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Why Jeff Berlin should be president of all music education

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by John Wentzien, Nov 10, 2009.

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  1. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    (Bassman)Hey Jeff. I have nothing but respect for your music and your willingness to stand by what you teach. What are your views toward studying music in schools such as the New school, City College(CCNY) etc. I am 48 yrs old and have returned to school (CCNY) auditioned and was accepted to the BFA Jazz performance program. I have learned so much in one semester, but we really move through things fast. Its also a grind and taking math and science is tough as well...maybe its the age.LOL!

    (JEFF) I don't know the details of those schools, but I do know one thing. If the classes are a little fast, ask them to slow down so that you can have the time to digest a little bit what they are giving you. If it is factual musical homework, then do it every day. Just take your time and think about it. If there are things that you don't understand, then ask about it in each class. P.S. I don't have a degree program at The Players School because I dont want guys studying "math" while they are studying music.

    Bassman) I also commute 3 hours to and from the city and gig as well. It seems much of my time is spent going in running from class to class, doing homework. It seems to me that studying with a top notch teacher once a week and practicing and hitting workshops and playing with others a notch or two better than myself could produce similar or better results.
    Can one attain mastery of the electric bass(Jazz and other genres)without a college program, if so how? Private teacher, the points you mention?
    Thanks man..... I appreciate your time.

    JEFF) I don't know the goals that you have set for yourself. Perhaps a year of this crazy commuting is a good idea; just get it done and over with. Then you can find a great private teacher and continue in that manner. Private teachers can be absolutely unbelievable, some of the best instruction you may ever get. You just have to ask around and find the right people. I've studied with guitarists, pianists, sax players, pianists and vibes players. My suggestion is to find a great teacher, perhaps with one of these schools and study with them. But if the other classes are good then, be strong. You only have a little more time left for commuting. P.S. I hate commuting too.
  2. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    What's your favourite fuzz pedal? :D
  3. Bassman8416

    Bassman8416 Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    Long Island,New York
    Thanks for the input...my goal is really to become a better bass player....and perhaps pass it on to other students!!!!!
    A degree is about 1 1/2 away...ouch!!!! I am not looking to teach school etc!!! Just become as good as I possibly can be as a musician and bass player.
  4. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    I just posted this on MySpace and I thought that you might like to see it. Best from Jeff

    Keith Pasculli said: "I have always been dumbfounded by the attacks on you regarding your opinions on music education from those in the bass community. Most of the things you speak of seem fairly self evident to me. My question to the more hostile people on talkbass is: "why should I regard your opinion and what body of work can you show me that would make me give you more credibility that Jeff"? No one has answered that question yet to my satisfaction."

    Jeff answered:The internet has opened the doors to both the musical interested and the loud and noisy. I understand that some have objected to my blunt approach to learning, and for their sake, I will try and tone it down a little bit. But my messages about how to learn are clear and to the point to those people who are into improving their playing and aren’t confused by a direct message that excellence must be earned.

    Style is anyone's choice, but learning how to play is really not, not if they truly wish to improve. There may be many ways to learn, but there are also many foods to eat. If you are looking for a healthy diet, then that list of good foods gets really narrow. It is the same thing with music; if you are looking for a healthy musical direction, then the list of what and how to practice gets really narrow as well.

    Interestingly, the guys on my Talkbass post now ignore the talkers, the B.S.ers the guys who complain, who will argue that the world is flat, who must bitch about something. Usually their complaint is about me! In the meantime, a whole bunch of truly interested guys have come together and turned their backs on those yakkity guys. One guy who I blocked here on MySpace, I also blocked over there on Talkbass for the same things; he talks the talk. And talks the talk. And talks the talk. And talks the talk. The guys on my post started to ignore him totally. So he, and a couple of other guys who I blocked, left. They had to; they couldn't get a rise out of the more serious guys on my post anymore. What they did is, they started another post and are talking and talking and talking and talking over there, dissecting principle of music as though they were tumors. It is like a gathering of washer-women! Nobody asks a single question. They just tell each other everything.

