Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Advice for a new teacher...


NickT

Recommended Posts

I have just taken on my first ever pupil!!!! I have an idea of what young bass players ought to know (remembering back to the teacher who made the difference to me).

 

These things include: scales, chord symbols (and how the two fit together), reading, how to be a bass player (not just some guy who plays the bass).

 

How should I go about teaching this stuff? I don't really wanna teach from a book. If I'm just leading him through a book, then what is the point of me being there?

 

Teachers, what do you teach and how? Pupils what do you/did you want to learn and how do you/did you have it taught to you.

 

First lesson is on 14th December so I've got a little time to prepare. Any advice (apart from RUN AWAY....) would be great,

 

Thanks

 

Nick

Free your mind and your ass will follow.
Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 15
  • Created
  • Last Reply

There is nothing wrong with using a method book. Think about this....how many millions of people have purchased a book, but never open it. These are good teaching tools.

 

Could you imagine purchasing a analytical geometry book, and then teaching your self analyt.?

 

I always start with the classic major scale fingering. Good for knowing notes, walk-up patterns, getting the fingers moving.

 

I also have them to alternating 1-2 RH fingers on each open string...to develop a plucking pattern.

 

I get into chord theory pretty early (first lesson) and have student play root-five patterns to simple chord changes in the first couple weeks. I'll also have them do the same thing with walking lines derived from the major scale pattern.

 

I have a shifting exercise that teaches the neck. Play Bflat-Eflat, Bflat-Eflat in half notes. The first time, play from A string to D string, second time, do it all on A. Try with Eyes Closed. And call out the names of the notes.

 

Do that from Bflat up to E on the A string...(E-A, E-A) and they will know the notes.

 

We create our own method book as we go (students must bring in staff paper notebooks) This is primarily because I get students with various levels of experience...so i adapt to what they don't know pretty quickly.

 

Also, I've never really found a satisfactory comprehensive electric bass method book

 

Good luck.

"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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm curious, davebrownbass, what do you do with problematic students who come at you with this attitude:

 

"Man, I already KNOW how to play. I don't want to learn that boring stuff, just teach me that awesome new Korn/Chili-Peppers/Blink 182/Englebert Humperdink song!"

 

I've been apprehensive about getting into teaching for fear of getting one of these kids and not knowing what to do. Do I tell them no? Placate them? Try to split the lesson into stuff you need to know first, then a little bit of fun at the end?

 

I've often thought that if I can find a way to show them the theory that relates to some song they want to learn and show them that "Hey, this bit of theory and knowledge will allow you to learn twenty of these songs without my help! You'll save some money!", this might be a good way of doing things... Yes? No?

 

:confused:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having a book can be great. Learning piano I always had multiple books -- one for theory, one for technique/method, and one of actual pieces to play. When I took bass lessons, I didn't have a method book, but my teacher did have me buy a "fake" book, and a really cool jazz/blues theory book that I can't find anymore!

 

If you can find good instructional books (wish I could help more here), they can be really useful. They really help a student progress through a "curriculum," as well as help you and the student track progress. You can be there to help with understanding, fill out information where the book is weak, and add your own additional flair.

 

I have not taught music to students, but I have taught a variety of courses to high school and college students. Having a book, packet of readings, etc. is useful for the student when they need to work on their own, but such "literature" can't be the only thing going on. The teacher is there to help flesh out the info and give it life and meaning.

 

Anyway, don't write off books from the get-go. There are probably solid materials out there that would be useful to you and the student.

 

Peace.

--sweets

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by BenLoy:

I'm curious, davebrownbass, what do you do with problematic students who come at you with this attitude:

 

"Man, I already KNOW how to play. I don't want to learn that boring stuff, just teach me that awesome new Korn/Chili-Peppers/Blink 182/Englebert Humperdink song!"

 

I've been apprehensive about getting into teaching for fear of getting one of these kids and not knowing what to do. Do I tell them no? Placate them? Try to split the lesson into stuff you need to know first, then a little bit of fun at the end?

 

I've often thought that if I can find a way to show them the theory that relates to some song they want to learn and show them that "Hey, this bit of theory and knowledge will allow you to learn twenty of these songs without my help! You'll save some money!", this might be a good way of doing things... Yes? No?

