Teach Me Bass Guitar – Lesson 17

If you ask me 2016 seemed to be a bit of a musical disaster. We lost way too many incredible musicians and had the craziest election year I have ever witnessed. I myself started the year with several well-intentioned musical goals but sadly did not manage to achieve any of them. Let this be my attempt to kick things into gear again for the new year. I’ve dragged my heels for far too long working through Teach Me Bass Guitar.  2017 is the year that I finish it!

My studies with Roy Vogt’s Teach Me Bass Guitar currently bring me to Lesson 17.  This lesson, referred to as “The Working Bassist’s Toolkit” part 2, focuses on strategies for faking your way through tunes you do not know.  It seems the key lies in learning as many common chord progressions as you can.  If you know the key and can figure out the chord progression you should be able to competently fake your way through any tune.  

Roy starts off talking about the ii-V-I progression and how to spice up your bass lines by adding 3rds and 5ths to the root notes.   The use approach tones is also touched upon.  Several more common chord progressions are discussed along with an explanation as to why Roman numerals are used as shorthand when talking about them.  

The first tune we work on is based on Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm” and is called “Rhythm Changes”.  The tune is built around a I-VI-ii-V and iii-VI-ii-V progression and is written in the key of Bb.  Roy recommends learning it in all 12 keys to really hone your skills in this area.  Getting this one under my fingers was actually a little easier that I thought it would be. Once I got a sense of how the progression worked,  the notes just seem to flow.  I will admit, it did take me a bit of time to get it up to speed to play with the band.

The second tune is another standard chord progression based on a ii-V.  This one is a good simple tune to wrap your head around using mainly Roots and 5ths.  Once you get comfortable you can add additional embellishments.  Roy has a written bass line for you to follow along with but strongly recommends that you improvise your own line on this one once you are comfortable.  I was able to get the written line down fairly quickly but had to spend some quality time with it improvising my own line.

To wrap things up Roy points out that many standard tunes use the same progressions over and over in different keys, the trick is to listen for them.  He recommends getting a fake book as this will aid you in learning as many progressions as possible by memory.  Learning chord progressions can be a fun way to change things up in your practice routine and should keep you busy for a very long time.   

Teach Me Bass Guitar – Lesson 16

Lesson 16 Teach Me Bass GuitarHaving completed Lesson 16 of Roy Vogt’s Teach Me Bass Guitar has me feeling like I am in the home stretch.  It’s been a longer journey than I anticipated, but I can’t say I regret a second of it. Just 4 more lessons to go!

Lesson 16 of TMBG takes us into what Roy refers to as “The Working Bassist’s Toolkit” which focuses on skills a bass player will need to have if they want to play professionally.   The first lesson in the toolkit stresses the importance of learning to sight-read.  Roy discusses Tablature (TAB) and while it can be useful for beginners, it is not something that you will encounter in an arrangement or professional working situation.

We review the downsides of TAB, such as it doesn’t transfer between instruments, tabbed material may not be the best place to play on the neck, and rhythmic notation is not standardized, before learning some tips and tricks to help us get our sight-reading up to speed.  Roy also reminds us that few bassists can sight-read which could lead to more work for those who can.

Roy teaches us the trick of using the “Economy of Motion” by playing in position as much as possible.  Other tips include how to figure out the key, and looking for the highest & lowest notes.come-play-my-song-1482333-640x480

“Bach to Basics” from Lesson 4 is revisited, this time without TAB. the Notation is given in 3 different keys and we learn that we can play it entirely in one position, in any key. There is no play along for this one as it can be played at any tempo and is more of a solo piece.

Our second tune is called “The Rhythm Gauntlet” and is in the style of James Jamerson or Carol Kaye.  It consists of syncopations of 8th & 16th notes and we are instructed to look for patterns and rhythmic repetition.  We also learn that many bass lines consist of chord tones and typically start on the root.  We get to play along with the drummer on this one, but only at 1 tempo.

