Maybe I'm Just Stupid

I’ve been doing the B2B course for a few months now and decided to supplement that with in person lessons. There seems to be a problem.

My instructor’s method of teaching is to play the song we’re going to learn on his tablet (in this case “Heartbreak Hotel”, God give me strength), scribble down the tabs and then say, “OK, let’s play along.”

I don’t understand how it’s possible to get a new piece of music and then five minutes later be able to play along with the song. Should I be able to do this? I tried to explain how I need to learn the notes, then the tempo and then I’m ready to go and his response was, “Well can’t you hear how it’s supposed to be played?” I sort of felt like an idiot.

Most of his students are middle schoolers while I was a middle schooler like 50 years ago. Maybe they learn faster? I am a bit discouraged.


Find a different teacher. Sounds like the guy you are working with isn’t the one for you.

Also, why not work through B2B first? That worked for most forum members here.


Sounds to me that your teacher is a bit out of touch with reality. :laughing:

Kids do learn faster, but learning a song by ear in 5 minutes seems a bit ludicrous for a beginner?

You might want to look for a new teacher that has more experience with mature players? There are plenty of options if you are open for online sessions.


in my opinon, it’s a big NO. at least it’s not at all the way I can enjoy playing music. I have to appropriate a song, I’m not a robot. (I’m not speaking about being technically able to play this way, but more having to “soak” into a song before I play it).

I’m pretty sure almost all musicians would be ok with this, except maybe for the very special case of professional studio/sessions musicians but that’s very far from the case of someone who is learning how to play an instrument, obviously.

maybe the idiot in the room was not you. seriously, it’s not a nice way to learn music to someone in my opinion.


It’s the “throw the pupil into deep water and let them find out how to swim” philosophy - and it might work (unless that is totally not what you want to do). The idea is to immerse you in a song and let you find out how to play it as you try to play it… in other words, train your ears and force you to not get stuck on notes (note names) and mechanics too much. Potentially (and initially) a bit stressful, but not necessarily bad.

It’s probably especially OK to train this for “easy” songs like Heartbreak Hotel, but, again, if you are not comfortable with the approach, I would discuss this with the teacher and let them know that you need more preparation and instruction before playing.

Everyone is different (and often “not so good” teachers try a “once size fits all” approach for all their students). You’re not the idiot - and you can always find another teacher :smile:


Lose that guy. He’s no teacher. At least, not one of the good kind.

Continue with B2B until completion, and work through the 50 songs in the Extras section. Then look for in-person lessons, if you feel it’s necessary. You might likely find it’s not.

You’ll learn more, and better, techniques and theory from Josh than you ever will with a lame-o “teacher” like the one you have now.


Awful teacher. A good teacher should be able to assess and accommodate all of their students learning styles. Playing something new by ear is a great practice tool, but it really only teaches your ear, and in my opinion should only be a primary focus for intermediate to advanced students who already know why something is being played.


Dont be @sakkasie - it takes a looooooooong time to find the right teacher, do not be afraid to be up front and say you are doing a ‘trial lesson’ to see if you jive. If they don’t like that, move on. If they are not aligned with your ability and needs (very important) then communicate that (once, and only once) and if the teacher doesn’t listen, get out.

Many teachers have one way of teaching and do not know how to adapt to a different ask. These teachers are for other people, not you.

Just like finding a good doctor, hair dresser, dentist, car mechanic - this too is not straightforward.


I can record myself trying to sight-read it and you can enjoy the trainrekt of what I can make heartbreak hotel sound like lol.


Yep. I can read music and get a basic gist, but before I can actually play a song at all well, I really need to “feel” it.

Ironically for me that sometimes means that slower workouts on songs are harder than full speed :slight_smile:


That doesn’t sound like a teacher
How is paying him any better than googling the tabs for Heartbreak Hotel???
Kids don’t learn any faster, they just don’t realize that they are not learning with this guy


That’s true. An analogy can be made about reading text: Sure, someone can read text written in their native language; but when that text is compelling, they not only read it, they consume it, inhale it.

Same is true with a song you really want to play. Even if it takes some time and effort, it’s worth it to learn it.


Hey @sakkasie first off lots of good advice already from the always positive BassBuzz community.

I’ll give you some personal statistics. I’m 50 years old, have been learning bass for about 1 and 1/2 years and most importantly I’ve been to more funerals than weddings (which my wife finds hilariously odd).

Why is the last bit relevant? Well because I’ve learned that life is way way waaaay too short to spend it with people you don’t like or make you feel stupid or don’t meet your specific needs as far as teaching goes.

I’ve never had an in person lesson. I did the whole B2B course and to be honest I think I’m doing OK.

