my first

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by robotriot, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    so, I had my first lesson like a week ago, and I had been having trouble with my elbow feeling weird.. got it checked out and the doc thinks I have golfers elbow..

    ANYWAYS, so I'm starting to think about the things he taught me (and practice again), but then I remembered, my goal for practice was to try to transcribe miles davis' solo part in the song "so what". I'm super intimidated by this and wondering if anybody has some advice?

    is this good practice for a bass beginner? I feel like I might just waste a lot of time because the solos are very long (and he has a few solos). I don't really know what to make of my first lesson.. He also taught me some chord shapes (in which I totally forgot, but I think I can look em up online somewhere..)

    on the flip, he did help me with my hand technique , and got me motivated to learn the names of the notes / finding other major scale shapes..

    does my teacher sound nuts? or should I just give it a go..he says all the greats start out with this exercise, but it seems really intense!!

  2. LowBSix

    LowBSix Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    Take care of your elbow and go easy.
    Be honest.
    Keep it simple.
    When starting off, I have students focus on two main things in the beginning:
    1. Learn to play with a metronome by setting it for 160 bpm and play every other click Of course you can play every click. This helps develop note value, feel the up-beat, space. Playing just the length of the 1/4 note = 2 clicks. It may be played as a 1/4, 1/8th, 1/2, dotted half and whole note.

    2. Write scales for each key, using sharps and flats. Stay in alphabetical order and do not mix sharps with flats.
  3. It's good to challenge students, but not expect them to do things that are far too advanced. If you're an "absolute beginner", a Miles Davis' solo is too much too early. Without knowing your playing level, it's hard to say.

    Does your teacher use any sort of written method textbooks?
  4. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    I'd say i'm just above an ABSOLUTE beginner.. I know some notes, a scale or two but not theory or anything.. he doesn't use any textbooks, and hasn't written anything down.. I'm thinking I might try lessons with somebody else.. BUT I did just acquire the Ed Friedland's bass method series 1-3 (with cds), and i've been slowly tackling that ( which I found so far is extremely helpful ).. so I may just tackle this series and THEN seek out lessons..

    hmm interesting! I'll def try to incorporate into my practice schedule as a warm up or something?
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    IMO it seems far too advanced to have a person who is basically starting off, transcribing Miles Davis solos. You admit that you dont know the notes on the fretboard yet, so how in the name of goodness can you be expected to do what you are being asked ? You should feel challenged by lessons, not intimidated. Tell your teacher that you are just above beginner level. If you still feel intimidated, find another teacher.

    That Ed Friedland book is great. You will learn a lot from it.

    A great all round site is :

    Here is a very good link to basic theory : Theory - Basic, Intermediate, Advanced.pdf

    Rest up that elbow. Don't play through any pain. You may need to check your technique.

    Best of luck with it. :bassist:
  6. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    right on! i'm reading the first lesson block on study bass and a lot of the stuff my teacher was talking about makes more sense now!
  7. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Maybe you should ask the teacher what their curriculum is. There may be a plan to this... or perhaps not... If not, maybe ask around as another teacher may fit your needs better.

    The elbow pain needs to be addressed immediately! Many of us 'classical' teachers have studied a body mechanics method such as the Alexander technique or Feldenkrais method. Using the body correctly is the first step to insure longevity and pain free (or at least minimal discomfort) playing.
  8. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    I was given an arm strap and prescription ibuprofen.. I've been wearing the strap while i've been playing and so far the pain has pretty much gone away! Also, my teacher did help me with form, he said to hold a tennis ball when i'm just chilling around in order to get used to holding my hand like that. I've been focusing on trying not to overstretch my hand, and if I have to stretch too much I just move my hand to a different position! I definitely don't wanna mess up my hand.. I need it to play but I also need it to work :D

    thanks guys!
  9. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    In case your teacher did not show you right and left hand technique, here are some clips from a fellow TB'er.

  10. Since you are a beginner, asking you to transcribe Miles Davis' solos certainly seems to be asking a hell of lot for a first lesson. You have to walk before you can run; "Nature's rules, not mine, Danielsan". ;)

    There's quite a few experienced bass teachers on TB who might have an opinion as to whether this teacher is on the right track on not.

  11. Two thoughts.

    1st, electric bass guitar is arguably one of the least physically demanding instruments to play, so you shouldn't be feeling any pain at all. Take a break, and when you come back, really work on making your playing as effortless as possible. The force required to press down the strings on a correctly-set-up bass guitar is tiny. There is no excuse to ever feel pain playing electric bass guitar.

    2nd, while you are resting, this is a great opportunity to listen to the Miles Davis solo in question. It's not that hard/complex, and it's very melodic, so I don't think it's as ridiculous an assignment as some of the previous posters. ;) The first step is to learn to sing it, just listen to it over and over again (while gently cradling your wounded arm ;)) and then maybe start to write out the rhythm (do you know whole/half/quarter/eighth notes yet?). By now maybe you are physically recuperated and ready to start figuring out some of the notes on the bass, if not, maybe you have access to a piano or keyboard?

