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Lessons vs. Self-Taught

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ishmael_the_god, Jul 15, 2002.

  1. Yofclef


    May 29, 2000
    USA Austin, Texas
    Yo FunkMasterMile,
    I Love your Screen name!! Oh Yeah, I see what you are saying here. Having a "Little Something, Something" under your Belt before you start taking lessons...Neat idea!!
    That is what this Thread is all about here...People sharing their ideas and experiences in Learning the Bass!!
    I just hope that my Instructor will Cut me a Deal!! A Deal that I can't refuse!!!
  2. Yofclef


    May 29, 2000
    USA Austin, Texas
    Yo Josh,
    LOL!!! How could we forget you!! We all know by now where you stand on this...There is no doubt about that!!!
    By the way...The rest of us are across the street from you, taking lessons!! We'll be at the Bar when we're done!! Save a stool for us!! First round is on me!!!!
  3. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    We'll be at the Bar when we're done!! Save a stool for us!! First round is on me!!!!I don't drink but I wait for you guys across the street with Josh. He and I can talk about the good ole days and how we almost got replaced by keyboards and sequencers back in the 80's.
  4. Yofclef


    May 29, 2000
    USA Austin, Texas
    Yo Edwcdc,
    LOL!! Ok...Good!! With two of you at the Bar, there will be no problem with you saving us some seats!! WOW!! Looks like we are going to have a Party!!! I'll buy you a Soda then...OK?!
  5. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    I am a newb on this board, but I thought I'd jump in...

    ...I'm self-taught/teaching, and I'd say there are plenty of good resources out there for anybody who wants to learn the bass by themselves. It's important to not limit yourself to one 75 page book, though. Some resources fill holes that others left. I've also had the benefit of jamming with a guy on guitar and drums a few times...each time my limits (at least to me) were noticeable, so in between, I'd pick up some more info and the next time around, there was a noticeable (to me, anyway) improvement. I suppose, it also helps that I have at some musical training in the past, I played the alto sax through junior high, and though it was nearly nine years since I had played an instrument, I still have a passive musical inclination...
  6. Yofclef


    May 29, 2000
    USA Austin, Texas
    Yo Canopner,
    You comments are welcome here! Yeah, there are plenty of Books and web sites to help you on your way. And your Jamming with your firends really helps a lot, as you can tell.
    The lessons vs the self-taught is all a matter of Academics...The need to be taught and teaching ones self! Plus...Jamming with friends is a Big Plus!!
    Certain things need to be taught or corrected by an Instructor...We all get the Bad habits that need to be corrected.
    You make son Good points!! :^D
  7. lethifold


    Mar 19, 2005
    I can see why a teacher might be important to most people. However I will gladly share my "story"

    I've been playing bass for little over a year and half. I'm very dedicated and serious about my playing- I want to play to be a good musician, to make beautiful music. However, I have never have considered getting a teacher, ever

    The trick, I found, was to practise with my instrument so much (4 hours on weekdays, 8 on weekends) that I naturally figured out what sounded good together. That way I could develop the style that I wanted without being immediately constrained by musical theory

    Every now and then I get curious and look for scales on the internet. And almost everything I find is something that I have figured out by myself. Hence I have an ability to improvise in any manner that I chose and it still fits together well. I just seem to have an learned understanding of the notes on my instrument (bearing in mind that all I know is the notes of the open strings, I don't know where to find specific notes on the fretboard)

    Now for the most convincing proof... everyone who I have played infront of has said that my playing is really exceptional (and these include some seriously good guitarists). Infact, the guitarist with whom I jam most often learned to play guitar in the same way that I learned bass (developing a natural 'feel' for his instrument). Hence when we improvise together, we always come up with really cool and impressive stuff. One guy, who was a good guitarist himself was listening to us jam and was almost awestruck

    Hence, I think most people will find that if they practise their instrument enough to understand what does and doesn't work, they definately don't need a teacher

    The only thing on bass that may need some instruction is slap and tapping. However saying that, I took my bass round to a guitarists' room and I taught him how to slap fairly well in about 6 hours (nothing amazing, but enough to hold down a nice groove)


    Sorry to go against the grain, but I really think that learning tons of musical theory is over-rated and the best music comes from improvisation

