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Tom Capasso

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I was talking to a keyboard player about notation and systems for finger use (ala the "bass notation" thread). He asked how much musical training we (on the forum) have. I decided to put that out as a question (I'm curious...).


What training have you had? Consider

  • bass lessons?
  • lessons on other instruments?
  • music theory?
  • any other related music training (recording engineer, sound tech, song writing, How Bach predicted the nuclear age, etc.)

Since I brought it up -

I took sax from age 8-16. I had a music theory class in 9th grade. No bass lessons.


I must say that playing with bands (and fooling around on a keyboard) helped me put the theory to work. It wasn't an indepth course, but I can figure out what notes are in an Asus or Bm9.


And I'm sure my mechanical technique suffers for lack of lessons. I watched one video, which told me I'm not a complete trainwreck, but at some point I'll have to build my reading skills (yeah - up to slow) and get some technique pointers.


How about you?



Acoustic Color


Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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My musical training:

Handbells when I was nine.

Violin for three months when I was 10.

Cello for the next three months.

Six months of guitar lessons when I was 14.

Thirty-one years of listening to sounds in the air.


The end.



"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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When I was a child I took drum lessons for a number of years. That helped me with timing and rythym.


As a teen I played bass in a school jazz band without the benefit of formal lessons. Later I played in cover bands/garage bands and that help me develop tightness.


After taking 15+ years off having returned to bass last year I find that playing with a band is a big help. Probably the best education in and of itself. I also study Ed Friedland and Carol Kaye books in order to better understand and apply theory. One thing I never lost over the years was my ability to read music. That is a help. My main focus is getting my ear re-trained.



There is a rip in the space-time continuim and it rings at B flat.
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Lots---some formal & some autodidactic.

I'm basically self-taught but have had lessons at piano, guitar,voice & theory.

Practical experience at playing those (& other )instruments for over 20 years in both live & studio situations.

An almost equal amount of experience writing lyrics & composing music...& some success selling/marketing those.

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I played trumpet in Jr High school and learned to read treble clef, I was in the chorus in high school. I had some guitar lessons (mostly chords, no reading), but I picked up the bass on my own. I learned as many songs ( I was performing in high school with a dance company, and we did songs with a lot of alternate changes, no I IV V here, I was in deep at an early age) as I could, and played scale tones until I became adept at building bass lines.


I'm sure some lessons from a top notch bass player couldn't hurt, but I'm old and cranky :D

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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aside form the various instruments i have studied and forgotten (piano, baritone horn and cello), there has been my experience with the electric bass from high school on. learned to read in junior high, but my work in high school music classes was more based on the creative rather than "play what's written." so i played mostly from charts (stil do) giving me decent enough theory to run around within the chart, but it destroyed my reading. other high school total immersion learning includes upright, conga, timbale and vibes.
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clarinet lessons age 10-23. sax lessons age 13-17.

piano lessons age 21-23.

a small number of bass lessons, including lessons with Carol Kaye.


School bands.

University Orchestra.

University Jazz Band


B.A. in Music


teaching credential courses which included learning every instrument to jr. high level.


tons of practice and study on my own.


My own teaching for the last 29 years which taught me everything that I have taught my students.


And of course the "School of Hard Knocks", all the gigs I have played since 1964.

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Trombone in 5th grade, 2 bass lessons, some junior college level formalism, and about 20 years playing the bass (although only about 12-15 with any focus, honestly).

Can read charts, can suss out the lines in sheet music, but not as strong a reader as I could be.

Main strength seems to be a killer ear (also a 50's horror movie, I think) and an almost wonton desire to play all styles, at least for fun. That helps with technique and solfeggio, and I am working on the sightreading. Really! :)






I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.






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Piano Lessons: 8 months in Grade 3. Self study, learned 1-4-5 chords on my own in the "easy" keys on piano.


Guitar: self taught: Grade 8-12. By the time I reached 12th grade, I could play changes by ear to nearly any song on the radio, developed rudimentary Travis cross-picking, had begun learning the lead licks to songs (mostly by David Gates and Bread.)