Learning to sight-read is something I have been working on for quite a while and this lesson just brushes the surface of learning this important skill.  I found the tricks and tips Roy provides to be very useful in furthering my studies.  I highly recommend “Note Reading Studies for Bass” from Mel Bay if you truly want to increase your sight-reading skills.

 

Teach Me Bass Guitar – Lesson 15

Lesson 15

Lesson 15 FullLesson 15 of the Teach Me Bass Guitar focuses mainly on the technique of two-handed tapping. Roy refers to this technique as a “Spice”, meaning a little is okay, but too much can be a bad thing. Two-handed tapping is more of a “Look at me” style of playing, not something you would make a living out of doing.

We start lesson 15 off revisiting the 4×4 exercise we first learned all the way back in lesson 1.  This time we are taping out the octave notes with our right hand on the fretboard while anchoring our right thumb on the top of the neck. This can take a little getting used to if you haven’t done it before.  For me, working through it very slowly at first, then increasing my speed was key.  Actually, this was the key to the entire lesson for me, which is why lesson 15 took me longer than I had anticipated to complete.

We also revisit the drums on bass exercise from lesson 9, this time tapping out notes with both hands to tap out chords.  The fretting hand is on the root and the picking hand, or tapping hand in this case, is on the 3rd and 7th of the chord.  Again, this takes a little getting used to, so go slow and build up your muscle memory. Roy recommends a bass with reasonably low action to fully utilize the two-handed tapping technique.  You don’t need to make this any harder on yourself than it already is.

TMBG Two Handed Tapping

Jet Propelled

The first song we learn to utilize the two-handed tapping technique is called “Jet Propelled”. This song takes a pattern of 4ths tapped with the left hand and changes the harmony by altering the bass notes.  Roy uses this technique on his Simplicity album.  To get us up to speed Roy brings his student Kodi back in and shows us how to tap out double stop chords a la Stu Hamm.  Jet Propelled has a familiar rhythm to it so once you get the hang of tapping with your right hand it really isn’t too difficult.

B3 Blues

Next up is a Roscoe Beck inspired tune entitled “B3 Blues”.  Here we utilize two-handed tapping to emulate the sound of a Hammond B3 Organ.  This one has a “boom-chick” sort of rhythm that we first try to get down by once again playing the drums on bass exercise.  The meat of B3 Blues has our left hand walking the blues while our right hand does chord stabs. Roy’s intro to this one is pretty quick as it utilizes most of the same techniques we learned for Jet Propelled.  Again, once you get used to two-handed tapping it really is not that difficult to play, in fact for this one I actually found it was easier to play it fast then slow.

Tapping it out

Two-handed tapping can be a real workout so Roy wraps things up with some cool-down stretches to help provide some relief.  I found myself cramping up a lot when first learning this technique so be sure to take it slow.  Once you get the basic technique down you can gradually increase your speed until you reach your target tempo.  I spent much more time on Lesson 15 of Teach Me Bass Guitar than I expected, but the payoff is worth it.  While I don’t see myself utilizing two-handed tapping too much, it is a cool skill to have in your bag of tricks, especially if you want to show off once in a while.

Ashley sums up lesson 15 saying that if you have made it this far and are proficient in all of the lessons thus far, you can definitely call yourself a bass player!  Moving forward the Teach Me Bass Guitar moves into what Roy calls”The Working Bassist’s Toolkit”.  The remainder of the lessons are meant to discuss challenges that a pro bassist will face in his day-to-day work life.

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Teach Me Bass Guitar – Lesson 14 Review

The Journey

wpid-Photo-Jul-30-2013-509-PM.jpgBefore 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.

Lesson 14

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.  

Weatherman

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.  

Kung Pow

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.

Conclusion

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!  

