Newbies! If only you all listened to their tutors... (long post sorry)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by 51m0n, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    A very good friend of mine, inspired by guitar hero 2 (no really!) and her drummer partner, decided she wanted to take up bass about 2 months ago.

    She's in her 30's so not the normal time to start playing. She's a Phd so clearly intelligent and able to absorb a lot of technical info in a short space of time. She is a university lecturer.

    We went and found her the right bass for her to start on, turned out it was a candy apple red Ibanez sr300. It has astonishingly fine tone for such a cheap instrument, weighs next to nothing, has a wonderfully slim fast neck which really suits her tiny hands. Since she suffers from RSI a bit already we definitely wanted something very easy to play and this is certainly it, the action was lovely, if anything a tad too low, but a tweak on the truss rod and she was set.

    I spent a couple of hours with her going over the basics, left and right hand techique to make sure she didnt exacerbate her RSI, warming up properly, all the real basic requirements of plucking and fretting and a little bit of info about notes on the neck.

    To help her with gradually increasing her finger strength in a uniform fashion I lent her the Michael Manring vid, for the exceptional stuff on finger exercises on there.

    She bought herself a real beginners bass book, and a grade 5 music theory book. Hey she is an academic, books she can do really well, it works for her.

    She also got herself a metronome and a nemesis practice amp (the little 40w one, great little amp!).

    If there was one exceptional thing about her, really, I would say its her concentration span, when I say I spent a couple of hours with her going over stuf I mean I regurgitated at high speed a lot of info. At the end of it I was knackered, she was still ready for more.

    Other than that she doesnt come from a musical background at all.

    I saw her last night (first time in 2 months) to tweak the truss rod again as the bass is settling a bit still, no big deal.

    She showed me where she's at since she's concerned that its taking her a while to get any speed out of her hands.

    Turns out shes got all the way through her bass basics book, a large way through the theory book, been learning b-lines by ear, been doing all the exercises, and working her metronome hard, jamming with her partner twice a week (they hook up in their flat with his v-drums with a headphone amp for the whole evening).

    She says she does on average an hour or two a night 4 nights a week, so quite a heavy schedule, but the difference is she's really working the way she was shown, and starting slowly and getting it right before trying to go fast.

    She looks to me now like most students who have been playing for between 1 and 2 years, maybe more. I was astonished! Really, perfect technique in her left hand, ever so slightly overplaying with her right, part of the speed issue. But basically she hasn't had time to build up the muscles to go faster.

    But what absolutely knocked me out was the way she could groove. Her time was almost flawless, better than her drummer partner (to his obvious embarrasment) and she just held it together like a rock. reminded me of Tina Weymouth, not a lot of notes, but, wow, what a great feel. It was pretty inspirational actually!

    So my point is, why is it that so many students ignore what they're told and try and play really fast from the get go, or try far too complex stuff, and are sloppy for years.

    Really all you newbies, listen, take it slow at the start, get the basics right, if you concentrate on that properly you can get it pretty much down, on your own, in a couple of months. And get the gear to help you, a well set up bass that fits you, a decent practice amp, a metronome, a couple of good books, and a couple of good lessons. Then go at your own pace, but practice what you've been told, not whatever you feel like, and be critical, get it right before you move on. The results are astonishing!
  2. Mike Shevlin

    Mike Shevlin

    Feb 16, 2005
    Las Vegas
    damn that was long
  3. ysand


    Mar 26, 2005
    It's because she's old enough and has been through a lot of studying to be a phD, that knows how to work methodically and patiently.
    A 13-15 yo student will almost never act like that cos he/she wants it ALL NOW.
  4. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    human nature - people often want to learn the impressive tricks than the solid but dull basics

    and this is even more the case when you're a young guy (as most bass players are when they start)

    it's tempting to think if all bass students were people with the ability to systematically learn like female 30-something phd's, the world'd be perfect... but frankly, a lot of interesting art has been made by young impatient know-it-all guys :)
  5. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    Not denying any of that, but I've taught younger people (sometimes for years) and they didnt really get anywhere just because they didnt apply themselves at all, or in the right way to make any steady long term gains.

    This post was supposed to point out to all those newbies out there who are struggling with the basics, or hurting their hands that no, you can get somewhere fast with this if you apply yourself like you've been taught to. Exactly like you've been taught to. No amount of short cuts will get you there quicker. In fact they always make it take longer! So stop it, if you want to improve quickly or get to the impressive stuff then go via the route that all good educators suggest, because actually you get there quicker.

    The other point was that although not flashy her playing is anything but dull and boring since it grooves so well its just very mature musically.

