Sometimes, just before sleep, you enter this nether world where all of a sudden the germ of an idea takes shape.
A couple of days ago, this happened to me. I was thinking about my role as a bass teacher and what the role of the student is and I came up with the aforementioned slogan, “Talk Teach Perform, Talk Practice Perform.”
With YouTube videos, online instruction & workshops, plus one-on-one training, there is so much to choose from and so many viewpoints, how is one to choose, and then how is one to know that they made the right decision?
Let’s explore this a little bit.
A few weeks ago I was speaking with a friend of mine who plays both upright and electric and I posed a question to him:
“What would be the difference in learning styles between upright and electric bass?”
I then explained that I thought the upright bassist would begin with a method book, be it Simandl or Nany, and the electric player would be more inclined to go to YouTube and learn songs. In other words, the upright player would probably have formal instruction from the beginning and like me, when I picked up the electric bass, I wanted to learn tunes and play in a band. I didn’t start really studying the bass until I went to Berklee and since then I haven’t stopped.
So when we get to the point where a teacher is needed what do we do?
I take my role when teaching very seriously. Having had both good experiences and bad experiences with private study I take my teaching very seriously.
This is essentially where the “Talk Teach Perform” concept came from.
Let’s look it over. Let’s start with “Talk.”
I believe in the initial consultation. As a teacher, it is important to articulate and explain your approach, which should include reading music theory, harmony ear training and repertoire. I also think it is important to talk about influences and I always suggest recordings by important musicians, not just bassists.
From the student perspective; “Talk Practice Perform”
It is important to “talk” about what you are looking for, who you listen to, and what experience you may have on your instrument. When you go to a qualified teacher, it is important to remember that wherever you are in your abilities, you are looking for guidance as to how to improve and the same things; reading music theory, harmony, ear training and repertoire should be stressed.
As you see, both student and teacher need to be on the same page. (No pun intended?)
Let’s get to the second part; as an instructor, it is incumbent upon you to create a curriculum not only for the lesson but for practice routines to be suggested that will embed the information over the long haul. Every student is different and every student has a different learning style so keep that in mind however, the basic learning tools are the same.
As a student, your job is to “Practice.”
Doing a regular daily practice will in just a few week’s time show you noticeable improvement and that’s exactly what you want to see. I suggest keeping a journal on your music stand so you can look back over the few weeks and see where you were and where you now are. It’s important to celebrate each small victory. Just so you know, no matter how accomplished you become, you are always learning and it is great to look back and see all you have accomplished.
The third part is what we are all here for…“Performance”
I believe that one of the students best assets is being able to watch their teacher perform. Performing lets you see how your instructor synthesizes everything he or she is showing you, as well as how he or she is interacting with both bandmates and audiences. Now we all know that in this troubling time, performing is not as easy as it was, but this too will change.
From the student perspective, performing will solidify so much of what you learn, and even if it is just you and a guitar player at home or online, you will assuredly improve every time you do it!
I hope you found this an interesting albeit provocative article.
As I said, with all of the possible opportunities to learn up there, it is more difficult to find the right fit. I take my teaching very seriously and believe COVID has made it easier to find great instruction and at the same time not so great instruction.
I hope both teachers and students will find this useful. All my best and stay safe and healthy!
David C Gross has been a bassist for a lot of people, and is the author of 11 bass instructional books, 3 instructional videos and has a band named Theorcolus. You can contact him online at: thebassguitarchannel.com