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Teaching one's self

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by SLiGhTLy_STooPiD, Nov 15, 2000.

  1. So are any of you self taught? - Meaning you never had lessons and everything you learned was from books/videos/internet, etc.? Just very curious and bored.
  2. Nails


    Jun 4, 2000
    Austin, Tejas
    I'd say bass wise I am. I did have a little help from my older brother, but that was on my guitar playing not my bass playing, I could transfer somethings over to bass though. But he never showed me things like how to hold a bass, which fingers to fret and pluck with, whether or not to use a pick, scales, or anything like that. Come to think of it, I've only seen one video, never read a book, but have done most of my learning by internet and observation.
  3. By the time I taught myself guitar and bass, I had several years of violin training under my belt, so I had an aptitude established. I just listened to many recordings, and learned as much of those as possible. My style is pretty much a melting pot of all those recordings I learned.

  4. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    I took lesson and studied at the university also. So i am far to be self taught. I think you need lesson unless you want to play in garage band all your life. Maybe if you are dicipline enough, you can learn harmony and reading by yourself...
  5. Jay


    Oct 19, 2000
    Bidwell, OH
    I am a self taught bassist. I did play tuba two years before pickin' up bass (still do play tuba) so that helped me to some extent reading music. I just bought a bass one day and I've learned everything on my own...improv, scales, harmony, string techniques..you name it, I taught it to myself. I come from a small town and there's no one here to teach us this stuff, so anyone that plays taught thereselves or was taught by one of the more experienced players. True, you must have discipline to teach yourself not to always jam, but to practice boring stuff as well. Enough ranting from me.

  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i'm mostly self taught. it's good to get some external input and perspective on your playing, makes progress faster, whenever i get in a rut i like to get some input from my peers or else find a good teacher and let him help me.

    i'm reminded of a saying - "a doctor who works upon himself has a fool for a patient" ;)

    then again, i consider videos, books and the internet to count as another outside source of info - not quite self taught.

    in a sense, i guess it's practically impossible to be "completely' self taught - i mean, nobody lives on a desert island, we hear things other people do that we like or don't like and are influenced by them.
  7. In an earlier post, Yvon said...

    <<I think you need lesson unless you want to play in garage band all your life.>>


    I have a freind who didn't have a lick of musical ability when he started playing the bass, and has now played bass for a number of touring bands for about 20 years, and make his living soley from this. No Lessons. He's not famous - He's not rich, but he's having a hell of a lot of fun, and paying his bills. This is not garage band stuff.
    I agree that a formal education would be nice, but I have to tell you - most of the musicians I know (bass or whatever), that are actually making a living at their instrument, are doing it without a lot of formal training, if any.

  8. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    I know there is some people who do it without any formal training. But all of my friends who play as professional musician, have at least, one year or school behing them. I also think that, if you want to back up artist, it is easier to get the gig if you know some theory and you know how to read.

  9. dot74


    Aug 24, 2000
    I think I'm considered self taught, the internet/other bassists/talkbass.com, are my classrooms/text/teachers....but I also have never played any music or instrument of any kind before and am finding out quite a bit on my own without those things.......
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    As JT has said, studying with a teacher will help you move along faster and nip bad technique in the bud, though the discipline required will soley have to come from you. I find that being able to read music and interpret charts in real time opens up a lot more musical opportunities, though of course there are plenty of gigs and opportunities that don't require it. The more you know, the more you can do.

  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    another way of looking at things is that, to some degree, everybody is self taught, when it comes to a musical instrument. there is a large element of the subjective, the personal, in almost every aspect of playing a musical instrument. even when presented with information from a teacher, or notes on a page, the ways that one understands and chooses to apply this information are going to vary from person to person. the lessons that are carried from the experience are going to vary from person to person.

    it's like 5 people see a lake. one says it's big, the other says it's wet, another says it's blue, and so on. the truth of the lake is what it is, but each person takes their own slice of it with them

    i think that to a large degree this is the case with musicians - in fact i think this HAS to be encouraged with musicians, even those that have always had teachers and a structured learning environment. otherwise they could end up just parrots.

  12. I'm 100% self taught too :). I wish I could read and know theory, but you can be good bassist without it. Some people just have a gift for music. I can sit and come up with a great bassline that just comes from within. Whenever a new song is written, I'm given a tape of it with just vocals and an acoustic guitar. I also get a lead sheet with the notes, but I don't really use it. I just listen with bass in hand, daydream, and start playing lines until I come up with something that is complimentry to the song and melodic. I try not to just thump the notes (Michael Anothony) although sometimes that's all the song needs. (Maybe I understand theory in my head and just don't realize it.) I dunno. I would love to take some sort of lessons, but I don't have the time or the loot. And I don't know any other bass players around here. And I don't know if I want to sit down with some one just because he works at a music store. Oh, well. I got alot of room to improve and theirs still plenty of time learn more and more. :D
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I too am self taught, I learned to play in church when I was 12, most of my influence and learning came from other church bass players.

