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To Learn or Not To Learn: That is the question


The Gizmologist

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As a mostly self-taught bassist of 8+ years, I have had a moderate but surprising amount of success locally. I've been in bands almost every day since picking up the bass, I've had no shortage of gigs or venues to play, and with little training or actual skill. Maybe I'm just lucky or in a zip code that is mostly bass-less.

 

That being said, I have a question. Despite my local successes, my music theory knowledge is lacking. My skill set is less than adequate in my opinion. Sure I can play AC/DC and ZZ Top till the cows come home. But should I go back and start taking lessons and classes? I've had success without them but sometimes feel like a fraud who is getting by solely on luck and personality (and dashing good looks). I've asked several educated musicians and to my surprise they all advised me NOT to take lassons and classes for the most part. I know most responses will probably say "education can't hurt, only help" but as a bassist on a budget is my playing going to improve proportionately to the effort, time, and money I spend?

 

Any opinions/advice would be helpful.

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Can't really make a judgement unless you provide pics of your "dashing good looks". Everyone knows good looking people shouldn't work as hard as "uglies". It's why I've never practiced a day in my life.

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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Personally I was almost entirely self-taught for 20 years and it was just fine - but I taught myself theory. But then I took just a few lessons and I have to say my progress on the bass after taking lessons was exponential relative to before. You can learn theory for free or very cheap in college classes or like I did fro a few theory books from the library. Now, you can learn theory from some great sites on the web.

I would recommend individual lessons more for technique and approaches to playing than theory per se. If you want to you could learn most basic music theory in a month or two from a few books. Learning how to apply it on bass would then take longer - either a decade of experience or speed the process up by taking a few lessons. It's not like you have to commit to a lesson a week. Just take a couple and a few months later another couple of lessons.

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Do not take lessons unless YOU want to. Otherwise you will fail.... Do it to learn and perhaps get better (I don;t know how good you are now... maybe lessons will help, maybe not). I would say I don;t need lessons for the gigs I have now... I need them for the gigs I want to get....

 

 

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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You're not getting married here. Take some lessons and see how it goes. If you're mostly interested in theory, why don't you check out a local community college to see if they offer any general music theory classes? The cost is usually pretty reasonable, you'd be making just a semester time commitment, and you can practice your new-found knowledge on your bass by yourself--which has gotten you pretty far already.
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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Thanks for the input guys. The dashing good looks comment was just a joke by the way, but seriously I consider myself an average but solid, dependable bass player and a good bandmate. I think that's why I get the gigs I have been blessed with. I'm not flashy and am always intimidated by the Guitar Center "Virtuosos" who plop down in the store for an hour just to show off their speed or jazz chords or popping and slapping. While I often know what works, I do not always know why it works. I was looking into taking a relatively inexpensive bass class at the local community college, unfortunately it is not offered this semester or next. So I went to find a music theory class; it also is not being taught this semester or next. A guitarist friend of mine has benefited greatly from private lessons and has pressured me to join him, though he warned me they would "break me down and build me back up." I don't want a drill sargent. I want to improve my theory and technique.
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I had a teacher like that. But it was exactly what I needed at that time - take my playing apart and rebuild it. Most other teachers are way more positive and you need to get the right teacher for you. I think the community college is a great idea for theory. Take the time to ask the right questions and find the right teacher.

 

 

 

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Thanks for the input guys. The dashing good looks comment was just a joke by the way, but seriously I consider myself an average but solid, dependable bass player and a good bandmate. I think that's why I get the gigs I have been blessed with. I'm not flashy and am always intimidated by the Guitar Center "Virtuosos" who plop down in the store for an hour just to show off their speed or jazz chords or popping and slapping. While I often know what works, I do not always know why it works. I was looking into taking a relatively inexpensive bass class at the local community college, unfortunately it is not offered this semester or next. So I went to find a music theory class; it also is not being taught this semester or next. A guitarist friend of mine has benefited greatly from private lessons and has pressured me to join him, though he warned me they would "break me down and build me back up." I don't want a drill sargent. I want to improve my theory and technique.

 

Where in Maryland? I live in York and have a great bass /music teacher.... PM me if need be...

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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I live in the Essex/Middle River/Dundalk area and have been looking for classes at Community College of Baltimore County, but my friend is taking classes in Timonium. They really have worked wonders for him. The dude went from average rhythm guitarist to doing jazz chords and beast solos in less than 2 years. I'm considering going up to Timonium when I get some free time....I'll be down at the Ravens stadium Sunday with my band at a tailgate party. Any Ravens fans in the area, come on down to Lot O and see us...The Jen-n-Tonics! LOL
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I don't understand how learning more can ever be a bad thing. And there are lots of way to learn besides formal classes but I don't believe educated musicians would tell you NOT to study -- unless they were afraid you'd find out , they really aren't very educated.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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Learning is always a great thing. Just don't let it interfere with the practical side of your playing. You can play AC/DC & ZZ Top, and that may not seem like much to you, but it's more than a lot of folks can do. Don't run that down just because you can do it. Playing a few gigs with that stuff could pay for a few lessons...

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

 

 

 

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There's no way learning will stifle your playing if it isn't in you in the first place. Yeah, some people are into academics and never learn to groove or have no interest in rocking and they miss out on that component. But you can't LOSE it if you already have it.

 

And not for nothing, playing bass to AC/DC and ZZTop is pretty elementary. It's cool. I like it . But let's be real -- that's the stuff I show to beginners because it's easy to sound good. That's not meant as a put down, it's just the reality. If you're working, you're very lucky. You may not NEED to learn anything else. It's up to you if you want to.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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