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To read or not to read

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sausageoysters, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. sausageoysters


    Apr 2, 2006
    Alright, i just got my geddy lee and now im at the dillema of how to go about actually learning to play. I'm interested in playing fingerstyle and slap bass and am wondering if i should take lessons and learn to read music and such, or if i should just self teach and learn to play by ear. I was watching some videos and billy sheehan says that he doesn't really know all of the music theory to bass, but then i watch victor wooten, whos plays the style im more interested in, and it seems to me that he knows the bass and music theory inside out. Also, what are some players who play mostly by ear? And it seems to me that going to lessons would be the fastest way to learn, and then knowing that stuff will make it easier for me to teach myself suff later, am i right in thinking that? I'm not really sure how to go about teaching myself, so im kinda leaning towards lessons right now. Sorry for making you read all this, dont know if it makes sense, but thanks for any help.
  2. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Learn to read music. Get a teacher. Learn to play by ear. Learn music theory.

    Get as much as you can. Never limit yourself. Learn all styles. Try to do everything that the bass can do.

    A bad day playing bass is better than anything the world of retail sales employment can offer.
    Playing the worst music is better than a paycheck from McDonalds.

    What would you rather say, "What key is that in" or "Do you want to super-size that?"

    Do everything that you can think to do with music.
  3. Otso


    Mar 6, 2006

    Knowing music theory, being able to read music, and being able to recognize pitches helps you with any instrument. A teacher will help you develop a good technique.
  4. Well, no flame intended, but you're kinda creating a false opposition where there doesn't need to be one. You're asking, should I learn to read or learn to play by ear, as if you had to pick one. You don't have to choose. You can do BOTH. There's no earthly reason why you can't learn to both read well and be able to play well by ear, and there are a number of good reasons why you can benefit from doing so. It's like asking, should I learn to read written Spanish, or should I learn to understand spoken Spanish. There's no need to choose between the two.
  5. dodgy_ian


    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK

    clear?! :)
  6. tzadik


    Jan 6, 2005
    Yep, try everything. There's a lot of knowledge out there. Get as much of all of it as you can, even if it isn't your favorite style of music or your favorite stuff to learn.

    Go WILD.
  7. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Do everything.
  8. XIIIhour


    Apr 5, 2006
    I like finding advice by reading others post XD.
    I, also, just bought my bass, and need too learn as well.

  9. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    You will do much better for yourself to get a teacher and learn to read. There is absolutely no downside to doing it. (Except the cost - but even if you just get started, you'll be better off!)
  10. steveb98

    steveb98 [acct disabled - multiple aliases]

    Mar 15, 2006
    Venice, CA
    Reading and developing your ear are the most important things you can do for yourself as a musician. Reading is how musicians communicate and document what they do. It is also easier to learn from the beginning than later. Also if you think your going to be teach yourself a lot, being able to read makes a lot of materials available to you. Also don't fall for the BS that reading and learning theory limits what you play.

    I would say check out the book "Simplified Sight-Reading for Bass" by Josquin des Pres. I starts very simple and has a practice CD that make learning on your own easy.

    Also work on your ear from the beginning. Sing everything you learn, scales, bass lines, everything you play. This helps you get to being able to play anything you hear in your head. Also transcribe as much as you can. Not only will you be learning bass lines and songs you like, but it also helps develop your ear and being able to play what you hear.

    Don' forget to have fun either.
  11. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I never understand why some people who apparently value being able to read language seem to regard reading music as unnecessary or unimportant. I'm pleased to read the posts in this thread so far seem to place a high value on reading music. You're never going to be a complete musician without it.

    Or to put it more simply.... if you can't read, you can't read. The End.
  12. I recommend learning to read notes and notation. A lot can be accomplished with Just a few minutes a day. Just like anything, The only way to get better is to keep on doing it. Also playing by ear, ear training and playing other styles can only make you a better musician.
  13. airrick


    Dec 4, 2005
    when you learn theroy and learn to read music, you will then know how to play by ear
  14. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I read this phrase on TalkBass a long time ago -- about this same subject, actually.

    "You should never ask if it's okay not to learn something."

    Go for the lessons, dude. You'll be grateful sooner or later -- probably sooner!
  15. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    you need to learn to read, and you need to develop your ear.

    as far as reading is concerned, you have to ask yourself "what style of music will i most likely be interested in?". if you think you will be heading down the jazz(and other genre) path, then it will be most important that you can read and improvise over chord charts. these can either be lead sheets or just chord charts. it is quite rare that a bass line is notated in standard notation.

    that being said, it is still important to eventually read standard notation. you might find yourself playing jingles or session work where the music may be notated out.

    your ear is one of the most important assets you have. you need to be able to jam with musicians, or to translate the bassline thats in your head onto the fretboard. you need to harmonise, you need to hear chord changes, you need to hear patterns.

    theory is the foundation everything is built on. why is a minor chord a minor chord? why is a dimished chord a dimished chord? why do the root notes and their corresponding modes imply different emotions? this is all theory, and is the cornerstone of being a musician. many self taught musicians claim they don't know any theory, but they still manage to construct basslines and play in key. that's because they've discovered some of the theory.

    to be honest, the theory is not the hard part. its making the theory sound musical that is difficult.
  16. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    If you're just starting out, the best thing you can do to ease yourself into the path is to get yourself a GOOD teacher. Learning on your own can be a long and frustrating method of instruction except for the very few, truly gifted people in the world.

    I'd also recommed learning to read standard notation, but that is best accomplished with hours of practice on your own. It'll only make things easier as you progress to know how to read.

    Best of luck and have fun!!
  17. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    I don't think anyone was ever held back cause they could read :p
  18. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    TABZZZ DUDE!!!!!

  19. And then Jesus Christ shot himself in the foot.

    Happy Easter!
  20. paulraphael


    Apr 13, 2006
    If you heard me play, you'd stop reading what I write.
    when i showed up for my first bass lesson and the teacher realized that i was not self taught (i knew nothing!) the smile on his face was unvelievable. he was so used to spending six months with every student, undoing years of ridiculous habbits. you have a great opportunity. take it!

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