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Starting Lessons, Anything I should be Looking out for?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Hawkeye, Dec 8, 2004.

  1. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    I've been playing for nearly 2 1/2 years (self-taught) and have got to the point where I'm comfortable playing from fake sheets with lyrics and guitar chords. I don't just play root notes lock-step with the kick drum. I'm playing approach notes and some walking lines, venturing up the neck from time to time, double stops etc. but I want to learn more.

    I play in a praise / worship band that has a very wide repetoire styles and lots of variation (modern rock, folk-rock, classically-inspired hymns, old-time jazzy southern gospel, countryfied footstompers etc.).

    I'm going to start lessons starting at the end of the month with a local store with one of their "bass specialists".

    Any advice for how to tackle the first lessons and how I will know whether the teacher knows his stuff or not?

    I'm expecting that a lot of it will boil down to chemistry and whether I'm learning new stuff and having fun. I just wondered if TB'ers thought there are any questions that I should ask to get things off on the right foot.
  2. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I was just like you. Not bad at all for being self taught for a year and a half before taking lessons. If your in a praise band then you must play with some good musicians so you know whats good and bad bass playing. Interview the person.

    1. Who have you played with?
    2. Where have you studied, how did you learn bass?
    3. What styles do you play?
    4. What techniques can you play?
    5. How long have you been teaching?
    6. How would you start out a new student?
    7. What is your style of teaching, lessons, exercises, theory?
    8. Do you teach guitar and bass? You want bass only!
    9. Are you open to suggestions for teaching techniques and excercises?

    You first must identify what you need to work on then find out if this person can meet your needs and has the tools to show you what you want to know. I have found my person after talking to about a dozen prospects and taking lessons form others before I found they were not for me. You may have to do the same. But you are a clean slate don't let anyone pollute you with bad habits or techniques.

    I also frequented blues and jazz clubs and asked any good musicain I saw. Do you teach? Or if it's a non bass player do you recommend anyone that can teach? I found my guy that way by talking to this awesome guitarist who was taught by a bass player that studied under Anthony Jackson, wow that's a mouthfull. I am his only student and I had to beg this guy to teach me but we have become friends in the process. I found the best ones for the most part don't teach in stores but are gigging or recording and you just have to ask around and seek these people out. Many don't teach but that's not to say if you approach and seek them out they will know you are serious and may help you out, most musicains are very down to earth and at least will point you in the right direction and appreciate when you approach them and maybe flattered that you would ask to begin with.....That's my story anyway.
  3. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    VERY Good advice RicPlaya. Well-thought out and articulate, and from a bass player yet! Go Figure.

    I'm definitely going to ask those questions and more.

    Interesting that you suggest gigging musicians for leads. I thought of that too and asked a guy who's my "brother in law's brother in law" (who happens to be a professional pianist with a Juno award-winning big jazz band) if he knew any bassists who could teach. He never got back to me despite a follow-up but I was sort of thinking the same thing.

    Right now, I'll stick with the store teacher as I'm not far enough along with lessons to know what I want / like / need etc.

    Like a ship, once I'm moving then I can steer. Until that time, it's hard to make hard and fast decisions.

  4. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    My pleasure. If I were you I would hanging out in some of the clubs in Toronto scouting out some potential OB-1 konobies.
    Even if jazz or blues isn't your thing those are the guys I would learn from. Good Luck :bassist:
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Look out for the BS "I was a Jaco's roommate" story
  6. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Sometimes you can find these kind of teachers, but make sure it's varifiable. I found the CD's that credited my instructor on the albums he said he played on.
  7. I think it's very important to find someone who you are comfortable being around. You're going to be making a lot of mistakes in front of this person, you want someone who isn't intimidating/arrogant, which unfortunately many shop teachers can be. And in addition to the great advice above, watch out for teachers that use tablature. Tab is musical HIV, if you learn to read notation from the start you'll be thankful later. My first teacher taught with tab, and it took a long time to get away from that crutch, it was a major disservice to me on his part.
  8. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI

    At the same time you may need a little motivation or someone to push you a bit versus just collecting an hourly fee from you.
  9. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    I've been to two teachers and one pitfall I've noticed is that after a while they tend to fall into a play-along mentality where you wind up either transcribing tunes or playing through them. That would not be bad if it were built around some kind of example but it has not.

    So before I go to another teacher I want to make sure he has a program of instruction, (I don't mind buying another book if that's part of the deal), a path to follow, goals to reach, and continuity from one session to the next. I expect a challenge. Not just a little of this and a little of that from one week to the next. If you see yourself falling into the play-along rut, move on.