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Need advice about what I should learn next

Jay J.

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I now have some money saved up and am going to start taking bass lessons here in a week or two. I have taken lessons before, but was not very focused. this time I really want to get something out of it. the person usually asks what you want to learn. I am mainly looking to work on my music theory knowledge. I know some basic scales but that is pretty much it. what should I ask to learn about. I don't want to be a theory master I just want to learn some stuff that I can really apply and will enable to me to play better parts and to really play well with people.
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The first lesson is an interview...your teacher interviews you, you interview the teacher.


When I start a student, I generally control the interview (student's are often very happy I'm in control...'cause they are a bit apprehensive.)


I generally ask a student to play something...something they are very proud of, or have been working on. "Give me your best stuff." This gives me an idea of where their head is at, as well as their technique.


Also, it is EASY to be complimentary there...anything a student has already accomplished is great...especially if they learned it on their own.


I generally give them a few ideas to experiment with on the spot. With some, it's the traditional major scale fingering...with others, more advanced, maybe I'll have them slap, play changes, 3 note chords...whatever. I want to see their work ethic...and how fast they learn.


I generally glean a direction from the lesson at this point...I start "aiming" the student in a certain direction.


It's only at the END of the lesson that I ask this question, "What do you want to learn?"


The reason is simple...I have a pretty large set of things I believe a bass player ought to know. (no kidding...if you memorized the "Bass Player Book" you'd only be about 10% done...not to imply that you are ever "done" after all) In my interview process, I determine which of these things the student hasn't yet experienced.


I know, however, that a student has taken bass lessons often because he wants to have fun, and he realizes that the better you play, the more fun you can have. So I try to include some component of student desire into the mix.


So...bottom line. Bully for you for signing up for lessons...as was recently stated in the other lesson thread, sometimes you can't point to a specific thing a teacher has taught you...but the interaction focuses your mind...that's actually the best part.


Find a teacher that has his/her own direction for you...at the same time, however, they tailor that direction by taking into account your personality, musical taste (or lack thereof)and desires.


Both of the above are equally important!!!!! And if you don't find such a teacher, you won't enjoy your lessons, and they won't last long.


Nothing gets me more upset than someone calls themselves a teacher, and when you get to the lesson, they ask you what you want to learn, then pop cd's into a player and cops licks for you.

"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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The only teacher I ever had didn't teach me theory at all-- he recorded me. And then he played me back. I was super sloppy going in, and a lot tighter six months later. He taught me the importance of listening, especially to the drums, and the importance of space. Things like stopping the notes just before a snare strike, so that the bass is out of the way for it, and stuff like that. He also taught me how to walk over chord progressions, but we did that with chord charts instead of sheet music.


Reading is good, but it's certainly not the most important part of bass playing.



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Ear training is the most important skill a musician can have.

Theory can be a very confusing subject because, like many aspects of music, everyone has a slightly different take on it & how to approach it.

If you find someone who can help you develop your hearing you can negotiate any other learning or playing situation better.

Remember, too, that whatever you study should be put into immediate use rather than allowed to be mere exercises or concepts.

It's possible to intellectually understand a number of ideas in a relatively quick period but if you don't learn the ways they can be used practically, they don't do you as much good.


Also, I suggest reading a lot on your own...& from several sources (you might try taking lessons from more than one teacher, too)...the idea being to get th best from each & realize that there's more than one way to do things.


Finally, keep in mind that learning is a lifelong adventure & never finished, so don't get discouraged or impatient.

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I highly HIGHLY recommend a little paperback entitled: by George Thaddeus Jones. It's a Barnes and Noble "outline" book. It's very easy for a novice to follow and easy to stick in your back pocket to read at the bus stop!

"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

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