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To Fellow DB Newbies: You DO Need A Teacher!!!

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by thrash_jazz, Jul 10, 2002.


  1. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Well, I had my first DB lesson yesterday and the first thing I found out was that pretty much everything I'd ever done on it was completely WRONG!!! Learning to play DB is much more difficult (if not impossible) to do from just watching someone or reading a book on it. There are too many bad habits that are too easy to adopt.

    If I had bought a DB first and tried to learn on my own, I likely would have destroyed both of my hands and forearms in the process, and still not learned half of what I did in an hour yesterday.

    So, as has been said here a hundred times: On DB, you NEED a teacher. There are far too many subtle details to learn, which could take years to pick up on your own.

    Starting a new instrument sure is humbling, but it's also pretty exciting!
     
  2. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Eh?! I never doubted you on that one!
     
  3. Besides, why would you want to waste time reinventing the wheel? If you know an occomplished teacher in your neighborhood, you'll spend all that time making tons of progress!
     
  4. rablack

    rablack

    Mar 9, 2000
    Houston, Texas
    Chris Fitz - this one should go in the newbie links.
     
  5. joon

    joon

    Mar 16, 2002
    Manila, Philippines
    I had my 2nd lesson earlier this afternoon, and though I'm doing progress since my first (and 2 weeks of ardent practice), I think I have some hmms about my teacher.

    Since I had a lesson with him, he doesn't seem to focus a lot on stance and posture, such as how I rest the bass against my body, how the bass shouldn't fall down when unsupported, etc. Furthermore, some techniques I've read about from this forum and even throughout the net seems to conflict from his own. For example, I asked where the "pull" should come from when pressing onto the fingerboard, he said "purely from the hands, through proper gripping". He didn't actually want me to pull from anywhere except my hand! Also, he seems to play with his left wrist bent, just like that pic on the first pages of the Simandl book. Good thing he doesn't tell me to do it like that since I always try to keep my wrist as untwisted as possible.

    However, he stresses (and I mean STRESS) technique on bowing, esp. the proper right hand movement. He does correct my left hand positions, but only when I'm not in good intonation, and I'm not pressing hard enough to produce a good arco sound. And he's kind enough to lend me a bow so I could practice at home.

    I guess my question is what should I should I do if the teacher has a different way of approaching some things from the way I've learned it (from the Internet, esp. this forum), and from so many reliable sources at that? I'd hate to give up on this, because this is my only chance for a teacher, and I've searched a lot for one before I found my current teacher. He is also very experienced, because he has been principal bassist for one of the big orchestras here, and now its resident conductor / arranger. He also studied in a foreign music school (forgot what). It seems like he just has a different technique (or maybe he uses traditional methods). He's also nice in such a way that he doesn't force me to pay up, only when I have the dough.

    Help! And thanks...
     
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Joon, there are many different "right" ways of playing the bass. I hope my tale of twenty-some years ago is illustrative.

    I began studying DB under the influence of a well-known soloist, who taught where I studied. He has a very deeply-thought-out, ergonomically-based method for dealing with the bass physically. What he said made sense, sounded good and felt good. It was an incredibly positive way to move from EB to DB.

    At the same time, lucky me, I was going to New York to study with a wonderful jazz player. His physical approach was very different. I was very wary of messing with the soloist's approach. The jazzer had the grace -- God bless him! -- to say, "We'll just work on music, OK?"

    Then, I went off to conservatory. The jazz bass teacher there was (and is) Czech, and man, it was Simandl Book One. Ergonomics? None stated, to say the least! No explanation, no thought, just do it. I lasted about three weeks before I said, "This hurts and it doesn't make sense. Next semester I'm signing up for music lessons with a pianist."

    In retrospect, if I had been able to hang with that guy, I would have learned lots about playing more in tune. I regret not doing that every time I play out of tune, which is every time I play.

    The bottom line, Joon, is that everybody has something of value to offer you. It sounds like your new teacher is a fine musician and a good person, with much to offer. You don't have to buy it hook, line & sinker to benefit from your association with him. Above all, don't hurt yourself and keep an open mind.
     
  7. I've been with the same teacher for 2 years on double bass, and three years prior on electric.
    And he still manages to teach something new every week.
    Everyone should take lessons, it'll help.
    And speaking as a teacher, I really would recommend people taking lessons. :D

    Sean -aroo
     
  8. joon

    joon

    Mar 16, 2002
    Manila, Philippines
    Hi Samuel, thanks for those enlightening words. I guess I should stick to my teacher, even though I aim to play jazz and he's teching me classical. I'll just try to incorporate what I learn from other more experienced players with the stuff my teacher focuses on.

    And I should say, playing arco is hard!
     
  9. dan price

    dan price

    Mar 24, 2000
    So, there's no hard fast rule for teachers in the beginning? I'm looking to play Jazz. How far should one go with a Classical player before I look for a Jazz teacher? I mean, I met one guy who said he wouldn't teach Jazz bass at all(with obvious disdain, I might add).
     
