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My First Student - Music?

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Steve Freides, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I have my first upright bass student, someone who's studied guitar and electric bass with me on and off for a few years, and who just auditioned on electric bass at a college that asked him if he'd mind learning upright bass, too, in order to be bassist for a jazz band. It will probably just be lessons between now and the end of the school year.

    My inclination is to give him Simandl, which is what I'm using myself, and just let him play it mostly pizz. That worked well for me, and I just switched to practicing mostly arco when that's what I wanted to get better at. I'm thinking that the Simandl approach to fingering, as we've discussed elsewhere at length on talkbass, while it isn't agreed upon that it's the _only_ way to start, it's certainly one of the valid ways and you basically can't go wrong if you start with Simandl.

    He has something of a rudimentary theory background already in that we covered the basics of scales, intervals, and chords a year or two ago, but a book that discusses how to play a bass line while looking at, e.g., a fake book or other chart - that might be a useful thing. (I grew up both a guitarist and a theory geek, and no one taught me how to do this, I just listened and the rest came naturally.)

    Thanks in advance for suggestions, comments, disagreements, and the like.

  2. I really wouldn't be inclined to teach a student to rely on a fakebook or chart. (I'm not sure if this is what you're saying, just being clear) I would stress listening, transcribing, and hearing chord changes by ear from the recording. Its definatley true for everyone that I've met that learning a tune by ear is the best way to keep it around in your brain. Most things that I learned from the book I forgot and had to relearn again, why not start slow but retain more?

    I'd say simandl is absolutely fine. A great thing I've been currently working on with my teacher is to take a simandl etude and write in fingerings and bowings for every note in the piece. That will help with other things I've been working on, for example if we've been working on playing up the E and A strings, I would write down fingerings that primarily stay on the E and A strings.
    We've also worked out of the Pattituci Etude book, which has some really melodic etudes.

    While I wouldn't force arco on him, you should get him started. Teach him baisics and say at minimum spend 5-10 minutes a day bowing only for intonations sake. I started late with the bow and really regret it, even though I never wanted to touch one.

    Good luck!
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I've had several students who swore they weren't interested at all in arco. Then they tried it, and they really all seemed to get behind the idea. It's funny; I often ask a student what they want to work on, and a lot of them say "the bow". Love it...
  4. there are also the suzuki books. I started out on Simandl as well. I always liked it when my 1st teacher Julian Kaye Porritt - jazz bassist, sax player, and tuba player in Maui Hawaii would bring out tuba and trombone solos for me to play like Mozart's oisis and osiris solo for tuba.
  5. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Practicing Simandl pizz is not advice anyone should pay for. It may have worked for our moderator, but charging someone for that advice is unethical, IMO. Legit practice should be arco.
    Simandl is the standard method, so if you are using that yourself, use it for your student. I would still make yourself and your student aware of all the other methods.
    I like to say the only thing worse than not practicing is practicing pizzicato, because if you didn't practice at least you know you didn't accomplish anything.
    Obviously, that is extreme and partly a joke, but seriously anyone paying for lessons needs legit information.
  6. Dude, you're awesome.:eek: Right on.
  7. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Reading charts is an absolute must, and should be step one in terms of conventional jazz and other chord based music. I agree with what you are saying for a deeper understanding, but bassists are hit with original and unfamiliar tunes ALL THE TIME, even on a gig, so charts are a must.
    Basically, I am not into leaving anything out, and reading chord charts and being able to get through them on the first pass with solid roots and fifths is an important skill we all need.

    *After they get some basic Simandl down, arco of course.
  8. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    - Same experience here. I have really good luck getting students excited about the bow.
  9. Jake


    Dec 11, 1999
    I am looking for students myself. I don't want to start them the way I started with Simandl book one. Although, there are some good etudes in that book, I am looking into ordering the Vance books and checking them out myself before I teach out of them.
  10. Right but the only mention that he made at all about walking was

    Of course we all need to be able to read charts and thats an important skill in it self, But I feel that far too much emphasis has been placed on charts by teachers since the fakebooks became legal. My main teacher luckily is smart enough not to touch the things and anytime we played a tune I didn't know he would write a chart out.

    I feel as a player from this "real book generation" myself and many other people I play with don't know ( i mean inside and out in every key) that many tunes. I believe teachers need to get back to working by ear, putting that solo in every key, playing a tune up a half step every chorus etc.

    But as you say with simandl experience, and having the teachers write out a few chord charts to common standards, the student will more quickly get the hang of reading charts and creating competent lines over those changes if they have transcribed and have big ears. (Two things I wish I had done a lot more of when I started.)

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