Or plain ol’ just having trouble finding that experienced player that will help guide you through the world of bass guitar and music?
Believe it or not, you’re not alone.
One of the biggest questions around the internet for up-and-coming bass players is where do I find a teacher? or where do I find a good bass guitar teacher?
While ‘good’ might mean something different from one player to another, the common idea is consistent – finding a teacher that will:
make the learning process fun and enjoyable
take difficult concepts and make them seem simple and easy to learn and understand
teach in context or continue to hit the idea that the bass is (usually) in the context of other instruments and that learning in isolation of other sounds isn’t nearly as effective as learning around the sound of guitars and drums
teach you what you actually want to learn (<– this was the reason why I left my bass teacher many years ago)
In this post, we’re going to explore bass guitar teachers, specifically how to find a bass guitar teacher, and learning bass guitar in person. We’ll also touch on finding teachers and music lessons via Skype or Google Hangouts, but that post will be covered more extensively in the near future.
Learn Bass Guitar From the Best: How To Pick A Great Bass Teacher and What to Look For
Where to Find Private Bass Guitar Lessons
Now that we’ve looked at what makes a ‘good’ teacher and what you should be mindful of before you start spending money on lessons, let’s talk about where you might find that music teacher for you.
Here are 7 places to consider for finding a music teacher:
1. Universities’ Music Departments
In the state of Rhode Island the major universities include:
Community College of Rhode Island
Johnson and Whales University
Naval War College
New England Institute of Technology
Lincoln Technical Institute
Rhode Island College
Roger Williams University
Salve Regina University and
University of Rhode Island
That’s it (we’re a small state).
Now, even though Rhode Island is a small state, we still have a handful of universities with music programs – most notably my alma mater the University of Rhode Island. Odds are the state you’re currently reading this in has many more universities and many more opportunities in this area.
I remember going to class and passing through the fine arts building and seeing flyers and posters with advertisements in and around campus advertising a lessons. The biggest pieces of leverage that this music school student had were that they were
versed in a lot of different instruments in addition to their primary focus of study instrument
their rates were the lowest around
Those two points are fantastic points to take advantage of if you’re a budding bass player – or have a child or relative – that is looking into delving into music for the first time.
Music school students are always looking for new teaching experiences and often aren’t charging very much to get it. In the bigger picture of things, as a young bass player you’re getting the benefit of learning from a bonifide music school student, with all the knowledge and diligence that comes with being a student and (likely) recent graduate for a very affordable price.
Moreover, if you can’t seem to find any students in the area listing services, the school’s music director is a fantastic resource for finding teachers in the area.
If you have a university close by with a music program, contact the program director for referrals
2. Ask Local Musicians
When in doubt, turn to your community for answers.
Again – even in the tiny state of Rhode Island, resources are plentiful in the local music department. For the student looking to learn jazz music, we have our share of jazz lounges and clubs where musicians – both from the nearby colleges and from other states alike – are featured. All these musicians are very approachable and always excited to talk to an audience member.
Who better to ask if they know a teacher in the area?
Better yet, you already know the quality of education you’re in for if a recommendation does come up because you just heard one of their students play.
If you’re looking for more of a rock bass playing education, check your local listings for shows in your area. These intimate shows where you can approach the band afterwards and tell them good job and how much you enjoyed their playing is fertile ground for learning about who knows the best music teacher in town.
However in this situation, Craigslist might be a little bit more challenging to use but is still worth trying.
Craigslist is perfect for employers or general owners of things or services to post a listing saying that they have something for sale or are looking for someone.
If you type in ‘music’ or ‘music teacher’ or some variation into the search bar in Craigslist, more likely than not you’re going to get a whole bunch of listings of people looking for professional music teachers, usually for schools, that need to be filled.
Many of these listings are going to wind up under the ‘education’ tab, but you might find others under ‘musical instruments’ or other tabs where the listing probably won’t belong. None the less, Craigslist is another place to consider looking if you’re on the hunt for a music teacher.
4. Local Music Store Listings
If you’ve been inside your local music store lately (including Guitar Center, Sam Ash or other big box music store), you may or may not have noticed a bulletin board or pin board outside the front doors with a bunch of things pinned to it.
