Saturday, April 20, 2013

Teaching Myself Bass

I love learning new things all the time. I don’t believe I have to master everything, but to participate in a lot of things, even in a little way, gives one respect for the process and what it takes to be great at something. This puts a value on the pursuit and its practitioners. It also keeps me sympathetic and supportive to the beginner’s mind, which is so important for a teacher.

I am currently teaching myself bass. But of course, I know many musicians who are happily advising me, so I am not really alone in this. I have a headstart, as well, because I play guitar. And as I have always told my students, if you can analyze another stringed instrument for its similarites to the guitar, you can figure out how to approach it and the techniques for playing it. Everything is relative. I have a book called Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish  wherein the author, Margarita Madrigal (how musical!) teaches the reader from the get-go to recognize that many, many words in English are the same in Spanish, just pronounced differently, so you have your headstart right there. She gets you “speaking Spanish” immediately.

Once I was on a boat (lord, help me) with some players and the only instrument available was a mandolin. Sometime before, someone had shown me two chords, probably C and G, at a bluegrass jam where it had got to a point that all the guitars were taken or had broken strings. Now on the boat, I exclaimed, “Somebody’s gonna have to show me that third chord!” and someone showed me a D.  With these three chords, I would be equipped to play zillions of songs (more on that later.) And suddenly, I noticed that the mandolin chords looked like reverse-image, abbreviated guitar chords, so I was able to figure out how to play more than just the G, C, and D chords. I played about 100 songs that day. Even some Monkees songs with the signature licks.

Now onto bass. Think I’ll study with Paul McCartney this month. You know what I mean.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Worlds to Gain

Without the student, there is no teacher.
I believe in this yin-yang ideal. I honor anyone who comes to me to learn something, and I couldn't be a teacher myself if I didn't love to learn.
So I keep a balance by sharing what I know about music with those who know less, and learning from those who know more, whether it's a teacher or another, better musician.
This process never ends. I love to be a beginner.