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  • Should I Learn Older Music To Understand Newer Music?

    Should I Learn Older Music To Understand Newer Music?

    Q: I struggled with asking if I HAVE to learn trad jazz or if I SHOULD learn it, so take this question as both. And just as a disclaimer, I’m using “trad jazz” to mean the standards and the jazz being played predominantly from the ’20s to the ’60s and the styles that encompassed. I’ve... »

  • Do I Have To Like Jazz To Improve My Playing?

    Do I Have To Like Jazz To Improve My Playing?

    Q: I’ve read some interviews of yours, and you mentioned that when you started studying jazz, you weren’t actually all that into the music, but you came to appreciate it later through study, etc… I’ve been trying to work through standards, exercises through chord changes and bebop/chromatic-type stuff, but I don’t know what I’m trying... »

  • Lesson Plans for the New Year

    Lesson Plans for the New Year

    For this first installment of the new year, I thought that I would try and help motivate us all. I thought about the new year, new goals, fostering forward momentum and the dreaded new year’s resolutions popped into my head. Instead of encouraging all of us to go to the gym and stop eating pizza... »

  • Working with Printed Transcriptions

    Working with Printed Transcriptions

    Studying transcriptions of masterful performances can provide a wealth of learning material for a musician. Musically speaking, we will gain the most by completing our own transcriptions, entirely by ear, of course. However, there is still a great deal to be gained by working from published transcriptions by other musicians, provided we approach them in... »

  • Overcoming Learning Disabilities in Music

    Overcoming Learning Disabilities in Music

    Q: What advice do you have for someone who has problems with playing 16th notes and has learning disability in math? I have goals to play music in my own gigs and play at a couple venues, but I’m doubting whether it’s even possible to play on one’s own. A: I don’t think that a... »

  • The Lightbulb Moment: Learn Lots of Songs

    The Lightbulb Moment: Learn Lots of Songs

    Here I am, once again, on the bandstand with a bass in hand. Two sets down, one to go. It’s a free for all… no official set list and a handful of requests. A guy with a twenty in his hand walks up to the stage and says, “Do ya’ll know ‘Whipping Post’?” The guitar... »

  • Double Bass vs. Bass Guitar

    Double Bass vs. Bass Guitar

    Q: I have been playing bass guitar for about 8 years, got my grade 8, toured, recorded and got myself to a semi-professional session level. As I am going to go full time as a bass player in the next 18-24 months (I am realistic as well as ambitious) I started lessons with an outstanding... »

  • Lefty or Righty? A Discussion for Starting Out on the Bass Guitar

    Lefty or Righty? A Discussion for Starting Out on the Bass Guitar

    Q: I play the upright bass and I use my left had on the neck and my right hand to use my bow. I’m looking to play the bass guitar, but I can’t decide if I should play right handed because that’s my dominate hand or my left because you can really only use your... »

  • Making the Switch from 4- to 5-String Bass

    Making the Switch from 4- to 5-String Bass

    Q: I have recently made the move from 4-string to 5-string bass. I love the extended range (my bass is tuned E-C), but I’m finding I need to add more practice time to accommodate the additional string. There were exercises that I played on 4 strings and I am now expanding that to include the... »

  • Keeping Students Interested When Studying Bass

    Keeping Students Interested When Studying Bass

    Q: I loved the column on giving guidance to students. Do you have suggestions for guiding teachers in bass teaching? I struggle keeping my beginning students interested when I have them “eat vegetables” – like scales and note reading and rhythm practice. How do you find the balance between serving vegetables and meat with potatoes... »