facts and general learning/practice principles has had more of an impact than can actually be expressed or demonstrated here.

    Best wishes for your current and future endeavours.
     
  3. Yep - Thank, Jeff!

    Hopefully we'll see you back sooner than later!
     
  4. Billnc

    Billnc

    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    Thanks!
     
  5. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I think Jeff really loves us. He'll be back.

    Won't he?

    :(
     
  6. engedi1

    engedi1

    Sep 16, 2005
    Nashville
    Bye for now Jeff, it has been great, and you have inspired me to get a teacher and kick my own a**.
     
  7. TapyTap

    TapyTap

    Apr 26, 2005
    Mr. Berlin,

    Thank you so very much for sharing your insight and knowledge of music with us (your sense of humor is also a welcome bonus ;)). Don't be a stranger!

    I do hope to see you at some point in the near future at the PSOM. God willing...I will be there for every bit of education offered!

    Bryan
     
  8. Funkturnal

    Funkturnal

    Nov 17, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    I've seen a lot of this too. Ironically, even from people who could really play. And when people who can "really" play (or who, in the eyes of an inexperienced musician, seem to be an authority on playing) perpetuate that music is all a "mystery", I think this type of misinformation can be misleading and outright damaging!

    When I was in high school, I was in the "jazz" band. (I put "jazz" in quotes, because my walking bass lines were written out note for note, and there was absolutely no discussion of theory in the class.) Anyway, I innocently asked the teacher, who played saxophone, "What kinds of scales/approach do you use when soloing?" I basically got a frown with a disapproving comment like, "That's not how it works. You should just be feeling it." Jazz just became even more daunting, and all I could think was, "Well, hopefully, one day, the light bulb would come on... I'm still in high school, so I'll figure it out one day."

    Many years later, I took private lessons from an upright player who doubled on bass guitar. We would just go over standards, but there would be no discussion of what to play. No written examples of lines that work over common chord progressions, which was really what I wanted to work on. (In fact, I now realize that it should have been the teacher's responsiblity to find my areas of weakness and address them, instead of me trying to figure out how what I needed.) Anyway, we would take turns trading solos. I would listen to his playing, and when I heard something that sounded "cool", I would stop him and ask him what he did. He explained for example, how playing #9's and b9's over dominant 7 chords could sound good if you resolve them. But the more I tried to pick his brain, I was also met with a response like, "You are thinking too mathematically. You shouldn't be doing this etc. You should just be hearing and feeling them. etc etc"

    I remember feeling kind of dejected by this "mystification" that was being perpetuated. I knew I was improving from all the self-study, and analysis that I was doing on my own time. But I felt like I was walking in the dark at times and if "accomplished players" couldn't teach me, then maybe I would never be capable of playing jazz.

    Fortunately, I have since come across good resources in books and materials written for piano/horns. These materials really contain a lot of analysis of lines that are academically sound. And it enabled me to see that the academics of the actual music and jazz licks (and not just the theory) can also be systematically taught.

    Anyway, my rant is getting long, but the point I wanted to make is that IMO, bad musical advice and "jam buddy lessons" without real musical content can be damaging to trusting students.
     
  9. Funkturnal

    Funkturnal

    Nov 17, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    Jeff, thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions and to plant this wonderful musical seed. This thread has really inspired me to practice and seek out the "good stuff" and I feel that my playing has improved as a result of it. Can't thank you and Roy enough, along with all the other participants!

    Also can't wait to hear your CD!
     
  10. sedgwick1489

    sedgwick1489

    Dec 29, 2009
    Funkturnal - What a great post! Thanks!
     
  11. Funkturnal

    Funkturnal

    Nov 17, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    What a great post! Thanks![/QUOTE]

    You're very welcome! :)
     
  12. Eminentbass

    Eminentbass

    Jun 7, 2006
    South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Amps and Sandberg Basses.
    Totally. Thanks to all who are here. This thread has been part of my daily routine since it started. Kind of like a support group. Being able to interact with like-minded people(although i definitely feel i received more than i contributed) has motivated me to work harder and given me a sense of accountability if i slacked off.
     