 

:confused:

If you're teaching privately, you would have some control over this. You can lay-out how you will approach bass instruction with the student, incorporating (or not) various popular music selections into the instruction. If that's not the student's cup of tea, so be it -- they can stay or go. It sounds like, also, that this would be additional income for you, and not your primary employment (at this point, anyway). In which case you would have a little less pressure on you to build up a full teaching load.

 

When I took lessons back in high school, most of it was focused on theory, listening, some technique. But if I were struggling learning a song for my high school band, my teacher would help me for a few minutes at the end of my lesson. Your suggestion about giving them some choice at the end of the lesson sounds pretty reasonable, especially if you can infuse a little theory/method into it.

 

I would expect that the teachers on this board (DBB, JeremyC, et al.) to have some good advice for you. They've got plenty of experience, and I often learn from them just from their posts!

 

Peace.

--sweets

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never teach songs that people bring in. I make this clear right out front.

 

If people really want to learn specific songs, the best thing for them is to sit at home and work on them until they get them. If the songs are too hard for them, then they should try learning easier ones first.

 

But I hardly ever get asked this anymore.

 

I teach chords, technique, connection notes, reading, rhythms, theory....all the things that are common to all bass playing. I use mostly my own materials, sometimes books, sometimes pages out of books.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Take everything you plan to teach the student and find a practical application of it. Nothing is more frustrating than learning things and not knowing why you are learning them. Learning scales, for instance, if crucial for learning chord theory. Learning chord theory is crucial for understanding charts, charts are crucial for for all sorts of playing situations.
...think funky thoughts... :freak:
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an ex public school music teacher and 3rd grade teacher as well as a private lessons teacher, I would say that wether or not you choose to use a book, the most critical element of good instruction is to be sure that all lessons are sequenced-constantly buildling on the previous lesson/skill. It's easy to jump around when you're a new teacher because your students will ask for certain things and you'll be tempted to please them to some degree in order to keep them and their money coming back to you. I usually use pages from several books but make sure that

the fingerings, methods, philosopy doesn't differ much. (i.e. using one finger per fret vs. upright fingerings, different approaches to position patterns, etc.) I recommend Joel De Bartolo's "Serious Electric Bass". The cool part is that it'll teach your student everything as well as giving YOU a whole bunch of cool instruction that you may have not seen or practiced consistently in the past.

 

I usually disguise my book pages via photocopies without the book title and then give same to my students to practice. This way they think that I'm a genius who has a constant "mytical" source of bass knowledge and he/she'll keep coming back. ;)

"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by BenLoy:

I'm curious, davebrownbass, what do you do with problematic students who come at you with this attitude:

 

"Man, I already KNOW how to play. I don't want to learn that boring stuff, just teach me that awesome new Korn/Chili-Peppers/Blink 182/Englebert Humperdink song!"

At the risk of being labeled a heretic, what's wrong with this? I don't teach, but if I did, my first two questions to a prospective student would be "What do you know?" and "What don't you know that you want to learn?" Learning songs is the best way to teach. If you just run them through a method book, you're likely to bore them stiff or make them quit.

 

You can trojan-horse a lot of book-learning into even an idiotic Korn/Peppers/Blink 182 song. Rather than just showing the student what fingers go where, you can notate the bass part; notate the chord progression (or, as might be the case, the chord); notate the drum part and show the student how the bassline works with these two elements.

 

With this, you're already teaching the student (1) note reading; (2) rhythm reading; (3) basic chord construction; (4) phrasing and dynamics; (5) why exactly the bassline he/she thinks is so cool *is* so cool.

 

One other potential tip: if they think Fieldy or Flea is the be all-end all of bass, bring some Patitucci/Hamm/Wooten/Manring/Willis etc. stuff to the lesson and play a snippet. They might be sufficiently impressed to actually want to learn how to play like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First thing I do is ask what they know, and what they want to be able to do. Then I tell them before we go any further, I want them to go through a basic book on reading and counting. (Mel Bay Book 1 or something like that.)

 

After that, I like to do a combination of things I think they should know (styles, reading, etc.) and what they want to know. (Blink 182, Korn, etc.) So far, I haven't had anyone walk out because they didn't want to learn to read standard notation. I don't use TAB.

 

As for teaching from a book, it's fine. You need to watch what th estudent is doing, offer advice on style, fingering, etc. You are there to add you experience. You can't get that from a book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First thing I do is ask what they know, and what they want to be able to do. Then I tell them before we go any further, I want them to go through a basic book on reading and counting. (Mel Bay Book 1 or something like that.)