Piano Lessons: Grade 10-12. Thompson method bk. 1&2...and some simple sonata form solos.


'73-78: Arlington Baptist College: BS in Music, concentration in Conducting. Studied Private Voice, Private Piano, private conducting for 3 years in addition to college program.


Concurrent; taught myself electric bass. Recorded a few church "ego" albums for various people. Began touring sporadically with church groups.


79-81: Dallas Baptist College: Studied Voice, began private study on URB. Began "music teacher training classes."


81-86: University of Texas/Arlington: Studied Voice, Took first lessons on E. Bass. Eventually settled on a Degree plan of Orchestral Music education, concentration on URB, secondary in Voice. Took the same classes Jeremy took on all orchestral/band instruments. BM in Music Education; string emphasis.


During this time, I began private studio, specializing in URB. Had my first All State students in 85-86.


87-90: At the request of one of my URB students, began studying Jazz and returned to EBass after a several year concentration on URB. Went to local community college, enrolled in Jazz courses. (I now teach at that college.)


90-91: Bass lessons, local music store, with Chuck Rainey.


NOTE: during the entire period from '73-93 I worked a full time job, got married, had 3 kids, played in as many as 4 orchestras, numerous pit orchestras as well as college required ensembles. I bought a house, several cars...got a dog. Maintained an active private studio, resulting in about 20 All State players.


In 93, I began teaching public school full-time, maintained the private studio, increased my playing. Have been to many seminars required by my job to keep all kinds of skills up, as many as I can.


I work many hours, long and hard. I sometimes pick up a bass to demonstrate something and accidentally use cello fingerings or vice versa.


I have a piece of advice:


If you have talent, and want to truly get ahead as a performer, try not to emulate my route. I am not the player I would have been, if I had:


-stayed on one instrument,

-not worked full time during college; more practice time,

-not been married with children; more practice time,

-started earlier...e bass was age 19, URB was age 25,

-practiced more,

-listened to better music.


However, this life has given me valuable, rich experience in music, making me a much better teacher...I wouldn't be the teacher I am if it were not for all of these musical explorations.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.


Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Originally posted by Dr Zarkov-Capasso:

What training have you had? Consider

  • music theory?
  • any other related music training (recording engineer, sound tech, song writing, How Bach predicted the nuclear age, etc.)

Interesting topic-

-No double bass lessons until college (as a string bass major!!) - what a shock to both me and the Philly Orchestra member instructor I had!

-Started violin when barely eight, had four years of lessons. Later taught tuba, self-taught tenor banjo/guitar


-Theory lessons in elementary/high school and summer music schools, then at college


-other music and related training?? The College of Hard Knocks: I started playing out (usually Trumpet, Sax, Piano, Bass, Drums) at 13, reading from fake books and otherwise faking it, and joined the musicians union at 15 or 16, also continuing to gig with a wide range of musicians. Also did the usual garage band rock, though not as much at that time. After I left college and since I've done time with a lot of different bands in different genres, and have been fortunate to have played with some very good (and not so good) players.


Of course, the fifth and final question should be: How much of the above do you remember?!?!? :eek:

1000 Upright Bass Links, Luthier Directory, Teacher Directory - http://www.gollihurmusic.com/links.cfm


[highlight] - Life is too short for bad tone - [/highlight]

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Classical piano lessons, age 8-14.

Jazz piano lessons, age 15.

Trumpet classes and bands (thru my schools), grades 5-8.

Trumpet private lessons, grade 9.

Harmonica, age 25-32 (present) -- self-taught.

Percussion elective (middle school class), grade 8.

Music history and music theory classes in high school.

Music and movement classes (Dalcroze/eurhythmics), age 7-13 (?)


Electric bass, age 15-32 (present) :cool:

--lessons grades 11 and 12 (greater focus on theory than technique)

--high school cover bands

--college originals bands

--post-college: informal jamming with friends


Loved every minute of it. Certainly have settled on the bass as my "instrument of choice." Hoping to get involved with bass lessons again. Love carrying a harmonica in my pocket for spontaneous musical moments. :thu:


I can read music; I can follow charts; I know what different chords are. However, since I haven't really actively used those skills in my "spontaneous," jam-oriented musical life since college, they have atrophied. :(






Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Wow! Davebrownbass, you have been a busy guy :D

I think you route IS the way to go....