    Just my two cents
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    It's great that you can improvise really impressive music with your guitarist, but I cannot fathom the willing decision to intentionally limit your playing by not even trying lessons or pursuing music theory. For that matter, the statements "constrained by musical theory" and "learning tons of musical theory is over-rated and the best music comes from improvisation" only go to show you don't understand how people actually USE theory. Music theory is the gateway to great improvisation -- ask any jazz musician. Yes, playing by ear/feel is fine, but if you want to be a great improvising musician and to improvise beautiful music, then music theory will set you free. It's a method, a path to "spontaneous composition" -- playing songs, solos, melodies, chord changes all off the top of your head. It's all in how you look at it, and IMO, you've got the wrong perspective on the whole thing. Music theory is a set of suggestions, explanations, and a method of organizing why certain things sound like they do. Beyond that, it's a language to communicate with other musicians, so when you've got 3 or 4 people improvising and playing at once, you're not just playing willy-nilly with what might "feel" right. You won't have the same musical chemistry with everyone that you have with your guitarist, and learning the language will only enhance what you're doing.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't learn BG by yourself or that everyone should have an MA in theory, but IMO, you're really limiting your own growth by choosing this path. You don't even have to get a bass teacher -- technique, once you get it down initially, is something you can develop entirely on your own. Anything else can be taught to you by a good guitar/piano/flugelhorn player.
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Lethifold just provided THE BEST reason for having a teacher. Thank you Lethifold for a very convincing argument.
  10. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I haven't read hardly any of this thread - have simply jumped to the end to add my bit.

    Having a teacher is probably a great idea. I've only recently discovered some weaknesses in my technique that a good instructor probably could have eliminated years ago.

    However, I think too many students look to the teacher for virtually everything.

    imo, the best situation is to learn from a teacher, while pursuing knowledge/skills on your own as well, kind of like lethifold is apparently doing.

    I've been a do-it-yourselfer on the bass (living out in the country has contributed to that). I'm proud of what I've accomplished on my own, but I now see how a good teacher could have cut my learning curve way back.

    I think a key is to find a really good instructor, not the first guy you find who can play a couple of cool licks.

    Some "teacher" who's limited to only one genre and is not skilled at helping students find the physical approach that works best for them is probably not going to have a lot to offer.
  11. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Big +1 here.

    You'll make the most growth in a time period when you're surrounded by musicians -- when the air is permeated with the essence of music. However, most people don't get to spend much time in environments like this (I had the delightful opportunity for an entire semester, and will again for 4 years when I got to university.) The second most growth is with intense solo practice, jamming, and regular lessons with a teacher.
    IMO, a lot of students do depend on the teachers too much. I remember I was having a conversation with a pianist acquaintance of mine -- classical player, 16, plays at a grade 8 level and loves Chopin. All in all, he's pretty good -- decent time, very impressive technique and sense of dynamics. He has piano lessons twice a week, and the teacher is very formal and very "hardcore" as classical teachers tend to be -- he gets homework to work on, and that's what he practices during the week. The conversation in question took place while he was very annoyed, because he didn't know how to write melodies, and that was part of his next conservatory exam. So, I gave him the answer just about anyone would give him -- try it out for yourself, experiment. We got into a discussion about the entire concept of doing this stuff on your own, and he said that he would rather wait a couple days, have his teacher show him exactly how to do it (this is writing melodies, people, there's no concrete yes-or-no way) and not "waste" time trying to figure it out for himself. He went on to say that he'll have teachers for the next ten years and won't need them after that. This is the complete polar opposite of the "I don't need a teacher and will play by feel for the rest of my life" method -- and, IMO, just as bad.
    On the other hand, I've had regular lessons during the Sept-Jun months with an electric player since I started getting lessons 6 months after I started playing. Now, I fully admit that I didn't practice enough at all for the entire first year, but around Sept03 I started to play all the time. In addition to solo experimentation, regular lessons, jamming, etc., I got much better pretty quickly. Last summer I decided I wanted lessons to continue but I couldn't do them with my normal teacher, so I spent that summer studying theory and guitar with a local "jack of all trades" kind of guy -- plays drums, bass, guitar, piano, and sings -- all with a high degree of talent. Between almost unceasing practice that summer, lessons with him, continuing lessons with him until January (in addition to going back to my regular teacher as well in Sept), being in a band, and being in a focus program with other musicians from Sept-January, I've made several leaps and bounds in my playing. The band split up in February and I picked up DB about the same time and started seeing a DB teacher every second week for classical lessons in March, and although I've got a long way to go on that, I know I've made a lot of progress in the last few months.

    I can honestly tell you that without my teachers, I wouldn't be anywhere near the bassist I am today. I'm still not good enough (and never will be -- thinking you've actually completed something like this is just about the most foolish thing you can do) and I'm thrilled that I have so many years ahead to become the bass player I know I can be, but I cannot thank my teachers enough.

    EDIT: I am in no way saying that I'm better than the piano player I mentioned, by the by. I do think, though, that he would progress much faster and be a much better pianist if he'd actually work on his own stuff too.