 

After that, I like to do a combination of things I think they should know (styles, reading, etc.) and what they want to know. (Blink 182, Korn, etc.) So far, I haven't had anyone walk out because they didn't want to learn to read standard notation. I don't use TAB.

 

As for teaching from a book, it's fine. You need to watch what th estudent is doing, offer advice on style, fingering, etc. You are there to add you experience. You can't get that from a book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christopher,

You made a good point and one which I forgot to address. Yes, I always used to conclude a lesson with a piece/song of my student's choice, preferably after hearing a recorded version. That way the student stayed motivated and could use and see the value of all that theory and chord drill we just spent an hour on!

"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a book (or ghost book ala JimT) is an aid to home rehearsal. It's something that they can hold on to as a guide between lessons.

 

As to the song requests, I think it's fine if you don't want to go there. I also think it's fine to have a song as a side project at times. For me, I'd use the same teaching techniques and turn it into ear-training. If I was taking the lesson, I'd want help with the hand positioning (I can do the ear stuff myself). The rhythm g****r player in my band has only played a few years, and uses his lessons for guidance on songs at times (mostly, it's still "lesson material"). His teacher has come to see us play, which was cool...

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've just recently starting teaching as well. My method so far is to ask the student what he/she is after, like a goal. If I can keep the lessons structures around that goal they seem to be more motivated then if I was just telling them, "here-do this, all 12 keys, 120bpm for next week." By relating it to what they want to do, I can justify learning scales and how to read, things students usually think is boring and maybe pointless.

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

--Henry David Thoreau

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I fall more in the Jeremy camp about NOT teaching songs.

 

Generally speaking, if I teach a student well, he'll be able to figure out most songs.

 

At the college, I have a lot more control of this than I would at a music store. After all, I must pass out a syllabus and give grades.

 

I often teach the same songs for many students. For example, to get them moving around root-fifth I'll use "O! Susanna" To get a 1-3-5 thing happening I use "Ob La Di" or "Every Little Thing She does is Magic." For a minor 1-3-5 thing I'll just write down a C min. Blues progression.

 

I also make a BIG deal of the student having a place to perform...a church band, school jazz band, bunch of friends hanging around. In fact, I often will not accept a student if they don't look like they have prospects of playing pretty soon.

 

I often tell students that one of my jobs is to "give them their hands" which means to provide exercises designed so they can play "predictably."

 

I have to second the vote for sequential instruction...it is vital to have a plan, short term and long term. Short term plans would follow perhaps a single concept, built on last weeks concept. For example...learn the major scale by fingering chart...then find the root and fifth, then play a simple song with root and fifth (I will play the chords on my bass, a guitar or piano)...then maybe a root-3-5 pattern, or a 1-2-3-5 or other walking pattern.

 

Long term planning basically follows a direction established by the student and teacher in the initial interview. "What do you expect from the bass" I've had students who wanted to play country...I don't try to force walking bass lines with altered harmonies on them.

 

I teach reading, requiring students to have a spiral note pad. However, I don't write out sequential exercises in reading...Mel Bay's "You can teach yourself Electric Bass" has a fairly decent approach.

 

Electric teaching is much more dis-organized than upright. The motivation of the student, the opportunity to perform (orchestra class), the reliable method book all make the structure easier.

"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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As it has been said here: require sight reading! Teach the students to sight read proficiently, and don't deviate from this. (i.e., don't teach staff and then give lessons in TAB) Make sure that the student always has a staff book on them when they practice, and make sure that they always keep it with their folio of lesson material. Encourage them to jot down everything possible in that notebook- riffs, scales, ideas, notes, and have them use the proper cleff/key/time signatures for every piece. This will help the student to become comfortable with the staff and will lessen any dependence on TAB. I have been doing this for a few years now and it is helpful no matter what the playing context. (you might see me backstage with my rock band going over my parts in written bas clef).

You might remind them that TAB only offers fret numbers, not keys, time signatures, or rhythms, and is therefore woefully incomplete.

 

It has also been said before but bears repeating: Mel Bay's beginning bass method is the starter book to use. With a relatively proficient student, you two could finish it in 2 or 3 weeks, but it offers the beginning student all the suppliment to a live teacher he needs.

...think funky thoughts... :freak:
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...