Even if you know the key signature of the song you are going to play, you still don’t know what key you are in because one key signature represents two keys: major and relative minor. And even after you analyze the song and know the key you are in, you still won’t be able to improvise because to do that you need to know what scale to play. As we will learn in this lesson, that’s not always a simple choice. So, let’s begin with the traditional view of music, which starts with…
The joyous answer is, yes! But only if your teaching method is as simple and logical as a connect-the-dots picture. By using a music method for bass that is clear and simple, your child will stay engaged long enough to experience the rewards of a successful bass education. By learning in this connect and continue way, your child will know exactly what’s coming next and therefore will never get confused, frustrated, or even worse, want to stop and quit! In addition to the simple joys of playing bass, there are many other wonderful benefits your child will gain by learning to play bass, such as self-discipline, greater self-esteem and a higher IQ. So, I think it’s safe to say that learning music and bass would be a good idea for you and your family. Now, let’s look at a few other common questions you may have about beginning a bass curriculum in your home.
What Is A Good Age To Begin Learning the Bass?
Although there is no one correct answer to this question, I have found that by the age of six, children have developed enough cognitive skills to learn bass. For example, they know the alphabet, can count numbers up to 12 and higher, and most importantly, when properly engaged, can exercise the self control needed to sit with attention and awareness during a half-hour lesson. Also, by age 6 they are big enough to comfortably hold the bass and have developed the finger strength necessary to press down a bass string. It’s important to remember that at this age, when it comes to getting your child to play the bass, the enthusiasm needed must come from them, not you. That’s why it is best to begin bass instruction when your child asks to play, not later when their interest may not be as strong, or when you have determined that they should. Said a different way, never force your child to learn bass if they don’t want to. But if they want to, and if you can afford it, you will want your child to learn correctly from the beginning, so it’s very important to find a bass instructor who is effective with children. Quality instruction at this age is essential because some children tend to have short attention spans and are often easily distracted. These conditions can be correctively addressed by a qualified bass teacher who is experienced with children. They will know how to apply just the right amount of fun and seriousness so that your child finds the lessons enjoyable and exciting and will want to continue to learn music and bass.
Should I Encourage My Child To Play The Bass?
Of course you should! If your child comes to you and tells you that she or he is interested in playing the bass, then by all means, you should definitely encourage your child to do so. It’s equally important not to force them to play an instrument they don’t want to play. For example, if they want to learn the bass, don’t make them play the piano. You may be surprised to learn that many parents can be pushy in forcing their child to play a particular instrument because it’s the one that they played, or they feel it to be a superior instrument. Let your child choose the instrument they are interested in, even if it’s the glockenspiel!
No matter what the instrument, learning to play music will help your child in many other areas of their life as well, for example, they will be able to concentrate and stay focused for longer periods of time. Learning music also enhances your child’s listening skills and teaches them that the art of continual practice leads to betterment. Lots of children want to learn to play bass and that’s understandable because many of today’s music artists play the bass. For many, this is what makes bass “cool” and therefore, learning to play bass is seen as more preferable to playing a band or orchestral instrument such as a trumpet or clarinet. So, it becomes important to remind your child that even with quality bass instruction playing bass will still be a technical challenge. It will take time to develop strong and flexible hands in order to press the strings tightly and strum the strings properly. But if your child is willing to devote the time to practice, good technique will come. To keep them dedicated to improving their technique and evolving the dexterity necessary to become proficient at playing bass, be sure to support and encourage them often. Keep in mind that a quality instrument, a clear and in order music method, and a qualified teacher is the key to making the difference between your child quitting and succeeding.
How Long Should My Child Take Bass Lessons?
The simple answer is: a lifetime! We never outgrow our need for the next musical thought or technical idea. However, with this said, the answer to this question depends on what level your child wants to take their bass playing. Playing levels vary from being a hobby to developing mastery. Time will unfold a dedicated player from an amateur to a professional, or said more traditionally, from a beginner to an advanced musician. It’s important to remember that learning to play bass is different from learning to ride a bicycle. With a bicycle, you only need to practice riding until you discover balance and no longer fall off your bike. When you reach that moment, you no longer need to practice. However, when learning to play the bass, you will soon get to a stage where you can play a few simple melodies and harmonies, and if you’re happy with that, you could stop practicing at that point. But, if you would like to play more popular and complex music, you can’t stop there, you must continue to practice so that you get better and faster.