Take a closer look at that bulletin board the next time you’re in the area because those boards are full of listings and paper ads for teachers looking for students.
Most of these paper listings, like digital listings, will articulate the rate, what instruments the teacher specializes in and other important details that you, the budding bass player, would like to know before selecting your teacher.
In addition, music stores themselves – big and small – will usually have in-store teachers that teach an array of instruments.
While I personally have found the in-store teacher to be very convenient because the enrollment process was filling out a sheet of paper with my general information and meeting the teacher in person that day, I also found it very unproductive.
These teachers usually have a lot of students because most parents or adults – young or old – looking for music lessons are usually going to go to the town music store first rather than look around for an independent teacher.
As a result, schedules, I found, tended to be very fluid and unpredictable. I often found my lesson time moving around more than I actually received lessons which, even for my young self, seemed like a bad thing and a sign of poor student management.
5. Try the Specialty Sites
A quick Google search for something like “finding a bass guitar teacher” or “find private bass guitar lessons” will present you with a bunch of sites specifically designed for connecting students with music teachers in their area.
Here are a few of the sites that have received positive reviews for helping young bassists connect with qualified bass teachers:
Last but not least is a no-brainer: a good ol’ Google search for bass guitar teachers in your area.
While there’s no way to speak intimately and in-depth with any and all teachers through a Google search, here’s a tip you can use to help determine if a teacher is at least competent and qualified to be a teacher.
Ask yourself: does the teacher have a website?
Any musician looking to make a name for them self (should) have some kind of an internet presence that isn’t ‘leased’ out by Facebook or Twitter. A website – the better looking the better – is an excellent surface metric for determining if this particular teacher is the real deal, or just a hobbyist teaching on the side.
Here’s an example: Christopher James is a musician out of Providence, Rhode Island and this is the front page of his website:
Let’s briefly break this down. On this landing page, we learn:
His academic credentials as a teacher
What instruments and areas are his focus
His performance credentials
Where you can see him live
What albums he’s played on – another chip that boosts credibility and perceived expertise and
How to contact him
At face value, you’re going to think that this teacher is far more put together and qualified to teach you than the Average Joe who may or may not even have a Facebook Page devoted to their teaching job.
It’s websites like this that you should be on the lookout for when vetting teaching talent for yourself. Additionally, if there is a YouTube channel populated with videos of the teacher playing, that is another perspective to work into your fold.
Does It Matter If The Teacher Teaches Other Instruments In Addition to Bass Guitar?
It might be hard to tell just by looking at or reading a flyer advertising a teaching service.
One common concern is that a teacher who teaches other instruments in addition to bass guitar might not be a ‘genuine’ bass teacher.
The fear is that if the teacher began music as a guitar player and then learned bass guitar, they might be prone to teaching bass guitar through the perspective of a guitar player not as a person who began on bass, developed their musical mindset through the bass and have learned to understand and articulate the nuances of the instrument to a student.
This is a legitimate concern, especially if you intend to exchange money for a teacher’s services.
Unfortunately like most things that have to do with the arts and teaching, there is no one answer and each situation varies from person to person.
While asking the teacher questions about how long they have been playing and what music or players they model their playing after might help to get a general picture, if there is an opportunity to see the teacher play bass that would be your best opportunity to vet the teacher.
If you can get this teacher to play and show you their chops, keep your mind open and aware to what you’re looking for and see if what their playing meets what you’re looking for.
Does their form seem stiff and forced?
Do they only seem to know how to play with a pick and only a pick?
These are just some of the questions you should consider in the back of your head as you vet a teacher for their bass playing abilities and whether or they can play and teach rather than just play the instrument.
Ultimately, whether you decide to choose a teacher who is versed in other instruments and not exclusively bass guitar is your call to make and for you to judge. After all, dollar for minute, you want the best you can get for the money you’re paying.
Finding a bass guitar teacher can be a challenge, but finding the right bass teacher can be even harder.
Regardless of where you live, there are options around you to consider in the pursuit of a teacher. Explore the universities’ music departments in your state, and the listings posted outside of music stores both local and big box. Ask friends and other musicians in the local music scene if they know a teacher or just do a Google search for teachers in your area and vet the quality of the teacher yourself.
With a little bit of know how and how to look, you’ll find a teacher in no time.