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#2733765 - 11/10/15 01:39 PM Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang!
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
It is a great pleasure to be here and open channels to people that might wish to chat about playing. Right now I am working on my next recording, the music of my hero and friend, the late Jack Bruce. Plus I am writing a book about music education that I hope will help players with questions about directions to go to learn.

In the meantime, I would like to open a dialog to see if you have questions for me and if I can help you with thoughts about bass. Anything is one the table! I recognize that I had a combative nature in the past (which got me into therapy.) It takes time to examine one's life up close and it isn't always fun either. But I needed to do this and I learned a lot in the process. I am still involved in personal growth and I never enjoyed life more than I do now.

So, come on over and if you have any questions or thoughts, please share them here. Best regards to you all. Jeff


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/10/15 01:40 PM)

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BP Island
#2733789 - 11/10/15 02:58 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Jeff Berlin]
jcadmus Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/22/05
Posts: 4916
Loc: Connecticut
Great to have you here, Jeff. Jack Bruce and you -- big influences for me. Huge.

Looking forward to your contributions to the forum.
_________________________
"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"

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#2733805 - 11/10/15 03:50 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: jcadmus]
rumpelstiltskin. Moderator Offline
spinning gold from straw
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 06/10/00
Posts: 5010
Loc: detroit, MI, united states
welcome! hopefully we can feed you with lots of questions and keep you around.
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because i like people.

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#2733810 - 11/10/15 04:19 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: rumpelstiltskin.]
jeremy c Offline
10k Club

Registered: 02/01/01
Posts: 16416
Loc: Berkeley,CA,UNITED STATES
Hi Jeff,
I spoke with you briefly at NAMM a few years ago and we exchanged teaching stories.

Also a long time ago I went to one of your clinics.

I've always enjoyed listening to you play and I'm glad you're here.

(beware of the trolls) cool
_________________________
Free download of my cd!.

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#2733815 - 11/10/15 04:41 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: jeremy c]
Paul K Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 05/16/06
Posts: 3605
Loc: Ithaca, NY
Greetings Jeff;
Well, that's cool! Welcome aboard!

One of my biggest pet peeves in my professional life is people taking shortcuts--knowing just enough to do be able to do a job, but not really knowing enough to know why it's done that way. That makes problem solving and improvement difficult. As such I dig your opinions on music education. Knowing how to speak the language is vital.

Glad you are happy and healthy; honored to have you around.

Peace
Paul K
_________________________
Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.
www.home.roadrunner.com/~kempkes/fundus.html

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#2733822 - 11/10/15 05:25 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Paul K]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Hi to all. How nice to hear from your. I appreciate your joining in here. I thought to answer Paul as he asked something specific.

It seems to me that shortcuts are the way that some players make their way in music. Live playing has become a goal even before players are sometimes ready to play. My thought is to match one's ability with the type of gig that they are interested in playing. New players should wait until their playing skills match the venue where people expect good music for the price of entry or to just entertain a crowd. This might mean not to aim too high in regards to gigging, but instead to aim high in regards to the level of playing skills they wish to achieve.


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/10/15 07:06 PM)

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#2733887 - 11/11/15 05:02 AM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Jeff Berlin]
lug Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 2261
Loc: League City,TX,UNITED STATES
Welcome from the worst bassist in the known universe to one of the best bassists in the known universe. As far as having a combative nature in the past, I say you didn't....and I'll fight you over it.
_________________________
You can stop now -jeremyc
STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring
lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum
I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

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#2733894 - 11/11/15 05:49 AM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Paul K]
jcadmus Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/22/05
Posts: 4916
Loc: Connecticut
Originally Posted By: Paul K
Greetings Jeff;
One of my biggest pet peeves in my professional life is people taking shortcuts--knowing just enough to do be able to do a job, but not really knowing enough to know why it's done that way.

Dude -- that's, like, my whole deal. About everything.
_________________________
"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"

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#2733899 - 11/11/15 06:01 AM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: jcadmus]
jcadmus Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/22/05
Posts: 4916
Loc: Connecticut
I think there needs to be a balance between jumping right in and learning the correct way.

