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How To Play Bass in 50 Songs - Article #3 (Of 5)

The Crucial Element Missing From EVERY Online Bass Course

A New Song Based Model Of Learning Bass

There's something really important to the learning process for bass players - and it's not addressed AT ALL from what I can see in the self proclaimed "top selling" bass courses for bass players.

It's also not addressed by any of the plethora of bass books that are out there aimed at beginners or those players in the early stages of their bass journey..


So What Is This Missing Element?

It might seem obvious, but the missing element in just about every online course - and not just in bass - is feedback.

When you're learning something you need to know two things:

(a) that you're doing it right, or;

(b) that you're NOT doing it right and what you need to do correct it.


Why Is Feedback So Important?

When you're learning something new, feedback is even more important.

Because if you learn something, and it's slightly wrong, then as you to continue to learn the effects of that error start to compound.  And eventually you might get to a point where you can't make any forward progress because those initial errors were never corrected.

This of course presupposes that the course that you're following is optimally designed in the first place.  Which leads us onto another crucial revelation about feedback...


Feedback Is Not Just For The Student...

If you've ever learned a classical instrument (especially piano or violin), or your kids have ever learned the same, or - like me - you're a teaching nerd and you've STUDIED how the classical instruments are taught and how the teaching system to teach classical instruments evolved over multiple decades...well you'd discover that one of the elements that makes the teaching system so successful is that whilst now the teaching material pretty much set in stone (though contemporary pieces do get added in to freshen it up) it wasn't always so.

As the teachers got feedback on what was working - and crucially what WASN'T working - they added material to the instrument's curriculum, or composed a new piece that was a better practical application of an important teaching concept, or decided a specific piece was too complex at THIS stage, and moved it to a more relevant part of the instrument's curriculum.

And so on.

This process went on as I said over decades. And now for classical instruments the system is so fine tuned that provided the student puts in the practice - and gets feedback along the way to correct any errors - they'll advance steadily through the system from Grade 1 to Grade 8. And beyond if they want to.

Feedback is just as important for teachers - they need to see what's working and what's not.  And fix what's not.  If they don't....and most learning systems for bass that I've seen are set in stone by being published on DVD or Book BEFORE they've been through this evolution process - then not only will the first student trip over the first inconsistency, but so will the thousandth.  And the ten thousandth.

You get the picture.


So Are Face To Face Lessons The Best Way Forward Then?

Having face to face lessons - whether in the real world or whether on Skype or some kind of messaging app - would seem to offer the best solution.

However this is only be the case IF the 'teacher' giving the lessons has a systematic and detailed system that's been through the evolution process that I talked about previously.

Even then there are learning advantages of combining online pre-recorded elements with 'live feedback elements.'  Not to mention that there are significant cost advantages.


The "Opportunity Cost" Of Not Fixing Mistakes

Here's one of my rules of thumb: if you are consistently making mistakes because you learned something incorrectly the first time, it takes anywhere from two times and four times longer to relearn something correctly at a later date.

Ultimately this is why feedback is so important.

If you're anything like me, free time is precious.  Any hours that you spend having to relearn something correctly aren't wasted - because learning the correct way will improve your bass playing - but those hours could have been invested in making further progress on your bass journey instead of dealing with material that belongs on the road already travelled.

If you don't know you're making a mistake - however small it might seem - you can't fix it.

That's why some kind of feedback system is utterly necessary. Without it, the task of learning something gets exponentially harder as little mistakes compound over time.


Feedback And The How To Play Bass In 50 Songs Course

The "Beta Run" of How To Play Bass In 50 Songs was built with feedback mechanisms locked in place.  Both for the students and for me.  The Self Study Version of the course takes advantage of that in several ways:

(i) The Curriculum has been road tested by bass players already - their feedback has ensured that there are no abrupt jumps in the learning material and any jumps that were originally there have been smoothed out.

(ii) Owing to the ongoing feedback from the original Beta Students, additional topics and lessons have been added to the course that were not part of the original curriculum.

(iii) Here's the biggest one - which I'll talk more about later in this series of articles.  I used to think that being able to self-audit your bass playing (i.e. get feedback from YOURSELF) was a skill that only intermediate and higher level bass players could do.  Turns out I was totally wrong.  Provided you know what to look for, how to look for it and how to put this into practice bass players OF ANY LEVEL can self-audit and give themselves feedback.  As I said, we'll explore this more later on in this series of articles.

I'll leave you with one of my favourite bass player quotes. John Patitucci - who if you don't know is one of the best upright bass players in the world - was asked how he practices the upright.  His reply is priceless - remember he's ONE OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD.  Patitucci said:

"I spend an hour every day looking for holes in my technique and then work on fixing them."

'Nuff said.


In the next installment in this series of articles we're going to look at classical system of music learning and how that could be modelled to teach bass to bass players.   Hit the 'Continue' button below to find out more...

Previous Articles In the Series

If you haven't read the previous two articles in this series  yet - here are the links where you can read them:

Article 1: The Only 6 Things A Bass Beginner SHOULD Practice


Article 2: The Mathematical Case Against Practicing Scales