    At 13 or 14, I discovered Geddy Lee and broadened my horizons over the years to include Jaco, Pattitucci, Wooten, etc.

    I have taught myself to read music, although not very fast, and I wish I knew more theory.

    I am a respected player among those who know me, and have even been told by people that have never heard of people like Victor Wooten or Steven Bailey that I am great(not that I agree with them!:))but I often wonder how awesome that I could be if I had studied string bass, theory and bass clef from the time I was 7 or 8 years old.
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks John! I couldn't have said it better...I have wished that this topic would appear on the DB side, but I dared not start it myself; over there, it seems, "self taught" is a four letter word. How do children learn to speak? Through imitation and practice....how do children learn to speak well? By imitating the right kind of people. Is it possible to become a great writer without studying the mechanics of grammar? I think so - if you love to read, do it all the time, and read good stuff, you will absorb it.

    I'm not saying that teachers are bad, or that everyone should quit their lessons (Hell, I make about half of my living as a teacher)...I just think that part of what teachers should teach students is to become self teachers who will someday no longer "need" lessons to do what they do...I had a teacher like that, and the experience was amazing!
  15. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i think it's really important for a teacher to approach his or her students with more of an attitude along the lines of "this is what has worked for me, and this is why" than just "here's your lessons and here's what you need to do for next week". extrapolation and creative interpretations from the student are very important traits to be encouraged by the teacher.

    that's not to say that the lessons should degenerate into "romper room", but rather that within the environment of structured, disciplined lessons, creativity and, even more importantly, creative interpretation and understanding of the material need to be encouraged. juggling those two extremes and finding a good balance is what makes finding a really good teacher so hard.
  16. Sampoerna

    Sampoerna Guest

    Oct 9, 2000
    W. KY, USA
    Even though I know it would be in my best interest to start instruction sessions now before I develop any bad habits with playing, I can't afford it. So, I'm going the self-teaching route for now.

    *gives a shout-out to Mel Bay & Mike Hiland* :)

    However, I hope that when I do have the spare cash, I can find a teacher in my area that is like the one you described, Mr. Turner. I hope such a person exists!

  17. Coming from a violin background, I only learned how to read music in the treble cleff. Learned guitar, didn't have to read at all. Now my main instrument is bass, has been for 20 years - and I can't read bass cleff proficiently. I have had plenty of gigs where I've had to back up artists without having to read. I really haven't had to read in any of the jobs I've done. Charts - I've followed many charts, ain't no big deal. Hell, It's been so long since I've had to read music, I'd have a hard time reading treble, and I've been working fairly steadily for 20 years. I would certainly like to learn more about reading, but it's hard to teach new things to an old coot like me.

  18. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Maybe being self taught is a matter of semantics. To me, purely self taught would mean even without benefit of books, videos and Internet laessons. The books, videos and Internet resources are so good these days that it is probably much easier to follow the "self taught" route with them then it would have been years ago when little useful information was available.

    Even so, it seems like the serious bassist would reach apoint in which he could benefit from classes with a teacher because the teacher can instantly spot deficiencies in technique, tone, or timing that might be very hard for one to observe for oneself. Think of the teacher as a coach. Great tennis players, swimmers and golfers have coaches for a reason. They just can't get to the top rung by themselves. They need that coach to act as a mirror. Also, often the world class athletes change coaches several times in their career, searching for that extra liitle edge that will help them improve.

    The other thing I often wonder is why musicians attempt to learn and remain self taught. We would never go to a self taught doctor, or lawyer, dentist or stock broker. Is it because music is an art and not a science? Yet ballet dancers cannot hope to ever perform in the best ballet companies as self taught dancers. Still, I know some of our greatest artists and sculptors are self taught, so is music more like painting and sculpting or is it not?

    Maybe I'm lazy, but I like to do things the easiest, fastest way and to me having a teacher to guide and encourage is that way. To me being self taught is the harder way. Some say self teaching helps you develop your own style and a teacher gives you his style or a homoginized style. But I still think, the more you know, the quicker you will develop your own style, but that is purely my opinion.

    Oh, by the way, I'm not self taught, because I lacked the confidence to achieve much of anything that way. Others might do very well. Was Jaco Pastorious self taught? I don't know.

    Jason Oldsted

  19. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    I am bassically 100% self taught. I bought a bass, amp, and book from the local music store, set down and figured out exactly what all of it meant, and just went from there. At first I could only read music, but as I played longer I developed my ear and can now learn almost anything by ear given a little bit of time. I actually went to a teacher for about 2 months, but he was a drummer/bass player, and was definitely better on the drums. He taught me very little, but what he did teach me helped me develop my ear somewhat.
  20. Bryan_G


    Apr 28, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    I wish I could take lessons.


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