Learn how to play

Your music teacher isn't responsible for how well you play.

Your music teacher isn't "responsible" for your progress. You are.

Let me explain.

Good music teachers are responsible for giving you accurate academic information and, when appropriate, stylistic suggestions.

"You", the student, have to practice as prescribed by your teacher, listen to the music that you want to be able play and use what your learn in your lessons as a springboard for further exploration.

I have often told students that I am here to "crack open the door to an extremely large room. You are free to explore any part of it but you've got to walk around." 

I met a guy last year or so who complained incessantly about how bad every teacher he had had was. He was also a guy that found it hard to practice even the smallest things from week to week and one day he got upset with me when I tried to explain to him why he might not be grasping a particular concept. All I could do is throw my hands up and say "I don't think this is gonna work out ". But I was really thinking was "bro, maybe it's not them… It's you." But of course I don't think that would've gone over that well. My whole point is that the student has to be willing to be in charge learning and growth when the teacher isn't around. 

Random thoughts on teaching music.


How to Play "I'll Take You There" by the Staples Singers.

This iconic ostinato is, well, obstinate! It's all keeping time and being the glue that holds it together. Of course, that's a huge part of our role as bassists anyway but this groove has no room for fills or derivation. It is what it is.

There is, of course a little "bass solo" , if you will, to break it up a bit but concentrate on time and consistency. It's not as easy as it sounds.

I've done something a little different -at least for my videos - and added my entire isolated play along after the play along with the track so that you can see and hear more clearly what I'm doing.

I'd be interested in hearing if that makes a difference for you.

You should never play bass with a pick. Not ever. Real bass players don't.


That's just crazy talk. Who ever says something like this or believes this kind of gibberish has obviously never heard the following plectrum pioneers. 

Anthony Jackson - "For the love of money" 

Music video by The O'Jays performing For The Love of Money (Audio). (C) 1973 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Bobby Vega - all around badass but here he is at a clinic just tearing that bass a new one.

A clinic of Bobby Vega during the Eurobassday 2010 in Verona - PART 3

Carol Kaye - session pioneer

Leon Sylvers III - And The Beat Goes On *I've heard from insiders that this was played with a pick. Whether it was or not this is an example of some great groove.

And The Beat Goes On by the Whispers © 1979 Unidisc Music Group

 No, tone doesn't just magically "come from your fingers". That's crazy. Crazy talk I say! Sure it starts there but "tone" is a combination of many things. The instrument, the amp, the effects and maybe even a pick.  At the end of the day all of these things are simply tools used to get whatever sound inside of your head and heart out to the ears of the listener. 

Tell me who I missed. I'm sure that there are tones of great players who use a pick that I should check out. Let me know who they are in the comments below. 

*Addendum Paul Peterson (The Family, fDeluxe, The Time) and Victor Wooten

How to play "Getaway" by Earth With and Fire

Greetings fellow low end lovers! In this video lesson I'm going to show you how to play "Getaway" by Earth Wind and Fire. I'm giving particular focus to the pentatonic lick in the intro.

If this is something you dig go on and give it a "thumbs up", share with some friends or leave me a comment or question.

Is there a tune that's giving you particular trouble? Let me know. Maybe I can help!