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Upright songs to teach to a beginner

Discussion in 'Double Bass Pedagogy [DB]' started by Les Fret, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I have an older student. I have been teaching him for a year. He does't read music nor wants to. I have taught him technique, scales, theory and playing grooves with backing tracks and so.

    Do you have some suggestions for nice and easy songs with upright bass in it to learn him? So not jazz but other genres. Maybe blues or rock and roll or country or pop.
  2. HateyMcAmp

    HateyMcAmp Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    I would say a standard 12 bar F blues in half position.
    Michal Herman likes this.
  3. Karl Kaminski

    Karl Kaminski Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    The blues is great once they have the "progression" down and can move to a few different keys, throw in some basic melodies like C jam blues have them play in a few keys. He'll be able to play a blues jam all night long.

    I like to give beginners anything using a minor pentatonic scale. if they can get out of half-1st position get them going on some groove tunes like Chameleon and Watermelon Man.

    If he's only on upright and wants out of the jazz thing, give him some early rock and roll stuff: Elvis, Beatles, the Zombies Time of the Season, Secret Agent Man, too many to list.

    Even Zeppelin can be good on upright! Kashmir, Fool in the Rain
    Les Fret and juancaminos like this.
  4. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    USA, Phoenix, AZ
    One more for 1-4-5 blues
  5. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Thanks for the tips. Yes we have done some blues progressions. But I am looking more for specific dedicated upright songs now which he can play along with Youtube. Specifically songs in which he can hear how the upright is used in that song. Doesn't have to be in the lower positions.
  6. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    "Stand By Me"
    "At Last"
    "Heartbreak Hotel" (or any number of other Elvis recordings)
    "Shop Around" (The Miracles)
    "Tequila" (The Champs)
    "I Got A Woman" (Ray Charles)
    "Maybellene" (or any number of other Chuck Berry recordings)

    Pretty much any popular stuff from the mid-50s or before is going to feature upright (well, "feature" might not be the right word, as the bass is likely to be a bit buried in the mix). Rock 'n' Roll, R&B, jump, country, calypso, etc.
    Dr. Love, Karl Kaminski and Les Fret like this.
  7. Karl Kaminski

    Karl Kaminski Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    Stray cats and the rockabilly movement. Stray cats strut etc.
    Dan Waineo and Les Fret like this.
  8. Neon Scribe

    Neon Scribe Supporting Member

    Speaking of Chuck Berry, "You Never Can Tell" is a two-chord song with an easy Latin beat. The bass is electric on Chuck's recording, but it is simple and works well on upright, except the occasional fills that are a little fast. Good practice for staying in the groove on an uptempo song.
    Les Fret likes this.
  9. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    Lubbock, TX
    King of the Road - Roger Miller
    Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford
  10. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'"
    Dr. Love, Les Fret and dannylectro like this.
  11. ILIA


    Jan 27, 2006
    Wild Side (Lou Reed)

    A guy demonstrating how to play the upright part (including incorporating the overdubbed bass guitar part in the intro lick).

    Your student will appreciate this demonstration video since rote transmission is probably how your intentionally illiterate student would learn this edgy piece.
    Les Fret likes this.
  12. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Good suggestions guys! keep 'em coming...
  13. jasonrp


    Feb 19, 2015
    Rock Around The Clock is a good one to work on shifting. His Latest Flame is a I IV V with an interesting blend of styles. Leroy Brown is a blast on upright. Stray Cat Strut is easy BUT could also be used as a little theory lesson (ask him to tell you what key it's in)
    Vinny Vincenzo and Les Fret like this.
  14. Jeff Elkins

    Jeff Elkins Supporting Member

    If your student is ready for ii - V stuff, I like I Want You Back as performed by Lake Street Dive.

    Anything Bridget does is fun to transcribe because her tone is so clear and integral to their arrangements, and the covers are well-converted. Walking on Broken Glass is a trippy exercise in the use of harmonics.
    marcox and Les Fret like this.
  15. I am going to be the one to say it: IMO, you should put your foot down about the reading thing. If he doesn't want to read, he doesn't want lessons. I would not feel like I was being ethical taking money for lessons without teaching the student to read. Also, unlike other industries, the student shouldn't dictate what they want to know. I always listen to my students and take into account their goals and needs, but, I decide what I am going to teach, and ultimately, that is what they pay for.

    You should make a point to show him how how simple and easy it is, not let him off the hook. Nobody should be paying money to learn dumb songs, they can do that on their own. This honestly sounds like "hanging out" not teaching bass lessons.
    Luigir, the_Ryan and salcott like this.
  16. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    That is a valuable and good discussion but I don’t want to derail this thread into this. But I will react anyway.

    I think your vision of teaching is a bit old fashioned and narrow minded.
    First of all these songs mentioned are not dumb. You can learn a lot from them if you choose the songs wisely. Besides that songs are not the only thing we do.

    Second. Although I think reading is important there is more to learn than just reading. You can do theory, chord charts, timing, grooves, improv etc. His technique and intonation and hand position was very weak so that was my focus for a year or so. I consider that more important than reading for him at this stage.

    Third. The student is not dictating the lesson. It’s on older student who has played for a long time in bands and so on electric bass. His first goal was not reading but finding his way on the upright and use that in bands and so.

    Last of all: there are more ways to teach than one! A teacher has to be flexible too. Just like his student.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  17. Reading the first several pages of any basic bass method can clear that up in far less than a year. It is our job as teachers to clear up the common misconceptions that students bring to us.
  18. statsc

    statsc Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    If this were a college course where academic credit is granted and certain curricular objectives needed to be met, I could agree with you. However, in this case, after a stern lecture on the importance of learning to read (in terms of communicating music to others and allowing oneself access to a greater variety of music and playing opportunities), I think it’s fine to “meet the student where they are.” We can only teach students what they are ready to learn. At some point, he will probably bump up against the limits that not being able to read imposes and at that point may be ready. Or not.
  19. I strongly disagree, I think those who choose to "do it the hard way" should do so without teacher. Taking a year to work on technique and intonation while accepting money for lessons is preposterous without having reading be part of it, IMO.
    Times are tough and we often feel we need to take any student we can. Still, even as private teachers I think we need to maintain standards. In this case, a good teacher would show the student that reading Simandl or an equivalent method is the fastest way to achieve their goals.
  20. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    See damon, these hard lined rules of yours are not at all realistic. You are essentially saying that someone that just wants to play the bass casually does not deserve to have a teacher, and that a teacher would be wrong to take on that student. That is beyond ridiculous. If someone just wants to play at home or a bluegrass jam once in awhile, do they not deserve to pay for a technique lesson to accomplish their goals? We should be inviting players of all levels to join in the fun, not narrow it down to those with professional aspirations in jazz/classical. I'm not sure why you think someone truly needs to learn to read to play good bass.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018

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