    I've no doubt that as time goes on she's going to master any and all flashiness that she wants to as well. It's almost inevitable - and yes she is just getting to the slap part of her new book/DVD, so its coming, thing is I dont think it's ever going to be just flashy, that just isnt in her nature....
  6. Madcity Fats

    Madcity Fats Supporting Member

    May 28, 2008
    Madison, Wisconsin
    One of the truest bits of wisdom my high school jazz band instructor ever told me (too many years ago) was that it's waaay harder to play rock solid at a slow tempo than a fast tempo. That applies to every genre of music. Practicing to a slow groove or metronome is something I think a lot of seasoned players could benefit from.

    Maybe this quest for speed at the expense of accuracy is why you see so many guitarists who can fly up and down the fretboard but who have little to no sense of phrasing. After all, phrasing is all about how you play on and/or around the beat.

    If you don't have a decent internal metronome, you're just building a house on a swamp, really.
  7. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    Thats it.

    Shes been practicing down to 30bpm :eek:

    She told me it was 'a little tricky at first'.

    No kidding she is super solid, and really has a great feel coming along.

    Was playing along to some really nice eastern/arabic stuff she'd worked out. Not masses of notes, but really unusual scale, and a very open groove, and she just nailed it.


    Really pleased for her.
  8. Psychedelicduck


    Apr 3, 2008
    i just to hard i should relax i play more from my head not my fingers
    if get wat i mean
  9. Nixxie


    Jun 24, 2008
    Malmö Sweden

    I am *coughthirtycoughseven* and just picked up the bass yesterday to start learning.

    Of course my boyfriend plays so there is always one just sitting around the house for me to practice on (granted they are all 5 and 6-strings).:bassist: and I am a very musical person.
  10. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    Good for you, and welcome!

    Enjoy it!
  11. Nixxie


    Jun 24, 2008
    Malmö Sweden
    Thanks! So far so good. I get my own bass tonight! And I have been practicing so I can play "lovercall" by danko jones. It isn't perfect but I CAN play it.

    I am ready for the road!

  12. My 15 year old son says he CAN'T practice slowly. He says if he doesn't try to play at full speed it doesn't sound like the song he's working on. He just keeps trying until he gets it and says he can't do it unless it sounds like the song. He was the same way with Guitar Hero. He could/would not practice a song on slow setting. So far I haven't been able to get him to practice with me in the room so I only hear him when we go in for bass lessons. He seems to be getting it OK, I just think he would do a lot better and more quickly if he would be willing to work slower and with more precision.

    As for myself, on the other hand, if I'm missing notes I HAVE to slow down and go over the section slowly again and again, until I can do it without missing notes, then speed it up a bit until I get it.

    BTW, I'm 49 and just started learning.:D
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Well when you start to kick your son's butt on the bass, maybe he'll get it. Your son suffers from a very contagious disease in teens...impatience. Here's what I'd tell him:

    "What you're playing doesn't sound like the record at the right tempo, either. So you can keep on like you're going and never make it sound like the record, or you can practice slowly and build speed and eventually make it sound like the record. It's up to you."

    You might want to hire someone to say that to him. It's a bit harsh so better for someone else to say it to him than you. It needs to be said, but it's kind of rough coming from dad.
  14. Mazatleco17


    Mar 27, 2008
    I'm 28 and just started playing to... but I freaking love it!!! Bass rules :D
  15. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    +1 My son (Psychedelicduck) has this same problem...

    He just blasts away until eventually he gets close enough :rolleyes:.

    Give him his due he hasnt really be playing very long at all and he is working very hard at it and enjoying it a huge amount. But I just wish I could impress in him the need to do it all slowly first then just build up the speed very incrementally.

    He's been working on the RHCP version of Higher Ground for a while now, and its really getting somewhere, but he still doesnt quite phrase the main riff right, all because he hasnt spent an hour or so working it with a metronome from super slow up to 10% faster than the recording.

    He'll get it one day, then he'll improve way quicker!

    Oh and I can kick his butt into next week on bass, I just dont like to get him too down about it - teenagers do not take criticism well, and his bass playing is one of the things that gives him the most pleasure in his day. If I get too forceful on this it may just ruin it for him, and I couldn't forgive myself if I did that. I have total faith that he will eventually find a piece so hard that he can only do it very slowly, and once he does that he will realise the truth in what I keep on saying to him.
  16. RedsFan75


    Apr 26, 2007
    Same for my daughter... She doesn't want to work on stuff slowly, and it's got to be in a song, or else she doesn't want to play it!
  17. Jon Simonoff

    Jon Simonoff

    May 13, 2006
    One of the hardest things to do is to learn how to practice. You have to practice practicing.... yep.