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Starting with Teaching...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by rob_d, Apr 17, 2002.

  1. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    Here's my situation. I've been playing bass for nearly 14 years now. I've studied music in college and consider myself a well above average bass player. I've never taught bass lessons however, as I've never been interested in it. Recently though I've been thinking it's something I might want to get into and have thrown around the prospect of taking on a few students.

    My trouble is, despite my playing skills, I really don't know where to start. I feel it will be difficult for me to teach beginners. I don't really have a method or plan for teaching. I don't want to give somebody a half-assed lesson...if I don't feel I can do it right I don't want to do it. I have alot of knowledge to give, but just not sure how to give it. I had some bad teachers when I started so I know how it feels to try and learn from somebody who just can't teach. I won't be one of those teachers who just sits there and shreds in front of the student for 30 minutes..I've had those. I've also had great teachers, so I know the difference. My great teachers all came when I was fairly advanced though. I feel I could teach an intermediate student pretty well..it's the complete beginners I'm concerned about.

    Anyways, I guess I'm just looking for advice on getting started by some seasoned teachers out there. Hell, I don't even know the going rate and what I should be charging. Anyways, any advice would be appreciated.
  2. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Try asking Steve Lawson on his forum or PM
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I teach about 25 students a week. For the Music majors and DB students, I have a whole different agenda, but for private BG instruction....

    You almost have to start with the basics: Left and Right hand techniques and options (I don't consider bass or any instrument a "one style fits all" proposition), notes in first position, introduction to rhythmic values, and then an assessment of what the student wants to get out of the lessons in the long run. I try to get the student to establish a set of long range goals, and from there I can gauge what to teach the student based on what they want to do with the bass.

    One very important aspect of my BG teaching is the idea of letting each student determine to a large degree their course, and letting them choose the music they want to learn. Each type of music will present its own challenges, and I've found that working on music that has been chosen by the individual students is a great motivating factor. This means that I do a good deal of transcribing in lessons at first. Students who watch an instructor listen to their current favorites once or twice and then write the bass part out note for note (with or without the changes, depending on the situation) without touching a bass begin to understand very quickly that there is a great deal to be learned about the mental aspect of hearing, and most become very enthusiastic about wanting to learn those skills. (If you have to use your bass to do this at first, it usually doesn't turn off the students either...they seem to be fascinated by the process in either case, because that's what they want to be able to do).

    It also helps to use a "reward system", like having a reading method that you use every week at the beginning of each lesson. My system is: however much time it takes the student to get through and NAIL their reading exercises for that week is up to the student. Once they have covered that, the topics for the rest of the lesson is up to their discretion. This has also proven to be a great motivator.

    Hope this helps.