    Also, I'm going to see about going back to my theory/guitar teacher Ian this summer. My electric lessons are done until September, and while I'm continuing DB through this summer, I'd love to study with Ian again. I learned so much about music as a whole and about other instruments from him, I can never thank him enough.
  12. lethifold


    Mar 19, 2005
    Govithoy thank you for your reply

    However, any musician that I have ever played with has been self taught (apart from looking on the internet to find basic chords) and the results have always been the same. Not many of us have really valued musical theory and the results of our jamming sessions are always good (even though very varied)

    I guess the 'constrained by musical theory' was perhaps phrased incorrectly. I meant that, for a beginner bassist, learning musical theory supplies them with a set of rules which (whilst varied) define ways of playing the bass. However, I found that the best way to gain a 'feel' for my bass was to mess around with it, seeing what sounds sounded good together. Hence I was immediately free to see what I could get out of the machine

    The few guitarists that I have know that obsess over musical theory have never been willing to try their own techniques. Now I am not saying that this happens with everyone who gets a teacher, but let's just say that their idea for a riff for a song is continously playing the same exotic scale over and over again. To me that defies the point of music. Music should be created by the individual, but if you are just playing the same 'rule' over and over, it seems to be pointless. These guitarists had no ability to improvise. I was watching my school's 'battle of the bands' (when I was still at school) and each band had to do an improvisation session as part of their performance. The bands with the 'musical theory' guitarists were very lame, with the guitarists continously hammering their own riff really quickly. The ones who were largely self taught did extremely well. That's hardly universal proof, I admit, but it's just another reason I can see why I would prefer to be self taught

    I know you don't all agree with me, but I provided my arguement as to why I would prefer to be self taught. I self taught myself with piano as well and I could always make some very cool and elegant music. I'm don't have perfect pitch and I am in no way trying to boast because I don't consider myself musically talented, but I am trying to say that it is perfectly possible to learn an instrument by practise

    To each his own though

    Oh and Jazzbo please reply with valuable comments, such sarcasm just makes you seem stupid
  13. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I am stupid.
  14. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    It's just faster to learn with a teacher. And you therefore can learn more.

    ...And Jazzbo is stupid.
  15. AuG


    May 22, 2005
    Fort Collins, CO
    Well, to share my experience with bass, I've been playing just over 2 years. I'm mostly self taught, I've picked up lessons from books(blues, slap, RATM, etc.) but by far the best book I ever bought was the Bass Grimoire. Every scale you need to know is in there. :) As far as theory goes, I don't know much, just what works and what doesn't (in terms of playing in key). I have paid for 1 lesson from a local bass teacher in my area, and it proved to be worth my time. He helped me with my technique (just right hand fingering) and showed me some tapping exercises and keeping time when slapping. I believe a teacher is the best way to learn, and to learn FAST, as well as having someone there to critique your technique. I picked up a whole heck of a lot of info I never would have acquired if I had just stuck to it by myself.

    There are plenty of great players out there that have never had lessons, but that doesn't mean lessons are overrated or a waste of time/money or anything. It just means some people are born to thump the bass. IMO, everyone out there myself included is incredibly lucky to have a source of learning called the internet, and talkbass.com is probably the best place to hang out if you're a bass player. :D

    I have not met jazzbo, but I'll bet he's stupid. Just like me :D

  16. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    How come nobody ever wants to be treated by a doctor that was self-taught?
  17. How many Dr.'s have malpractice insurance? :D BTW, I've seen a bunch of bass players who need to buy it!
  18. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    My first teacher's name was Popa Joe. He was an elderly dude who played keyboard and conducted a small kids band. Joe showed me the absolute basics - Rhythm and Melody. At my first lesson, I was put stage in front of 20 people. I just strumed and plucked away with no volume. He then introduced me to me next teacher, who specialised in advanced music and musicianship. At the time, I thought he was biggest bastard to walk the plant. But looking back now, I can see what he was doing. I was with my 2nd teacher for 6 years.

    Something that I picked from both my teacher's was, that there is always another level of understading.
  19. I'm kinda self-taught. Trumpet until I was about 13 & then picked up my older brothers bass player's axe & knew what I wanted to do. Many, many hours of being taught by Stanley, Jaco, Marcus, Squire, Oakly, Monk, Shaw, Dizzy, Parker, Zep, Stones, etc., ad infitatum. I had/have the burning desire of, "how did he/she do that?" My playing was influenced by bassists. A "teacher" added no color to my style/technique. It may have been the hard road, but it was my road. Teachers, whether paleontology or bass, gain knowledge through literature & experience. You can too. It was a different road that worked for me. Your mileage...
  20. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002

    Lethifold: Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

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