 

https://youtu.be/H4TcxQEVHtU

      

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Teach Me Bass Guitar Goes Digital

Teach Me Bass GuitarIMG_8776, Roy Vogt’s comprehensive, effective and entertaining self-paced bass guitar instructional course is now available for Streaming and Digital Download.

Several options are available to get you going right away.  You can order the full course, bundles for beginner, intermediate, or advanced players, or purchase one lesson at a time.  No matter which option you choose, once purchased, you own them.  No recurring fees or subscriptions are needed to maintain access to your content.  You buy it, you own it.  Downloads are available for Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch , Android devices, and can be streamed online via a web browser.

As always, Teach Me Bass Guitar allows you to learn at your own pace, in the privacy of your own home.  It’s like having Roy Vogt as your own private tutor, whenever and wherever  you want.

In my opinion, these new digital options take Teach Me Bass Guitar to a whole new level.  If you’ve been wanting to learn how to play bass, or perhaps strengthen your skills with some quality instruction, now is the time!

 

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TMBG Bass Camp 2014 – Day 5

Stanton_Rutledge_2014Our last day of TMBG Bass Camp came much too fast.  I can’t speak for the others but I feel like I’ve learned more in the last week than I have in the past 6 months.  It’s been such a great week, I don’t want it to end.

We started out the morning with a great wrap session with Roy and Tim talking about things we should be working on and thinking about, as well as tips on how to take our playing to the next level.  Both Tim and Roy are such a wealth of information, it was awesome to just pick their brains for a while.

After a much-needed coffee break, my group spent some time with Tim working the kinks out of the songs we plan to play at the Rutledge tonight.  Once we all felt good about our songs, Tim made up a song and had each of us take a different piece of it and then play them together.  In doing this we found that we were all pretty good at staying in time with each other while playing our individual parts.  Then we were asked to remember what the other parts were and to play through each of them individually.  This exercise taught us how important it is to listen to the other musician’s you play with and that you should know what they are playing.

Our afternoon found us working with Roy on Walking Jazz Blues lines.  We discussed how to create them and what notes to use.  Roy demonstrated several different styles and had us work through a walking line, adding more and more notes as we progressed.  While I think I followed Roy fairly well, I don’t think I’m quiet ready yet to come up with the complex lines we ended up with at the end of our session.

Anthony finished out our last day of Bass Camp by providing us handouts for all of the materials we covered during the week and reviewing each of them.  As that we still had a bit of time left, Anthony dived into a lesson on relative chords.  Once again, his method of learning relative chords seemed so simple and intuitive, he really is a gifted teacher.

Alona_Rutledge_2014

With all of our classes wrapped up for the week we were off to the Rutledge for our big night.  We started things off with a great southern dinner followed by an incredible night of music.  After some brief introductions we all got a chance to play our song, on stage, with the band. Special guest, Jonell Mosser even came out to sing “The Trouble with the Truth” while camper Eric Armenat sat in on bass.  Everyone did such an amazing job, you’d think some of us did it all the time.  To make the night even more special Victor Wooten came out and brought all of his campers with him to cheer us on.  The night finished out with Roy & Alona performing a couple of songs before bringing Tim Smith on stage to jam.  Victor’s campers even got a chance to jam with the band a bit before calling it a night.  It was such a great night, yet I am sad that it is all over.

So there you have, another year of Teach Me Bass Guitar Bass Camp all said and done. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the good folks at the Learning Dock will be doing it again next year, although Roy is looking into putting something together.  I am so glad that I took the opportunity to attend these past two years.  I met so many great people and made some great new friends.  Who knows, maybe I look into going out to Wooten Woods next time.  If I do, you can be sure I’ll be blogging about it.

