Jeff Berlin is currently doing a run of clinics at Guitar Center’s throughout the U.S. and I highly recommend you try to catch him if he hits a city near you. On September 20th I was fortunate enough to catch him in San Jose, Ca. Berlin’s clinic was a bit different from others I have attended in that, instead of dazzling us with his chops he educated us with his wisdom.
Berlin claims that you can triple your playing ability in as little as 4 months, if you study the right things. What are the right things you ask? Well, first he pointed out that music, unlike pretty much everything else we learn, is typically not learned factually. We learn how to jam and groove and play songs but not about the factual elements of music. We need to learn the notes so that we may play what is in our heads effortlessly. Of course, being Jeff Berlin, he had to reiterate his loathing for the metronome, and I can now understand his point of view a little better. Berlin says we all have time and groove and that a metronome just gets in our way. We need to slow down to learn, not try to play things at a fast tempo. What we need to do is learn the information of music, which is much broader than just learning theory. We need to learn the notes on our bass, chord tones, harmony, approach notes, walking bass lines, ear training and ultimately learn the mechanics of jazz. Even if you are not a jazzer, he feels this is the best way to learn the information of music.
I felt the information provided to me during this clinic couldn’t have come at a better time. Still feeling somewhat renewed from my week with Roy at Bass Camp, I feel that this path Berlin suggests is the path I have already begun down. Everything he said reaffirmed what I learned in Nashville and has motivated me to work even harder at studying the fundamentals of music. Berlin pointed out that a lot of us are self-taught, we learn songs, play in bands and get to a certain level and then just hang there. That completely describes me, I hung for 20+ years before I jumped back into the game with Teach Me Bass Guitar. Berlin suggests that you shouldn’t buy books or DVD’s or other instructional materials unless they are teaching you the facts of music. Well, I feel, for the most part that TMBG does just that. I have learned so much about music in the last couple of years and I really owe it all to TMBG. Going to Bass Camp this year and working directly with Roy, Adam, Tim, Stu and Anthony in person took me to a whole new level and I now feel that I have the tools to go even further. Jeff Berlin made me realize that I am headed in the right direction, and now have an even better sense of what I need to work on to accomplish my goals.