(Famous joke about the kid who skipped his fourth bass lesson -- "Got a gig!) We all know players who jump in too soon - get in over their heads and become frustrated or a frustration to their band mates and audience. They haven't taken the time to at least learn the fundamentals, and therefore they're really not ready for performance. Or they pick up bad habits that are hard to break later.

We also know players who woodshed in the shadows for years because their not "ready" to play in front of people. In reality, some of these folks are never going to be "ready" in their own minds, and as a result will miss out on the most rewarding part of making music. And part of learning is interacting with a band and audience -- experimenting, bouncing things back and forth, seeing what works and what doesn't.

_________________________
"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"

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#2733972 - 11/11/15 12:08 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: lug]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
To Lug. I will clarify right now that you are not the worst bassist in the known Universe. In its most clear form, you may be a bass player without good training. Is this an accurate description?


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/11/15 12:09 PM)

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#2733975 - 11/11/15 12:11 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: jcadmus]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: jcadmus
I think there needs to be a balance between jumping right in and learning the correct way.

(Famous joke about the kid who skipped his fourth bass lesson -- "Got a gig!) We all know players who jump in too soon - get in over their heads and become frustrated or a frustration to their band mates and audience. They haven't taken the time to at least learn the fundamentals, and therefore they're really not ready for performance. Or they pick up bad habits that are hard to break later.

We also know players who woodshed in the shadows for years because their not "ready" to play in front of people. In reality, some of these folks are never going to be "ready" in their own minds, and as a result will miss out on the most rewarding part of making music. And part of learning is interacting with a band and audience -- experimenting, bouncing things back and forth, seeing what works and what doesn't.



The decision to play before one is ready to seems to stem from a popular consensus that this is the way to proceed when one owns an instrument. I see this belief, and other beliefs as sort of unspoken, yet known-to-all agreements taken by the bass playing community wishing to play their art before they know how to play. Thoughts?


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/11/15 12:14 PM)

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#2733979 - 11/11/15 12:18 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Jeff Berlin]
jeremy c Offline
10k Club

Registered: 02/01/01
Posts: 16416
Loc: Berkeley,CA,UNITED STATES
We have no idea who Lug is. No one has ever seen his face or heard him play. He good be the worst player or the best player. I think he might be from another galaxy.

I might have had the worst bass player in the universe as a student once. No time, no ear, no memory. I tried everything.
_________________________
Free download of my cd!.

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#2733992 - 11/11/15 01:15 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Jeff Berlin]
jcadmus Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/22/05
Posts: 4916
Loc: Connecticut
Originally Posted By: Jeff Berlin


The decision to play before one is ready to seems to stem from a popular consensus that this is the way to proceed when one owns an instrument. I see this belief, and other beliefs as sort of unspoken, yet known-to-all agreements taken by the bass playing community wishing to play their art before they know how to play. Thoughts?

No question about it. As when the right time to jump in is, that's highly subjective.

I think you need to at least master the fundamentals -- knowing not only your instrument, but some rudimentary theory and also understanding the role of your instrument in an ensemble. A good teacher can probably help decide when you're ready, and encourage to engage in the right kind of playing situations based on your skills and development.
_________________________
"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"

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#2733999 - 11/11/15 01:33 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: jeremy c]
Michele C. Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 1016
Loc: Milano
Hi Jeff, it's great to see you here. I read your views and have always been intrigued by a point of view that appears to be out of the mainstream, candid and pragmatic.
I have recently stumbled upon this video by Kathy Sierra (she is a legend in technical writing) where she puts her expertise in teaching to work. It's not a short video, it'a 23 minutes presentation and it deals with software development.
Still, I found that what she said, the problems with learning that she described and the proposed solutions map one to one with all that I have experiences learning music.
One major takeaway is "practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. Reduce time spent practicing being mediocre". This speaks to me.
One other aspect that speaks to me is that often you have a truckload of half digested ideas on the table, that you did not have time to translate in fully mastered abilities and this kills the brain.
Jeff, I have a ton of questions for you, but I will start with a suggestion: this video can be interesting for teachers.

