How To Play Bass in 50 Songs - Article #5 (of 5)
How To Play Bass in 50 Songs - Article #5 (of 5)
A New Song Based Model Of Learning Bass
In the previous article I talked about the history of bass education and I told you that I'd show you how I modelled not one, but TWO distinct classical music learning methodologies and merged them into one comprehensive learning system for bass beginners.
So let's get started.
The First System I Modeled
Without getting into exhaustive (and exhausting!) detail, here's a snapshot of how the standard classical music learning model works - and note that it's based on sequential learning loops:
1. New concept introduced (e.g. a new note, or a new chord or whatever)
2. Practice and familiarity of this new concept is done.
3. A study piece that incorporates this new concept is given to the student.
4. The study piece allows the teacher to assess if the student has understood and can apply the new concept
5. If the teacher is happy, a new concept is introduced and the cycle starts again. And again. And again.
Now whether you've learned an instrument using the classical model or not, you should be familiar with this learning system because it's the one you used to learn to read to write, or to learn algrebra, or to learn a foreign language.
You can think of this as the "sequential learning loop' model.
None of the beginner bass programs that I've seen use this model and whilst I like to think bass players are "special" none of us are musical Einsteins. If the sequential learning loops are set up correctly AND the student puts in the required practice time AND the student gets feeback (see Article 3) so that they can fix any mistakes, then the student CANNOT help but progress.
A quick story to illustrate this.
In the UK our classical piano students go through a system that's graded from 1 to 8. As part of research into talent and the like, some researchers from Liverpool University studied children going through the program. They followed "gifted students" and students perceived as "average."
Their surprising finding was that though the "gifted"students reached Grade 3 or 4 far quicker than the "average" students - both sets of students invested approximately the same amount of practice time to reach and pass each grade..
What actually set the "gifted" students apart from the "average" students was that they practiced more on a weekly basis and therefore they progressed through the material quicker than the "average" students.
BUT THE REAL CONCLUSION SHOULD HAVE BEEN: the learning system delivered the same results to students perceived as gifted as to students perceived as average...how much they practiced determined how quickly they advanced through the grade system and whether they were perceived as "gifted" or "average."
The Second System I Modeled
There's another model of classical music learning - especially used for young children - that's been in constant and widespread use since the 1940s. The method I'm talking about is the Suzuki Method.
There are pluses and minuses to the Suzuki Method (and that's not just my opinion 😉 ) but from a learning perspective what makes it so effective is that it combines 'learning; with familiar pieces. Or requires the students to listen to the pieces several times and get familiar with them before trying to play them.
Now the advantage of this is that if you know the 'melody' of the piece, it's much easier to play on your instrument following sheet music than playing something that you don't truly know.
To give you an example: if I said go play this sequence of notes on your bass to the tune of the first few words of Twinkle twinkle Little Star I'm pretty sure you'll play it straightaway. The note sequence is C,C, up to G, another G, up to A, another A and back to the previous G. Seriously imagine the tune to Twinkle Twinkle in your head then play that sequence to the melodic rhythm in your head....you should (assuming you are familiar with this well known nursery rhyme) be able to play it recognizably and instantly.
Now I didn't want to use nursery rhymes or classical pieces - I wanted to use bass lines. And I also wanted to combine the idea of playing pieces that students were familiar with from Suzuki, with the more traditional classical method of using pieces to assess whether students had picked up the concept presented in the sequential learning loop...
...This Combination Of Models Led To The How To Play Bass In 50 Songs Method
Now whilst the students may not know the different sections of the songs that are included in the 50 song method each song chunk is presented to the student in the following formats:
(1) 'Interactive Soundslice' of the notation and tab. This is a piece of technology that allows me to upload the notation and tab and then the student can press PLAY and hear EXACTLY how the notation should sound. Admittedly the sound at the moment is a little synthetic sounding...that's something I'm working on improving. But the important point is that the student can play that soundslice as many times as needed to get intimately familiar with the sound of each song section taught.
(2) Video of the song chunk being played at two tempo levels: one tempo level is performance tempo with either the original recording or a soundalike backing track, and the second tempo level is slowed down with a chordal metronome.
(3) Each song chunk has notation and tab in a downloadable PDF AND there is a downloadable "songsheet" where there is a format map and repeats of each song chunk in notation and tab.
Each of the songs was carefully chosen to be a practical application of specific teaching points - and the sequence has being road tested by the first phase of Beta Users.
Plus the student can use each of the songs as a milestone on their journey....and we'll be using performance of the songs to illustrate other points about playing and learning the bass.
You're probably wondering where you can see more detailed information about the course....enter your name and email address into the form below and I'll send you an invite to the course details:
Previous Articles In the Series
If you haven't read the previous three 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
Article 3 - The Crucial Element Missing From EVERY Online Bass Course
Article 4: Modelling The Classical System Of Music (1)