Hiring a Bass Coach

This question is for the gurus of the forum…

Tomorrow, December 5th, marks exactly 6 months since I picked up my first bass and started learning to play. My musical skill at that time was virtually nil, and I had forgotten every bit of what little I had learned in high school. All I had was a love of bass and a desire to play.
Since then, I have completed the B2B course, plus taken a scales essentials course, a chord tones course, and am partially through a sight reading course. Today, I can play every scale or mode in the book, can play Major and minor triads and 7th chord arpeggios with ease, can find whatever note I want on the fret board, and have a decent handle on musical notation. But I feel like I’m missing something. I feel like I’m not ready for prime time.
It has been suggested here and in other forums that the next step is that I need to play with other people. But the mere thought of playing in the presence of, or with another person (other than my deaf spouse and my uninterested dog) sends shivers up my spine. I don’t know what I’m afraid of, I just am. Maybe it’s fear of being ridiculed or yelled at for messing up a song.
The only solution I can think of is to hire a Bass Coach. My vision of a Bass Coach is someone who listens and watches as I play, gives me pointers as to what I need to improve, and ultimately instills enough confidence in me that I can boldly play with a group. I figure if I pay someone, they have no right to ridicule me, and as long as it’s someone other than Terence Fletcher (Whiplash), I shouldn’t get yelled at.
So my question is:
(1) Is this a dumb idea?,
(2) Is there such a thing as a Bass Coach (as opposed to an actual music teacher)
(3) Where and how would I find such a person?

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Trust me Pam, there are plenty of people who’d love to play with you, who are also in the early stages of their musical journeys and are looking for the same thing you are - people to have fun and make music with, without yelling and shaming.

And I think it goes without saying that if anybody ridiculed you, you could kick their ass without much effort. :muscle: :sunglasses:

But having a private teacher could be useful too, to help you get to a point where seeking people out feels more comfortable. (although I think some coaxing from your friends here on the forum will probably help nudge you in that direction too)

Yeah, the terminology I’m more familiar with is just people calling themselves “bass teachers.” A bass coach, by contrast, would teach you bass, but also make you do pushups. :stuck_out_tongue:

Finding a good teacher is hard! Luckily you have a good starting point for judging a teacher’s quality, because you’ve done B2B, so you know that if you feel totally overwhelmed, uninspired, or confused, it’s the teacher’s fault, not yours. (my perspective, anyway)

There are a lot of places to find teachers - local lessons studios, Craigslist ads, online, etc. - but ultimately you’ll just have to feel a person out and see if they’re helping you the way you want to be helped or not.

I have pretty limited availability for new private students these days with all the BassBuzzing I’m doing, but I would love to work with you if you’re interested! PM me if you want to talk more about that.

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But you’re in San Francisco (ish) and I’m in Phoenix (ish).

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Sorry for being unclear, I meant via video chat (like Skype or Zoom), that’s how I’ve worked with most of my students in the last few years.

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@PamPurrs - there is only one thing in bass playing life that reliably, honestly, and hands-on-practical-style gives…

Playing music with people.

I’ve had a lot of students over the years where I basically said: "hey, you know what, you…

… “you’re”…

And then I tell them to stop taking bass lessons and go find a band or a jam session or an open mic.

There are things you need to know, but most everything after the basic skills are developed that you need to know is 100% dependent on what you’re asked to do in the real world… in the prime time!

It’s the Catch 22 of feeling like I need to work out a ton and get in shape before I want to be seen in the gym.

It’s a fallacy and a disservice to your playing and skills to think that you can practice on your own until you reach a point where you’re ready for anything. I’m not ready for anything, and I play all the dang time!

The feeling of panic, of wanting to succeed where failure is a possibility - that’s what pushes people to practice more, to put in the hours, to learn the songs, and to step up.
I feel it every time I say yes to a gig or recording session that has some intimidating element to it - great players I perceive as being in a different league then me / challenging material…

I urge you to step out and try and find some jam sessions or ensembles. No matter the experience, what you’ll discover is:

  • songs to practice and learn
  • what you need to work on
  • how to politely ask a guitarist to turn down
  • how to politely ask a drummer to play quieter.

Lessons are killer also, but the real learning, once you know your instrument, happens on the gig!!

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Wouldn’t we all love a session with @JoshFossgreen?

I don’t think you’re even close to being alone on this, @PamPurrs, though I’ve noticed an increase in more gung-ho students in here lately - which is great and surely a good push for some of us - but most people will feel insecure in their abilities until they have played with other musicians.

