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What's the first thing you teach someone...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by i like tictacs, May 18, 2004.

  1. Who is just picking up a bass for the first time? No guitar experience, you just want to get them started on the bass.
  2. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    Show your beginner a major scale. Everyone will recognize the sound and remember what it is supposed to sound like when you are not around.
  3. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Honoured to follow Mr. Stinnet!
    Many of my students play from his book of Paul Chambers' transcriptions. :bassist:

    Anyway, I show beginners three left hand positions, covering a whole-tone, minor third, and major third. I also show them some right hand fingerings using 3 fingers. The notes on the staff, cycle of fourths, combining rhythms, and a good method book come next. If there's time we listen to, and talk about: Marcus Miller, Jaco, Will Lee, Anthony Jackson, Steve Swallow, James Jamerson, and Matt Garrison.

    Then I give them a booklist:
    I like them to work out of "Essential Styles" by Tom Warrington and Bruce Haughton, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" by Dr. Licks, Ed Friedland's "Bassist's Toolkit" and "Bass Improvisation", and "Simandl 30 studies" for sightreading material.
  4. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Most of the people i give first time pointers to are 13-15 year olds, so they have a VERY short attention span. what ive found is really interesing, is that you teach them a few PUNK bass lines. then, you explain how they are made, then, how they can make their own bass fills between verse and chorus and what not, then you can explain about other punk bass players, then other genres, other techniques, so on and so forth.

    this may not work with everyone, but ive found that the mid-teens really ejoy this sort of approach, because lets face it, all a typical 13 year old bass 'player' wants to do, is get out there and rock. they have next to NO respect for jaco, jammerson and wooten etc.

    Thats just my 2 cents, and i dont intened to cause a ruckus :)
  5. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Right at the start, I'd go for basic orientation - stuff like "These are the strings, these are the pickups, this is the volume control, etc". That would probably go along with some kind of diagram - this would be so that I could say things like 'play near the bridge' and be sure they had some idea of what I meant.

    I'd then move onto naming and playing the open strings and then contrast that with some fretted notes (perhaps the notes at the fifth fret, which have a simple and obvious relationship to the open strings).

    Following that, I might get onto lofty heights such as major scales but it would depend very much on the student.

  6. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    I thinking teaching proper left hand technique is the first thing one should be taught by an experienced bassist. The music comes in what ever form suits the student.

  7. When I started, I wanted immediate feedback to give me an indication of whether I could play the thing or not. I didn't care about scales or strings ... I wanted to play along to a tune.

    I threw on a Phil Collens tune ... I think it was "Against all Odds" (1 note per bar) and began to work it out. Then I had a go at a Meat Loaf song ("Heaven Can Wait"). By then I was assured that I could play something ... and I was hooked.

    That's the approach I would take with beginners. Make them feel like they're playing along with a real band and they'll surely want to come back for more ...

  8. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    If they are absolutely brand new to bass or guitar of any sort, they need to know the parts of a bass and also about the cable, plugging the bass into the amp,etc.

    Then they need to know how to tune a bass. If they have an electronic tuner, they will need to know how to use it.

    Then they will need a quick demo on how to pluck or strum the bass, maybe with open strings. If they insist on using a pick, show them how. If they don't insist on a pick, show them fingerstyle picking and some string crossing. Then move on to some left hand technique and a really, really simple bass line in a style of music they like.

    That's alot for a first class, but I think they should have some homework such as practicing that bass line and learning the "shape" of a major scale. I'd also give them a diagram of the fretboard and suggest they try to familiarize themselves with the first five frets, all strings, and play the major scale "shape" in that section...all to be checked in the next class. That second class, I'd also check and see if they can tune their bass.
  9. Thanks everyone. I wasn't sure what to teach a kid i'm trying to teach, I think I'm going to go with the Show them an easy song, then get into the nitty gritty. (It's one of those "punk rock girls" so I'm going to go with punk rock princess....super easy song. B-C-D progression basically the entire time, and she'll probably be stoked.)

    Thank you all very much.
  10. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Hey Kirbywrx,

    No worries. I wish I knew someone like you here in Vancouver! I get lots of calls from 13-15 year olds into punk, and I don't know who to recommend to them as a teacher. You're right on about starting them off playing stuff they like, that will keep them interested and involved.

    I teach at the college level, so I am dealing with a bit older player, and I have juries and exams to get them ready for, so I have to aim for "harder" (no disrespect) material right off the bat.

    I would like to add that I think it is important that if you take someone's money for lessons, you can deliver the goods and give them some value. For some students, teaching them to play their favourite songs is the best way to do this. For others, you can move on to other concepts right away. Cool?

  11. Just like to add that all 13-15 aren't the same. I'm 15 in 3 days time and I recently just left my teacher since he all did was "teach" me punk lines from TAB. It depends who it is but don't just assume if they are young teenagers that they are all punk fanatics, I hate punk, I'd much prefer to put in an old Motown record or James Brown instead of Blink 182.

    As for first thing to teach them. I'm only a beginner myself so I can't help from a teachers perspective but getting them started on reading notation quickly would be great for them I think. An old Mel Bay method book would help with that, little etudes for each string and then introducing different types of notes etc... I think starting on that would be very benifical for the student.
  12. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.

    But then again, there are the odd 13-15 year olds with a good sence in music ;)
  13. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I'd show them how to hold the bass. How to place your left hand on the neck and how to pluck with the right hand. This is fundamental thing that people can get very wrong

    In terms of playing note and stuff, I'd explain what a chord was (very basically) and show them on root, 5th, octave patterns so they could play over (pretty much) any chords.

    Root, 5th, octave covers so many great bass lines and I think it's great start point :)
  14. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    You sir, are the future of this world, and I love you for it!

    Viva Motown!!!
  15. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    As far as the topic is concerned, I'm definitely in agreement with James. Major scales are the way to go, with attention to form and technique.
  16. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Hey Jazzbo,
    Nice info on your Chord Theory page! I will be letting potential students know about that one for sure.

    Actually, now that I think of it, when I was 15 or 16 my favourite record was "Heavy Weather", by Weather Report. I also liked, "Miles Smiles", Bill Evans "Portrait in Jazz", and the requisite Rush, Zeppelin, and Beatles. . .