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Weird Feeling About Taking Lessons

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by TheAnalogKid, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. TheAnalogKid

    TheAnalogKid Yer Doin' GREAT!!!!

    Dec 7, 2011
    Tacoma, WA
    I never thought I'd post in the GI Forum, but there is something severly bothering me. Last month, I started taking lessons...

    ...and I'm just not feeling it! I must confess, I'm not getting into the whole lesson-practice-practice-lesson-rinse-repeat regimen as I did 20-odd years ago. In fact, earlier today, I called and left the instructor a message that I would not be able to make my normal session. Truth is, I just didn't feel like going, and I may discontinue altogether.

    No complaints about the lessons nor instructor; I really enjoy the actual sessions. However, having to practice for the sake showing the instructor "what I learned" is kind of a chore. I tend to choke in front of instructors/conductors when playing, which is nothing new. I've had that problem since high school concert band, playing sh*tty renditions of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (I was in the percussion section, incidentally). Playing in front of non-musicians? No problemo!

    I may ultimately just be better off going back to self-teaching, as I have been doing since taking bass up again in 2011. I like setting my own pace and using the vast wealth of online knowledge which is instantly available and is no more costly than my internet connection...

    ...or am I being obtuse??
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    If it ain't working, it ain't working. That said, the purpose of practicing isn't to show what you learned. It's for the teacher to critique your playing and tell you what to work on next.
    DannyBob likes this.
  3. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    IMO, suck it up...don't worry about feeling embarrassed or choking in front of ur teacher. If he's anything like me, his lessons are not "performance class", he's more interested in what ur learning than how well u perform for him. If u simply don't have the time, or have lost ur inspiration to learn because ur older and have a "life" then so be it...
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    How does a teacher know you're ready for new lessons if he doesn't hear what you've been working on? Learning all this stuff is cumulative. That said, I agree with you. Your heart's not in it, therefore you won't get out of it what you could be getting, and bailing out fully would be preferable to making lessons and cancelling.
  5. It's hard to make a call on this without knowing a few details. What stuff have you been learning? What are your personal aims as a player? Do you feel like you've progressed as a player and general musician?
    Sometimes problems like this can be down to a mismatch between the student and the teacher. Just because your experience with this teacher can seem a drag doesn't mean it will be the same with every other teacher. You're obviously interested in learning otherwise you wouldn't be interested in self teaching.
    I've had quite a few teachers over the years and went through several at college and uni. I think I've only ever had one that really made a difference. The rest were either in it for the payday or obsessed with going over the same old stuff week after week. I found I learned almost everything in that period from the main lessons like Harmony, Aural (ear training), Composition and even History classes. The bass teachers were awesome players but, as I'm sure we're all aware, being a good player has absolutely zero influence on being a good teacher. Having all the required information is of no use if the method of delivery is lacking. There are hundreds of thousands of brilliant players in this world but only a small percentage of those have the required skills to impart the knowledge. It's just two completely unrelated skill sets.

    So, with that said, you might still be interested in learning but just have the wrong teacher. Or, more importantly, the wrong teacher for you.

    On the flipside of this, there's no shame in being self taught. I think if you were to do a poll on the most influential bass players of the last 50 years you'd find a large percentage of them are self taught and almost none of them have music degrees.
    As I've said in other posts, if a player is interested in learning Flea lines for fun and they go to a teacher that only wants to teach jazz harmony and walking lines from the start, that student is eventually going to walk away (pardon the pun) no matter how useful that teaching might be in the long run. The vice versa is also true. Obviously.

    Having a bass teacher can be a wonderful, enlightening experience. But it can also be a disheartening, uninspiring, waste of time and money. If you've lost interest in the process being presented then you need to try something different.
    David A. Davis likes this.
  6. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I too did not like the show me what you learned this week part of the lesson. But, as has been said that is perhaps the only way the instructor can see what you need next.

    As to self teaching, you can, but, an instructor will get you where you want to be faster.

    Then there is the part about what we now know does get us by with what we do. Sure we could get better, but, there is no hurry.

    Sounds like it is time to lay out for awhile. If your instructor is like the ones I've had, he/she has given you enough homework, charts, tips, etc. to keep you busy for six months. Perhaps it's time to stay at home and work on some of that.

