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Piano & Bass

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Sippy, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    Hey all... My jazz instructor has said time and time again that learning piano is a must. Well right now he has me taking 30 minute jazz bass lesson with him on tuesday afternoons.. Monday and Wednesday i have 2 hour Music theory classes.
    And now he just called and asked if I could do 1 hour jazz piano class with him on monday afternoon. I am not against learning at all. I love learning.. but my primary focus is the bass guitar.
    Will learning piano help my bass playing? I know it is a good way to compose work, and piano is always good to learn. But will it help my bass playing as a whole?
    Also for those of you that have done this. Did it hurt the learning process? Music theory course... Jazz bass lessons... and now jazz piano lessons. I'm worried about mostly the reading part. Learning the F Clef and G clef at the same time may cause confusion when playing. THanks a lot!
  2. FunkSlap89


    Apr 26, 2005
    Albany, NY
    Actually, piano is one of the reasons I learned to play bass. I learned how to play piano when i was pretty young. Then i joined band in 5th grade at my school. I played trombone which came easy for me because i could already read the bass clef. by the time 7th grade had come around, I was playing trombone in the school jazz band and guitar at home. I asked the music director if i could play guitar in jazz band and he asked me if i would play bass instead (since i could already read bass clef). I figured "why not?!" so the school had a crappy yamaha bass which i learned on. I loved it!

    So, the moral of the story is, learning different instruments can broaden your horizons. Hey, you could be in a band and a keyboard part may be needed, but you don't have a keyboard player! You step in and slam out some sick piano lines recorded as a seperate track over the song. There you go!

    sorry if that's a bit long, i was bored and felt like carrying on. :)
  3. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    oh no thats a gret reply thank you!! my beef is will learning 2 instruments.. 2 seperate Clefs... and what not confuse me? I can read now.. barely... but I can safely say I read music.. for the F (bass) clef.. but not the treble Clef.. I already know all the notes on the G Clef.. but the piano looks kinda of intimidating..
  4. Knowing more than one instrument can be a big help and piano has a lot to recommend it because it is so flexible.

    OTOH, it is a lot more difficult mentally than bass or guitar. If I want to change keys on bass I just move up or down the neck a few frets and the patterns remain the same. Keyboard players are always thinking in terms of how many sharps or flats in each key and their fingering patterns for the same song change for each key change.

    I play bass, guitar, dobro and steel guitar because I have a passion for them. I love fiddles, but I don't have a passion for playing them, so I don't. If you have a passion for piano, by all means take the lessons. I love pianists from Count Basie to Marcia Ball and Jerry Lee Lewis to Oscar Peterson, but I have no interest in playing piano. So it comes down to, do you have a passion for piano?
  5. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Learning keyboard can help hugely with theory.And the hand independence necessary for piano can help advance your bass technique a lot. And it's darned convenient as a second instrument. Most bassists who double do so on guitar. Keyboard is more useful.

    A couple of years ago I went to visit a friend of mine for a few days. He lives in another city now, and my wife had a conference to attend there. So in stead of hanging out at the hotel till she was done, I spent most of the days with my friend who had just finished his home studio the week before We recorded several of our old original songs, some from his old band, some from mine. We even co-wrote one.He played all the drums and percussion. I played all the bass and guitar. We both played keys.

    We had a blast. He got the hang of his new equipment. He got a bunch of files to practice mixing and punching with. He occasionally would let another friend do a punch in, say to add cello or sax on something, but 95% of the 'album' wasthe two of us. After he got it sounding as good as he could, he worked on printing the CD's with graphics and writing on them. When he felt he could do that well enough to charge someone to do it on their CD he was done.

    Now it get's funny. He now had a bunch of these CD's sitting around. He went to the mall got five random strangers and payed them ten bucks each to pose outside holding instruments. He printed that photo as the cover, titled the band and CD after a joke I had made*, made up names for the characters in the picture and took them to the half price CD store and sold them.

    So if you see a used CD that you can't tell which is the band name and which is the CD name, and they are 'Meanwhile, Elsewhere' and 'Cause and Defect' , THAT'S ME. I'm credited on it as Mohammed Chang, but that's me.

