How to be Cool
Come with me on a journey into the past, the deep dark past of my pre-teen years. It is grade 8. We're all sporting long hair and some of us are still wearing bell bottom jeans (but that fad is on the outs). Band class is starting and we have to choose the instrument that we will be playing for the next 10 months.
I played the coronet in grade 7 - reasonably cool. But this year I want to be really cool. I want to play in the back of the room. I want to play the electric bass
Unfortunately, I get the trombone - 2nd most cool instrument in the band (that's why all the great rock bands have a trombone player).
Well, as time moves forward we see that the bass player is always the calm, cool and collected part of any band. The lead and rhythm guitarists are all over the stage with their power chords, high kicks and showman antics. The lead singer is prancing, preening and putting it all out there for the audience. The drummer is cutting loose - a dervish of arms, legs and hair.
Only the bass player is is calm amid this storm. Not to say that he isn't rockin' it. He's just rockin' it in a whole different way. A cooler way!
Learning the Bass
So, having missed out in middle school, what are my options today? How can I get a hold of that coolness that I missed out on? Where can I get my hair back (oops, wrong article).
There are many options that are available to learn a new instrument. Let's have a look at some.
Private or group lessons are available for most of the popular instruments out there and the bass is no exception. Learning in this kind of environment is the best as you have access to an expert who can not only show you what to do, they can also watch you play and offer feedback to accelerate your learning.
However, lessons can be expensive (usually in the $40 to $50 per hour range for private lessons). Plus, we can't always schedule our time around lessons. In a busy life this may not be the best option.
Mentoring and Jamming
If you like the idea of having a teacher but don't want to spring for lessons, you might try to find a group of others learning to play. You can jam together and help each other out. Those in the group who are a little further along can mentor those who are just starting out.
Whether these types of groups actually exist in your area (or any area for that matter) is another question. It would be an option if you can find one. Or you could start your own.
If you're going to go the do it yourself route then books are an option. A quick search on your favourite online book retailer will turn up several promising titles.
With these books you can read up on the techniques and look at pictures.
However, there is an important component missing here - sound. There is something a little odd about learning music without hearing music.
Online and DVD Courses
This is the area where online and DVD courses can shine. They are DIY and you can go at your own pace, just like books. They have the opportunity to add video and sound into the mix, so you can actually watch and listen as the teacher shows you what to do. They are less expensive than private lessons.
This is the route that most appeals to me. I'm a DIY kind of guy and I like to learn at my own pace in my own home.
One of the companies that I've discovered doing DVD lessons is Legacy Learning. They've put together many excellent courses on piano, guitar, dancing and art.
They are finally getting cool and are releasing Learn & Master Spotlight Series - Bass Guitar. This is a 3 DVD set featuring Tony Marvelli who has worked with artists such as Brian Littrell, Phil Stacey and Mandisa. It will be available April 30, 2010 but you can pre-order it now.
Your Next Move to Cool
So now you have to decide what you're going to do. There are lots of great options available to you right now. You need to decide which of these works best for you. No one else can tell you - well, maybe your mom can.
But it's time to put down the trombone, get a really cool hat and start wailin' on that bass!
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