Me? I had 3 yrs of guitar lessons as a sprout

(remember Mel Bay books? :freak: ) from a local

teacher, then nothing till high school then

"Dark Side of the Moon " and "Roundabout"

got me to hitchhike to a music store and buy

a "Zimgar" bass.(Quality you can taste) Self

taught for a few years with some electronic

music classes in college. Then took up study with

Peter Giron (formerly of Luther Allison's touring

band)till he split for France. From then on it

was books by Rick Laird, Rufus Reed, and Tony

Oppenheim's "Slap it!"

I gotta say - ear training was way more usefull

than regular bass lessons for my money :thu:

I graduated from a tin ear to a brass one before

Peter split to France, wish I had found a 'nother

teacher to get my ear up to at least silver...

if it ain't broke don't fix it...

unless you need the overtime.

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Bass was my first instrument.


Formal lessons on Classical Upright using Simandel (spelling?) all through high school 13 - 17.


At the same time the same guy taught me electric bass privately.


Played semi-pro from just under 15 years old (best school EVER!!) till 20.


Certificate course in audio engineering.


Most learning informally in the school of life.

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-Played trombone in a middleschool band.


-Self-taught guitarist since age 12.


-Songwriter and band leader of two bands which went on to great success as recording artists with a decent amount of radio airplay.


-Self-taught drummer, keys player, and bassist along the way.


-still listening and learning every day as I enjoy playing bass as my chosen primary instrument.

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I've had no formal music teaching of any kind. When I was 17 my brother bought Led Zeppelin's first album and didn't like it. He swapped it for an extremely beat-up, virtually unplayable classical guitar. Within a week he had lost interest in it but I kept playing around with it, borrowed a couple of tuition books and soon I was playing electric guitar in local bands.


Around 15 years ago I gave up guitar completely. 10 years later I bought a bass. I've tried to be more methodical with bass in terms of learning theory and reading but I'm still self-taught. If I could find a good local teacher I'd go for private lessons, but I haven't so far.


I'm extremely jealous of people who had a proper musical education. I imagine this would have lead either to me being a much better player or, realising that my musical talent was pretty modest and finding something more productive to do with my time.

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I'm approaching my 8th year of learning cello and being in various orchestras. I've also learnt the piano on and off, but unfortunately never had any training in bass.

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger.Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."

- Mel Brooks

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Wow !!!


Lots of Trombone players here !!!


Add PJR to the list.


Trombone was my main instrument. Started in 4th grade....went all thru grade school.....'minored' in music in College.


Picked up the bass in 8th grade, well....because I couldn't sing and play trombone that well (same time)


Took about a year or so formal training on bass about 11 yrs ago.....was cool ... learned a lot.


There's always something to learn.....at any level.



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*Played Piano for 7 years with lessons

*PLayed Clarinet (still do occassionally) for 15 years with lessons for 7.

*Played Alto Saxamaphone (In Homer's voice) for 2 years with lessons.

*Sang for 10 years in groups.

*Took 2 music theory classes in college.

*Played Hand percussions (self taught...I guess I like to bang my drum!) and sang in a band for 2 years.

*Played bass (self taught) and sing in a band for 1 year now!

Why steal the hub caps...take the whole damn car instead!


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Used to play 20 years ago then stopped. Before stopping I plaid with an amazing jazz pianist, which I consider to be an intensive lesson in jazz and music in general.


When I picked up playing again a couple of years ago, I bought a couple of books. The little reading capability that I have were self thaught. :rolleyes:


I am now taking lessons with a professional teacher. Mostly about music in general (chord theory, improving, etc) rather than strictly bass oriented.

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Well first time post here but this seemed like a nice introduction to the group.


Started playing drums around age five and stuck with it until about 15 or 16 years. Only formal study was public school and I certainly wasn't a wiz at that. Just like to play along with rock records.


