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What to look for in a bass teacher

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by txpitdog, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. txpitdog


    Jan 1, 2006
    I have been taking lessons for the past 2 1/2 months. I'd been "playing" and "practicing" half-assedly for the past two years with little to no progress. My teacher has been great as far as teaching me the following:

    1. Scale structure and several scale patterns (major, relative minor, 2nd finger position, 4th finger position, major and minor pentatonic in two octaves)
    2. Learning by ear. The most important part of this is he taught me how to learn.
    3. Chord structure.

    In two months I've learned more than I taught myself in two years. The lessons and the money spent have been well worth it. However, the for the last three lessons he's just asked me "what do you want to learn?" I don't know! Why do you think I keep coming back? I guess I expected more of a structured curriculum.

    The guy is a guitar player, so I know that beyond the basics of music theory, I'm not going to get much in the way of technique or bass-specific stuff. Like I said, he's been great as far as teaching music theory and learning by ear, but that's about it.

    What else do I need to look for in a bass teacher? After this month's lessons, I'm considering finding someone else that is more focused on bass and bass method. Any suggestions or help would be GREATLY appreciated.
  2. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    go to a music shop with a GREAT reputation, and ask if they give lessons and/or can put you in contact with good teachers. thats what i did and it worked wonders.
  3. You'll get a lot of opinions on this one, I suspect. The five broad things I like to see covered in lessons include music theory, reading, ear training, technique, and styles of playing. Early lessons focus more on musicianship (theory, reading, ear), next phase of lessons moves more into technique, then lessons branch into styles. These phases all overlap, but the emphasis shifts. As you move from musicianship into technique, you need a teacher who specializes in your instrument.

    Every student is different based on knowledge, skills, and stylistic interests. The instructor should be able to discern the first two, but you have to communicate your interests. The teacher should then have the experience to build the right package of training for you.
  4. steveb98

    steveb98 [acct disabled - multiple aliases]

    Mar 15, 2006
    Venice, CA
    You do hit a point with teachers that things aren't progressing. Either it you are bored or they have shown you what they can. When that happens time to move on to someone who will inspire you and take you to the next level.

    As for what to look for depends on if you know what you want, or you need someone to figure out where you are at and what you need next.

    Could be a good time for you to sit down with some paper and inventory what you know. Then write down what you want to do musically and with the bass. Those answers will help you interview potential bass teachers.
  5. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    You didn't post your age in your profile, so my comments might not be totally on the point.

    Your private teacher is your employee... you pay them. They are there to help you reach your goal, not to make you be something other that what you want to be. So, know your goals. Why are you taking lessons? Where to do you want to be with your bass playing 2 years from now, 5 years, etc. etc. What hand position is best for the music you want to play? How do scales and chords apply to the music you are playing? How do you work through problems that can crop up on gigs?

    I'm not totally sure I agree that the private teacher's job is to inspire you. If you aren't inspired and have the desire to play, I don't think the teacher can help. Sure, there will be discouraging times and your teacher could possibly help you get through that, but again, that's more your job (or your friends/partners job). Years ago I was studying jazz harmony and style with a piano player. He told me I had problems with swing phrasing (actually he swore at about it). He told me to find a recording with Israel Crosby on it, listen to it and NOT come back to lessons until I had. Crosby died in 1962 and only recorded twice. It took me 2 weeks to find a recording (this was before internet). That teacher was a total SOB, but I learned so much from him. He was a truely great musician, but his people skills were in the toilet.

    If you can find a teacher with the experience and knowledge you are looking to attain, and you have the drive and the goals to get there, then you'll have something. If you looking for a bass teacher to help you get some personal problems (like motavation) solved, the lessons will quickly turn into something else probably not so productive.
  6. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    To continue on BassChuk's post, after a while you should have a clear idea of what you want to work on with your teacher. it takes time, but when your foundations are there, and you mature as a musician, you start to see areas that you KNOW need work. then you ask your teacher to help and teach you, aswell as try to teach yourself. its good practice to take initiative.
  7. Personally, what I look for in a teacher is:

    Patience, Experience, technique.

    Its not worth it to study with the BEST executioner if he doesnt have patience to teach you. being a good bassplayer doesnt make you a good teacher.
  8. Skeletomania


    Oct 25, 2005
    hong kong
    I take lessons once a week for half an hour. Lessons alone aren't enough to carry through. I've been playing bass for nearly a year now. Being inexperience is so freaking frustrating. As basschuck said, if I rely on my instructor to inspire me, I would have quit long ago. Since you've been playing for two years, what kind of materials have you been using to teach yourself?
  9. See, I dont understand that... Everytime I have a lesson with my teacher I feel inspired and confident that I've learnt one or two new tricks...

    My guess is that your teacher isnt right for you. see if you feel the same after trying a lesson with someone else... also, dont be expecting to jump the basics... you dont get "good" overnight...

    You can always try to download some intructional videos, to learn some new tricks, etc. but they only really start working for you once you've got the technique part down... I only use them to learn new licks, etc.
  10. After 23 years of playing (and about 22 years from my last lesson) I am starting again. Here is what my teacher offers as an overview of what he will help me work on:

    Studies include:
    * Left and Right Hand Techniques
    * Timing and Groove
    * Music Theory (scales, arpeggios, modes and their application)
    * Styles (Funk, Motown, Afro Cuban, Rock and Jazz)
    * Sight Reading
    * Improvisation
    * Recording
    * Performance
    * Bass setup, intonation

    I gotta say, I am really excited about starting again! This guy is a really good player and is called upon for studio sessions and other 'hired gun' spots. My personal goal is to get my 'stuff together' well enough to also be a 'hired gun' for any and all electric bass situations.


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