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What to try to get out of lessons?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by LoJoe, Nov 22, 2002.

  1. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    I've been playing electric 4 string bass about 5 months since converting from guitar. I've done the book/video thing ad nauseum by now. I play in a praise band and seem to be hanging in just fine. I've learned the fretboard completely, some basic patterns (major/miner chords), the root/3rd/fifth thing, worked scales, 12 bar blues, practiced arpeggios, string crossing etc.. I understand time signatures and key signatures from a life long ago as a violinist. I'm slowly but surely learning to sight read in bass clef and can already sight read treble clef. I've got some basic walking patterns down cold. So..the question is this. I have an opportunity to take a half hour weekly lesson from a pro at a good price. What is it exactly I should be looking to learn from him? I don't just want to rehash everything I've been sucking out of these books. Would it be a good route to have him focus on tips/tricks and my style/technique and just let me keep plugging the theory on my own? I'm pretty psyched about getting to take lessons, but have no idea what direction to go with them, which is I'm sure the first question he will ask me! Thanks for any advice. First lesson is Tuesday 11/26.
  2. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    If he's a good teacher, he won't waste your time rehashing anything.

    Also, he probably won't ask you which direction you want to go with the lessons, but he might ask you what you are trying to achieve from playing bass in general.

    Some things he'll be able to do right off the bat are to correct any bad habits you might have done and to note any areas he thinks you should work on. Much of the work has to be done away from the lesson, but a teacher can help you to get the most out of your practice time because they have jumped the same hurdles you are coming to.

    The key thing is whether or not you feel like you have gotten anything out of the lesson.
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Because you already have an ample background and familiarization of your bass guitar, I would say what you might want to concentrate on now is making basslines or better, more effective basslines.

    You already can probably do fundamental basslines. Now ask your teacher to evaluate your level at this point and then suggest ways you can improve the basslines you are playing.

    That might not only include note choice, but timing and rhythm. He may assess you timing to hear if you are "ahead" or "laying back" or just not keeping a regular pulse at all if one is demanded.

    He may be able to help you make more complex lines or simplify lines if your current choices are "too busy." Or maybe your lines are too simple or monotonous. He can help you add fills or change up the rhythms by adding, say, triplets or ghost notes or do a walking bassline if you haven't done one. Or he can help you choose other notes if you are stuck in a root/five/octave rut or any other rut.

    This is a wonderful opportunity to expand your ability as a bass player. It should be fun and fascinating.
  4. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Just my $.02 on this thread. I find that when I take lessons, I focus on playing jazz. Everything that I learn in the jazz idiom translates well into other genres of music very well; what to play, what not to play, soloing, etc. I suppose if you're not at all interested in playing jazz, then this is pointless. ;)

    If the teacher is good, he/she will evaluate where you are as a player, ask you what you'd like to accomplish, and work with you from there. If you don't feel like you're making any progress towards your goals after 3-4 lessons, it might be time to find another teacher.

  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    BeerMonkey has a good point about moving on if you don't get what you want from your lessons. I have had a variety of teachers. Two were excellent, a couple were average, a couple were downright counterproductive.

    Funnily enough, the best one was also the worst one. I learned so much from him and could have learned much more, but he was demeaning, impatient, and made insulting remarks about some of his other students "wasting his time." I dropped him before he dropped me. Today years later, I wish I'd had more backbone and stuck it out with the jerk. But he did take all the joy out of bass playing.

    My philosophy for bass players who have some background already and are not barebones beginners is that the teacher/student relationship should be collaborative. You have some idea what you WANT and should get it from your teacher. He/she may have some idea what you NEED and you should hear him/her out and at least try what is suggested. If you don't feel it is interesting or appropriate for your objectives, be frank about it.

    For instance, if your teacher wants you to learn slapping and you don't have the interest, don't waste time with it.

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