So I’d advise a quick ‘thanks for the lesson, but I’ve decided to keep doing the online stuff for a while until I feel more confident on the bass etc’ and look for another teacher if that’s possible.

Don’t give up, bass is awesome. Cheers :metal:


Could it be that you are actually better than you think and the teacher thought it might be a good approach? I can’t talk about music lessons but I taught art to children and one thing I know for sure is that a teacher needs to adapt to a student’s capabilities and needs within the context. One thing is for sure! If a teacher doesn’t encourage you and motivate you but makes you feel stupid then he’s not a good teacher. Don’t give up! This is about having fun.


It’s not a bad approach, high stressed with the new song and the instructor present can really test a person out that way.

Rule of thumb when it comes to teaching is to move at the pace of the student, clearly he/she misses the mark and the memo, lol.

Believe it or not, soon you can do just that, quickly learn the song in 5 mins and try to roughly play along to get the feel of it.


I was a bit curious so … i went to YT to hear the song (I apologize, I had never heard of it before but then I don’t really know many song by Elvis).

I am sure that if you have gone through B2B you might be able to learn it in 5 minutes… (joking, but not really).

The structure is similar to a 12 bars blues (lesson about it in B2B) with a very recognizable bass line made of a walking (descending) major scale and a major triad (both covered in B2B).

I don’t know the guy, but he’s not asking you to learn Hysteria’s bassline in 5 minutes.

Maybe he just thinks that you could be able to get this by ear (and maybe he’s right) or maybe he’s just a teacher not suitable for you. At any rate if you don’t find yourself comfortable with him/her stick with Josh and look for another one in due time (I would recommend going over the B2B course first anyway).

Just my 2 cents for what they’re worth :slightly_smiling_face:


I finished the B2B course just over a year ago (can’t remember the exact months!) and have just recently started in-person lessons, only had a few so far.

My current tutor has done something similar where he’ll whip out a tablet with the chords or just start a simple backing track with no prompts. I have a similar feeling where I need to know the notes and just have a few quick run throughs first otherwise I will totally freeze up and not be able to even start. I’ve also tried to explain this mental block.

Luckily this guy is really understanding. The rest of the lessons are great chat and practise, and the aim of putting me on the spot is to get used to playing infront of others (instead of in my bedroom) and to gradually encourage playing through mistakes - his motto is something to the effect of “if you’re not making mistakes when we first try something then I’m doing my job wrong” :sweat_smile:

So it’s definitely a matter of learning/teaching styles, there has to be an understanding there. As others have said this absolutely is not on you and I hope it hasn’t discouraged you too much! If you feel it’s not helping you at all then I agree with the rest of the people here to either 1) go through the B2B course first or 2) look for another teacher to try out if you still want to keep up 1-to-1 lessons as well


Let me begin with my bona fides - I’ve been teaching electric bass for over 20 years now.
I am a professional bass teacher!

This is a giant alarm bell.
I agree with lots of the other comments on this post, and this method of teaching is a method from people who can play, but don’t understand how to teach, and certainly don’t understand how to teach different levels and different ages and different styles of learning.

You are NOT supposed to be able to do what he’s doing.

For all of my older students - meaning students who are post-college, later 20s on up - if they have never played before, the beginning of instruction has everything to do with listening and the need to be able to hear how a song works and - more specifically - what the bass is and what it is doing.
This can take months and months.

You have to consider this - for your entire musical life your ears (and everyone else’s ears save for bass players) have been trained to follow (in this order:)

  • the vocals and lyrics
  • any other higher frequency melody line / solo / musical theme
  • Drums

Bass never factors into it! No one grows up learning to pick out bass lines.
It is a very difficult skill to develop, particularly when you’re coming to the bass later in life and your ears and brain have developed deep grooves for how they process listening to music.

It’s hard!!

I recommend a different teacher, or maybe waiting on a teacher until you’ve worked through the B2B program a bit further.
Finding a patient and wise bass teacher is hard and rare. Most of them are people who learned to play, were skilled, are young, and don’t have the experience or patience to know how to teach to anyone who isn’t on the track they themselves took to learn bass - i.e. - it came pretty easy, and they started young.

Music is a language, and playing music means being able to communicate in a very specific dialect. B2B will really help you learn the basics, and will help you learn to hear into music to find our special bass language hidden in the layers and layers of vocals and melodies.
Sorry that you had the experience of an inexperienced and unwise teacher reflecting their inadequacies on you.
That’s terrible.


Sounds like he may be new to teaching and wants to teach you what he likes. I had a guitar teacher years ago. He would just sit and solo on things and I would listen. As far as actually teaching me anything, he taught me how not to teach. I dropped him quickly.


100% that.
B2B gives you enough while doing it for sure.