In addition to being able to play many songs, with more practice you will be able to develop advanced technical skills that will have your playing sounding much more professional. And don’t forget, if you really want to become an expert at playing music on bass, you will need to practice even more. However, over time you will discover that the better you get, the more you will want to play, and the more you play the more you enjoy playing, to the point that playing bass becomes a passion. Then, you won’t be asking yourself how much longer do you have to keep practicing because playing will be the only thing you’ll want to do!
How Do I Recognize A Quality Music Method for Bass?
If you’re interested in learning to play bass but cannot afford a qualified private music teacher to show you the way, you might have gone online to look for bass instruction. You probably ended up being overwhelmed and confused with so many methods claiming to teach you how to play the bass in a certain number of days, if not hours or minutes! Now, you’ve heard this before, if something sounds too good to be true, then chances are, it’s not true. Just because the method is published by a big company, is backed by lots of bells and whistles, has a flashy website with all the latest technology, comes with a 60 day money back guarantee and has more fake testimonials than you have time to read, doesn’t mean that the content is complete, connected in-order, or will lead to success.
The following is the scenario of a typical beginning bass student and supportive parent:
1. Goes to the music store and buys a bass and a traditional beginner’s bass method book. If you study the options, you’ll discover that it doesn’t matter what brand of method book you buy because they are all the same! But don’t believe me, visit the music store and look through the top-selling bass methods and you will see for yourself that they all present the same lesson plan. This isn’t because they succeed, in fact they don’t, it’s because the authors and publishers are vested in making sales rather than investing the time and money necessary to develop a music method for bass that really does succeed.
2. Takes the bass and the method book home and quickly becomes overwhelmed and confused. This common experience is the result of incomplete and out-of-order instruction. At this point, many beginners decide that learning bass is too difficult for them and they quit, or, they blame themselves for not understanding or, they blame the author and go back to the music store to buy a different beginner book.
3. But nothing has changed, the same confusion and frustration is experienced and again they decided that bass is too hard for them, they blame themselves and the author and quit or, in rare cases, decides to try it one last time. But once again, the result is the same and finally the bass is pushed under the bed and forgotten.
I’ve witnessed many promising beginners go through this cycle and then give up and choose to do something that they know they can do, but it’s usually something which has no real benefit or lasting value… like video games!
Don’t let this happen to your child. Get them a quality instrument, a complete and in-order music method for bass, for example: the Tone Note® Music Method for Bass Book 1, a qualified teacher and encourage them to experience the joys of learning music and playing bass in a revolutionary new and successful way.
’til next time, have some fun learning bass at home… I’ll be listening!
Follow GRAMMY®-Nominated Music Educator Mike Overly as he presents more essential 12 Bar Blues knowledge, such as: riffs and licks, scales for soloing, turnarounds, expressive left-hand techniques, blues reharmonization and more in this classic Vintage Video. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PcRQmQJz6U>
To discover more about Mike and 12 Tone Music Publishing, LLC, please visit: <www.12tonemusic.com>
Here is something surprising. Even if you know the key signature of a song, you still don’t know what key you are in. This is because one key signature represents two keys: one major key and one relative minor key. And even after analyzing a song to determine the correct key, you might not be able to improvise. This is because you still need to know what scale to play. As we will learn in this lesson, that’s not always an easy choice to make.
Let’s begin with a traditional definition of improvise, also known as extemporize. Improvise is the creative activity of immediate, in the moment, musical composition. Improvisation combines spontaneous theoretical and technical actions coupled with the communication of feelings and emotions. Improvisation may also include immediate responses to other musicians. Individual musical ideas of improvisation are united on the ground of shared harmonic changes, called chords. And because improvisation is a performative action, which depends on instrumental technique, a major component of improvisation is skill. It’s important to remember that there are musicians who have never improvised, and there are other musicians who have devoted their entire lives to improvisation.
In contrast to the above complex definition, I simply define improvise as: free to choose. By this I mean, the improvisational musician is free to choose any scale or mode that they think sounds good with any chord harmony. For this lesson, let’s simply define a mode as an altered scale. Now, what’s important to remember is that the improvisor is the authority. The improvisor plays what sHe likes, to express how sHe feels!
Improvisational music of “uncertainty” differs from traditional music of “certainty” in that improvisational music enfolds, whereas traditional music unfolds. By that I mean, traditional music begins with one scale which unfolds into many chords with certainty, whereas, improvisational music begins with one chord that enfolds many scales with uncertainty.
