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To teach or not to teach

Discussion in 'Ask David Overthrow' started by bassman67, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. bassman67


    Aug 2, 2007
    Hi David,

    I wanted to get your feedback on my situation. I have been playing bass guitar for over 30 years in a variety of music styles. My current gig is a volunteer bassist at a really progressive church. So here is my situation. Our band director is opening a music school/coffee shop and he has asked me to teach bass. The problem is I am self taught, have never had a lesson, and I have limited knowledge of music theory.

    What do you think would be the best tract for me to take to get myself prepared to teach? I was thinking I should take some lessons so that I can get an idea of how that all works, as welll as maybe learn a few things that I could pass on to my students.

    The good news is that he wants me to start off with the beginner bass students so I should be fine with getting them to understand the basic fundamentals of playing bass, however, once they start progressing or asking questions as to why we do one thing vs. another, that is where I may start to struggle.

    Any info you can offer would be much appreciated.


  2. Hi Tony, It took me longer than I would have liked to get back to because I was on the road for the last 5 weeks teaching bass seminars and classes at the National Guitar Workshop as well as some fun gigs sprinkled in there.

    In answering your question, I have heard some good solid players who have limited musical knowledge. But my belief is, and through my experience, depending on what kind of music you want to play as a bassist, if one is familiar with chord types, scale choices and musical concepts with which to use the tools, this often helps open many doors to a bassists, greatly expands their musical vocabulary and helps them become a more complete bassist in a variety of styles if they choose. Learning the “stuff” can also exponentially help you improve as a player.

    When you take the bass students on, obviously I you will show them tunes or repertoire of styles you play. This is a good thing it that that is why we play the instruments, to learn music.

    Having said that, I play because I like to create music, bass lines and improvise. Learning about chords and scales is a step in the right direction in learning how to do so. learning about music theory can also help you learn what it is that you already play and then help you expand on that. I would suggest that you get familiar with chord types and scale types, major scale, modes, minor scales, and maybe even dabble in reading. We can have a debate about reading musical notation but that is for another day. If you don’t work on reading you can still get your theory together but if you do start reading it will help you exchange musical ideas more easily with other musicians. Reading can also help you assist other young bassists to read and help you communicate bass lines to these students.

    Anyway, you can start by teaching tunes and techniques to the students but I would try to get some theory and maybe even some reading together.

    I know this is a shameless plug but I have books that maybe very useful to you.

    My Complete Electric Bass Method Beginning book would be an excellent resource for you to learn about major scales, chord types, how they are used in music in the context of funk rock and blues. The Intermediate book would get you hip to pentatonic scales, blues scales, the modes, minor scales, and much more. If you like to play in the slap & pop style I also have a book on that subject. I have a book you can use to get your reading together titled Beginning Bass For Adults.

    You might want to check out my Beginning Blues bass book for some students as they can get some commonly played bass lines under there fingers right away.

    I am sure you have some things to show them and will do well. These are just suggestions to open some doors for you. If you are interested you can find all of my books on my website daveoverthrow.com and see them all there. You can order the books from many bookstores online.

    You will find that teaching is a great experience and actually helps you discover new things as you try to communicate to another bassist the music or musical concepts you are trying to explain. I have learned as much teaching as I have studying.

    I hope this is helpful. Have fun and good luck. Let me know how it goes.


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