I'm a decent player but whenever I hear guitarists talking about chords, I feel left out. Do I really need to know any of that stuff?
While it's not often that you'll be called upon to play actual chords on bass (unless you're trying out for a Primus tribute band or want to be the next Stanley Clarke), the more you know about how chords are created and why they sound a certain way, the more creative your bass lines will be. FACT: The majority of players who come to me do not know the differences between common chord types and feel that their playing is stagnant as a result.
I'm currently taking bass lessons from a guitar teacher. I figured this is OK since guitar and bass are pretty close. Am I right?
Your teeth and your eyes are pretty close too but you wouldn't go to an optometrist if you had a toothache, would you? If your goal is to be a great bass player, no one will be able to instruct you better than someone who plays bass guitar for a living.
I've seen other teachers offering "cut-rate" lessons. Since I'm just starting out, do I really need to pay for a pro teacher like you?
The question isn't "How good are you now?", rather it's "How good do you want to be?". The quality of teacher you hire should have nothing to with your current skill level. The truth is, in today's economy many musicians are trying to make a few extra bucks giving lessons. Every teacher sets his/her rate according to how they value their own skill level. If you find a teacher who is priced well below the going rate, you can bet there's a reason for it. Ultimately, your instructor should have have it all - an education in music combined with loads of real-world experience performing on stage and writing/recording music. I've never been the cheapest guy in town. If your funds are tight, I'll work with you to create a lesson schedule that fits your budget.
Tell me about your teaching practices.
Lesson plans vary from student to student depending on what you want to learn, your present skill level and what your ultimate goal is. Some students make it very clear that they want to learn everything about being a bassist while others tell me they just want to gain a basic understanding and not go too deep. Whichever approach we take, I create all the lesson materials specifically for the student. That's right, no expensive books or DVDs to buy (although you are welcome to bring in any that you have). I like to set small milestones so you can measure your progress and see how "the big picture" comes into play.
Some of my students tell me that their previous teacher refused to show them how to play songs. This makes no sense to me. Imagine studying a foreign language and having your teacher tell you that he'll teach you words and grammar but not sentences! Music is a language (and sometimes may seem foreign) and without having the context of a song, all the theory and technique in the world won't make you a musician. I encourage you to bring in CDs or your mp3 player so that we can help build your repertoire and relate the things you're learning to songs you're familiar with.
What's the first lesson like?
We'll spend some time getting acquainted and I'll ask you a few questions in order to understand what you know and where you feel your grey areas are. Unless you're a total beginner, I'll probably ask you to play a few things, just so I can get a feel for where you are. Please don't stress about this part. I won't be putting you on the spot and I'm not expecting a bass solo. I'll use all this info to help build a lesson plan based around your goals. After that, we'll jump right in and start having fun!
What styles of music do you teach?
Rock (and all its subgenres), funk and fusion are my specialties but I'm also well-versed in R&B, country, punk, blues, folk, jazz, reggae and enough Latin to be dangerous.
What styles do you regularly play?
I'm a rock guy at heart so that's where I spend most of my time. The bands I play in range from original progressive rock...to classic rock...to country...to blues...to metal...to praise & worship...to dance and party rock. I've spent loads of time playing in 70's funk and disco, nu-metal, old metal, pop and electronica bands as well. When it comes to studio work, other than symphonic work and music indigenous to other countries, I've played it all. Yeah, you could say I'm all over the map.
Is it better to start on 4-string and then move to 5-string later or does it not matter?
Life will certainly be easier if you start on 4-string, but if the music you want to play requires low-B, it couldn't hurt to start there. The only caveat would be children or those with very small hands will have a much easier time starting on a 4-string.
How long will it take for me to get good enough to play out?
It depends on how much you practice and what style of music you'll be playing. When you're ready, you'll know it!
Do you make housecalls?
My version of housecalls is live, online lessons via Skype, iChat or FaceTime. You get to stay home and you save time and money since you're not commuting. Email me for more info.
What's your main bass?
My Alembic Elan 6-string has been my main workhorse for the last several years but lately I've been digging my Warrior 15-string. Still, my all-time favs are my Gibson Thunderbirds.