You know you can always post lots of videos (or just audio) or your playing and the worst you’ll get is constructive criticism from your fellow ‘Students of Josh’. Perhaps there are a couple of folks in here who also play another instrument and would like to try cyber-jamming - internet lag allowing.

My own plan (when I finally get back in the groove) is to find somebody I know who plays an instrument well and I feel comfortable around, OR to find people who are also learning their instrument and are only a little ahead of my skills. IS there any reason why a couple of bassists shouldn’t play together: there could be a lovely sound of playing the same thing together, but the chance of making beautiful harmonics together should be worth taking the chance.

[edit] Getting back to my original in-person teacher would also be a good idea, I suppose, as he would be able to nudge me along a little and he was a nice guy.

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Awesome advice and input there already by @JoshFossgreen, @Gio and @PeteP - almost nothing to add, other than perhaps re-enforce a suggestion by @PeteP: use this forum as a sounding board; submit your own bassline to one of the bassline “challenges” or submit a cover to @terb’s thread and get some input on your playing from us - I think you will find you get usable input and feedback here (not just flattery or brutal criticism), as pretty much all of us can relate to the same challenges.

Now, as for “coaching”, i.e., helping you in removing or lowering any mental thresholds with facing other musicians and playing with “strangers” - that is tougher for us to do and a real-life teacher/coach might be the best choice here. As with everything, bruises will have to be expected, but they shouldn’t keep you from getting back on that “horse” again!

Good luck!

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@PamPurrs - @PeteP,s suggestion is a really good one. I’ve heard you play that red rose 5 string in one post awhile back and you played it really, really well. Maybe trying your hand at putting together some covers (or audios) would make for an easy first step segway into playing a gig, in church, or at an open mic session somewhere…

I always thought playing a gig at a nudist colony (as long as I could wear my clothes) would be great since I wouldn’t have to worry about having to picture the audience “naked” in order to ease my anxieties…:joy::see_no_evil:

Good Luck
Lanny

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Now there’s a thought. And all those naked people with their sagging bellies would have no right to laugh at me.

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I’m going to work on some covers and post them.

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If you need any help at all, we’re all on your side here @PamPurrs… If you need a place to post them, I’ll even offer up some space on one of my servers…

Good Luck!!
Lanny

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Yessss! I just started doing this, and it’s a whole new level. From just a simple Craigslist ad, where I stated clearly that I was pretty much a beginner, but with 6 months of online lessons under my belt, it’s gotten crazy (in a good way!) I’ve jammed with 2 musicians now, have others in the pipeline, but don’t have time now, because I’m in a band now!! (will post on this in the other thread)

But, the first musicians I jammed with, it was just a magical feeling, hearing my bass fill in the rhythm guitar chords, just wow! And it wasn’t perfect, there was much to learn on the fly, and, even though everyone had more musical experience than me, no one cared, criticized, or anything. We just had fun. Made music. Played covers we had agreed to. Improvised. Screwed up. Laughed. Tried something else. And, when in doubt, just find the root note and play it, it sounds better than having no bass, for sure!

Once you do it one time, buh-bye anxiety, awkwardness, questioning, wondering… And it’s true, bass players are rare! When one shows up, and wants to play, no one’s gonna say no, hahaha, we rule the music world :slight_smile:

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Yay . . . . Congrats, @Vik! . . . :slight_smile:

Sounds very exciting, and glad to see you made it . . . :+1:

Looking forward to hearing about your upcoming gigs, etc.

Cheers, Joe

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F*ck, yeah, @Vik!! Go get them (and excuse my French)!!

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So damn happy for you @Vik!!! You’re gonna rock it dude!!!

Lanny

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Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll just create a special folder on one of my web sites dedicated to my bass practice stuff.

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Congratulations!

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@Vik would you mind private messaging me exactly how you worded your ad? I may give that a try and would like to try your magic words.

Thanks

Pam

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I’m sure @terb will correct it for you. :wink:

I’d be interested too, perhaps you could share some non-private/personal extracts from it for the rest of us.

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I talked to a long time friend today, who plays guitar, fiddle, and flute, but none with a great deal of proficiency. After discussing my dilemma over lunch, we decided that we should “practice” together and see what happens. We’re getting together at my house next Wednesday, and he’s going to bring his guitar and amp. We have low expectations about how well we will play together, which is fine with me because neither of us will be disappointed. The main goal is to get me comfortable playing with another person. I’ve known him for at least ten years as a fellow rider from the American Legion Riders, and we have become very close friends. I trust him to offer only constructive criticism where it’s warranted. He admits to knowing nothing about playing bass, but nonetheless he can be very helpful for me. This will be a fun, low pressure session.
At least it’s a start.

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