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When you were learning to play, what did you...


Jim-Bass

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....find the most difficult thing to play or understand, be it technique or theory.

 

I've given a few lessons (paid) to beginners, and each time I think I have the right way to show something, it turns out the kid (the student) is not doing something else very well, and what I wanted to teach gets sidetracked.

 

Sometimes I feel like saying ..'just play for a while so I can see where you need improving' ....it's annoying when some come in and expect you to wave a magic wand and bestow bass playing abilities in one half hour lesson.

 

I took to playing very easily...the first real brick wall I hit was after a few months of lessons when I started to look at the modes within scales ( Ionian, Dorian, Lydian etc..)...theory scares a lot of kids off.

 

Seeing I have an audience of Bass Players ( obviously brilliant minds, the collective power must be ...quite big), let me get some comments and see if they're similar or different.

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Make SURE they have good fingerstyle technique (good doesn't mean 'like yours' just something that lets them get a clean, and more importantly CONSISTENT, sound).

 

Make sure they know how to use a pick PROPERLY.

 

I find that after those two things are out of the way, I can teach people a lot quicker.

 

Also, make sure they do warm-up exercises, on frets 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12. They do wonders for Left Hand Strength.

 

'Finger Per Fret' (i.e. if these exercises were played from first position index finger plays ONLY the first fret, middle finger plays ONLY the second fret etc.) MUST be observed for these exercises.

 

Seriously, get the student to do these exercises every day, if not 3-4 days a week. It takes less than 5 minutes to play through all of them

 

|x|x|x|x|

|x|x|x|x|

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|x|x|x|x|

 

 

| |x| |x|

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|x|x| | |

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| | |x|x|

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|x| | |x|

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|x| | |x|

 

EDIT: As for modes, whilst running through each scale 1-8 up and down IS necessary, make sure that this is not all they do. Introduce the student to some jazz. Do you play guitar? If so play a jazz progression and have them walk the appropriate modes underneath. It is important that they know the difference between PLAYING the scale and USING the scale.

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Modes still give me trouble. When I was learning them (in high school), my teacher was going really fast, giving me all of them at once which was a bit overwhelming. I think due to that, I just shut it out and focused on other stuff.

 

Later on, when talking to a jazz prof at college, they recommended I spend a month on just one; see what it does, what it sounds like, how you incorporate it, etc.. Once the month is over, go to a second one (if you're ready). Went by a lot easier and sunk in more.

 

I think the biggest thing I found when teaching students (of any age and level) is to give them a practical use for everything you're teaching. If the kid has aspirations to be a hot jazzer, modes are gonna be the bread and butter for him; if he's just looking to improve technique and is a rocker, modes may be a tougher sell.

 

The couple times I've taken lessons in town, the teachers haven't been able to tell me a purpose for learning things; sure, 16th note slapping is cool, but if you can't tell me a reason why learning it is in my best interest, we're wasting each other's time.

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I've given a few lessons (paid) to beginners, and each time I think I have the right way to show something, it turns out the kid (the student) is not doing something else very well, and what I wanted to teach gets sidetracked.


Sometimes I feel like saying ..'just play for a while so I can see where you need improving' ....it's annoying when some come in and expect you to wave a magic wand and bestow bass playing abilities in one half hour lesson.

 

 

Ignoring the bass side for a second, as an instructor you need to have a plan and not just freewheel the students lessons and time. Devise a goal for the student, break down the aspects of that goal into individual techniques/lessons, and go over all of this with the student. They need to see the big picture, or where all these excercises, techniques and endless practice is going to lead them. Once they can see how every little minute technique comes into play as a Bassist, then they understand why they have to sit for hours working on right and left hand techniques, and they will be much more willing to keep taking lessons from you. A student who can't see and has no idea where they stand as a player, or where all those excercises are going to help them, or where they stand in relation to Their music goals is going to get frustrated and quit. Your job as the instructor is to keep them learning, keep them motivated, and keep them on track towards Their goals. To do that you need a plan. They need to see their own progress, and what they have yet to accomplish and you can set that up for them.

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using my left hand pinky.

Slap and PoP technique was a bitch for me to learn.

 

Ugh...+1.:(

 

I don't ever slap and pop now.

 

Fortunately our band requires nothing of the sort.:)

 

Add to that fingerstyle using all four fingers- gave up on that too. Three's enough.

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Honestly, when I started learning to play, I mostly memorized songs. It didn't talke too long, though, before I realized that the basic structure of several songs were basically the same, and then I started getting into theory. But, it was by chance and it was my choice. I wanted to learn more and more. But, at first, memorization was my foundation.

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If a student starts the violin or similar orchestra instrument in school they often start at an age when playing and practicing is just like any other thing they have to do for school. As they do it they gain a measure of technique and knowledge and at some point the kid either quits, or starts getting something out of playing music and continues on with their studies.

 

Most students today start off because they want to rock, or they've heard some music that makes them want to play it, and because they hear it in their head they think they can learn to play it. But at the beginning technique is a huge wall. Sure some have a knack for it but most were not thinking it was going to be as hard as it is to get some satisfying measure of ability. Then if the teacher starts to introduce theory and going through a book that starts to sound like homework and some kids quit.

 

Today it's amazing how far some get strictly by ear. Even though I have formal musical training, starting with trumpet in grade school, all of my progress in ability and theory came because I wanted to play the music I heard and liked, tried to and later realized I personally could only get so far by ear.

 

I think beginning students might get a leg up by agreeing with their teacher certain songs that they want to learn that they like but are not too hard. Something they will jam on because they like it. Let them acquire some technique in that way but also be more immediately gratified from the music.