_________________________
-- Michele Costabile (http://proxybar.net)

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#2734036 - 11/11/15 06:09 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Michele C.]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Hi Michele. Thanks for joining this chat. I absolutely am out of the mainstream of what teachers and their students trust as helpful lessons. I see that they are more functions of what players believe than what will improve their musical skills. But I know that players are tied to their beliefs about what to do to improve. Many honestly do not seem interested in musical improvement. So, except for those who I feel honestly wish to improve, I have come to respect the unspoken and also the spoken wish by many bassists that they aren't interested in changing their ways to learn how to play.

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#2734037 - 11/11/15 06:12 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: jeremy c]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: jeremy c
We have no idea who Lug is. No one has ever seen his face or heard him play. He good be the worst player or the best player. I think he might be from another galaxy.

I might have had the worst bass player in the universe as a student once. No time, no ear, no memory. I tried everything.


In my world of teaching, any student with difficulty with time or who demonstrates a problem with their ear have musical problems that are quite simple to help them to resolve. It takes lessons based in musical content at their level to deal with. And it should not be practiced in strict time as some students don't have the playing skills to play anything in strict time (hence one of my objections to practicing with a metronome.) The student with these problems should be playing simple, perfect musical content while counting and tapping their foot to subdivide the rhythms. Any mistake should be fixed at the moment that they make errors. People learn from their mistakes and in my world of education, mistakes are not only tolerated, but they are a good thing if they are resolved at the time of making them.


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/11/15 06:17 PM)

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#2734049 - 11/11/15 07:04 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Jeff Berlin]
jeremy c Offline
10k Club

Registered: 02/01/01
Posts: 16416
Loc: Berkeley,CA,UNITED STATES
This particular student did not seem to be able to tap his foot in time without an instrument in his hand.
_________________________
Free download of my cd!.

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#2734050 - 11/11/15 07:08 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: jeremy c]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Yes! That's the idea. The student needs an instrument in his hand. This way, as he taps, he is subdividing the time while playing the notes.

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#2734054 - 11/11/15 07:30 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Jeff Berlin]
Happy Birthday J. Dan Offline
10k Club

Registered: 07/25/08
Posts: 10368
Loc: St. Louis, MO
I probably fall somewhere within the topic of discussion here. I grew up taking piano and sax lessons and (piano from the time I could read, sax beginning around 5th grade). In college, having room mates with guitars and bass, I started picking them up by ear with pointers from my friends. Eventually I started playing them in bands along with my other more formally trained instruments. I first played bass in a band about 15 years ago. I still basically play by ear and am not as good as i am on keys, and probably won't be unless I ever go back and do it right....drill scales, technique, etc. but I play in 4 different bands with various instruments and barely have time to learn all the songs and rehearsal those, much less add additional time doing theory and drills. I suppose the fact that I'm getting all the paid gigs I have time for is a good thing, but I don't think I'll improve much more personally carrying on this way.
_________________________
Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2734059 - 11/11/15 08:47 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: J. Dan]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Hi J.Dan! You could improve in a week if you really had the desire to do this! You would actually see it! Academic learning if done correctly is the only approach for pay that can guarantee that one would improve as a player. I include payment as a criteria because once you pay to learn, the rules change. My belief is that there practically isn't anything that one can learn in most academic settings where music is not exclusively being taught. I noticed that whatever is being taught is, for the most part, unnecessary in the learning experience as a free apprenticeship via the self taught route would solve practically all playing issues.


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/11/15 08:49 PM)

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#2734093 - 11/12/15 06:40 AM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: jeremy c]
lug Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 2261
Loc: League City,TX,UNITED STATES
Originally Posted By: jeremy c
We have no idea who Lug is. No one has ever seen his face or heard him play. He good be the worst player or the best player. I think he might be from another galaxy.

I might have had the worst bass player in the universe as a student once. No time, no ear, no memory. I tried everything.


pfft, sounds like a lightweight in the world of Suck. When I play, Black Holes can only stare in amazement. My instruments squeal in terror when I open their cases. The only time I'm allowed to play on stage is at closing time if a bar is having trouble getting their drunken patrons to leave. Often exterminator companies hire me when their most powerful chemicals fail to rid an establishment if a difficult infestation problem. The best song I ever played was when I accidently dropped my bass down the stairs. The fact that I play in this galaxy keeps other galaxies in constant terror of a Lug invasion. My best songs will put animals off their feed for weeks. If I play at a funeral, I really hated the dead person. I am...the world's most Suckiest Bass Player, stay grooving, my friends.
_________________________
You can stop now -jeremyc
STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring
lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum
I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

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#2734111 - 11/12/15 08:15 AM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: lug]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: lug
Originally Posted By: jeremy c
We have no idea who Lug is. No one has ever seen his face or heard him play. He good be the worst player or the best player. I think he might be from another galaxy.

