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Teacher vs. Teaching myself

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by kalo, May 5, 2005.

  1. kalo


    Jul 29, 2003
    Hi all,

    Last Thursday was my first lesson with a teacher....Unfornately, I did not stay with him because of a couple of a reasons?

    1. Because he charges $30.00 per 1/2 hour lesson (too expensive for me)

    2. He said I had AWESOME techique and kind of looked at me like why are you taking lesson from me?

    Recently, I found a new teacher who is a bassist and also plays drums....He just called me and wanted to know if Saturday lessons will work for me....

    The person who recommended me to him says that he DEMANDS that a bassist learns how to read music.

    Only after a bassist learns how to read music does he teach you how to play songs....I guess when he figures them out for you he wrights them in music notation NOT TAB!

    Also, because this teacher plays drums he jams with you while you are playing bass....

    Okay that all sounds awesome, but lately, my ego is telling
    that maybe I don't really need lessons....REASONS:

    1. I can copy songs and play them.
    2. I have this AWESOME software that prints out notes and degrees of ANY scale or apreggio on this cool bass fretboard.
    3. My techinques are good...
    4. I am teaching myself and have learned almost all the major interval spellings, i.e. P5, P4, M3, m3, M6, etc.

    Please don't think I am being arrogant, but do I really need a teacher...

    There is one thing that I know will improve if I did go to this teacher for lessons and that is my sight reading...Although deep down I don't know if I will ever use it....It's not like I want to be a studio musician .

    Can someone advise me on whether I should seek this teacher out or continue on teaching myself....

    Thanks Kalo!
  2. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Which is the way he should be teaching. Too many "teachers" just teach kids how to read tab and then have them learn songs week after week without reinforcing any of the technical, theoretical, or musical aspects of playing. That's fine and dandy if your aspirations are to be a hobbyist, but if you decide to become a serious player, you're gonna be in a heap of trouble. What if a horn player asks you what key the song is in, and you just say, "I don't know. I play 2, 6, and 8"? Those numbers don't mean squat to a horn player.

    As far as if you need a teacher or not - I don't know. Why are you playing? If you want to be a hobbyist, then what you're doing is fine. If you want to be a serious player, give this guy a call (plus he plays drums with his students, which is a VERY good idea). So what if you have to learn standard notation? Nobody says, "I want to learn how to do linear algebra, but I don't feel like learning how to do basic multiplication and addition." The software sounds like a good tool, but it's only that. While I'm not trying to slag you about learning your intervals, the truth is that you aren't even scratching the surface of music. A (good) teacher is going to give you reinforcement on your playing. You could have awesome technique, but your timing may be crap and you don't even know it.

    My advice: find an instructor.

    Edit: I think I may have misinterpreted your post. I thought that you stated that you didn't want to read standard notation. It really wasn't clear.
  3. there's two things to consider. how much quality are you going to get, and is it the direction you want to go in. i've played with teachers (and some wasted money on) and i feel comfortable with what i'm doing right now that i feel no need to pay money for more skills. I think if i want to learn i'll pull out a book and teach myself. so think where you want to be. i can read bass clef pretty well, but i don't want to apply it to bass guitar for what i'm doing. are you playing rock?
  4. Broach_insound


    Jan 25, 2005
    New York
    You should read music!! Everyone should! you must remember TABS arent everything.
  5. kalo


    Jul 29, 2003
    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for the replies....

    The truth is I don't really know if I want to be professional bassist.

    One, of the things that this bassist (who recommended me to this teacher told me) that this teacher teaches ALOT of motown stuff (I am not sure if I am into that) The bassist who is taking lessons says that he would like to learn more rock, but this teacher believes that there are four bassist he believes in exposing bass players to and teaching there style and those are:

    1. James Jamerson
    2. Paul McCartney
    3. Jaco Pastorius
    4. Can't remember the fourth one...

    Ya know I like a lot of different styles of music, so maybe taking lessons from him is a good idea.....Kalo!
  6. Most rock is simple and repetitive. His aim is definitely higher than that- if you can get a handle on Jaco and Jamerson, you can play all the rock you want. Stick with the teacher and his methods. He sounds really solid.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sight reading is about the only thing you can really work on WITHOUT a teacher.

