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Should I stick with this teacher?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by McHaven, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. McHaven


    Mar 1, 2005
    Normally I'm an electric bass player but I've ventured into DB. I'm renting a 3/4 upright and I had my first lesson today.

    This teacher of mine is a total music snob and does not respect anything but classical music and is completely ignorant about electic bass. The lesson started out fairly well me playing through these basic pieces because she didn't think i knew anything about bass since i played bass guitar.

    She heard me improvising in the hallway before my lesson and she thought I sounded pretty great for a begginner but during the lesson she tore apart my technique to wear I could barely play well at all. I'm not aiming to be in any orchestras or string ensembles with double bass. Its just something for me to kind of learn and experiment with. I like playing the double bass so far, I figure it would be good to have some basic knowledge of it.

    Am I the only one who doesn't think technique is all that important? I think getting it all to sound good is the most important rather than technique.

    I'm really not happy with the teacher and I could get lessons from my friend who is the #2 player in Texas All-State. He's better than my teacher for sure.

    Also she put some small markings on my fingerboard to help out my intonation for now. She put some tape on the D string F#, calling it finger 1. Now, this just throws me off most of the time. Would I be a heathen for marking some little side dots on the neck where the 3rd, 5th, 7th fret on an electric bass would? It would allow me to play alot better and help me with my intonation until I memorize those positions on the DB neck.

    Maybe I should just get a fretless electric, then I could actually fit it in my car.
  2. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    I think you should keep the teacher, lose the attitude. So what if she doesn't know anything about the electric bass, she's not teaching you that. What you're after is a good, solid, basic technique to play the double bass. For that I would want someone who cares deeply about those things, ie a specialist in classical double bass who can teach proper technique. You aren't asking her to shape your musical world, just to teach you what you need to know to play the instrument properly.

    After many years playing the double bass, I went to see a classical teacher again. I'm a reasonably advanced professional player, and he "busted me down to private." He pulled out a beginner book and we played long tones, he corrected my bow hold and left hand positioning. As he was showing me these things, he would have me listen to the difference between his way and my way, and his way sounded clearer. Instead of being offended that he didn't "respect my abilities" I was very excited that he had something to offer that would really help me. Maybe you should consider thinking about it that way.

    If I wanted to learn to play shamisen, I wouldn't expect my shamisen teacher to care, or even know about, the double bass. I just want them to show me what they know about playing the shamisen. What does it matter if your teacher doesn't know or care about the electric bass?

    Lastly, I noticed that when you refer to things going well or going badly, going well almost always refers to you experiencing easy success, or to your teacher complimenting you. I think it might be better if you tried to realize that "going well" really maybe more means you are learning something, even if it makes you feel less good about yourself. After all, you hired the teacher to teach you about the instrument, not to stroke your ego.

    Good luck with the bass, it's a great, and challenging, instrument.

  3. Brent said it all, I'm just here to say AMEN! The best thing you could do is learn proper technique, because the longer you play the DB the deeper into the instrument you'll want to go and the technique will serve you well.

    PS. When you play the DB play the DB, don't think about the BG. They are completely different and require different physical approachs. I'm not saying this as a snob or anything, just a guy who started on BG and made the switch later.

    Have fun, enjoy,
  4. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    You'll be surprised how much progress you'll make if you suck it up, suck it in, and stick it out.

    I'm still at the beginning of my journey as a double bassist (less than a year experience) but taking lessons from a classical player was the best thing I could've done for my playing.
  5. I agree with all that has been said so far. Criticism will only help you in the long run, and since you are switching instruments, you should expect a complete overhaul in your technique. I don't really see the harm in placing any marks on your bass which help ease you into the change, but you might want to give her approach a chance before you try yours. By the way, calling the F# mark "1st Finger" may sound confusing, but in the bass world, it is often considered "1st Position". Names are just names, so don't let them confuse you. Having played the electric bass, you know that if you put your first finger there, you have the 5th (C#) under your 4th finger on the next string, if you put your second finger on it, you've got the major 3rd (A#) under your first on the next string, etc. Keep the note relationships in mind, but don't let them rule your technique. Welcome to DB, good luck.
  6. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Getting it all to sound good and technique go hand in hand. The doublebass is very physically demanding. Improper technique will limit your ideas, as well as cause damage to your arms and hands.

    It's a drag that your teacher is a music snob... so what. That's her issue, not yours.
  7. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    To agree with everyone, good technique is invaluable. My first bass teacher (although he wasn't a music snob, but loved all kinds of good music), GRILLED me with technique. We spent hours playing monotonous exercises focusing on hand position, intonation and so forth.

    I hated it! It was such a pain in the a$$. But I look back on it now and I owe this guy so much. I wouldn't be able to play a damn thing if it weren't for him.

    I also realized that the best thing for me was being classically trained FIRST. My classical training is what allowed me to gain facility on the entire fingerboard, okay, so I'm still working on it;) , but you get my point.

    Also, If your teacher is a snob, drop her and find someone who isn't, and not one of your friends, but a pro. There are plenty of classical bassists who don't have that sh*tty attitude. In fact, I've never had a bass teacher (classical or jazz) who was like that and I'm sorry for those who do.
  8. sibass89


    Jan 29, 2006
    Cincinnati, OH
    Everybody hear is correct. You need good technique. If you don't have good technique it is very hard to create that good sound you are looking for. It actually seems to me that you have a great teacher. I wish my first teacher would have grilled me on technique , because it would have made my lessons now ( the year of my college auditions) so much easier.

    Here is a little story I think you will appreciate.

    John Patituci was already out of college and nominated for a grammy award when he decided to go to John Schaeffer (for principal with the NY Phil) to learn french bow. All John wanted to get out of it was to learn how to play french bow, but instead Schaeffer completely tore apart his left hand technique and taught him as if he was a beginner, and Patituci went along with it the whole way and told me in a master class this summer it was one of the greatest experiences in his life.

    I hope this shows you how important technique is because everybody needs good technique and everybody is concerned. It just makes playing the bass easier and more fun.