First off, the subject says might help, not will help. Hopefully you'll take something good from this, maybe not. Some will, some won't and all I can do is try to let you know what worked for me. I'm not a music teacher though I have studied the art of teaching itself, for other subjects. Background: I'm 47. I tried to learn music theory 6 (six) times and quit in frustration every time. Finally, I learned about arpeggios and decided to skip scales and modes for a little while and just have fun with those. It was the best music related decision I've ever made. I've discussed this with several music instructors and they all agree that my approach does one thing that the traditional approach fails at miserably... that is that my approach keeps the student interested by letting them have fun from day one rather than bury them in headache inducing theory. In my way I just show you how to have some fun in a few ways and then, like a sneak attack, I tell you afterward that what you learned was actually part of theory and then I tell you the technical name for what you're already doing and having fun with. So, here we go... Crucial Information: This applies to teaching / learning anything. From music to biology to physics or electronics theory, it always applies: Your brain is a warehouse. It has shelves that have a system of organization and it has a loading dock. Information comes in and gets dumped on the small loading dock. If you want to use anything that got dumped, you have to pull it from the shelves that are neatly organized. But wait... If it's on the loading dock where it got dumped, how are you supposed to get it off the shelves? Well, it has to get taken from the dock and put away on the shelves before you can use it. This takes time. The time for that to happen is probably the most important step in the learning process that no one ever takes into consideration. Notice I said small loading dock. You can only dump so much junk on there, so fast. If you keep piling stuff on before it can be put away on the shelves then the dock gets full and stuff starts falling off. It falls off into oblivion... gone. Goodbye, not coming back, forget about it. So this means that if you cram your brain full of stuff for an hour or two then you'll have about five to ten minutes of it put away on your brain shelves but the rest fell off. Gone. Asta la bye-bye. You won't remember any of it because the loading dock was too full to hold it so it never got put away on the shelves in your brain. The key to actually learning is to put small loads into your head and then do something else for a little bit in order to allow your brain to process the information. Process = put it away in it's appropriate place in your brain so you can find it later. If you skip that part then you can dump all of wikipedia into your head... it won't do you any good because it never had time to be put away before you hit information overload. People with photographic memories have filing systems so fast that their loading docks never get full. Lucky them. We aren't them, so we have to allow time for processing. Start with 5-10 minutes of practice, then walk away for just 15 minutes before coming back for 5-10 minutes more. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, 5-10 minutes is a very tiny amount of time. You know what? Every second of it will get filed away so you can use it later. Nothing will be wasted. That my fellow noob, is the secret to learning quickly. The harder you study, the more of your hard work gets wasted because the info overloaded your brain's loading dock and got wasted since it never got filed away. For most people, after about 15 minutes of studying / practicing brand new, never before seen material the brain hits overload and you're just wasting your time until you take a break and process. Note: The above applies only to new information that you've never seen before OR to trying to get a new lick / phrase into your muscle memory. You can practice things you already know pretty well for much longer without any problem, and this becomes important later. Later, after you know some stuff... Learn something new for 5-10 minutes and then, instead of walking away, practice a song or arpeggio or some things that you already know for 15 minutes before taking in any more new info. The time you're practicing things you already know is the time that your brain will be filing away the new info. Now you're in a position to practice for a long time, but keep the periods of taking in brand new information down to 5-10 minute chunks. Last point on learning in general: When you start making mistakes STOP. Take a break. Walk away completely for at least 15 minutes, maybe as much as an hour. If you don't the frustrating mistakes will only get worse, really really fast. If you keep pushing it then you will deteriorate, meaning you can get worse if you keep trying to practice but are practicing wrong. If you keep fingering the left hand wrong because you keep pushing, your brain will have more time doing it wrong then right... and that's what you'll learn. Are your notes not crisp and clean even after marathon practice sessions where you work and work while making mistakes? Practicing it wrong because of the mistakes means that's what your brain will remember later... and that's going backward, not forward. Now, on to learning music theory in a fun way... Step 1: Learn a basic C Major scale with open strings (You can look at it on the fretboard printer tool at studybass.com , set the scale root to C and the scaale to Major). Goof off with it. See what you can make it do. Get silly, get fun. Invent stuff. Most importantly, enjoy trying different things and just have a good time with it. Do that in small chunks until you've done it for about an hour in total, then take the rest of the day off. Step 2: Learn that same C Major scale higher up on the neck, without any open strings. Goof off with it again. Try to recreate some of your favorite creations from before but this time do them higher up on the neck, without any open strings. Keep playing with it and see what you can do with it. Again, small chunks for a total of about an hour, then walk away for the day. Step 3: Now notice that the scale you learned without open strings forms a shape on the neck. Forget about the fact that you were starting on C and use that same shape pattern anywhere on the neck. You'll see that it still works. Why? Because it's a basic Major scale shape, not just a 'C' Major scale shape. If you start on D then you're playing D Major. Start on G# and whammo... now you're playing G# Major. All the major scales are the same shape on the neck. Shapes... That's what it's really all about. What about minor, blues or pentatonic scales? Forget about them for now. Skip them. Modes? Don't even think about it. We won't deal with that 3 headed monster for a long time, so don't worry about dealing with them. Step 4: Go to studybass.com