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thoughts on getting into teaching...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by lowend219, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. lowend219


    Sep 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    *warning in advance, bit of a long story. I just want you guys to see where I'm coming from with this.


    I make a bit of money playing bass but I'm still a semi-pro in that my main gig as a stage hand still pays most of the bills. However, its a real feast or famine gig. Sometimes there's a ton of work. sometimes there is none. That combined with the fact that I'm trying to scrape some money together for a gigantic recording project one of my bands is doing has got me thinking about other ways of making some dough.

    I've been considering giving beginner/intermediate private bass lessons a shot to help bring in some extra cash. I've got my theory knowledge together, can read music and play a multitude of styles with at least some proficiency and consider my chops to be pretty decent (my prog metal band has me tearing into some pretty gnarly licks and playing through some real tricky time signatures.) My biggest weakness is probably my ear and transcription ability. I can transcribe basslines but I'm not great w/hearing chords off of a track.

    My big issue is this: I'm self taught. I learned initially from messing around w/friends, then from books, and of course: you guys here on TB :D. I've also had a handful of private lessons from 2 teachers in the past year and a half or so dealing only with specific techniques or styles i wanted to get better at. Mostly though I've just learned by getting out and playing and learning on the gig.

    Now I know I'm a good teacher in general, I coached mite and peewee hockey when I was in high school and coached high school lacrosse while I was in college. However, I hesitate to throw my hat into the ring because as a self taught player I have no real "credentials" as an instructor. (I'm in LA so I have all those MI and Berklee grads to compete with) Also I don't want to do any disservice to potential students by using poor teaching methods.

    So the question is: what do you all think? should I even try to get into this teaching thing? If yes, what would be some good places to look for lessons and/or philosophies to keep in mind.

    Thanks for reading through this somewhat monstrosity of a post. TB has been very good to me this since I started using it. from advice to gear acquisitions. Hopefully you guys can help me out with this too.
  2. monroe55


    Mar 17, 2009
    Teach Dude!
    You know enough theory/styles for a beginner bassist to benefit from. Forget all those Berkely/LA nerds too. There's a lot of pressure here on TB to be a good techer as to avoid corrupting a novice with bad advice. A good teacher does one thing...Inspires you to learn. Just focus on doing that.
    My only problem with taking lessons nowadays is the availablitiy of SKYPE lessons. Through these I can interact and get lessons from anyone, anywhere I want. In fact, there's a guy on TB who offers Skype and I'm considering lessons that-a-way. I reside in Pennsylvania and it would be real difficult for me to commute to the UK to sit with him for an hour a week, but Skype makes it possible.
    In short, dont worry about them Berkely guys, worry about Skype.
  3. Couple of questions. How many students will you need to make it pay? When your real job is busy will you have time to teach?

    Going rate here is $75 for four thirty minute lessons. Is that enough to make a difference? When you take on a student you have to be available at a specfic time each week.
  4. lowend219


    Sep 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    that's another concern. I actually had the good fortune to get a few lessons w/Robin Zielhorst of Cynic. He's out of the country at the moment but said I should just skype him if I want more lessons. I thought to myself, "no way am I paying for a bass lesson over Skype" but the guy is so damn good I may just end up doing it. haha. Thanks for the support!
  5. lowend219


    Sep 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I don't really have any dollar figures in mind. This is hopefully just to help fill in the cracks left when I don't have other work. This time of year things tend to get pretty slow around here. If things start to go well I may block out a day or two per week w/my other gig to be able focus on lessons. That of course is a best case scenario...
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Is this a short-term thing to raise the cash you need? If so, I'd rethink your motivation.

    It takes a lot of prep to do it right and if you don't have it in you to do it long-term, I do not think you'll be as effective as you could be.

    As for the students to make a commitment of time for lessons/study/practice, why should they do that with you when you'll basically be leaving them when you get the cash you need? Doesn't seem fair to me.

    Also, what will you do when your schedule is super busy, will the teaching just fall to the side? Or how about when your gigantic recording session kicks in, what happens to your time then?

    I'm just sayin'.....

    Here are a few links you may want to check out:
    ~Teaching Bass
    1 Teaching ideas
    Becoming a teacher
    Carol Kay's bass learning/playing advice
  7. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    The fact that you spoke about YOUR chops, YOUR knowledge and YOUR need for money, before speaking about your ability and desire to teach is a red flag.
  8. lowend219


    Sep 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA

    I guess I should have also noted that I've been wanting to teach for a long time. I've always enjoyed teaching/coaching and hoped that teaching bass would be something that I would eventually be good enough to do. I think it was just the upcoming seasonal lull in my work that got me thinking, "hey, this year I've really progressed in my knowledge and playing, so maybe this is the time to try and get started." If I thought there was any way for me to teach on a regular basis I would gladly take time out of my stagehand gig (or quit it entirely) as I find teaching infinitely more fun, more gratifying and not to mention a lot easier on my back.