  13. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Nashville,TN
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    An honor helping contribute, being a foil/debate partner, and in general hanging here, Jeff. I'll be listening for the new projects-glad you're getting the opportunities you so richly deserve.
    I've learned a lot hanging out here and listening to everyone. A thread well done! :)
     
  14. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I'm have an idea. New thread.

    "Roy Vogt discusses music education"

    I like the sound of that. :)
     
  15. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    Thanks Jeff..You are truely inspirational!
     
  16. I think this outlines a lot of what it being discussed in these threads - that you don't actively apply academics in that in performance you should be reacting and hearing things, not thinking "I need a #9 or dom 7 to resolve into..." - In your personal, out of time, slow practice, you should go over the chord tone exercises that cover these many possible playing options to get them into your 'system' - hear them and become familiar with how they feel and sound. When do the slow, out of time practice enough those sounds will become part of your vocabulary and the next time your jamming over changes, your ears and instincts include these new statements. Not in the form of 'pre-fab' licks and riffs - but as interval options that you're ears tell you will work in the moment.

    I think that's why when people ask, 'how do you do that' of someone who just did it - their answer is usually not as easy as "well I just did this..." - because they weren't thinking like that - they were instinctively using what's become a part of their vocabulary through practice in the moment. They weren't 'using a trick or exercise' - they could hear what the music wanted.

    In improv, there are a myriad of options for the person improvising - including going entirely out of the chord/key - as long as they know how to bring it back and make 'going out' make 'sense' in the context of the changes.

    The 'mystery' thing I'm talking about is more along the lines of those who are aware that there are academic facts that can be learned and used to both react to and create music but they don't know what they are. They'd learned to play 'by ear' and know what sounds right (75% to 80% of the battle) but couldn't tell you what they did even if they slowed down and thought about it.

    They tend to feel that 'their music' comes from a 'magical, pure place' that academics would corrupt. To a certain degree they're right in that once they discover the music they think they're creating from magic has very simple, easy to identify rules and facts, the 'magic' will evaporate for them. In other words, what they previously didn't understand (the secret to the magic trick that thrilled and amazed them so) is revealed and the magic trick no longer can thrill or amaze them. But like anything, the more you learn, the more you learn that there's always more to learn.
     
  17. Billnc

    Billnc

    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC

    Whatever the magic place is, learning the academics makes it easier to get there. I'll still play stuff and think, "Where did that come from?" The brain has more patterns/sounds to be creative with.

    The academics can also help get you out of a bind, sometimes knowing what to do by the numbers can save you. A favorite bassline in an old band was a completely contrived line because I couldn't think of what to play. No matter how much I fought to change it they made me keep it, and I grew to like it.
     
  18. Very true - what works, works. By the same token, something that completely ignores 'the rules' can be the very thing a songs needs to make it transcend cliche'. My point to my academically hesitant cohorts is that while I know 'happy accidents' can be really cool and interesting, I don't want to base the whole of my playing on hoping for 'happy accidents'.

    Very few players - especially when soloing - will fault you for providing a basic, fundamentally correct supporting line. However, should you not know the basics and choose to go exploring hoping for 'happy accidents' while your sax player is developing his solo you'll be in serious danger of discovering how a 'Doc Martens' enema feels after the gig. :eek:
     
  19. Billnc

    Billnc

    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    Most accidents are not happy. Although I'm sure the first guy who got away with 'side slipping' was bailing himself out of trouble!

    If it's a really classy gig it's a Johnson and Murphy, I think most blues gigs it's the pointy toed Stacey Adams enema.
     
  20. i suspect that it will keep going until jeff gets back....his input has been appreciated,as has yours
     

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