With this elementary beginning, we can now understand that improvisational music is the enfolding of one chord into many scales and modes. In other words, improvisation is the traditional unfolding music process reversed in an enfolded retrograde manner. Said in a different way, in traditional music the scale is known first and from that known scale you spell the harmony. In contrast, in improvisational music the harmony is known first and then you are free to choose any scale or mode that you feel sounds good with that harmony. Remember, the choice is always yours.
There are many, many scales and modes that may be played with any given chord. For example, a major chord triad contains the scale degree tone numbers 1 3 5, and any scale or mode that contains these tone numbers may be played. However, don’t forget, this is just a beginning, as there are no right or wrong sounds in improvisation – there are only sounds that you like. Said one more time, as an improvisor, you are free to choose any scale or mode you wish ~ it’s all about you!
The following are a few of the many scales and modes that you may choose to play with the major chord, tones 1 3 5 (one, three, five). At first, a scale or mode may sound unfamiliar and weird to you, that’s okay, just keep playing until that scale or mode becomes familiar. At that point, you will begin to “like it” and begin incorporating it into your improvisation.
Major pentatonic: 1 2 3 5 6
Scriabin: 1 b2 3 5 6
East Indian: 1 3 4 5 b7
Ionian mode: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Lydian mode: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
Mixolydian mode: 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7
Melodic minor lydian mode: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7
Melodic minor mixolydian mode: 1 2 3 4 5 b6 b7
Harmonic minor aeolian mode: 1 #2 3 #4 5 6 7
Hungarian major: 1 #2 3 #4 5 6 b7
Byzantine: 1 b2 3 4 5 b6 7
Hundusian: 1 2 3 4 5 b6 b7
Octotonic hybrid: 1 2 3 4 b5 5 6 7
Symmetric hybrid: 1 b2 b3 3 b5 5 6 b7
Novem hybrid: 1 2 3 4 b5 5 6 b7 7
Taurus hybrid: 1 b2 b3 3 4 5 #5 6 7
OverMoto hybrid: 1 b2 2 3 4 b5 5 b6 6 b7 7
This same improvisational approach may be applied to the minor chord, tones 1 b3 5 (one, flat three, five).
Minor pentatonic: 1 b3 4 5 b7
Balinese: 1 b2 b3 5 b6
Japanese Hiro-Joshi: 1 2 b3 5 b6
Hawaiian: 1 2 b3 5 6
Scriabin minor: 1 b2 b3 5 6
Dorian mode: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
Phrygian mode: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Melodic minor ionian mode: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 7
Melodic minor dorian mode: 1 b2 b3 4 5 6 b7
Harmonic minor ionian mode: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7
Harmonic minor lydian mode: 1 2 b3 #4 5 6 b7
Natural minor ionian mode: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Natural minor lydian mode: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
Natural minor mixolydian mode: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7
Neopolitan minor: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 7
Hungarian minor: 1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 7
Moroccan: 1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 b7
Romanian: 1 2 b3 #4 5 6 b7
Taurus hybrid: 1 b2 b3 3 4 5 #5 6 7
And finally, this improvisational approach may be applied to the suspended chord, tones 1 #3 5 (one, sharp three, five).
Scriabin: 1 b2 #3 5 6
Japanese Kumoi-Joshi: 1 b2 #3 5 b6
Japanese Kokin-Joshi: 1 b2 #3 5 b7
Korea Ujo: 1 2 #3 5 6
Egyptian: 1 2 #3 5 b7
Korea P’yongjo: 1 2 #3 5 6 b7
Pacific suspended: 1 2 #3 #4 5 6 b7
Lydian suspended: 1 2 #3 #4 5 6 7
Morollian: 1 2 #3 #4 5 b6 b7
Tarrian: 1 #2 #3 #4 5 6 7
Sharno: 1 b2 #3 #4 5 b6 b7
Diamond suspended: 1 b2 #3 #4 5 6 7
Enigmatic hybrid: 1 b2 #3 #4 5 #5 #6 7
Romanian suspended: 1 2 #3 #4 5 6 b7
Belmontian hybrid: 1 b2 2 #3 b5 5 b6 6 b7 7
As was said earlier, there are many more scales and modes that may be learned and applied to chords, so, be sure to study pages 296 and 297 of Guitar EncycloMedia to discover other choices. http://www.12tonemusic.com/guitar/encyclomedia/
‘til next time, have some improvisational fun, no matter what chord you’re playing… I’ll be listening!
To the ancient Greeks, practice was definied as: do. Today, the definition of practice is: repeated action to acquire proficiency. You’ve heard the old saying, practice makes perfect, well, this is not entirely true! Repetition alone will not make you perfect. You must practice perfection, or else you run the risk of repeating previous mistakes… and what good are perfect mistakes?