    The last thing I want to do is become a poor teacher. It was a poor music teacher in junior high that kept me from picking up bass until I was in college. Every day I think about those years I wasted dwelling on the experiences I had with that teacher. No, I am taking this very seriously. That is why I brought the question up with you guys here.
  9. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    If that is the case, I would recommend that you start to look for a good methodology (whether a book or your own), find or create the resource materials that you need, find a good location or hook up with a local music store. Think about and identify what it is that makes one want to go to you for lessons rather than all those BIT grads. Think about your expectations and define what expectations you want from your students. Develop an organizational method so you can always be prepared for your students.

    Being self taught is much less important than having something to offer

    Personally, I wrote my own lesson book. Having published a number of books and lesson columns for many mags, I have developed my own teaching style and methodology. You can study with 1,000 different teachers, but only I can offer you what I can! That is HUGE

  10. lowend219


    Sep 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA

    great food for thought. I'm definitely gonna have to spend some time thinking about my personal strengths. One I know that comes to mind is that I really do enjoy teaching. I've been doing it in one context or another since high school. I know I have the patience to teach kids and I'm always very positive with students I teach.

    I'm currently rummaging through all of the bass books I've compiled and trying to find the best exercises from each so I can start putting together a curriculum. Also, Mike your solo bass book looks great for my own personal bass edification. I love solo bass compositions but I'm never happy with my own ideas, I think your book might provide some further insight for my own writings. Oh still so much to learn....
  11. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    Patience is the key, is it not? If you want to check a bit of my instructional material for "regular" bass playing check here. I also make it available to teachers, at a discount, for resale to students (directly, of course)

  12. lowend219


    Sep 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Mike, looks interesting. I have a feeling I might end up getting both books. I also need to invest in a drum machine. I have a metronome and its great but one thing I want to stress w/potential students is how to lock in with a drummer. Anything other raw materials you can think of that would be helpful?
  13. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    I am not so much a drum machine or a metronome guy. I do, however push my students to play with other musicians - even at the lowest level. If you end up teaching at a store, trying to get the teachers together and run an ensemble is really cool. I want to shae with you a guiding principle that I gleaned from Kenny Werner's book "Effortless Mastery"


    What this basically says is that above all else: PLAY EFFORTLESSLY
    next choose any other 2 points on the diamond and work on that. So if you want to (1) play the entire piece and (2) play it at tempo then you will not concern yourself with playing it perfectly. Another example is that if you start with PLAYING EFFORTLESSLY and you want to play it (1) at tempo and (2) perfectly, then you might sacrifice playing the entire piece.

    When you can play the (1) entire piece, (2) perfectly, (3) at tempo and, of course, EFFORTLESSLY then you have mastered the piece. This is the absolute, most valuable lesson that I have ever learned

  14. lowend219


    Sep 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    That's great Mike! I read Effortless Mastery when I was first getting started. It didn't seem that relevant to me at the time as the guy was a classically trained pianist and I was just taking my 1st baby steps to learning bass. Now that I've got my feet under me though I'll be it warrants another read through.
  15. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    It is a difficult read and very much rooted in 12 step programs. One must get those things that are important. There are a few other gems, from that book, that I live for. Werner started out as a classically trained pianist but is most noted for his jazz work
  16. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I really like that diagram a few posts up, Mike. It doesn't say anything complicated, but it's one of those simple and effective ideas that can really help keep you from getting frustrated - and help you keep making progress - if you always keep it in the back of your head.

  17. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    wish I could say it was mine
  18. dbhlmh


    Mar 23, 2007
    Clifton, VA
    Hi- This thread started by lowend219 describes the same decision point I'm wrestling with currently: whether or not to start teaching. Our musical backgrounds are quite similar. I'm am a self-taught bassist (formal music training ended in high school) with a little over twenty years gigging experience and assess myself to be competent to teach beginner & intermediate levels. I enjoy teaching and am currently having a blast helping to teach my daughter guitar by providing bass support when she practices her lessons at home.

    One of my main questions has been whether or not a formal credential is really necessary to enter the music instruction market. This thread has provided a lot of perspective, so thanks to all the contributors.

    Lowend219, if you are still out there, I'd love to here how the teaching is going for you.

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