and pull up the fretboard printer. This time select the chord tab and set the root to C and the chord to Major Triad. Look at it. Notice that the notes shown are the first, third and fifth notes of the C Major scale. Set a metronome or drum machine track up in a way that gives you 4 beats per bar and goof off with that. Hit the C note on every beat of one and use any of those 3 notes for whatever you want on the rest of the beats. Just get back "home" to hit C on the one each time it comes up. Play with it. Have a good time. See how it feels to hit only the C, then use only the C and the G (known as root-fifth). Remember that most of the time simpler is better when it comes to the bass. Most importantly, notice that the 3rd is always one string higher and one fret lower than the C while the 5th above is one string higher and two frets higher. Also notice that the 5th below is on the next string lower but on the same fret. Master that Major Triad Shape... shape... shape... Step 5: Do the same thing as step 4 but this time set the chord root to D and the chord to minor. Be sure to get "home" to D on the one beats. Notice that the 5th is in the same place but the 3rd has moved. It's been flattened one fret so it has another shape, one you want to learn. No big deal... it's only one little fret different but that gives it a different feel or emotion. Also, notice that if you play the 3rd one string higher and two frets lower then there is a 5th right by it so you don't need to jump your left hand down. That same note is right there, on the next higher string!!! Break out that metronome or drum machine again with 4 beats and have at it. After 10 minutes, swap to the C Major triad for 15 minutes. Take a break and do it again, 5-10 minutes on D minor and 15 on C Major. Now go fishing... or play a video game. Just do something else for the rest of the day and let your brain process. Step 6: Go back to our friend the fretboard printer. This time set the chord to G and Dominant. Looks like the Major, right? Yea... except that when you get into the seventh chords there will be a difference but for now don't sweat it. Since this shape is the same just play with it for 5 minutes being sure to hit the G on the first beat again. Do step 7 in the same practice session... Step 7: Set up your metronome or drum machine the same as before. - This time, play 4 beats of D minor triad (hit D on the first beat of the 4) and stay within the 3 notes of the D minor on beats 2,3 and 4. - For the next 4 beats use the G Dominant triad (hit G on the first beat of the 4) and stay within the 3 notes of the G Dominant triad on beats 2,3 and 4. - Then for 8 beats (2 sets of 4) use the C Major triad (hit C on the first beat of each 4 beat "bar") and, you guessed it, use the 3 notes of the C Major triad on beats 2,3 and 4. Play this smoothly, going from one triad to the next, over and over. 4 beats of D minor, 4 of G Dominant and 8 of C Major and then right back to 4 beats of D minor to start all over again. Sounds cool right? D is the second note of the C Major scale. It's a minor chord so the number is written in lowercase roman numerals, like this: ii G is the fifth note of the C Major scale and it's a Dominant chord so it's written in uppercase roman numerals, like this: V C is the root note of the C Major scale and it's a Major chord so it's written in uppercase roman numerals, like this: I So when you play 4 beats of D minor triad, 4 beats of G Dominant triad and 8 beats of C Major triad that's written as ii-V-I-I... or what people call ii-V-I for short. You may have also seen this called 2-5-1. Specifically it can be called "ii-V-I in C Major". That's what's meant when someone says the changes. Don't get confused by the terminology, by this point you're already doing it. Step 8: Now, go back and set the fretboard printer to learn these chords: D minor 7th G Dominant 7th C Major 7th Yes, we're only adding one note to each. Notice how the 7th for the Dominant 7th chord is not in the same place as the 7th for the CMaj7 chord. This is where their shapes differ. Metronome - goof off with ii-V-I using the 7ths this time. Hit the root of the chord on the one beat for whatever chord you're playing for that 4 beats. Play around with the rest of the beats but stay within the appropriate chord notes for that set of 4 beats. Now... here is the sick part. Remember way back in Major scales you noticed that the shape of every Major scale was the same no matter what individual Major scale you played? The shape never changes... Neither does a Major 7th chord shape, a minor 7th chord shape or a Dominant 7th chord shape. They don't change shapes!!!! If you start on G and play the Major 7th chord shape, you're playing the notes of the G Maj7 chord. It's really that simple. One other thing... because the Major scale shape never changes, the chord for the second note in the scale will always be a minor shape, the chord for the 5th note will always be a Dominant shape and the chord for the root (or I) will always be, you guessed it, the same old Major shape. So if you want to play the F Major scale, you can do that, you know the shape. If you want to play ii-V-I in F Major then all you have to do is: -Play the minor chord shape of the second note in the F Major scale (the ii) -Play the Dominant chord shape of the fifth note in the F Major scale (the V) -Play the Major chord shape of the first note in the F Major scale (the I) This works for any Major scale, anytime, without fail. The shapes do NOT change. What about modes? In all honesty you don't need them until you're far more advanced than this. I have no idea why they try to teach them so early because they just confuse the *(&!?* out of people who are trying to get started. Instead, start all these steps from step one but now do them for the minor scale, still in C. Be sure to learn the minor scale shape without open strings so you can move it wherever you want. One simple chord sequence that you can start with for the minor scale is v-iv-i-i. That is, 5-4-1-1, all of these are minor chord shapes. By the way, there is a scary technical name for what I've been calling "chord shapes" here. They're actually called Arpeggios. Don't let the name fool you or scare you... you already know a lot about them. There are a few more arpeggio shapes, but you already know most of the important ones. To continue on from here, I'd suggest checking out Scott Devine's site http://scottsbasslessons.com/ He puts all this technical stuff into plain, easy to understand English... and to really take your arpeggio mastery to the next level and beyond check out this lesson from Scott: http://scottsbasslessons.com/technique/practice-bass-arpeggios.html My whole goal in writing this post is to give you the tools to have fun playing, so that when you get so frustrated with theory you don't quit playing entirely. Like I did... 6 times. Imagine where I'd be if I'd stuck with it 20 years ago.