When I was about 13 I started sneaking some time in on my brothers Fender Jazz, hopeing I would be cought and get my butt whipped.


Then I got my first synth, a CZ1000 when they came out. New found passion, got a 4 track and an SK1. My life was never the same.


I ended up getting a Bass in there somewhere. Played to Rock and roll records.


Did a demo and landed a job in a Studio in Port washington NY, so thus became an engineer. Kept playing Bass too. Stopped the drums.


followed some booty to Boston and ended up Mixing live in Landsdown, and kept playing Bass. Got a guitar.


Produced some low budget folky stuff and that was a curse about two years later.


Moved Back to NYC, didn't play much Bass but did mix at the Bottom Line. Got a copy of some books like Rufus Reids jammie, never really learned to read though.


Got a banjo, never played a bass with frets since, the two do not corrilate.


Quit thought about moving to Cali, but ended up staying in NY, mostly engineering and play a few instruments, recorded a few things at Sony Studios once as lead guitarist which was depressing as I am not a lead guitarist, no one would believe me until it was time to play the solo :) Also played some bass there, nothing really came of it but did end up working on a classic hip hop record, the Company flo stuff for the curious, as enginner, two tunes. I quit.


Got a Sitar, while never getting a guru, the music system of writting made more sence to me than the western take. Downloaded some microtaonal programs. I still didn't read wersten notation system.


Moved back to Boston area after a nervous breakdown, kept playing some bass. Got a gig a Kurzweil QA synths, played more bass at the Mid east every thursday for a tad and then got married. Bought lots of gear. Regained sanity. Not due to the gear.


Got married, moved to Italy, don't play much bass, Work for another synth company that starts with the Letter K, on the dreaded arrangers!!. Converted lots of gear to 220. Eat like a pig, and dress better than ever!


I still can't play jazz nor read western sheet music. It's only been only 18 years since I last went to High school which was the extent of my formal education. Don't know how this applies to education.


I think I am still a bass player though. :confused:

Names to Remember:

Charles Stepney & Emory Cook

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I'll weigh in on this one:


Elementary School - Sang in the school and church's children's choirs. Voice lessons at church.


High School - Picked up the bass and started playing in bands. Took lessons from a guitar player who took lessons from Earl Klugh.


College - Took introductory piano and music theory courses as electives. More appreciation classes rather than heavy theory. Continued to play in bands and DJ at the one of the college's radio stations and with friends and frat brothers on the side to make money.


Post-College - Took bass lessons here and there for awhile and piano lessons much later. Got serious about music theory and knowing something about the inner workings of music and composition.


I've gotten more music education on my own rather than taking formal lessons.





Famous Musical Quotes: "I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve" - Xavier Cugat

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here's my history :


- Took piano lessons at 6 (Aunt is a music

teacher), barely remember squat...


- School taught trumpet 5th & 6th grade, again

no recollection besides still being able to

make pipes & hoses sound like elephants!


- Snare drum rudiments age 13 (Aunt as teacher

again) What I wanted was a Drum kit, what I

got was a snare & taught to march !!!


- I took up Bass at 15, urged by guitar playing

friend, had 2 yrs. high school music theory

almost got to the point of being able to read

bass clef slowly.


- One Semi formal lesson from a Awesome

progressive rock bassist, 4 hr. jam & I learned

stuff I still practice.


I've played in quite a few different paying bands from Heavy metal to Top 40, country & variety , classic rock, alternative, etc...

Have did a few studio gigs (Demo's, vanity Cd's,

etc..) have used charts & my ear mostly, Couldn't site read "Happy Birthday" if my life depended on it ! I'm a groove oriented ensemble player who has been able to "hang" with all of my situations

- I wouldn't think about hoppin' onstage at a Jazz/Funk jam ! let say I know my limitations !

I also play guitar, keys, & can hold my own on the drums, only regrets are that I wish that I pursued or was pushed to do more Vocals.

I'm Todbass62 on MySpace
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Alto Sax in school:5th-8th grade

Electric Bass:13 to present (19).