    I would also be somewhat dubious of somebody teaching "style" instead of musical fundamentals. You get a good teacher and they are going to give you the tools to build anything you want, the understanding to conceptualize anything you might want to build and the ability to deepen your ability to understand and conceptualize those things you don't even know exist yet.
    Rather than learning how to build something that somebody else built.

    Don't get me wrong, transcribing other players as a methodology towards hearing with clarity and understanding is great. But if somebody I was looking at as a teacher said " i think you need to learn how to play like Charlie Haden, Paul Chambers, Scott Colley and Edgar Meyer", I'd say thanks and get the hell out of there.

    I'd ask how he teaches physical approach to the instrument (technique), how he teaches ear training, how he teaches understanding and conception (theory). I'd see how much material I would be working on was stuff he'd written out (good) or stuff from pre existing books and methods (not so good).

    Professional or not, if you want to PLAY music and not just be pushing buttons, you at some point in time have to deal with getting the fundamentals of music under your belt.
  8. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    i taught myself by grabbing an upright and joining a bluegrass band, then went through 'the evolving bassist' by rufus reid. (i won't mention that i had an idiot for a teacher, and a fool for a student...)
    i recommend that you get with that teacher. while i am not a bad player, i can't be objective about my progress, or my technique. a good teacher can help you with stuff you won't even notice, and can help you teach yourself the right way.
  9. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    Sounds like the perfect bass teacher, since he can play drums along with you. Not only will you learn so much, but you will have alot more fun doing it.
  10. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Yeah that sounds like a dream situation. I had an awesome teacher in high school, but that sounds even better. Do it for 6 months and see how much better a player you become, then decide if you want to continue.
  11. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    I am in a simular bind. I am self teaching myself right now (have no money). The more I think about it the more I realize I need a teacher just to show me proper technique. I can learn fretboard, scales, keys, what have you from the internet just fine.

    Maybe it would be more worthwhile to take a music theory class from a local school....

    What else does one learn with bass lessons?

    I'm going to be a hobbyist. My goal is to jam with my friends and play more than root note of chord :)

    Also note I played trumpet from 5th grade through college. So I do have a musical background. But that's just reading sheet music and playing what is on paper.
  12. i'm sorry, but i believe that everything you need to learn can come from a book. that and a metronome for timing. bass is a support instrument (never thought i'd come out and say it considering i overplay way too much). I think that the only reason to see a teacher outside of all that is to make sure that there is good technique being used
  13. Mr.Phil


    Apr 9, 2005
    Upstate NY
    I would take advantage that situation... A teacher that does Jamerson stuff would rock
  14. Go the teacher :bassist: - If you have been playing the bass a while and know where the notes are on the fretboard, then reading music, will be simply a matter of accociating that "note" on paper, with that on the fretboard. Not all that hard...

    As for his style, i think drums is a very good way to reinforce timing, I just got a drum machine, not really used a metronome- my timing was good, but it improved... Similarly with a teacher, things I was having trouble with from books, were made so much clearer in person.

    Give it a go, and see what the situation is in 3 to 4 weeks :) :bassist: I also strongly recomend Patrick Pfeiffer's book "Bass Guitar for Dummies" , it caters for everyone that has something to learn, and it's a good read and great teaching method.

  15. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    I'm actually quite interested in this thread, though I'm coming in from a different angle.

    I've played piano for about 50 (!! ... jeez hard to believe I've gotten that old) years. I had a good classical education with Julliard graduate; and then went through the Berklee jazz improv material with a graduate of that school -- so I have a reasonably complete technique and education on that instrument (i.e., I can play what I want). I've played a good deal of Art Tatum / Fats Waller / Teddy Wilson jazz (post-boogie so to speak) and over the past decade became very intrigued by walking bass lines.

