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Music Schools vs. Private Lessons?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by thrash_jazz, Mar 18, 2002.


  1. I'd learn more at a music school

    4 vote(s)
    22.2%
  2. I'd learn more in private lessons

    4 vote(s)
    22.2%
  3. A steady diet of carrots is best

    10 vote(s)
    55.6%
  1. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Which do think is the most efficient way to improve as a musician, all other things such as work ethic, practice habits, etc. being equal? Give reasons if you feel like it :)

    Myself, I have no idea, that's why I'm asking the question. I've done a bit of both and found both to be somewhat productive... still, now that I want to take some kind of schooling again, I can't decide which.
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Actually, you have, sort of....unless being a fairly decent classical and fusion guitarist counts.

    I'd say it depends on the school and the teacher. The most concentrated learning I ever did came as a result of having a great teacher while I was at school. What I was studying with her didn't really have **** to do with the rest of what the school had me doing, but it was part of the whole school experience after all.

    I'd say look for the teacher first, and make that top proirity. Do some research and find someone who can do something you can't, but want to be able to do. If that person happens to teach at a university, cool. If not, nab them anyway...you can still go to school if you want. Or not...it depends on what you want to get out of it.
     
  3. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Well, let me elaborate a little on the situation:

    I took a music theory class and was in the jazz band for a while when I was in university. I learned A LOT from being in jazz band, but I couldn't continue with it for various reasons. The theory class was pretty basic and taught me few things I hadn't already picked up, and I found it disappointing. Granted, this was a university setting and things are no doubt different at a specialized school, but it made me wonder...

    I took private lessons for a few months also, but the teacher was a g**tar player that happened to play bass also. It was helpful in that it helped me to eliminate a few bad habits that I'd picked up from seven-odd years of self-taught playing, but I quit because I didn't think I was getting my money's worth. Which brings me to another question: If there are no effective BG-only teachers around, might it be more useful to seek out a DB player rather than a g**tar player?

    As for what I want to accomplish, I want the same as everyone else: to do my best to grow as much as possible on bass, and see what paths it leads me down (if any). Most of the best times of my life have, directly or indirectly, involved playing music. I want to improve as efficiently as I can - this is why I've asked this question.

    Anyway guys, thanks for the responses so far; please don't hesitate to throw in more opinions! :cool:
     
  4. I've done both and feel it really depends what you want to get out of it. Music schools are great for networking, but they can also teach you useful things other than "the bass". While I was at university (McGill) I studied privately with a bass teacher but I also took courses on arranging and orchestration. I learned how to write for big band and an orchestra. A private bass teacher probably wouldn't work on these things with you. Sure, you can study these things privately as well, but having a schedule and deadline for projects/compositions/charts usually assures you get them done. Especially when you are paying big $$$ for the courses. A negative side is this extra work can take away from actual time spent practicing and jamming.
    Regarding studying with someone other than a bass player: it depends what you want to get out of it. I've studied with drummers, pianists and sax players as well as bassists. I did this to get a different perspective on things such as time, soloing, playing behind a soloist etc. I didn't go to them for technique. One piano player I took a lesson with said I needed to play with high strings (I play mostly DB) and pull real hard because "I think that's the way Ray Brown does it". A non-bassist may not understand that getting a big sound out of the bass doesn't neccesarily mean getting tendonitis as well.
     
  5. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Thanks for the input BassBoy. Seems to me though, that learning from, say, a piano player, would involve study of theory, reading, building lines, song structures in general, that sort of thing. I wouldn't trust a non-bassist to teach me technique - I look back now and think that I learned some destructive habits from the g**tar teacher...

    That's another reason why I asked this question - all the stuff you do learn at a music school that you don't with private instruction alone. Is it worth it? In the end, which is going to provide the steadier gig - intense study on one instrument, or studying the many facets of music? Obviously, that depends on what kind of gig you're shooting for, but that's a question I don't really have a concrete answer for. Not yet, anyway.
     
  6. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I've done both and can say positive things for both. I went to a music school and really enjoyed the interaction with other students regardless of what instrument they were specializing in. I was also inspired to take some drum classes, keyboard and singing. (I bombed badly in the singing.)

    Another thing I really liked was the networking aspect of the school environment. Making contacts in music is much easier in a school setting, both through the instructors and the other students.

    On the other hand, my very best private teacher, a first chair double bassist in the state symphony as well as a bassist in a leading Zep-type metal band, was just an incredible resource. His unusual perspective on music and bass playing provided me with a priceless and enriching experience as a student of the bass.

    I have had mediocre private teachers. Those who specialize in guitar and "double" with bass lessons have been generally unsatisfactory...at least in my experience. I end up frustrated every time I have a teacher like that and don't last long.

    Looking back over my private teacher experiences good and bad, I'd say of utmost importance is that you and the teacher be on the same page in terms of objectives you wish to obtain from the classes and your purpose in learning to play bass...to be a pro, to be a part-time player or to be a hobbyist. All are worthwhile goals but each has its own demands.

    An advantage of a good private teacher is that they can tailor a program to your , skill level, needs and objectives. The school I attended was not equiped to modify any classes to the particular level, speed of learning or interests for each and every student.
     
  7. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Well, part of my problem now is that I don't live in a very big area - maybe 400,000 people in the actual city - so our resources are not the same. To go to a full-time music school, I would definitely have to move, and I'm too used to 9-5 and a steady paycheque now to stop... I think...

    I think I'm going to try and find a good private teacher again. I don't know of any high-profile teachers, BG or DB, here, but I'm gonna have to look. No more G**tar players as bass teachers!

    And - of course - I'm always trying to pick up new and different stuff on my own! ;)
     
  8. John Geggie is a fine bassist in Ottawa. I recommended him to someone else on the board. He plays (played?) with the NAC orchestra and is also a great jazz bassist. The AFM there should be able to get you his number.
     
  9. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Thanks again BassBoy! But, what does AFM stand for?
     
  10. AFM is the musicians union.
     
  11. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Ah. I knew of its existence, of course, but didn't know the acronym. Thanks.
     
  12. b0nes83

    b0nes83

    Dec 14, 2000
    well I am going to school for music ed and performance. My private lessons teacher is all about jazz. Now I don't see why my school, which is Pro classical and anti pretty much anything else, is giving me a bass instructor who is one of the better jazz bassist in the area? I don't mind these lessons at all because i am learning so much jazz and improv. and I also don't mind the classical part because I have gained so much from classical theory. so im going to say that I have learned an equal amount from both sides of the chart. peace
    Chad