Bass_Camp_2014

TMBG Bass Camp 2014 – Day 4

The last two days of TMBG Bass Camp were so jammed packed that I am just now getting the chance to sit down and blog about them. Day 4 started out with a very informative session with Tim Smith talking to us about groove and feel. From there we moved into a discussion about our current practice habits and why it is important to set goals for ourselves to keep us focused on improving our skills. Next Tim had us play through the songs we will each play at the Rutledge, giving us tips to improve upon our playing. We finished up with some ear training exercises trying to play along with something Tim would come up with, without watching him play it. It was great to get some immediate feedback on the song I plan to play on Friday, and the ear training really made me realize that I have a some work to do in that regard.

Our second session of the day was with Roy and the band that will be backing us on Friday night, Tim McDonald, Dale Armstrong & Mike Valeris. Vocalist Alona Raevska joined us as we each took a turn playing the classic Aretha song “Respect”. Next we each got a chance to run through our song with the band, sort of a rehearsal for tomorrow night. This ended up being time well spent as we were able to work out our preferred tempo and song structure with the band, something we did not have the luxury of doing last year.

Our afternoon was spent with Anthony learning more about theory. We talked about intervallic distances between notes and the proper way to name and write them. Major, minor, diminished, augmented and perfect intervals were all discussed as well as the number of steps between notes and how to distinguish between them all.

Thursday evening was a free night for us so several of us decided to hit the town. The Nashville strip is pretty hopping, every other venue is a club or bar with live music. A couple of us got word that our teaching assistant from last years camp, Ian Eicher, was playing at the Wildhorse so we stopped in and caught his first set. From there we hooked up with a few other campers at BB Kings Blues Club and watched the house band tear it up. What a great evening of live music!

 

 

TMBG Bass Camp 2014 – Day 3

Last night, after an intense day of learning, I decided to stay in my room for the evening to review all that I had learned and work on the song I plan to play Friday night at The Rutledge. The first two days of camp were jammed so full of information I really needed to take some time to process it all. When I finally decided to turn in for the night I found myself lying in bed running through the modes, so I guess you could say I had a very musical day!

 

Wednesday’s classes started out with Anthony talking to us about Major, Minor and Dominant chords before moving on to the Circle of 5ths. Anthony showed us a new, more linear, way to learn the keys, one that relates more to the bass. He showed us how you can use the strings on a 7 string bass to determine how many sharps or flats a key has and which notes they will be. I have struggled with the Circle of 5ths for a long time and let me tell you, Anthony’s method is much clearer and easier to follow.

For our next session we had an awesome discussion with Adam on the effective use of practice time. He gave us a list of 7 core elements that we should focus on and talked about realizing our limits as to how many days a week we can actually practice and how long each practice session is. He advised us to break down that time into chunks and hit 3 or 4 elements, depending on how much time we have, and to focus on those for as long as we need before moving on to something else. For me this was a very helpful session, as I am often tweaking my practice routine and tend to lose focus.

We were back with Anthony after our lunch break discussing Pentatonic scales. He showed us an easy way to remember them by relating them to a 5 string bass. We also talked a little about blue notes and how they are used. Anthony’s way of teaching makes Music Theory so much clearer to me, it is nothing short of amazing. I have learned so much from him this week and we still have two more days.

We finished up the day continuing to work on our reading skills with Roy. He had us look at a piece of music and play along with it, studying the rhythm patterns as well as the notes. This is an area I feel I really need to work on as I felt I was right at the edge of my comfort zone here. It was slow going for me but felt great to push myself beyond my limits.

After our classes we headed out to Wooten Woods for dinner and music with Victor Wooten and his campers. We were warmly greeted by Victor himself when we arrived and given a quick tour of the camp. Victor’s campers were a friendly bunch and we all exchanged introductions before sitting down to a delicious dinner with them. Dinner was followed by a musical performance consisting of Christian McBride, Jeff Coffin, Jen Hartswick, Roy Wooten, Victor and a few other special guests. It was a great night of music, and we even got a brief, impromptu, presentation from Vic’s Nature instructor, Richard Cleveland. It was a fun night that I won’t soon forget.