  10. olps

    olps

    Nov 12, 2001
    Canada
    You really do need a teacher. when I first started (fancy a trip down memory lane?) I couldn't believe how meticulous you had to be. Nothing near as easy as picking up the plank and spanking away. You really have to keep an eye on your technique. Keep in mind that when you start playing DB and BG you have to keep an eye on the BG technique as well.
    Just curious, has anyone seen a DB player go into the BG world using (and purposely so) a specificaly DB technique? Just curious, because don't most DB and BG players have (although somewhat similar) different technique? Lastly, doesn't Carol Kaye have BG technique books geared towards DB players? Thanks.
     
  11. dan price

    dan price

    Mar 24, 2000
    olps,
    I once saw Brian Bromberg use DB thumb postion technique in the upper octaves on BG.

    Samuel,
    As a newbie, I don't understand what you said about your conservatory Jazz bass teacher. Are you saying that just using Simandl, he could have taught you to play in tune more than the other teachers that you had? How far can Simandl take one in Jazz? Could you tell me a little more? Thanks.
     
  12. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Sorry, Dan, I mumble. "What I meant to say" was, if I had stuck with the Simandl guy, the time would have paid off through much practice of intonation and, presumably, better intonation.

    Simandl isn't going to get you anywhere in jazz, nor will it hurt. It's technique, not music. In my mind, learning jazz is distinct from learning bass, and obviously, we need both. I guess jazz is about (in no particular order) learning to listen, learning the songs, learning to listen, learning the history and context of the music, learning to listen, and developing and expressing an individual approach to the music and the instrument. I do not teach -- I don't know what I'm talking about -- there are some very experienced pedagogues around here, and if they disagree with me, listen to what they say and forget me.

    Hope this is some help. Let's go practice!
     
  13. dan price

    dan price

    Mar 24, 2000
    Thanks Samuel. That does help.
     
  14. dan,
    I have separate teachers for classical and jazz. I can say that every classical lesson I have had with Linda McKnight has made me a better jazz player. Classical study develops technique, the ability to correctly play every musical idea that enters your mind. Jazz study (with Michael Moore, Sam's teacher) is about theory of harmony, hearing and composing. The technique part of a lesson with Michael is minimal. He doesn't care whether you're using Simandl, Streicher, or whoever.
     
  15. dan price

    dan price

    Mar 24, 2000
    thanks Don. The classical study is very important then. I will get me a teacher. I've already got a Jazz teacher.
    Now, how to tell him that I want to switch to DB!:eek: Hopefully, he will be okay with it. He plays both also. In fact that was one of the things that I looked for when I was searching. I figured that my chances of getting a great teacher/player were better.
     
  16. pea

    pea

    Aug 10, 2002
    south west england
    Ok, youll probably all shun me for this one but,,,

    I feel the technique for playing double bass is a personal thing. Who teaches THEEEE right technique? I am sure that all techniques vary. I am a self taught musician, and i sometimes feel that teachers can damper a technique you might already carry. If i play a run, and my technique isnt perfect to someone watching, it doesnt matter to me, because i played that run with as much feeling and dedication as i could, and it sounded good, and i know it did, cos that guy in the corners into it!!

    So technique is something which someone has made up in the begining which feels good to them, and makes what their playing easier. So they pass THEIR PERSONAL TECHNIQUE onto you, who no doubt has different hand size, structure, fat fingers, thin fingers, whatever. Im lost now, what am i trying to say. Ok i think you DONT have to have a teacher if you are confident in what you are doing. Technique is essential for sound playing, personal technique is a contraversial issue though. I bet a teacher would watch me play and think what the hell, his hands are all wrong and his legs are in the wrong place!!!

    Not trying to say dont have lessons, just, you dont HAVE to. :confused: me too!!
     
  17. dan price

    dan price

    Mar 24, 2000
    Well,
    I guess all I can say is that I'm just learning DB, and would not attempt to learn it without a teacher, using a proven, safe, technique. After I learn some rules, then I may try breakin' em.
    You can go to the Johnson chronicles thread here at TB and get music to listen to from Chris and Ed . And you can listen to Samuels music on his site. I noticed that Don Higdon is playing Jazz and is in the bass section of a professional Orchestra. If those cats say I need a teacher, I'm gonna listen to what their sayin'. Not to mention that they all still heve teachers! I spent the first 20 or so yrs. of my life goin' aginst the wind. Been there done that!
    Besides, it's been my experience on BG that a good instructor is gonna help you get to where you want to be quicker than going it alone.(at least for me)
     
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    And it will, as soon as I make one for this forum. If anybody has any ideas about where this thread should go until then - and BE KIND - please let me know, and I'll put it there.
     
  19. pea

    pea

    Aug 10, 2002
    south west england
    :) yup i guess everyone has there own view and i totally agree with what you say, i am even considering taking lessons to get some pointers as to where i can improve!! nice to hear your point of view on why you take lessons. Thanks:)
     
  20. pea

    pea

    Aug 10, 2002
    south west england
    Yeah ok fair comment, if a little stern in places!! I agree with what you say, i know that i may learn bad habits but i will be taking lessons, i just wanted to see what people thought of that point of veiw, because for people reading your thread, they may feel they Have to take lessons, or not play!!

    Sorry if i offended you!:)