I might have had the worst bass player in the universe as a student once. No time, no ear, no memory. I tried everything.


pfft, sounds like a lightweight in the world of Suck. When I play, Black Holes can only stare in amazement. My instruments squeal in terror when I open their cases. The only time I'm allowed to play on stage is at closing time if a bar is having trouble getting their drunken patrons to leave. Often exterminator companies hire me when their most powerful chemicals fail to rid an establishment if a difficult infestation problem. The best song I ever played was when I accidently dropped my bass down the stairs. The fact that I play in this galaxy keeps other galaxies in constant terror of a Lug invasion. My best songs will put animals off their feed for weeks. If I play at a funeral, I really hated the dead person. I am...the world's most Suckiest Bass Player, stay grooving, my friends.


Hi Lug. I am curious. After reading your post, I get the vibe that music isn't your thing. Am I correct? If you don't have an interest in playing, or maybe playing better, can you tell me why you are here?


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/12/15 09:28 AM)

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#2734164 - 11/12/15 09:47 AM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Michele C.]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: Michele C.
Hi Jeff, it's great to see you here. I read your views and have always been intrigued by a point of view that appears to be out of the mainstream, candid and pragmatic.
I have recently stumbled upon this video by Kathy Sierra (she is a legend in technical writing) where she puts her expertise in teaching to work. It's not a short video, it'a 23 minutes presentation and it deals with software development.
Still, I found that what she said, the problems with learning that she described and the proposed solutions map one to one with all that I have experiences learning music.
One major takeaway is "practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. Reduce time spent practicing being mediocre". This speaks to me.
One other aspect that speaks to me is that often you have a truckload of half digested ideas on the table, that you did not have time to translate in fully mastered abilities and this kills the brain.
Jeff, I have a ton of questions for you, but I will start with a suggestion: this video can be interesting for teachers.



Hi Michele, I thoroughly enjoyed the video. Thank you for sharing it!

My wish is to upgrade how bass players both teach and learn to play. But for this to happen a lot of deeply held beliefs would have to be let go.

One problem that bass players seem to deal with the belief that a little bit of musical knowledge goes a long way. To see if this belief has merit, put this philosophy into any and all subjects of art and vocation that are taught. Does this philosophy exist there? I question the value of the bass educational community which in and of itself is considered an offensive thing by many bass players that hold strongly to their beliefs in both the methods that they are taught and also their unshakable trust of the bass icons and established music schools that teach them. It cannot be a comfortable thing when someone dismisses almost in its entirely, a system of learning in its various parts that most player/teachers embrace.

Two thoughts are important to begin my reasons why I am not pleased with how players both teach or learn.

1. Bass teachers are often self taught. This means that while they often are terrific players (as the self taught approach to learning works wonderfully) the difficulty that I see is that teachers can't teach a subject if they don't know how it works. And 2. Playing and learning are two different subjects completely. Here I will be clear: Teachers that teach, say, feel, art, groove, spirit, studio playing, working well with drummers, dynamics, fingering exercises, and many other approaches to learning that are non-music centric, are teaching to lessons that are actually learned for free via the self taught experience. What is the benefit of paying money to teachers to learn musical principles that all great players have learned on their own and for free?

Combining performance principles with how to play better has greatly diluted the benefit of the music lesson which in its best presentation is an academic event. Learning is not spiritual for the most part. It is factual! PLAYING is spiritual. One simple adjustment of how one approaches their instrument in a lesson room will change the learning experience for the better. And, get ready for a surprise: Before bass instructors changed the way that their bass students learned, music only was the manner of teaching. Only!

These comments are open for comment. I welcome thoughts to see how these ideas affect players so that we can examine the facts of learning rather than the feelings that players have about the lessons they are taught.