    Meanwhile, the guys on my page and I have been talking details of practice, discussion about practicing, and discussing some musical specifics to get this all started. It is so refreshing for all of us over there to dig into real musical discussion.

    Ray said: "Thanks for your list of suggestions Jeff."

    Jeff offered: You are welcome! It is a pleasure to offer them to somebody who isn't interested first in finding flaws with them. I hope that they help you and I appreciate your taking them to heart. They will work for you, I promise. Good luck!

    Dan Mulkeen said: "Damn Dude! Haters and nay-sayers everywhere! I like to spend 5 minutes reading this stuff before I lose myself in Practiceland. The recent standoffishness reminds me of a letter to the ed in BP mag (I think the BX3 issue or the one after). The person said (paraphrase) " Yes, Berlin's positions are extreme, but if I had to feed my family using only my musical skills I would listen to everything he has to say".

    Jeff offered: Dan Mulkeen came to The Players School of Music and could barely play, and couldn't read a single note. Today he is a busy bass player, working constantly, who can read very well, solo in jazz, and play rock and other styles. He did this through the very methods that I have been telling people to learn, the same methods that those complainer have been difficulty with. Danny is right! Haters and nay-sayers everywhere! Not into music, and a lot of guys are beginning to catch on to this.

    Jiom offered: "Jeff offered: There is a false belief that says that certain approaches to learning may not work for everyone. Yes they will, 100% of the time, without fail! These methods of learning have been around long before I started to promote them. They work! It is just that some prefer not to regard them. BUT THEY DON'TALWAYS WORK WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If a teacher does not have the ability to discover what works the best for the student, that which makes the student excel the quickest with the most understanding and self respect, then the teacher should not teach."

    Jeff states: No teacher if they are worthy of their title ever considers any method that includes the caveat “quickest”. There is little unnecessary as learning quickly. Lessons are never meant to be learned quickly. They are meant to be learned well! A G note is forever a G note. If the student can’t learn this then, they either aren’t doing the work or they don’t have the musical talent to play. It isn’t up to the teacher to discover what works best for the student unless the student has either a mental or a physical problem.

    Everybody in, say, the United States, learns English the same way. Only guys who don't do the work don't learn how to read and write. Everybody in, say, flight school, learns flying the same way. Only guys who don't do the work don't learn how to fly. There are no exceptions. It is the same with music. It is the same with everything! Either one does the work to learn the facts or they are on their own, picking at whatever source they can find to fill their musical voids.

    Thanks for reading.
  5. engedi1


    Sep 16, 2005
    +1 to everything here. I studied upright bass for many years, and this helped by electric playing tremendously. Not just in developing hand and wrist strength, but also in learning to shift the positions fluidly and use pivot techniques for fast passages, and other such things.
    I certainly wouldn't advocate studying Simandl on elec bass though. This could really screw up your technique. I do think that using some of the bass etude books would be great exercises for elec bass though.
    I am not saying everyone needs to study upright, but it sure helped me!:hyper:
  6. Bassman8416

    Bassman8416 Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    Long Island,New York
    Thanks for the myspace posts...very informative.....I am thinking a week at your school (more if I could afford it), and continue with a NYC private teacher is starting to look nice to me.
  7. Oh, this is so cool! Thanks in advance for your time Jeff!

    After watching Donald Fagen's 'Concepts for Jazz-Rock Piano' a few weeks ago, I did a (rubbish) analysis of the harmony of 'Peg'. I showed it to my teacher, and he looked at it and went:

    "Yeah, that's nice. The plagal cadence is pretty tasty, it's a 4 > 1 change."
    So I said: "What about the progression during the chorus, can you tell me what that E7(#5,#9) is for - i've never seen a chord like it?"
    And he said: "Errm...i'll look at it during the week."