 

TMBG Bass Camp 2014 – Day 2

Wow! Today was only the second day of Roy Vogt’s Bass Boot Camp and my mind is crammed so full of information, it’s going to take me a month to process it all. My day started out with an intense session on understanding modes with Anthony Wellington. Anthony used his 7 string bass to demonstrate an easy way to learn mode patterns, after which he had us all take a turn working through the modes, on the 7 string! This was the first time any of us had even held a 7 string bass, but with Anthony’s instruction, we all ended up playing it fairly effortlessly. I still can’t believe I was using modes to solo over chords playing a 7 string today. Incredible!!

Next Adam Nitti showed us how to use our bass and our voice as a tool for ear training. I love this approach as that I have used ear training apps before on my ipad and gotten to a point where I am just too lazy to get the ipad out while practicing and skip it. Now I have no excuse, all I need is my bass and I am ready to go. We finished up the session discussing intervals and running through some location exercises and why it is important to work on this stuff.

After lunch Roy gave us a quick history of jazz, from a bassist’s perspective, discussing jazz’s different forms and the fine nuances of each. He then had us work on playing simple jazz walking lines while having us play over chords. We also talked about different feels and ways to divide time in a musical way.

For our last session of the day we were back with Adam, this time discussing scales and how chords are created. Once we all had a good grasp of the concepts presented, Adam showed us how chords work in relation to modes. The focus here was how modes are applied on a 4 string, which piggybacked nicely with what we had learned from Anthony earlier in the day.

We finished off the day as a group with a Skype call to Lane Baldwin where he gave us a quick lesson on pentatonic scales and what goes into creating walking blues lines. Lane also shared several tips with us to help us get the most out of the Teach Me Bass Guitar Course.

I have to admit, by the end of the day my mind was pretty fried. I think I was given enough materials and ideas to keep me busy for at least the next few months, and today is only the 2nd day of camp!! After diner I had to sit down and review everything I learned today, just to try and process it all better. Tomorrow promises to be more of the same, plus we are capping off our day with a trip to Wooten Woods to visit with Victor and his campers for the evening. I best be turning in early tonight, I’m going to need to be well rested for tomorrow.

 

 

 

All Basses Go! TMBG Bass Boot Camp 2014 – Day 1

I'm back in Nashville this week for Roy Vogt's TMBG Bass Boot Camp and we had a stellar first day. Roy, Adam Nitti & Anthony Wellington gave us each a quick evaluation this morning to get an idea of our skill levels, then quickly split us up into 3 groups of 4. From there each group split off with a different instructor to work on a variety of topics.

My group started off with Roy where we had a cool discussion on gear. We talked about different types of basses, electronics, fretless, basic maintenance, amps and effects. Roy showed us how to get different sounds from our bass using the basses tone or EQ knobs as well as the pickup blend knob. Next he demoed a few different effects and discussed how and when they would most likely be used. I'm a bit of gear head so I have to admit that I always love geeking out on equipment.

After a short break we reconvened with Adam for a discussion on technique and timing. Adam ran us through several timing exercises having us each play along as a group as well as on our own. Timing is an area I have been wanting to focus on and now I feel I have a few new exercises and tools at my disposal to utilize to this end.

Lunch was followed by a theory lesson from Anthony. It is mind blowing to me how Anthony can break down music theory in such a logical way that I can easily understand it. I'm still having a little trouble digesting it all, but I do know I am making progress. The way Anthony breaks everything down to it's simplest form is pure genius.

For our final session of the day we found ourselves back with Roy discussing the importance of learning how to read music. I am finding that I am getting pretty good at reading notes and knowing where to play them on the bass. Roy helped to take this to the next level by showing us how to look for repeating phrases. We all played along to a backing track working our way through a piece of music until we were comfortable with it. The session was capped off with a quick discussion as to why we should learn to read at all.

At the end of the day we all got together as an entire group for an open discussion with Roy, Adam an Anthony as well a a group picture. All in all I have to say it was a great first day!