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/12/15 09:59 AM)

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#2734188 - 11/12/15 10:57 AM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Jeff Berlin]
Groove Mama Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/06/10
Posts: 2319
Loc: St. Louis, MO
G
Originally Posted By: Jeff Berlin
Originally Posted By: lug
Originally Posted By: jeremy c
We have no idea who Lug is. No one has ever seen his face or heard him play. He good be the worst player or the best player. I think he might be from another galaxy.

I might have had the worst bass player in the universe as a student once. No time, no ear, no memory. I tried everything.


pfft, sounds like a lightweight in the world of Suck. When I play, Black Holes can only stare in amazement. My instruments squeal in terror when I open their cases. The only time I'm allowed to play on stage is at closing time if a bar is having trouble getting their drunken patrons to leave. Often exterminator companies hire me when their most powerful chemicals fail to rid an establishment if a difficult infestation problem. The best song I ever played was when I accidently dropped my bass down the stairs. The fact that I play in this galaxy keeps other galaxies in constant terror of a Lug invasion. My best songs will put animals off their feed for weeks. If I play at a funeral, I really hated the dead person. I am...the world's most Suckiest Bass Player, stay grooving, my friends.


Hi Lug. I am curious. After reading your post, I get the vibe that music isn't your thing. Am I correct? If you don't have an interest in playing, or maybe playing better, can you tell me why you are here?


Lug is here to make me laugh out loud at lunch while trying unsuccessfully to maintain a professional demeanor in the office.

"My instruments squeal in terror when I open their cases."
Mission accomplished yet again, my friend! laugh
_________________________
Queen of the Quarter Note
"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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#2734194 - 11/12/15 11:23 AM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Groove Mama]
lug Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 2261
Loc: League City,TX,UNITED STATES
Every village needs and idiot. I provide that service for this forum. No need to thank me, no need at all! grin
_________________________
You can stop now -jeremyc
STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring
lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum
I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

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#2734234 - 11/12/15 01:29 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: lug]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Hi Lug. Thanks for your happy spirit here. I would invite you to consider that threads that provide great discussion regarding practicing and learning well are scarce. Your creating a personality as a village idiot could make way for the village teacher in you, or, if you are interested in musical growth, perhaps the village student. I would like to see that intelligent and loving side of you that could contribute great advise and thoughts to your fellow bass players. Or maybe just ask meaningful musical questions. Of course you are welcome here! I invite you and everyone who comes to this thread to use this great opportunity to discuss and grow in both music and the learning of it. To do this however requires a change in communication skills. I hope Lug that you will consider joining this chat from another direction. Regards from Jeff


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/12/15 03:02 PM)

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#2734242 - 11/12/15 01:42 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: lug]
ZZ Thorn Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 05/07/05
Posts: 1013
Loc: Paris via Chicago
Uhhh...wow, this is totally awesome. Hello Jeff! Really cool for you to make this offer. Glad to hear you are doing so well! Been a fan of your great music for some time.

I thought about what you wrote here about practice/performance mindsets. I can take my practice too seriously, because I see what you are saying about needing to be a bit less spiritual about it, cuz that's what performance is for. Practice is for learning, and learning is more of a technical mindset than a spiritual mindset - I can dig that. Today this freed me up more to take more chances (always key), not worry about mistakes and keep a better perspective. So I got this first part, but I'm not grasping the second part about "music only!" Can you explain what you meant here please:

"One simple adjustment of how one approaches their instrument in a lesson room will change the learning experience for the better. And, get ready for a surprise: Before bass instructors changed the way that their bass students learned, music only was the manner of teaching. Only!"

So, I honestly do want to improve. I play 1-3 hours a day and have for years...but I'll be honest that you are correct in that I am not super-interested in changing my ways! I cop to that cuz I keep doing basically the same thing: Just jamming. Jamming along to my iPod, learning the drums and jamming to my iPod there, learning how to sing and play the bass at the same time, jamming with others - basically just grooving and not being very technical. I did feel I was stuck after my first 2-3 years on bass and so I got a teacher who explained me the basic theory, and that foundation was very helpful, but since then I'm totally self-taught. I play blues, rock and RnB so I never read music anymore and it's been a long since I even practiced going through Real Book types of changes. I feel that I keep progressing - maybe slowly - so I don't really change my methods, I guess.