    Of course, he didn't, even though I reminded him later on, because he's a lazy shiftless biscuit. Can you (or anyone else) tell me what it's for? :)
    Jnagol likes this.
  8. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    If anything, I tend to be a little "heavy handed" on the electric after playing a lot of upright. I do think that the Simandl's over-reliance on shifting up and down the G string doesn't translate well on electric. Try playing the "lick of death" in Jaco's line in "Havona" and you'll see what I mean there. I much prefer the diagonal shifting of the Sher's Improvising Bassist and Rufus Reid's Evolving Bassist. The Bille's reliance on the 3rd finger in lower positions is a little odd for me too, having started on Simandl and converted to Vance over the last few years.
    Most people don't start on Uprights with decent setups. A well set up String Bass CAN play as smoothly as a good electric, but so many students get their start on abysmal school instruments or cheap Chinese basses from chain stores (not to be confused with Samuel Shen and Christopher instruments) with barbed-wire actions. I'd definitely recommend investing in the few hundred dollars it takes to get an instrument playing really, really well.
  9. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden

    "Yeah, that's nice. The plagal cadence is pretty tasty, it's a 4 > 1 change."
    So I said: "What about the progression during the chorus, can you tell me what that E7(#5,#9) is for - i've never seen a chord like it?"
    And he said: "Errm...i'll look at it during the week."

    Can you (or anyone else) tell me what it's for? :)
    Generally, a dominant 7th like that functions as some sort of dominant chord (V7). I'd have to look at the progression a little closer, but I wouldn't be surprised if it cadenced to an A minor of some kind.
  10. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    True, some of the Kruetzer, Findeisen, and other etudes are good on electric. Trombone music (Marcel Bordoni's Vocalese transcribed for Trombone by Joannes Rochuti is a great series) is really, really challenging and makes you play things on electric bass that no arranger or producer would ever set in front of you (at least since FZ went to his reward). Don't forget that you can also get The Charlie Parker Omnibook in Bass Clef for reading. I remember reading an early interview with Jeff where he was playing Violin music and Stanley Clarke where he was playing trumpet studies, John Coltrane sax solos, whatever. Jaco swore by cello studies by Dotzauer. Finding those notes on the bass can really, really help.
  11. Billnc


    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    Thanks for the heads up on Marcel Bordoni's Vocalese transcriptions.
  12. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    OK, so now I looked at it. That's two descending ii-V cadences (Bm7-E7#5#9-Am7-D7). It's a common device in Jazz tunes, some of which have multiple key centers. For instance "A Train" has an a section in the key of C and the bridge starts in the key center of F and gradually modulates back to C via dominant 7th chords. That's a relatively simple example.
    I can remember an interview where (guitarist) Michael Sembello said he got the Stevie Wonder gig because he'd been doing all of these Wedding Band gigs where he had to know Jazz Standards and a lot of Stevie's progressions had ii-V movement and things he'd been playing for years on "Satin Doll".
  13. TimK


    May 27, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland
    Could you talk more in depth about practicing chords and chord tones? I'm assuming you mean to learn and understand the nomanclature (sp?), and knowing the difference bewteen major and minor chords, dominant 7th etc... the basic theory stuff. also, how chord related to each other such as cadences etc...

    Does your point of "learn Chords and Chord tones" include more than just what I have ementioned above? If so could you elaborate?

    and what do think is the best way to practice this? on the piano? on the bass? any excersise or methods you have for this?

  14. TapyTap


    Apr 26, 2005
    I agree 100% about health first!

    That said, I am wondering if you think a new bass player should take the 80 week course offered at The Players School of Music, or should they participate in a shorter-term program first?
  15. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota

    Again if you use me to make a point i will reply, have you learned nothing? I made the gesture towards you that you had taken onboard the points of "no more Bombs" and rather than accept it and move on you upped the ante.
    Now you have upped the ante again, so i respond.
    I am not "angry" that is you putting your mind set on to me, again you have it wrong, but good device of mis-direction and mis-information to make your own point.;)
    You say you will ignore me and then you post using me to help make a point. Are you so stupid or is it just hard-headedness, stuborness or plain obstanance that you don't understand how to debate or work in open forum?
    That is a question by the way, not an observation in case you don't undersand what is going on.:D
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    We're done here.

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