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Lessons from a Famous Player?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ronin614, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. ronin614


    May 15, 2008
    New York
    Has anyone taken lessons from a famous player? If so, did you find that they were worth the (potential) extra cost? And about how much did you play?

    I’m seriously considering taking lessons from an internationally known player, but they’re not cheap (about twice as much as any other teacher that I’ve contacted).

  2. bass12

    bass12 Basking Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Define famous as it relates to a bassist. :smug: I guess it really depends on the teacher. Some great players are not very good teachers and some really good teachers are not necessarily the best players. Are we talking beginner lessons? Intermediate? Advanced? Weekly? Monthly? Is name recognition part of the appeal and, if so, will it be worth the extra money to be able to say, “I studied with so-and-so”?

    The way I see it, if there’s a particular player that possesses knowledge that I want access to then I am willing to pay for that. But I would be more inclined to think in terms of a lesson here or there with that person - not in terms of regular lessons. For regular (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) lessons I wouldn’t be looking for a big name - just a good teacher.
    lomo, ronin614 and Spin Doctor like this.
  3. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Building upon what @bass12 said, my thinking is that it all depends on what exactly you want to get out of the lessons. If you want an instructor to help you with basic technique and theory, it probably isn't worth paying twice as much to someone if a "normal" instructor could cover that same material. But if what you want to learn is something that only that particular player (or maybe a few other comparable players) can offer, it's more than worth the extra bucks.

    I've done some lessons with (my personal bass hero) Julie Slick, but they were not intended to be "general" lessons; for example, I didn't ask her to come up with a curriculum or anything like that. They were more like Q&A sessions in which I asked her questions specific to her music, and her technique, etc. -- stuff that nobody else could possibly teach me. I paid her more than she was asking, and the "lessons" were worth far more than I paid her for -- to me.
    lomo, ronin614 and bass12 like this.
  4. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    I did with Jeff Berlin, and yes, it was worth it. He is a top notch educator with an incredibly keen eye for your shortcomings and what to do in order to fix 'em.
    ronin614 and nuage420b like this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I attended Victor Wooten's bass camp years ago. Here's what I found.

    Victor - Tue best player there. An incredibly genuine, nice, sincere, awesome human being. Great at teaching life lessons. "Meh" at teaching bass.

    Steve Bailey - Amazing talent. Told the best stories I've ever heard in my live. Great at diving into theory. "Meh" at teaching anything else.

    Adam Nitti - Incredibly nice guy. Ridiculously good player. I can't even remember what he talked about. So "forgettable" as a teacher.

    Anthony Wellington - Great player. Awesomely nice guy. By far the weakest link playing wise (among some giants). By FAR the best teacher there. He had an educator's heart and was ENTHUSIASTIC about our having "light bulb moments".

    So, my only advice is to make sure your internationally-known player is as much of an educator as he/she is a player. You'll get a LOT more from a great teacher than you will a great player.

    How many of the best pro sports coaches are short and/or fat guys who never excelled in a sport in their entire lives? (Answer: Most of them) They may not be great athletes. But they're great educators, motivators, and organizers. That's who you want in charge.

    The same goes for a private bass teacher. You want a great educator.
  6. Could not have said it better myself.

    I was at a 3 day Gerald Veasley clinic in Philly at around the same time I was taking lessons from Anthony. In fact we drove to it together, since he was my neighbor. (which is how I started lessons with him in the first place) There were many very heavy guys present and after while I stopped scheduling the lesson sessions with most of the "instructors" present, because I soon realized that I already had the best teacher there.

    It was still an excellent experience, because of the variety of topics, jam sessions, etc that were going on. I learned a lot and would go again if the opportunity comes up.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
    ronin614 and two fingers like this.
  7. This is the crux of it.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    If you got to take lessons from him, you're a lucky guy. Not only is he a monster teacher, but also just a positive guy. You can NOT be down around him.
    ronin614 and Spin Doctor like this.
  9. Studying with him made me sort of obsessed with learning Bass, so I think I progressed pretty fast. I don't think I would have had that same experience with anybody else. Aside from all the general knowledge that I got from him, one of the biggest takeaways I got was that I learned how to teach myself whatever I wanted to know.
    ronin614, GastonD and two fingers like this.
  10. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    I've had private lessons from Janek Gwizdala, Sharay Reed, Jeff Berlin and Anthony Wellington.

    I don't want to disrespect any of them publically because they are all lightyears ahead of where I am. I absolutely don't want or recommend a spoon-feeding approach to education but even at that I found the quality ranges from 'Wow!' to 'wow....'

    A great musician doth not equate to a great teacher. But some of the greats are also great teachers.
    nuage420b and ronin614 like this.
  11. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    When I was 16 years old (1977) I took one guitar lesson from Chuck Loeb.