And yet, if I had the time and the money and was accepted, studying at your school would probably be awesome, LOL! So I'm not THAT resistant to change - I'm just kind of content in my own little thing and progressing in my own way. Not saying this is always good - just giving you my situation.

So I want to mine your knowledge but I really don't have a specific question at the moment other than: How can I improve my ear?

In a larger sense, I'd like to ask: What do you think I should practice? I asked Richard Bona once: What do I need to practice to be as good as you are? He said: "I'm not a singer, but I come from a family of singers and so I sing through my bass - what I suggest is being able to sing whatever you play on the bass." I.e. get the ideas from the brainal/heartal area through to the fingers, and incorporate the voice as well, as I've found adding the voice to be very helpful in progressing as a musician.

So, before you get bored and vamoose and I fail to take advantage of this great opportunity: How do I improve my ear and what do you think I should practice? Wish I had some more questions, but I'll work on it.

Many thanks in advance and feel free to give us any tips at all!
_________________________
http://www.myspace.com/themoustachioed

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#2734251 - 11/12/15 02:46 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: ZZ Thorn]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: ZZ Thorn
Uhhh...wow, this is totally awesome. Hello Jeff! Really cool for you to make this offer. Glad to hear you are doing so well! Been a fan of your great music for some time.

I thought about what you wrote here about practice/performance mindsets. I can take my practice too seriously, because I see what you are saying about needing to be a bit less spiritual about it, cuz that's what performance is for. Practice is for learning, and learning is more of a technical mindset than a spiritual mindset - I can dig that. Today this freed me up more to take more chances (always key), not worry about mistakes and keep a better perspective. So I got this first part, but I'm not grasping the second part about "music only!" Can you explain what you meant here please:

"One simple adjustment of how one approaches their instrument in a lesson room will change the learning experience for the better. And, get ready for a surprise: Before bass instructors changed the way that their bass students learned, music only was the manner of teaching. Only!"

So, I honestly do want to improve. I play 1-3 hours a day and have for years...but I'll be honest that you are correct in that I am not super-interested in changing my ways! I cop to that cuz I keep doing basically the same thing: Just jamming. Jamming along to my iPod, learning the drums and jamming to my iPod there, learning how to sing and play the bass at the same time, jamming with others - basically just grooving and not being very technical. I did feel I was stuck after my first 2-3 years on bass and so I got a teacher who explained me the basic theory, and that foundation was very helpful, but since then I'm totally self-taught. I play blues, rock and RnB so I never read music anymore and it's been a long since I even practiced going through Real Book types of changes. I feel that I keep progressing - maybe slowly - so I don't really change my methods, I guess.

And yet, if I had the time and the money and was accepted, studying at your school would probably be awesome, LOL! So I'm not THAT resistant to change - I'm just kind of content in my own little thing and progressing in my own way. Not saying this is always good - just giving you my situation.

So I want to mine your knowledge but I really don't have a specific question at the moment other than: How can I improve my ear?

In a larger sense, I'd like to ask: What do you think I should practice? I asked Richard Bona once: What do I need to practice to be as good as you are? He said: "I'm not a singer, but I come from a family of singers and so I sing through my bass - what I suggest is being able to sing whatever you play on the bass." I.e. get the ideas from the brainal/heartal area through to the fingers, and incorporate the voice as well, as I've found adding the voice to be very helpful in progressing as a musician.

So, before you get bored and vamoose and I fail to take advantage of this great opportunity: How do I improve my ear and what do you think I should practice? Wish I had some more questions, but I'll work on it.

Many thanks in advance and feel free to give us any tips at all!


Welcome ZZ. I am glad that you are here. My wish is to explain to people that learning how to play is very easy if one eliminates from their musical lives those lessons and points of regard that do not warrant attention in the practice room.

Here is my answer about learning music-only. And actually it is quite simple.

Bass players that pay to learn how to play better will benefit by recognizing that the growth that can take place is to first recognize what a bass was build to do. The very first reason that a bass was built was to play a note.

