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Should I Find a New Teacher?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sandman_96, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. sandman_96


    Jul 16, 2001
    USA, Oklahoma
    I've been taking lessons from a guy for about three years, we took a break over the summer and I haven't called him about starting up again.

    The guy I take lessons from is mainly a tuba/bass player, he is the head director of our high school band and also does jazz band, so he is more than qualified to give bass lessons. About a year ago I feel like I hit a wall when it came to learning theory and improvising, his method for teaching that was showing me the basic stuff then saying I had to figure it out on my own because that's how he learned it. I've gotten a little better at it since then but no where close to where I hoped to be.

    That method of teaching just isn't working for me and hasn't worked for over a year. I've told him before that I don't care if we don't play one note during our lesson, I just want to understand theory and improvising more, but the next time we meet its right back to learning a new song or something.

    So should I try and find someone else or keep going with the guy I have now?
  2. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004
    Try a new teacher for one lesson and see if you like him more.
  3. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Sounds like you've progressed past his teaching level. I agree with the post above about trying out a different teacher for a lesson. Wouldn't hurt to do so.

    Good luck. :)
  4. I understand where your teacher is coming from (as I learned most of what I know from conjecture), but I couldn't have gotten started without instruction and sometimes I need more instruction. Let me put it this way, if you think you aren't learning anything (as you implied with hitting a brick wall), tell him.

    Like the above statements, trying out someone new isn't bad for a change, just make sure you show the new teacher where you're at without coming off as a know-it-all (its hard to do when you know that you are past what he assesses you with); it can be frusterating having learn something again. Counter-point to that but off-topic, learning something again in a different approach may help bridge the gap in where you are now.


    Or, ask your teacher to take you on a different route, like particular techniques.
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Maybe you should stop relying on other people for learning.
  6. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Your paying for a service. If your not satisfied with that service and you feel there is someone that can do better that by all means find someone else that will teach you how and what you want to learn.
  7. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    It will be costly, but try a few new different teachers out. There is a world a difference from one to the other.
  8. unregistered

    unregistered unregistered

    Jun 18, 2004
    maybe he doesn't know specifically what you want to be able to do. When you say you want to understand theory and improvising more, what do you mean? Can you pick out a smaller part of that goal and make it clear? Like, you'd like to be able to improvise over a blues? What theory do you want to know? Why do you want to know it?

    Most people who can improvise didn't learn it by practicing improvisation, it comes as an accident by working on something else.
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yeah, I can see how you would want to avoid someone who has a deeper knowledge of stuff you want to learn. I am SO happy to learn that you are available to OFFER bass instruction while encouraging others to forgo it.

    SANDEMAN'S - If an instructor told me I had to "figure something out for myself", I'd put the bass back in the case and walk out. Your teacher is there to "help" you figure stuff out, cause they are the ones who have the experience and knowledge. They are supposed to be helping you build a solid foundation of musical understanding, helping you develop a relaxed and tension free physical approach to the instrument and the wherewithal to clearly hear and identify what you are hearing.
    It may be that you are coming up against your current teacher's limitations and, for whatever psychological reasons, they are having a hard time admitting that to themselves AND to you. If all you are doing is learning songs, then it sounds like this person does not have a very good foundation in musical understanding themselves and, after they show you the tricks and licks they worked out so it sounds like they can play, they have no place else to go.

    Look around, there are good competent teachers out there.

    I have to disagree with TINY TIM, the musicality that informs your accompaniment (bass line) also informs your solo line. The thing that will make your solos interesting and alive and full of meaning is the same thing that will make your bass line interesting and alive and full of meaning. It's not a different skill, it's all about hearing and understanding and executing and communicating. Whether you're playing quarters or 16th notes.

    The last point I want to talk about is this idea (that we have all had, coming up) that there is something magical about theory. Or chord scales or altered scales or modes or whatever. And that ONE SPECIAL THING that will suddenly make your playing make sense. It ain't like that. There is no ONE THING. It's a lot of hard work, it's about understanding and the ability to get stuff out on your instrument. But mostly it's about hearing with clarity. Being able to hear what's going on around you, hear that line in your head that's suggested by what's going on around you and being able to clearly communicate what you are hearing with the other musicians.
  10. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    In a teacher-student relationship, the best students are those who are self-directed - who view the teacher's instruction as a supplement to their own self-directed learning.

    So if a bass instructor is encouraging self-direction by occassionally telling the student to work toward making progress on his own (before receiving help from the instructor) then that can be a good thing.

    A student who expects everything to come from the instructor might be too passive about his learning and will probably end up making only modest gains - at least when compared to his self-directed peers.

    And if the instructor is continually urging the student to learn more songs, this can be good too. Learning theory is great, but it's difficult to internalize theory unless the learner possesses a lot of song knowledge, which serves as a reference for the theory.

    Kind of like learning the parts of speech - nouns, adverbs, etc.... It makes sense to try learning them only after the learner has a strong command of the language.
  11. sandman_96


    Jul 16, 2001
    USA, Oklahoma
    Wow, lots of good advice here, thanks everyone for the responses.

    To be more clear about exactly what I want to be able to do, I want to be able to sit in with a band(any style band)and lay down some grooving bass lines just knowing the chord changes. I don't expect to play incredibally hard lines just solid bass lines. I have written some stuff out for songs before but I want to be able to do it without thinking about it. The stuff I have wrote took me at least an hour for one to two pages of music.

    That's a very good point and I have wondered that myself.

    Thats kind of what I mean about learning theory. I want to be comfortable enough with it that I'm not constantly asking myself "is that the right note, did that sound good?" while I'm trying to make up bass lines.
  12. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I never said don't get a teacher, but don't rely on other people for learning. One can learn a lot from one's self, more than one may think. But the attitude of "I need my teacher for this and that" IMO is musically unhealthy. I agree, teachers provide a plentiful amount of helpful information and will obviously help somebody.. I might have been unclear previously. I totally agree that a teacher is there to help you on the way, but I see many musicians using their teacher as a vital pilar to their musical growth, and it need not be that way. The only solid foundation one truely needs is a will to learn infinitely.. Teachers are there to help you find that infinite.
  13. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    I couldn't have said it better. Teaching is a gift and shouldn't be done by just anyone. The teacher has to know his or her own limits before they ever except a student. I think that the greatest injustice is a student who desperately wants information to soak in and hasn't got a way to get it. Music is not a mystery in any way, shape or form. It's simply information that needs to be passed on and practiced by a student. The beauty of it all is what the student does with that information. Too many teachers make music seem like a privilege and a mystery. That's just bullsh*t. That all simply stems from their own incompetence and lack of understanding. There are also many great players that just don't know how to present the information. This is something that I see a lot.

    I could go on but what it comes down to is that if you have the interest to know more and your teacher can't guide you, find a new teacher. Don't give up. The information will set you free. A great teacher looks at themselves to teach a student.
  14. I really like the way I work with my teacher....
    He tells me all the basics in the "right way." Like what's "proper" to to in a walking line, or what's natural to do in a solo situation. But still, he always encourages me to do my own thing. As he say,"you can learn as many jaco pieces as you want, and it will help you on your way, but you have to find your own musical identity." And he never ever comments on my sound, for instance. Because that's obviously my choice.

    But for me it's very important to know theory and proper technique as well, and for that a teacher is brilliant.