Connect with us

Latest

Learning vs Acquisition by Franz Vitulli

Published

on

In this first article of mine I would like to express some ideas I developed through the years, having been a student, having attended classes with more than one teacher, being actually a teacher myself since I graduated at the academy where I’ve studied the electric bass and being a senior student for an MA in General and Applied Linguistics.

It is really amazing to realize how similar could be the human approach when you learn/teach music and when you learn/teach a second language. Maybe scientists would say that music and language activate the same areas of our brains, I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

So, here’s the thing…  I borrowed this idea from the Second Language Acquisitional Theory and tried to apply it within my music lessons. It’s all about the crucial distinction between learning and acquisition. Acquisition is a painless process: like a child, who unconsciously works on grammar just hearing the language all around him, it is possible – with some obvious limitations – that a grown man acquires a language e.g. working on a building site when he just left his country and moved to a richer land. Could this situation be compared with a self-taught musician who tries to master his instrument by hearing what his heroes do on his favourite records/Spotify songs/Youtube videos? My answer is “Yes!”

Learning, on the other hand, is basically what a man gets in a formal environment, e.g. in a classroom. It involves a specific work on rules and results in a conscious knowledge “about” the language (or music).

Some linguists who have been working on this field have stated that the grown man on the building site will be able to communicate much sooner than a man who attends a traditional language class, but in the long run the student will reach a higher level of proficiency. I strongly believe that this statement can be applied in music: a punk self-taught bass player will learn how to play his favourite songs roughly but very quickly, sitting down with his bass and jam along the song until he finds the right notes or reading a tab found on the web, while a student usually needs some time to get confident with chords and scales before he’s ready to play music with others. And while most of the self-taughts keep playing with this routine (I want to play this song, then I somehow look for the right notes and play the song), the traditionally educated musicians have more chances to reach a higher level. Please don’t misunderstand this point, music history is full of talented musicians who dominate their years without having attended a single lesson, but they surely have spent time studying and practicing consciously.

In my humble opinion the key is to merge the two approaches and get the best results from each one, and it shouldn’t be so hard for a modern musician. Spending time and money with a teacher is necessary, but you have to know when it’s time to change teacher or to keep practicing on your own. The “acquisitional teacher” has the duty to allow his student to enjoy the benefits of the self-taught players, where “teaching” and “guiding the unconscious process of acquisition” are synonyms. He has to let him discover things without overwhelming him with notions and theoretical constructs that he’s still not able to understand, notice when it’s time to introduce new topics (acquisition is a sequential process!), avoid persevering with an error correction/detection approach but using the recast (playing an arpeggio, or a scale, or a melodic phrase the student didn’t play properly, until he realizes his mistake) and turn the lesson environment from formal into informal, spending the last 15 minutes of the lesson jamming with the student in order to check if he’s able to apply autonomously, spontaneously and unexpectedly (= he has acquired) the stuff he’s studying.

If you are a teacher and spend the class time just explaining concepts, welcome to the internet era: your students might find way more than you can teach him on Youtube videos, websites, ebooks, not to mention the regular books, etc., but this approach doesn’t work at all, and if it worked, there would be no reasons to keep teaching music at any level. If you are a student and your teacher talks, and talks, and talks, just don’t say “Yes, yes, I got it” but stop him anytime you need a clarification and let him know that you need time to process the information he’s giving to you. If he keeps talking about rules and at the end of the lesson your mind is about to blow – in my opinion – just do yourself a favor, go to another teacher.

So the responsibiity of a successful lesson is both of the teacher and of the student. The goal of the lessons must be the acquisition of the necessary skills to be able to play music, not just the knowledge of music. And make sure that you are always investing your time in the best way possible.

I would really like to hear your thoughts about this, so please comment, tweet this article, share it on your Facebook wall and tell your friends about it!

Franz

Bass Videos

Artist Update With Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Published

on

Artist Update With Mark Egan, Cross Currents

I am sure many of you are very familiar with Mark Egan as we have been following him and his music for many years now. The last time we chatted was in 2020.

Mark teamed up with drummer Shawn Pelton and guitarist Shane Theriot to produce a new album, “Cross Currents” released on March 8th, 2024. I have been listening to this album in its entirety and it is simply superb (See my review).

Now, I am excited to hear about this project from Mark himself and share this conversation with our bass community in Bass Musician Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Mark Egan

Visit Online:

markegan.com
markegan.bandcamp.com
Apple Music
Amazon Music

Continue Reading

Bass Videos

Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Published

on

Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB…

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB – Hearing protection has always been front and center on my mind because I love music so much, I cannot imagine my life if I were unable to hear.

You might remember back in 2021, we had a good look at the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs featuring adjustable protection. This system has a lot of very good features but there was always the question of how much sound attenuation to choose.

Now, the great folks at Minuendo have come up with a new version of their earplugs that has a set 17dB noise reduction. You still get a lot of the great features of the adjustables but you just don’t have to think about the specific sound level. In addition, this new version of earplugs comes at a very attractive price point.

For more information, visit online at Minuendo.com

Continue Reading

Bass Books

Review: The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass by Brian F Wright 

Published

on

Review: The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass by Brian F Wright 

I was intrigued when The Bastard Instrument showed up on my desk… let’s dig in!

When we dive into the history of our beloved instrument, the bass, we find roots that go back as far as the 15th century. This instrument was a member of the violin family and was for the longest time, an acoustic instrument. As the years passed and music changed, there was a need for the instrument to evolve and the electric bass was born.

Comparatively, the electric bass is a relatively new instrument with its earliest appearances dating back to the 1930s and it is exciting to be an electric bass player while this history unfolds around us. Fortunately for us and future generations to come, Professor Brian F. Wright has taken on the herculean task of documenting the trajectory of the electric bass with this excellent book.

The Bastard Instrument presents an extraordinary amount of fine details about the instrument itself, the development of the amplification to handle its output, the pioneers that dared play it, the rapidly evolving music that flourished because of its presence and so much more. 

When I first started reading this book, I noticed that it felt a tad academic, like a textbook (it might be one someday) or a doctoral thesis, but to present all this information accurately, this approach is more than appropriate. Another detail that might be a bit of a spoiler is that the book only gets us up to the late ’60s. I was left wanting more as we know that so much has happened in the bass world since that time frame; I hope there is another volume in the works to get us up to the present!

All in all, “The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass” is a must-read for all of us who play electric bass and understand its essential place in music.

I found that there was a lot that I already knew but also quite a bit that I was unaware of. I believe that to know and understand where you are, you must know the history of exactly how you got here.

Highly recommended.

The Bastard Instrument is available at Amazon.com (beginning July 2024)

Continue Reading

Latest

This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

Published

on

TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @meridian_guitars @adamovicbasses @anacondabasses @mgbassguitars @xylembassguitar @officialspector @edwinpaanakker @alesvychodilbasses @boyarskycg @dmarkguitars

View More Bass Gear News

Continue Reading

Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Published

on

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

Follow On Social

IG &FB @bythethousands
YTB @BytheThousands

Continue Reading