    I could do the 'bass' style walking bass on the piano, but the bass has a lot more character, because you have such a fine control over the attack and tone (the left hand is the weak one on the piano, plus the sound low down on a piano tends to be so thick that definition gets lost, more than with a bass.

    When my son picked up guitar, I followed him into the store with my credit card, and stuck an Ibanez bass on the card by impulse (so I had to learn), maybe mainly because I thought basses looked and sounded cool.

    I've purchased Ed Friedland's books (Walking Bass I&II and Groove Training or some such thing ... Friedland's books are the best, along with Gary Willis... I wish I could hire HIM as a teacher) and am going through those on my own. I did find a couple of teachers, but getting to my lessons (in Hong Kong traffic) just always seemed to be too much of a hassle, so I'm self-teaching myself (is that redundant?).

    I think that a good teacher would be a luxury. I'd love to have someone who would play the drums with me, rather than having to program my little Boss drum machine (which I've gotten pretty lazy about doing).

    As for tablature, I really think you want to move away from it. With a bass tuned in fourths, you can easily play any note in umpteen place on the neck ... tablature forces you into someone else's fingering and position. Since you don't have the same size hands as they, nor the same limberness, nor technique, why let them dictate what and how you play?

    Another thing I noticed on the bass is that technique is all over the place (I picked up a video tape with 10 great bassists showing their technique, and this only validates my contention). Piano technique in comparison, is pretty standard. Though it has changed since I was a kid, when I learned to use a high finger technique. Now, especially for jazz, you want to pretty much keep your fingertips in touch with the keys, and all of the control and muscle comed from the wrists, elbows and shoulders.

    This is what I try to do with the bass left hand, though it requires keeping sort of a steady pull with the wrist (my own invention ... I'd like to have someone good actually critique this). I also try not to stretch too much, and to keep my hands relaxed. If I need to cover a large jump, I just try to move faster (I saw Jeff Berlin in concert here, and that's how he does it ... and I thought he was pretty impressive).

    Anyway, I wish I could find someone really good who could critique all of this, given that I probably have a good chance of coming to some wrong conclusions with a new instrument. :bag:
  16. On what do you base that belief?
  17. the fact that a guy like me that studied music on two different instruments can apply that knowledge on bass and find a new groove everytime he picks up the instrument. sure i've gotten my fair share of bad habits, but the way i see it, i can play with emotion, and i can use all four of my fingers on the fretting hand like a good bassist, and that I seldomly manage to pick up the bass at all during the weeks. reading music isnt at all as important to me as the development of style and the will to sit down and create new groove, new harmony. it's great if you want to be a session cat, but i really find myself bored by the overall theory (perhaps cuz i'm a music major?) with the exception of learning intervals.
  18. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    westland, may i humbly say you friggin' rock?
    :D :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
  19. I've gotta call BS here. So basically, what you're saying is that those of us who pour thousands of hours into our musicianship and take private lessons are wasting our time, and that instead we should just buy some method books and we'll be set?

    I don't buy it. Becoming a great bassist (or a great musician, period) is best done by the master/apprentice system... i.e., you study one on one with an experienced player for an extended period of time, and he slowly teaches you everything he knows and evaluates your progress. Books, DVDs, etc, can't begin to touch what a relationship like this can offer you.

    A good analogy for lessons is this: it's the difference between climbing a ladder to the moon, and taking a rocket there. I'm sure you can figure out what I mean by this.
  20. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Thanks for the compliment, I'm not sure I'm rocking yet (one day). I do think that this discussion highlights that it is not just 'to be (taught) or not to be (taught)' rather it is what you do when your teacher is around.

    I'd like to come into a lesson with two lists:

    (1) a list of pieces to play for the teacher, so that he can critique the devil out of them; and

    (2) a list of questions I want to ask him (including demos of technique) and use them to pick his brain.

    I did this with Steve Hillis, the Berklee piano graduate, and it worked well (at least when I practiced sufficiently; Steve actually tended to overload me he knew so much). For teaching to work, you have to be an active part of he learning process (just my $0.02)

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