If this point is understood by bass players, then the next step is to realize what is necessary to fulfill that need. If the bass is firstly an instrument of pitch (not yet rhythm), then lessons related to it would be best served if they too were constructed only on pitch. Rhythm is tied into the note-learning experience as well as all other mechanical principles connected with a music-only education.

What music-only does is that it cuts out the mystery about what to do to improve and simply provides things to practice so that you can play better.

That's it! This is the entire practice reality in a nutshell. One takes their bass and one practices music to learn how to play it. That is literally it!

Where bass education went south is that it got varied. Some have called it "a broad" approach to learning. In fact, the most impactful improvement seems to come from a narrow approach. In your case, you've been jamming and playing the same music for a while. I applaud your insight when you noticed that you haven't improved as a player. Most won't under the same repeated musical conditions.

Learning how to play falls into only two areas, 1. the self taught area which always has been free and 2. academic music-only learning, which is based in great musical content. If you accept that there are only two ways to learn, then you have covered the entire reality of learning how to play the bass. Jaco Pastorius and Jack Bruce come to mind as only two of a million bassists that became what they became via one or two of these experiences.


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/13/15 07:46 AM)

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#2734273 - 11/12/15 03:43 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: Jeff Berlin]
ZZ Thorn Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 05/07/05
Posts: 1013
Loc: Paris via Chicago
Well that certainly is true and I never really thought of it - that the bass is built around pitch as it's only made to play 1 note. A fundamental concept which is properly illuminating. Bass is often conceived as rhythm first...but you gotta be in the right key, LOL.

I totally hear ya on why teachers are great: they tell you what to practice. When I felt I needed one I got one, and he was great. So that's why I'm asking a teacher like you - what do I practice to improve my pitch? What do you suggest - find a good teacher and get some exercises which will work on my pitch?

It seems like what you might be saying is that I've done a lot of self-teaching but have neglected the academic side. I haven't done any academic work for 6-7 years, and no teacher either. The idea of doing solo transcriptions rather bores me to tears, but I'm sure there's other exercises I might find enjoyable. LOL, I guess it's a pretty indefensible position - especially to a player like you - to say "Bah, teachers - who needs 'em!" Hey - you aren't the only one down on mass education, i.e. public daycare!
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#2734279 - 11/12/15 04:00 PM Re: Hi From Jeff Berlin. Let's Hang! [Re: ZZ Thorn]
Jeff Berlin Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/08/15
Posts: 53
Hi ZZ. I read your comments with interest. The only one that I would like to address is your aversion to whatever might be assigned that may cause you boredom.

Here is a point to consider: it would be an amazingly positive thing, a point of real growth and maturity if students recognize that they don't have the right to decide what they are going to learn. They might choose the subject, but after that, they need to trust the teacher unless that teacher isn't teaching music-only. Controversial as this sounds, there are good reasons for my saying this. Students should not be given the right to make academic decisions in their lessons for the most part. They shouldn't have a say about what they are told to practice because for the most part, students aren't qualified to make those decisions.

It boils down to one basic truth; does one really and truly wish to improve. This seems to be the center of what inspires one to learn; how far is one willing to go to improve as a player. Forget gigs and art. Are people desirous to play better for its own sake (everything that follows is the result of the skills that one acquired by learning and practicing well.)

These next comments are certainly going to be considered controversial. In this forum, I will have a chance to explain my thoughts to show people the reason for my comments. They are all invited to come here and question my statements, which are these:

Your job is to seek out a teacher that knows music and can teach it to you. I suggest that you not study with any teacher that talks about gigs, chops, technique, groove, or heart/emotion in playing. Anything other than the function of music on your instrument is a diluting of the learning experience. If you can find a jazz teacher, be it guitarist, pianist, or horn player, I suggest studying with them as well, not for the art of it, but for the musical facts that must be learned in order to play jazz. One doesn't have to be a jazz player if they really don't wish to be.

Again, if you or anyone else has any questions, you are all invited to come here and ask me the reasons for my comments. Thanks for being involved in the uplifting of music education, something that I am dedicated in helping people to experience.


Edited by Jeff Berlin (11/13/15 08:23 AM)

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