    I know it's not polite to speak ill of the dead, and I genuinely admire the musician Chuck turned out to be many years after that episode, but the reason I only took one lesson with him was because he showed up hungover like a sailor. :rollno:
    ronin614 likes this.
  12. dayo


    Jul 22, 2013
    I'm intrigued who is the player your considering for lessons :)
    ronin614 likes this.
  13. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    btw, funny story about taking lessons with famous musicians (and also another episode from 1977)

    I was at the Berklee College of Music that summer, and jazz guitarist Pat Martino was in town for some shows at Paul's Mall or The Jazz Workshop...and word somehow got around school that Pat was also offering lessons during the days that he was in town. For $25/hour. Which, in 1977, was insanely high for guitar lessons! But me and a bunch of my classmates all agreed that a lesson with Pat Martino would be a real feather-in-the-cap, so a bunch of us pooled our money to get the $25 together, then drew straws to decide who would go study with Pat, with the understanding that the winner would then return and share everything he'd learned with all us "financiers"

    So Mr. Short Straw (not me) goes and takes a guitar lesson with Pat Martino. Comes back the next day with pages and pages of notes that he'd written down during his lesson, diagrams, weird geometric shapes, some standard musical notation, a few fretboard/fingering charts... He starts trying to explain Pat's concept. It's dense, complicated, comprehensive, erudite. So much information! But well worth $25, we agree, even if most of us could barely wrap our heads around it.

    One week later the June issue of Guitar Player Magazine hits the stands. Pat Martino is the artist on the cover. And the interview/article with him includes 100% of the material that he taught Mr. Short Straw the week before, only more clearly explained and with much better diagrams. And it only cost $3 for the issue.

  14. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    As @bass12 said, define "famous" as a bass player...

    I take lessons on and off with Dave LaRue. Great player, and as a teacher he is phenomenal. In lessons it's all about how to improve my playing, and he really understands the learning process. My lessons aren't priced much higher if at all than I'd pay anywhere- totally reasonable.

    Despite their renown in our sphere of knowledge, many respected/famous bassists aren't "A-list Famous" or even close. They're down to earth, and happy to have the side hustle income.

    Even it costs a bit more, learning from one of the best is worth a lot if you get someone who can really pass on their knowledge in a way that helps you. Most of your playing is outside of the lesson. The actual lesson time is so minimal relative to practicing, that the lessons should be really high quality, helpful, and valuable. I'll pay a bit extra and (in my case anyway), to know I'm getting the best instruction.

    So in my case, great teacher and famous player (at least in bass circles), but agree to go with the best TEACHER you can find. I take lessons from Dave because he's a great teacher- the fame didn't factor into it at all. If you luck out and get a well-known professional bassist who is also a gifted teacher- all the better.
    ronin614, nuage420b and bass12 like this.
  15. Nuage420

    Nuage420 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    I've been looking at my hobby budget a lot to find a way to get lessons or attend seminars and Jeff Berlin is at the top of my list for instructors. I really like how he teaches, at least from what I've seen on events he's had posted on YouTube.
    ronin614 likes this.
  16. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I was not aware there were famous bass players :smug:. I've had some opportunities to jam with some famous guitarists and their constructive criticism was very helpful.
    I agree that playing talent and teaching talent are not linked. Teaching requires patience that many high experts in many fields do not have. It also requires insight and empathy. So my dumb advice is have a 5-10 minute conversation about expectations, outcomes, etc. with this person. If they can be responsive and a little intuitive in the conversation you'll know they are going to hear your needs. If they want to tell you why they are awesome and list the factors that make them great thank them for their time.
    lomo, Nuage420 and ronin614 like this.
  17. FloridaTim


    May 29, 2013
    Kissimmee, FL
    Yeah, when I read the title I thought about Dave's lessons. I've never taken one but have heard nothing but positive reviews.
    nuage420b, ronin614 and tlite like this.
  18. ronin614


    May 15, 2008
    New York
    Thanks for the responses all.

    While people outside of the bassist circle may not (probably don’t) know his name, they know his songs extremely well.

    I just realized that there’s a typo in my original post: it should read “how much did you pay”?

    I’m going to do an initial lesson, and see how it goes. He’s also willing to do 30 minute lessons (and “go over to complete the lesson”) if the cost is too much.

    The cost is $120 an hour or $60 for half.
    nuage420b likes this.
  19. ronin614


    May 15, 2008
    New York
    Oh, and I didn’t reach out to the person because he’s famous, I reached out because I love his playing.
  20. bassville pete

    bassville pete

    Feb 20, 2018
    I'm going through a video by Stu Hamm's Bass Basics and I guess he is famous. Although not in person, but I do feel he is talking to me in his instructions.
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