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Giving a young player advice

5 string Mike

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Long story short, I'm getting into the rotation at church again after a hiatus. Some of the main praise team musicians are a group of brothers, late teens to early 20s- Acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass player, drummer. As I was practicing with them in the last few weeks geting ready for this month, I stood in on a couple of songs on the young bass player's fish- a Squier standard Jazz, much like the one I had, with D'Addario flatwounds. I made it through half a song then had to switch to mine- the thing was in serious need of a setup. The action was ridiculous high, the strings had half a wrap on the tuners and run through the slot with 6 inches of string hanging out, the D and G strings weren't even through the string tee, the front pickup was buried in the body almost flush, it was bad.


Next practice, I gave him my bass to use and I set his up for him, explaining what I was going to do. When I was done, he played it and was happy as a clam- (I didn't adjust the pickup, I forgot a Phillips).


As he was playing, I noticed he really needs some structure to his style- he's a weaker player. As the night progressed, I talked to him and found out he's playing because his dad basically said 'you will do this' (he's from a Latin American family). He likes playing bass and has enthusiasm for it, but he's kind of been thrown to the wolves and left to fend for himself. No one's really challenging him or pushing him. So, I offered to give him some pointers and he was real interested. So, my next adventure I think is going to be working a bit with this young man to dial him in a bit.


I won't have much one on one time with him so I'm trying to put together a word document of sorts for him to go over and try to get his brothers (both guitar players are real good, one is the youth praise leader) to work with him.


That being said, I'm putting together an outline of what areas I'm going to touch on, and I'd appreciate your input and critique of what's the essential stuff.


Here's where I was going to start


1) Know your bass- understand the basics of the instrument (parts, basic setup theory and terms, etc)


2) A bass player's approach to music- understand the roles and disciplines of bass in the overall music (basic understanding of how to keep the groove/ rhythm, the importance of playing the right note at the right time, understanding chord progressions, how to listen, etc)


3) Technique, technique, technique- learning good playing habits, take lessons if you can, efficiency of motion (avoiding the 'eagle claw', using all fingers, learn the basic major and minor scale progressions, develop a sense of time, etc.)


My goal right now isn't to write a book; there are lots of those. I'm just looking at something I can give him and try to stay on him about. I just don't have much time for one on one lessons, but hopefully I can get him to take the learning a little more serious without overloading him.


So what are your thoughts?

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind"- George Orwell
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Sounds like you have it covered pretty well. The most important thing you are already doing by giving him pointers while he's there and sharing your enthusiasm for the instrument. With that, your write-up and actual playing with a group, I think he's on his way.

Lydian mode? The only mode I know has the words "pie ala" in front of it.


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I agree. I'm far from a point to where I can give pointers, but I do know from experience, when someone with years ahead of me on the instrument took time out to show me stuff, it made me dig into the instrument more (and often times from a different perspective that I didn't know about). I think having friends who were already playing and helping me out, I advanced through those early stages rather quick.


The drawback was, I quit taking lessons after about a year and focused on my heavy metal band and took on a lot of bad habits... some of which I'm trying VERY hard to get rid of still. So anything you can do for him, will benefit him. After all, a Padawan needs a Jedi Master to know the full power of the force. :)


(yea I'm a nerd... whatreugonna do about it???)

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I agree with the rest. I've been playing for about ten years now, and I still love to catch up with the older generations, and just talk, and play bass. The text will be a great tool he can take with him, but be sure to have a sit down and just bounce ideas off one another. That he'll remember.
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Why not burn him a CD of songs that showcase a variety of great bass lines?


My wicked, wicked mind played a trick on me again, and thought that sentence would cover 4 suggestions:


1.-Why not burn him?


2.- a CD of songs


3.- that showcase


4.- a variety of great bass lines?


Dunno about the first one, the rest seems like good suggestions to me :P Mwahahahaha!! :)

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Instagram: @JuanCarlinMusic

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I think some help in what to play will be needed at some time. Understanding what it takes to make a groove work and what kills a groove. Also the KISS method works wonders and that's a great place to start.


Have fun with it, and if he's like me then he would prefer your time rather than written instructions. Even if the occasions are sparse.



"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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Thanks for the input- Yeah, I'm seeing more and more it's going to be a challenge to do what I want.


I like the CD idea- with notes about what to listen for (listen to how he's locked in the pocket, etc).

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind"- George Orwell
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If you're gonna teach him but not have a lot of one on one, you're gonna have to keep what you show him down to tidbits. You can't core dump a lot of technical knowledge and expect him to remember it, especially if you only have a few minutes with him. Maybe you can break up what you want to show & tell him into "mini-lessons" and put one a week on paper for him.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.




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I'm of the mind that if you can't sit down with him on a regular basis, just give him some pointers and answer his questions. He can learn theory, instrument care and maintinence and whatnot if he's interested enough to either read up on it (and/or join in on this or other forums) or find a teacher that can spend the necessary time with him.
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Have him take tunes with simple bass lines and learn them by ear, as homework. Then you can correct the occasional wrong note and suggest better fingerings etc.


Sometimes theory lessons and whatnot seem rather pointless to kids who don't know how to apply the information. As he's learning the lines, you can explain how the notes relate ... this is the root, this is the fifth.... this is a scale passage getting you from point A to point B.... this is the MOTHER OF ALL RIFFS.....


But it's hard when you have very little time for one on one lessons. At least he's willing to learn. There are some kids who come in and out of band practices at church who are pretty talented, but don't know a lot. But they don't seem to want to learn anything, at least from me, and I don't think I'm being a jerk about it!

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