Teaching people who were ahead of me a year ago

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by oniman7, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. Enter last year. My little brother has just given up playing guitar, and I inherit his guitar. It's a black Ibanez with a Floyd Rose Tremolo (which my teacher had unscrewed due to my brother hitting it after every note, and succesfully un-tuning the guitar each time). I get wind of a guitar club at my school, sponsored by a teacher who I later found to be one of the coolest at the school. So each Tuesday, I lug my guitar and amp around waiting for that hour and a half. (Freshman year, if you're curious). I get in each day, barely manage to tune my guitar, and hack at some scales that are given to me in tab form. At the end of each class, we're given 20 minutes of instruction in theory, which I am completely lost at. It takes me months before I even understand the concept of things like thirds and fifths. But each day, I practice at least an hour. After 10 months of that, I finally get the bass I've been waiting for. I practice that even longer every day. And then summer comes along and I've got nothing else to do, leading to 4 or more hours of practice in addition to weekly lessons.

    School starts back up, and I now lug my bass and practice amp around, excited for the first Guitar Club of Sophomore year. I'm confident enough in my skills that I volunteer as an instructor and earn the honor of actually being able to plug in my amp during the lessons, as opposed to just using it to jam afterwards. I look around the class of 20 some kids, and there's one other bassist there. She used to blow me away with her skills when I started, so I figure it should be challenging working with her. Sit down and start working with her, and I find out she doesn't know what a hammer-on is. No clue of any notes on the fretboard, still has to count out which dot she's going to to get the right fret, etc. So I decide that, to make this less painful for myself, I'm going to teach a concept that I figure is relatively easy. Slapping. So I demonstrate to her how to slap a single note, and ask her to slap an open E, and then watch her count her strings from highest to lowest to find the E string. After playing for over a year. That was a fun lesson.

    But then I branch out and start teaching others at the same time, most of them guitarists. I figure I'll give them a very simple lesson on how to incorporate some music theory. I quickly gather how much they know: tabs and power chords.
    So I run through a major scale and explain to them exactly how all of the notes correlate, and eventually, how to make an arpeggiated major triad with a root, third, and fifth. After that ten minute lesson, I string together three of those arpeggiated triads (D, E, G) and ask them if they understand what I did. I get responses varying from "what's a triad?" to "I understand. You did a line (cocaine) and then played some crazy spider thing with your hands". Not a single person got it. So I run back through what I've just done to have them stare at me again and ask what I've done.

    Long story short, these people were up to a year ahead of me when I started. They all remember when I could barely control what string I was picking. I go in this year, playing my bass, and I think I could easily count myself among the top 4 or 5.

    I guess I can thank the time I put in practice, and the general masses here at TB for educating me in various musicianship.

    By the way, TL;DR, whatever, I already know. lol
  2. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Progress is great, feeling good about yourself is also a good thing.
    Appreciating the things that got you there (good input and hard work) is yet another good thing.
    Rock on.
  3. Frohman


    Nov 24, 2009
    Oh, I so feel you on that. I've played for a year now, and people that used to blow me away don't impress me anymore. I feel that I'm a much more solid and confident bass player than the three other bassplayers on the musical institution that I go to. And these guys have been playing 5-10 years. What separates me from them? It's not that I am born with any natural talent.

    No, brother, I practice. Practice is endlessly more valuable than talent. Practice gives everyone a chance, no matter what base of talent you have.
  4. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    you're going to find that most of the people you meet will say they play guitar but have no heart for it and aren't good players at all. unfortunately, get used to it. This becomes less true the older the person is because we have so much other stuff going on that we don't take up the hobby unless we're serious about it.
  5. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    That's something I don't really like about the "Guitar Generation." Everybody believes that armed with only the knowledge of how to play a power chord, they can become a world-renowned virtuoso. Then they believe that any type of learning will "Stifle their creativity." They just sit in their bedroom stuck in a rut they don't even realize they've backed themselves into. They aren't prepared to even try to learn any type of theory, again believing that it will "Stifle their creativity" if they learn to understand what a scale is, much less a chord.

