Before I get into my review of Lesson 14 of Teach Me Bass Guitar I would like to talk a little about my journey so far. Looking back I am realizing that it has been more than 5 years since I started My Journey with Teach Me Bass Guitar. In that time I have had numerous ups and down in my life, but have continued to work through the course at my own pace. Upon completing Lesson 13 and returning from Roy Vogt’s Bass Boot Camp in 2013 I decided that I rushed through too many of the lessons and that I would start the course over. Working through the course a second time I feel I had a greater understanding of the concepts presented and thus got lot more out of it than I did the first time. This journey has taken me longer than I ever anticipated, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have learned so much about music and playing bass, and met so many incredible people along my path, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Today I am proud to say that I have worked my way back through to Lesson 13 and am close to completing Lesson 14. To some it may seem long over due, but to me it seems just about right.
For Lesson 14 I was given the opportunity to try out Teach Me Bass Guitar’s new digital platform. Although I had the option to download the video file to my computer for offline usage, I chose to work through Lesson 14 via streaming through my web browser. This way I can access it on any computer or tablet and start working right where I left off. The new digital platform is very easy to use, with all the available options you would have with the DVD. The video content is the same high quality and a PDF of each lesson is included for you to download and reference as you work on the covered material.
Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales
Lesson 14 focuses in on the Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales. Roy has us work through the scales similarly to the way he had us work through the modes in Lesson 13 starting with a G Maj. Pentatonic and then moving on to A, then B and so on down the neck. For the Minor Pentatonic Scale Roy has us start on F min, then to Ab, Bb and so on. I for one like this method as I can easily visualize what the next pattern is going to be based on the note intervals in the scale. Once we have these scales under our fingers we work on 3 and 4 note sequences within them and different fingers for each.
The first piece of music we learn in Lesson 14 is a tune called “Weatherman”, which is in the style of Jaco Pastorius era Weather Report. Roy feels the best way to learn a new scale is to play a song with it in it and that is exactly what he has us doing here with major pentatonic’s, inversions and 4 note sequences. Weatherman seems like a fairly easy piece to pick up, but it has a couple of pentatonic runs that are a real bear, especially at the faster tempo. Once again the tab is bit off in the book, as well as in the PDF I downloaded for the lesson. My reading skills have come a long way in the past few years but I am still not up to par on pieces such as this and do tend to rely on the tab more than I should. Fortunately I am now able to read through the music, slowly, and tab out the parts that are wrong in the book. While this can be a minor inconvenience, I have found that working through the music this way actually enables me to learn the piece quicker.
The second tune we learn in Lesson 14 is an Eric Johnson inspired piece entitled “Kung Pow”. This one gives us a real workout utilizing 3 note sequences utilizing the F minor pentatonic scale. For me the key in getting this piece down is working through the pentatonic box patterns very slowly, gradually increasing my speed over time until I get up to the desired tempo. Kung Pow also has a few errors in the written out Tab, but once again I used it as an opportunity to study the music closer and write it out correctly for my use. I am certain that Roy uses a program to create the tab line and with the amount of material in the course I can see how a few sections here and there could get overlooked. I have found that when you come across errors such as these it is best to focus on what Roy is playing in the videos and look to the notation for guidance as opposed to the Tab.
After running through both tunes with the band Roy has us do some quick hand stretches and reminds us that even though we have been learning scales in a jazz and rock context, they can be utilized in any style of music by listening to the chords and playing what fits over them. He wraps up Lesson 14 by giving us a teaser of what’s ahead in Lesson 15, two-hand tapping!