    *The joke was that anytime I made a tape I didn't want stolen I handlettered a title on it that I expected would not appeal to anyone stealing a bunch of tapes.: Raffi Sings Broadway- a collection of showtunes for children, Slim Whitman sings Elvis, Rektal Itch's greatest hit, and so on. But my favorite ones were ones where you couldn't tell which was the band and which was the album.

    Back to the original topic: Yes. Learn piano.
  6. I agree- you should at least try piano. If you absolutely hate it, you can always quit. But it will help you develop as a musician, not just a bass player. And if you're serious about music and decide to major in music at college- you'll have to take piano anyways. Might as well get a head start.
  7. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I dabble in piano, I use it to arrange and compose. But I can't hold my own in a jazz trio or anything. I don't really find it helps me too too much in theory, since I know a lot of it and at this point it's mostly memorized, don't have to think about it. That's not to say you won't benefit from it. Most people do, it would be a GREAT thing to learn. But I've decided for myself that I'm going to double on alto sax. :)
  8. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    This is about the level at which I play as well. But back when I was learning keys it definitely helped me with theory on stringed instruments.

    It's too easy to get used to thinking in terms of the shapes of patterns you play an bass/guitar. If you know that your finger moves this way to make that interval on a fretboard, then that's what you'll do. But what if you get a different singer, who wants you to transpose the piece to an entirely different and frankly wierd key (Trust me, it happens.) If your theory is more habit than anything else, then this will be unnecessarily difficult.

    The 'flat on a table' layout of a keyboard forces you to visualize intervals differently. I think what helped me the most was this enforced different mindset. Stuff I already 'knew' suddenly made a lot more sense.

    But kudos to Snarf for learning the sax. Learning any second instrument that uses a totally different system will have much of the same advantages that I just described for keyboard. Sax is especially different. I started on brass. So I was already playing multiple instruments in school pretty quickly, but if you learn the rules and fingering system for trumpet, you've already learned it for cornet/flugelhorn/baritone horn/euphonium/tuba...and if you can do it left handed? There's French horn, too. Trombone was the only one that took any time to learn.
  9. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    i learned piano until i was grade 4 practical and grade 5 theory. but that was about 6 - 7 years ago so i have completely forgotten how to play (and most of the theory unfortunately). it just helps in general, because it is one of the few rythm instruments. it just forces you to learn the whole spectrum of music, melody, harmony and rythm.

    if you genuinly have a passion for it, or even if its just a slight inkling, then go for it mate, you can only benefit.
  10. Sure can't hurt, and will almost certainly help. I believe it can only do you good to have some practical, hands-on experience with an instrument that can render harmony better than a bass usually can. Such an instrument doesn't have to be a piano, but a piano is usually a good choice, since it lays more out in front of you than nearly any other instrument.

    I certainly wouldn't mind playing piano better than I do. I understand it perfectly well, and I know where everything is and can follow a pianist's left hand if I have to, but I have very little real-time facility with it. I do play guitar, though, so that helps with the harmonic side of things.

    This doesn't mean you have to try to be Keith Jarrett, unless of course you want to.
  11. skewh


    Sep 5, 2005
    Ithaca, NY
    The two clefs may confuse you at first, but when you read piano music, most likely some of it will be on what they call the grand staff, a G and F clef joined together. So eventually, I'm sure you won't have trouble after a few weeks.

    And as far as multi-instruments go, let me just remind you that the only reason Jaco picked up a bass was because he was fired as drummer for the Las Olas Brass, meaning that you should try as many instruments as you can before you settle (or until you know that it's your instrument.
  12. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 on the piano helping the bass. It doesn't matter if you ever really learn to play piano well. However, really learning the keyboard and being able to visualize different changes and voicings on the keyboard while at the same time seeing how a bass line fits into those voicings can make you a much, much better player IMO.

    Plus, remember the old joke....

    Q. How many bass players does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A. None... the piano player can do it with his/her left hand!