Keyboard:semester of lessons.

Drums: " " "

Vocal: " " "

Theory: AP Classical theory in HS.

2 classes of Jazz/pop harmony

1 class of comp. and arranging

3 classes of fingerboard theory.

3 classes of ear training


Studied privately with Terry Burns, Gary Raynor, Jay Young, and Charles Fletcher.


Been reading since I was 10 and have benefitted from reading in school bands.

"Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine."

--Henry David Thoreau

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Born into a family of musicians.....parents and grandparents on both sides were musicians.


Started on mandolin at age 4, or so I am told.....I can't clearly remember back that far.


Started learning guitar at age 6. My earliest memory is getting a well worn Gibson L-0 for my sixth birthday.


Piano lessons started at age 8 and continued on to age 15.


Started on clarinet at (I think) age 10 and continued on through high school. I also picked up saxophone, flute, oboe, bassoon, and double bass while in public school bands and orchestras. I basically took every music course our school system had to offer.


Started playing electric bass at age 12 in my parents' band. I pretty much was handed a bass and taught myself how the thing worked. I was playing onstage every weekend for $$$ a month later. I was green, lame and nervous, but somehow faked my way through it.


I've taken lessons from several folks over the years. Also completed a few Continuing Adult Education college theory courses.

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Violin, clarinet, and trumpet in elementary school...all of whch I promptly gave up after a couple of months... :rolleyes:


Nothing else musical until high school, where I sang a lot in choir...started playing the bass to join my friend's ska band...


Went to NYU in '94. Switched my major from film to music after two years of having my homework disrupted by my incessant desire to learn all those cool basslines I kept hearing Guy Pratt and Tony Levin playing on my favorite records at the time. Started listening to "all those guys" that one gets excited about...Jaco, Stanley, etc. :D


Crammed four years of theory and ear training into two years. My sightreading's atrocious, but my comprehension of the written note is pretty good. I also took up the upright around this time...


I had three different bass teachers...Ron Velosky, Martin Wind at NYU, and then a couple years of private lessons after college with Jay Elfenbein.


I'll say this, though...I gleaned most of my meager wisdom (plus my chart-reading) from going out and doing as many gigs as I could in as many disparate styles as I could.

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My Dad started me on drum lessons when I was in the sixth grade, and I quit in the sixth grade. I wanted to play a set not a snare. I had Mens choir and chorus my last two years of high school (to get chicks honestly), but I only learned how to sing by ear. I taught myself how to play rock drums after an impulse buy with my first big tax return... Then, I started teaching myself rock bass @21 y/o while I was in the Marine Corps. I've only been playing 5 1/2 years now, but I'm an addict. I was thinking about taking lessons to learn how to sight read... It might open up some doors for me personally and give me a more educated and mature view of music. I'm not in a hurry though... :D

"Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of Congress

... But I repeat myself."

-Mark Twain

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/63/condition_1.html (my old band)

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I am currently taking lessons for viola and transcribing all the theory items I have into the three clefs(treble, alto, and bass). In my opinion, alto is the easiest to read, bass second easiest and treble is hardest. Anyways, I didn't take lessons for bass and are developing my "chops" with my band. I am taking a viola theory class even though all I do is take lessons and have one orchestra playing. I plan(dream) on going to some famous musical college, such as...


Berklee. Someday i hope to specialize in performance and my main instrument as bass. I will try to make sure this happens.

Anyway, that's just my dream, i donnow if it will happen, but my heart is set on it.



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Guitar since 8(flamingo reading and fingering

)In JHS in band and played 2nd trumpet and then 1st baritone horn.Best friend on bassoon and one on tuba.Girlfriend played clarinet(short skirt too!).In HS marching band and after school jazz band on stand-up bass.Instructor loved me.At 14 joined band as giutarist,no bass.All the guys played giutar but no bass.I used my theory background, and since nobody played a good bass I took it up with a P Bass and a Sunn Sorado amp.


Till today I love to rock and collect guitars and basses.


I like to pull the floor out so you can dance on my bass waves. Later :wave::thu:

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