It’s been said that it takes seven repetitions for a memory to take hold and thirty five repetitions to erase that previously learned memory. Therefore, the concept of perfect practice becomes a necessity, otherwise you’ll end-up spending all your practice time trying to unlearn mistakes – with no time remaining to make progress! This unnecessary waste of time results in frustration, disappointment and lack of confidence. In other words, you feel like quitting. So, to help you avoid this and many other negatives – remember: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Some say that the goal of practice is the performance. I tend to think of it this way: practice is for yourself and performance is for others. However, I would agree that practice is the learning of the individual parts and that performance is putting the parts together holistically so as to play them as a whole from the beginning to the end. In other words, practice is digital (start and stop) while performance is analog (continuous).
Whatever your performance goals are, daily practice is essential for the goal to be reached. By setting aside a short amount of time, at the same time each day, you will start to develop the process of practicing and begin to create good practice habits that will last a lifetime.
It’s important to note that each practice session is made up of many sections. And when each section is followed routinely, your practice session will become more productive. This will lead you to a more successful performance. Although the responsibility to practice is yours alone, encouragement from a parent, spouse, friend, band member or teacher can certainly help you become more disciplined. So, be sure to share this article with them. Now, with that said, here are a few suggestions on how to structure your practice session to make your practice time more efficient and effective and your performances more successful too.
Let’s begin with the practice area. It should be a relatively quiet place with good lighting and a comfortable armless chair. It should also be free of interruptions from the computer, phone, fax, pager, tablet, TV and a host of other distractions that can break your concentration. In addition to your instrument, here are some other items that you will find useful: a music stand, metronome, drum machine or sequencer, tuner, CD, recorder, pencils, eraser and your music books. The idea is to have everything close at hand, so that you won’t have to stop practicing to go get something. Next, begin to prepare mentally by focusing on what you want to achieve in this particular practice session. If you have the time, think about what you would like to accomplish this week, this month, or perhaps even this year. The more defined your goals, the easier it is to attain them.
To prepare physically, begin by relaxing and releasing any tensions from your body. This promotes correct body alignment and will help to avoid any future health problems such as carpal tunnel and tendinitis. Don’t forget, prevention is the best cure!
Okay, now we’re ready to begin the actual practice session. First tune-up your instrument, and yes, make sure the piano is in tune! Start by warming-up with technical exercises. These will include various scales, arpeggios, chords, etudes and other finger pattern exercises and studies. When you feel that you are sufficiently warmed-up, proceed to the next step of the practice session.
At this stage of the practice session, time is provided for a re-view of previously learned material. The definition of the prefix “re” is: again, therefore, rehearsal could be thought of as “re-hear-all” or, to hear it all again. This review of previously acquired skills creates a connection with the new material being learned. Other topics that may present themselves for review at this time are: rhythm, melody, harmony, sight-reading, analysis, tone production, and dynamics. Daily practice gives you the ability to proceed to the new material with confidence and optimism. That’s a very good thing!
The next stage of the practice session is the actual learning of new material. This is when you thoroughly examine the new material to learn as much as you can before you play it. Some of the things you might encounter at this time are: key signatures, time signatures, tempo, fingerings, phrasing, and lots of other direction signs from the composer. After carefully considering all these elements, you are ready to begin practicing, starting at the beginning and proceeding slowly and perfectly until you reach the end.
You will find it beneficial to break a whole song into smaller sections (even bar by bar) and then link those sections together. This will enable you to minimize, and hopefully eliminate, mistakes at this stage of the practice session.
Sometimes the fastest way is to go slow: think of the tortoise and the hare! A perfect practice is only possible if you begin slowly. Slow enough to think before you play. Another benefit of going slow is that you can break the habit of stopping and repeating from the beginning whenever you make a mistake. This in itself is a mistake! Instead, you learn to isolate and focus on a mistake as it occurs, then re-think it through as many times as necessary to get it correct before moving on. This is much better than wasting time repeating what you already know.
It also helps if you can record your practice so that you can objectively hear what you really played. This will help you identify any problem areas, correct them quickly and improve your future performances. And finally, a progressive practice guarantees that each practice session builds upon the last and that each sequential practice assures your continued ability to confidently proceed from perfect practice to successful perfect performance.
Now, with your eyes on the music, your hands on your instrument, and your ears on the sound, be sure to plan your practice and practice your plan. I’ll be listening…