    I take lessons in three or four month spans and then lay out for awhile and get back on his waiting list when I feel the need. Right now I do not think you feel the need. Lay out for awhile.
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    Good post Mark. :)

    While most would agree that one to one lessons are generally the way to go, your post gives an interesting alternate viewpoint to the general stock answer here on TB.....i.e... "get a teacher!"
  8. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    If you're taking lessons to impress the teacher, then no real good will come from that. As markjsmith asked, 'what are your goals?' And that is the bottom line to it all. If you can learn from either a teacher or on your own, what changes in your playing are you hoping to make in the next year, or 3 years? Get a focus on what you want musically and then IF the teacher is able to help you with that, you've got a winning situation.
  9. Tanner5382


    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA
    IMO, chill out. No need for your condescending tone throughout your post. If the dude would rather learn on his own, so be it. Contrary to your seemingly egotistical beliefs, having a teacher is not the only way to learn. I don't see anything where he mentions having a "life." However, you might want to look into getting one.
  10. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    I think that Mr. Hilton's attitude is attributed to his being one of the contributers whom I mentioned above, where the normal reply consists of four words...."get a teacher dude"...:bag: :p
  11. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Maybe I missed something here, but Mr. Hilton's post doesn't come off as condescending to me.

    Finding a teacher that you click with may come down to more than just finding a teacher who you like personally. They also need to be able to find ways to help you make your time productive.

    Like MalcolmAmos, I have always studied with teachers for short periods, let them load me up with lots of material and then continued to work on the material after the lessons had ended. I was always clear with the teachers that that was how I was planning to proceed, and if they weren't cool with that I simply moved on to another teacher. The ones who understood that it was the only way my schedule could work were happy to alter their curriculum to suit me and I always learned a lot from them.

    The trick is to find a teacher who meshes well with the way you learn and the way your schedule works. Perhaps taking four lessons and then taking two months off is a better plan for you. ...or something else. In the long run, if the teacher thing doesn't work out for you, don't sweat it, but I would try to find another teacher who I might lock in better with.

    Self teaching is great. I work on stuff all the time and I haven't had a teacher in a couple of years. There are plenty of great self-taught players out there. For me, I like to check in with a teacher every once in a while just to recharge my batteries and make sure I'm on some sort of track - right or otherwise.
  12. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Get another teacher.

    Teaching styles vary from instructor to instructor.

    My most recent bass instructor, and yes I do take lessons every few years even though I've been playing for over 30 years, allowed me to make great strides because he was flexible enough to change gears based on my own various whims but was competent enough no matter what I needed or where I was coming from he was able to shift gears with me ( Over two years I delved into fretless, a bit of upright, then the styles of popular blues bassists, jazz basics, then no bass at all for a bit as switched to fingerstyle acoustic guitar for a bit...and he was right there with me the whole time).

    That was about four years ago, and I'm going to get back into lessons again soon as I am taking the plunge and finally getting an upright.

    Anyway, lots of different teachers and styles out there. Keep at it until you find the perfect teacher for you and for what you are looking to accomplish!
  13. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    I have been playing bass for 48 years and never have taken a lesson. Always learned on my own.
    I am sure that I could have become proficient much more quickly had I taken lessons, but then I would probably sound more like the people who taught me and less like myself.
    I am a full time working musician and have been really lucky to always have played with mostly original bands. The fact that my style is completely "home grown" has helped me land these gigs.
    Lessons may not be for everyone.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Fallacy, sorry. Unless you just completely immerse yourself in the style of your teacher and nothing else, this just plain doesn't happen.
  15. that is likely what the instructor is asking for....it appears that the student just does not want to put in the effort on anyone else's timetable....nothing wrong with that....pull the plug and move on....

    nothing particularly good about it either though....all to often students seek out what they want in a teacher,and not what they need....
  16. i would agree ....that is where you are supposed to make mistakes....i recall my ex's kid,.....liked his teacher,a cool guy,hip,played in a band and probably uninterested in being a teacher for long....loved the lessons,hated to practice.....those drums became nothing but clothes hampers and gone in a couple of months....
  17. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Maybe. Probably. Perhaps certainly. But at least it makes me feel better about not taking lessons and being self taught.
    I know that it is a personal problem of mine, but I have never liked anyone telling me what or how to do things. Might have made life harder, but I'm okay with that.
  18. Mike Sorr

    Mike Sorr "Play I Some Music" Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Brick, NJ
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first." - Miyamoto Musashi
  19. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    Maybe if you changed the mindset from "telling you what to do" to "helping you get where you want to go" things would get easier.
  20. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    A teacher does not "tell" you what to do. You pay him/her to convey some of their knowledge and expertise, so that with time you too will become knowledgeable and experienced.

    It's entirely up to you what you do with the knowledge.