 

Then, after they have learned a few tunes this way, you introduce them to the little bit of theory that is mostly likely going to be in about every song they want to learn. The Pentatonic Minor scale. Show them how all it's in all the songs they like and want to listen to. Learning the Pentatonic Minor patterns up and down the neck is an easy sell if its in the music they like, and most likely is. You can take the student a long way on just that scale, building technique and learning songs. Until they start asking for more difficult songs. Then getting them to start on a plan that involves a long term view of theory is not as hard as they get more serious. Knowing what I know now I would've started upright bass in Jr. High and stuck to the formal training all the way. But there was no force in the universe that could have sold me on doing that when I was a teenager. Some kids will, come parents make their kids do it (which doesn't always work). Most you just have to let the student do or not do whatever they will. Just my opinion.

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introduce them to the little bit of theory that is mostly likely going to be in about every song they want to learn. The Pentatonic Minor scale. Show them how all it's in all the songs they like and want to listen to. Learning the Pentatonic Minor patterns up and down the neck is an easy sell if its in the music they like, and most likely is. You can take the student a long way on just that scale, building technique and learning songs.

 

 

+1 Billion

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...Today it's amazing how far some get strictly by ear. Even though I have formal musical training, starting with trumpet in grade school, all of my progress in ability and theory came because I wanted to play the music I heard and liked, tried to and later realized I personally could only get so far by ear.

 

 

+100!!!

 

I have started (last October) playing in a "community" orchestra-choir type thingy. Me on electric bass, acoustic/electric guitar, mandolin, piano, two violins, cello, trumpet, trombone, two flutes, and a guy on harmonica. They pass out sheet music, I pay a kid at school to write the notes on the scale for me. (My eyesight ain't what it used to be - I can't see the notes!) Then, I chart everything out in the Nasville numbering system. We rehearse once a week, playing all the choir pieces first, then the instrumental pieces second. Afterward, one guy gets on piano, and we sit around playing everything from Gordon Lightfoot to Trish Yearwood to Hank Senior to old classic rock stuff, with no shortage of singers available. Some of the "trained" musicians cannot fathom how anyone can just sit and play without music, but two of them want to learn how and I am teaching the cellist the numbering system. I can see advantages in both and I can see disadvantages in both. I wish that I had learned to read and I wish that I had taken piano back when I was a kid. It is great fun, but I am handicapped, too, when a new piece of music is passed out. I read notes a lot like the way I type - the old hunt-n-peck method.

 

From what I understand, the Suziki method would be right up my alley.

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+1.

 

 

As I sit here I could explain in perfect detail all of the theory required to play perfect walking basslines over even the most complex of progressions, but I can't play one to save my life.

 

When I started playing the most difficult thing to grasp was the concept of "right and wrong" notes within a given context. I was far too focused on rigid rules and structures, which is not surprising given my personality.

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Ignoring the bass side for a second, as an instructor you need to have a plan and not just freewheel the students lessons and time. Devise a goal for the student, break down the aspects of that goal into individual techniques/lessons, and go over all of this with the student. They need to see the big picture, or where all these excercises, techniques and endless practice is going to lead them. Once they can see how every little minute technique comes into play as a Bassist, then they understand why they have to sit for hours working on right and left hand techniques, and they will be much more willing to keep taking lessons from you. A student who can't see and has no idea where they stand as a player, or where all those excercises are going to help them, or where they stand in relation to Their music goals is going to get frustrated and quit. Your job as the instructor is to keep them learning, keep them motivated, and keep them on track towards Their goals. To do that you need a plan. They need to see their own progress, and what they have yet to accomplish and you can set that up for them.

 

 

I agree with this, but I also am adding an addendum to it. The first thing you should do with a student is ask them what their goals are (sure, these might change at some point, but get some direction right away). You should work with your student to develop the direction of the lessons. If all they want to do is learn a pile of rock songs, plan lessons around right hand technique, timing, and rhythm. When they get tired of that and want something more interesting, that is when you introduce ideas like modes.

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I agree with this, but I also am adding an addendum to it. The first thing you should do with a student is ask them what their goals are (sure, these might change at some point, but get some direction right away). You should work
with
your student to develop the direction of the lessons. If all they want to do is learn a pile of rock songs, plan lessons around right hand technique, timing, and rhythm. When they get tired of that and want something more interesting, that is when you introduce ideas like modes.

 

 

+1000, some students have very short sighted goals at first. Nothing wrong with that as long as they keep making progress, they will eventually see further down the road.

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....as an instructor you need to have a plan and not just freewheel the students lessons and time. Devise a goal for the student....

 

I agree with these comments and the rest - it is precisely why I posted the question. I have a couple of plans, and try to find out the aim/taste/commitment/natural ability of the learner at the beginning and along the way...sometimes I think I've got the right approach, only to be asked to help work out the entire line to Continuum ( ...not again :mad:)

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The toughest thing I found, and continue to find difficult is GROOVE: our basic job. Second toughest challenge: finding someone who could help me understand groove.

 

Instructors taught me the notes to recorded bass lines, and provided the theory. But there was no treatment of the concept of why the bass line underneath Cholly works for Cholly, but it doesn't work in some other situation.

 

Ah, but I think it's already been said here, and it's something someone told me a few years ago: most students just wanna learn songs.

 

I took a group lesson that started with a full class of 15 people. Two of us were there on the last day 8 weeks later. The instructor lamented: "maybe if I taught songs, more people would stay; but that's not teaching you to be a bass player."

 

 

 

Reggie Wooten finds ways to trick people into taking their medicine. I imagine he spent a lot of hours thinking of ways to massage individual personalities. We thought he was the coolest guy when he came in to Bass/Nature Camp and had us tapping. The real deal was him tricking us into that foreign territory above the 12th fret & tricking us into thinking about full chords.

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