    The important thing is, make an honest effort, and however far you get, demonstrate it to your teacher. Part of the point of the exercise is so he can determine where your various skills are at, so he can tailor the lessons to you. For example if one of my students came back and said, "you know what, I can't play a single note of this on the bass, but I listened to it a bunch of times and memorized it, let me sing it back for you" I would be totally impressed, because that shows effort and is a good starting place to explore how to translate music we hear internally onto the instrument. On the other hand, if they said "I didn't even try because some guys on the internet talked me out of it" well then.... :(

    Last but not least, if you do a couple of lessons and aren't digging it, no shame in switching teachers. I mean, do you like Miles Davis? Is this something you want to learn?
  12. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I think this is a bit disingenuous, if you dont mind my saying.

    I dont recall anyone talking the OP out of what he was being asked to do. Certainly, there is no harm in the OP having a try, but you have to crawl before you can walk. It is just that he said he felt intimidated by what was being asked of him. Is this an ideal way to start out on the learning path. IMO, a good teacher will have a pupil looking forward to and counting the days until his next lesson. This does not seem to be the case with the OP.

    I am not a teacher, but IMO a teaching degree is not required to know that you dont ask a virtual noob, who does not yet know the fretboard, hardly knows what a chord is yet, and does not know the fingering for a major scale to transcribe Miles Davis solos. No offence OP, we were all there at one stage. :)

    He asked for opinions, and from what I can see, got no more or no less.
  13. fearceol - "you dont ask a virtual noob, who does not yet know the fretboard, hardly knows what a chord is yet, and does not know the fingering for a major scale to transcribe Miles Davis solos....."

    ^ this.
  14. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    It sounds like your teacher is right on track in the technique department.
    In other areas, I'm not so sure.
    Starting a new student off with transcribing Miles solos seems a bit of a stretch to me - actually, quite a bit of a stretch - although mushroo makes a very good point that he may be using this as a way to assess where you stand.
    Much more of a concern to me is the fact that he didn't write anything down for you - or tell you to write it down yourself. That makes it seem to me like he doesn't have much of a plan.
    It's certainly worth giving him another chance or two, but I wouldn't spend a whole lot more time on this teacher if he can't come up with a solid plan for you. If he seems like he's just making it up as he goes along after a couple of lessons, find someone else who will work with you on the Ed Friedland book.

    Take care of your elbow and best of luck!
  15. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    If you don't know your scales you won't be able
    to transcribe solos.
  16. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    My first teacher was a real virtuoso on bass, but I could tell he was making it up as he went ... as in "what do you want to learn about today?" ... No planned steps to work towards the bigger picture. He was instrumental in correcting my fretting/plucking technique from the get go, which is one huge reason a face to face teacher is very important to start out with.

    My latest teacher is always prepared with a lesson plan & notes for me to take home. I have several of Ed's books that I work through on my own as well. So I'm actually a half a step ahead of what he has planned for our next lesson. But he's really helping me tie all of the info together that I've gleaned on my own through the books & the internet.

    Good Luck :bassist:
  17. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    1. Yes, yesterday I had a lot of free time during work so I read a whole LOT of and picked up some invaluable things about finger pressure (pressing right before the fret and finding that I hardly have to press at all!). As mentioned before, I also had atrocious form when trying to do the one finger per fret technique (stretching my pinky wayy too much).. also, maybe i'm just a weakling?

    2. I suppose you are right, I'll give it a go. I think miles davis is alright, but definitely not my favorite musician by any means. Also, if I can catch the root note that the bass is playing that should guide me into the right range of notes that miles is playing, right? I think i'll just try to 'feel' it out, and hopefully he can explain more of the nitty gritty when I go and see my teach..

    a side note, i'm trying to figure out how to practice without my bass . study bass mentioned using natural sounds as like a pulse or beat, and i've actually thought of some lines that are alright! Also, I've been trying to write out the Major scales for all the notes, so I can get an idea of what notes to play (generally).:bassist:
  18. robotriot


    Jan 8, 2013
    right on! I think i'm going to keep on with a similar approach, study up on my own and go in and try be ready for whatever crazyness he throws at me! If not, try not to be embarrassed about my lack of knowledge haha
  19. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Work your pinky finger gradually at first .. like practice the 1FPF scales with it for 5 minutes at a time. Steadily increase including it in your routine. Stop at any time it hurts while practicing. Carefully stretching it for short intervals when you're going about your day without your bass will help too.

    I worked mine pretty hard in the beginning. Went through a few nites of pain, but now I can lift a Volkeswagon with it with ease :smug: It's just a limb/digit that we don't use often by itself ... you just need to slowly get it working & you'll be grooving with it in no time :bassist:

    edit: What he said below - if you have small hands, stick with the pinky/ring as one like Ed teaches in the book you have ... at least to start with.
  20. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    In my honest opinion, OFPF is overrated in the low fingering positions. They have their use on the 5th fret and up where the spacing starts to be more comfortable, or you may need them for the occasional riff.

    But that's about it - double bass fingering is your bread and butter technique in the long run (that is, in the so called money zone ;)). Basically, you treat your ring and pinky as one finger. Once you go up higher on the fretboard, OFPF is perfectly fine. I advise anyone to not use it on the low frets though because it introduces potentially tension into your playing (I say 'potentially' because it works for some - but for people like me with small hands it's a 'no thanks' in my opinion!)