    I won't say this applies to all guitarists, but it applies to a lot of them.
  6. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    Practice makes progress. Well done, man.
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    so you've played bass for what, a year now?

    how many bands are you in? :p

    (seriously though, this does prove that it's not about how long you've been playing, but how much you've been practicing and studying. those four-hour sessions of just getting lost in exploring the instrument are what it's all about.)
  8. I'm actually in 2. One's gigging. Considering a third with the keyboardist/singer of the second band. lol. All 3 may end up playing at the Battle of the Bands for my school in March.
  9. BillMason


    Mar 6, 2007
    You've learned well in your first year, good job. Don't let it go to your head though, no one likes an arrogant musician. Especially other musicians - we all have to work to get good and to learn; some work more than others. It's more a question of how much a person wants it and how hard they will work than natural ability, in my opinion, so there's nothing to be cocky about. Genuine humility will get you more gigs than cockiness, regardless of your abilities.

    IME, in bass playing theory and scale knowledge are important (of course!), but for bass they count far less than good timing, a feel for a groove, and a good ear. Now that you have a decent foundation of scale knowledge down, I suggest you focus on these things - also IME, budding guitar players are easily impressed by knowledge of scales, their own or someone else's, but do not grasp the application of those scales. Kind of like they're collecting Pokemon cards.

    For theory, I recommend some serious jazz training - get a Jazz "Real Book", which will show you the melody and the chord structure, and then start transcribing Charlie Parker solos and Ray Brown bass lines by ear, and understand how each note fits into the chords they are playing. This will help your ear immensely and expand your understanding of scales exponentially. Plus you'll be listening to dudes that none of your friends will have even heard of.

    Feel and timing - well, Ray Brown of course, but also learn James Jamerson, Carol Kaye, Duck Dunn, Stevie Wonder's left hand, etc. "Simple" bass lines to pick out the notes, but the harder part is getting the feel right. These guys (and girl) also knew every scale in the book, but used them in a way that makes you want to bob your head and shake your thang. Something every bass player needs to grasp, and the earlier the better.
  10. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    While reading through the thread, I was getting ready to say something, then saw Bill's post. He beat me to it when he said, in effect, "Don't lose your humility." I'm not saying that you would, but it's something good to remember. People will like you (and therefore listen and learn) much better if you don't exhibit any arrogance.

    One other thing I thought of while reading your original post: It sure is refreshing to see a young person with good writing skills. I know that this has nothing to do with music per se, but in this age of texting and short-cuts, it's nice to see. Keep up the good work!
  11. Biolink


    Apr 25, 2010
    Chicago, Illinois
    Just started playing bass myself and wow! I can't imagine anyone who doesn't know what an open E is. Makes me wonder if she even bothers keeping it in tune.
  12. Thanks for the responses. As of right now, I don't think it's a question of my humility versus the confidence I used to have in people. But if I ever become too arrogant, you have the right to knock some sense into me. I'll pay for the plane ticket and everything (;

    As far as writing, I'm on the school newspaper, and I'm published monthly. I think I'm at that point now just because of my habit of writing everything like I do.
  13. BillMason


    Mar 6, 2007
    I too was impressed by your writing - you're obviously not an average teen!
  14. Lecomber


    May 4, 2010
    Bath - UK
    I 4m a teenageer nd my writing skillz are perfect. But seriously - I'm 17 and I hardly have any friends who use text speak when they're typing. To be honest most of the people I know who use annoying abbreviations and acronyms are older then 30. Don't judge us all merely because there's a few of us out there who can't write coherent sentences! We are the computer generation. Typing comes naturally to us.
  15. ColdSteelRain


    Jul 27, 2008
    Dallas, TX
    It's very cool to be in a position to give back so quickly.

    If I could make a suggestion: teach in smaller chunks. Show 'em something, tell 'em what you did, show 'em again, have them do it, correct their mistakes, do it together, tell 'em what they just did. Maybe repeat a few times if they aren't quite getting it.
  16. Atnum


    Jan 14, 2010
    Also consider that they might not want to become musicians. I know plenty of people who just learn how internet tablature works and play along with their favorite songs. They are good that that but if I asked them to play something over a bass line they wouldn't know where to start and that is OK because they are happy with the job they have and have no intention of getting on stage and perform for other people.
  17. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    It is not when you started, it has how many hours you have put in. You have obviously put in much more time than the guitarists limited to tabs and power chords. keep it up

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