Recap – Lessons 9 – 12
The good news is, I’ve past the half-way point, having more lessons behind me than in front of me. Which is a great feeling. The bad news is, these four lessons were tough on me. It took me more than a year to complete them and I must confess, I freaked out a bit towards the end. Fortunately I managed to pull it together and get through it, coming out stronger on the other side.
This lesson is all about learning how to play slap style. Roy covers proper thumb technique for”slap” playing as well as which fingers to use when “popping” the strings. Several exercises are provided to get you accustomed to playing in this style. For me this lesson was a humbling experience. So far it is the only lesson that I was unable to master.
Finger Funk is the name of the game in Lesson 10. We begin by learning proper right hand plucking techniques coupled with left hand muting while learning frets 12 thru 15. The Jacoesque “Florida Groove” is our first number with the band, followed by a James Brown/Tower of Power styled number entitled “Popcorn Popper”. Here we learn the art of motoring 16th notes while walking up chromatic scales. This is the lesson where things start to progress at a quicker pace, we’re in the big leagues now!
We finish up learning the fretboard, frets 17-20, in this lesson, with Roy giving us a few tips on how to reach the notes here in the upper deck. The meat of this lesson is chords and triple stops, with a quick review of intervals we learned in previous lessons. Our play along tracks are a 12 bar blues number, “Austin Bound”, as well as the first song we’ve had with a vocalist, “The Trouble With The Truth”.
Lesson 12 definitely takes us into advanced territory. Here we learn about the Cycle of Fourths, before moving on to creating walking lines which we use to work through the cycle. To me, the instruction seems a bit jumpier on this lesson which added some confusion to the mix. I learned that if you haven’t been paying attention in the previous 11 lessons, you are going to be in trouble with this one as it brings it all together here. We learn a cool jazz walking bass line for the first tune, “Turn Down”, and a walking blues line for the second, “Richest Daddy in the World”. I had a great sense of accomplishment once I had mastered both of these songs.
In all honesty, lesson 9 really did a number on me. I spent more than 6 months on it before moving on and never really did get the hang of playing slap and pop. This disrupted the flow I had going with the first 8 lessons and my lack of ability to master slap left me very discouraged. There were points when I just wanted to give up, actually questioning if I should even play bass anymore. Yes it was that discouraging. In the end I basically gave up on lesson 9, I felt I had devoted too much time to it and decided to just move on. Thankfully I was able to get back in the game and regain most of my confidence, although re-reading some of the posts from that time brings up a lot of heartache. I still feel like I failed, because essentially I did. This is not a reflection on the TMBG course at all, but on my own abilities. Once I have completed the entire course I plan to go back to lesson 9 and give it one more go.
Again, in lesson 12, I freaked out a bit as that I felt things were way over my head. It wasn’t until I went back and reviewed the previous 11 lessons that I realized that I did know this stuff, and now it was time to put it all together. I can’t stress enough the importance of paying attention to all of the concepts presented in each lesson and really internalizing them before moving on. On the one hand, I feel that this course is taking me longer than I ever anticipated, yet on the other, I feel like I have not spent enough time with each of the lessons. Do note, in my case, I am lucky to get two hours a night to work on the material, maybe 4 or 5 days a week. Family and work obligations keep me busy, plus writing post, such as this one, means that I am writing instead of practicing right now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I just want you all to know that I don’t get to spend as much time working on the course as I would like. If I had 4+ hours a day, everyday to devote to TMBG, I am sure I would be progressing faster. I do see great improvement in my playing and that is all that counts, so I’ll keep plucking along and finish things up in my own time. I’ve come this far, I’m not giving up now!