Here's a little background and history on me...
My earliest musical memory is of a cartoon where a crab is dancing up and down the keys of a piano playing a boogie-woogie bassline. Later, my first favorite song was the bassline-dominant tune Walking on the Moon by The Police. I had no idea that either of these had anything to do with my future.
Bass was not my first instrument. This is very common for bassists. Bass players usually go on little musical detours before finding their instrument. It was the 1980's. I was surrounded by the sound of synthesizers. When you're a kid, you get swept up in the cool factor. With no real guidance, I jumped into playing keyboards and started making cheesy electronic music.
I started taking piano lessons and music classes in high school. I devoured any book I could find about music, theory and composition. I had more and more music questions for my piano teacher, but they weren't being answered. I felt frustrated. At the same time, I had a guitar-playing friend searching for a bassist, and that helped me decide to get my first electric bass and shift away from keyboards. With the bass, music suddenly felt right. The bass wasn't just a musical instrument like piano. It was my instrument. It felt like an extension of me rather than an addition.
I tried some bass lessons with a few people, but I was getting smarter about choosing music teachers. You really need to smoke out the good teachers. It wasn't until I studied with bassist Dave Nichols that I was pointed in the right direction of what to study and how to study music. I owe him a lot, and for that I've dedicated this website to him. Besides Dave, I studied with a number of local jazz cats who were also all great mentors and teachers.
As I took lessons, practiced feverishly and went to school, I worked in record stores, too. I didn't realize it, but it gave me some of the best music education of my life. If I was unfamiliar with a musician or style of music, I listened to it. I'll admit, I was a bit naughty in my pursuit of discovering new music. Sometimes I would gently peel back the cellophane wrapper on mysterious cassettes and carefully push out the cassette box. I would play it overhead as I stocked shelves with other unknown tapes and CDs. Then I'd hopefully remember to rewind the tape properly, slide it back into its wrapper, give it a dab of glue, and move on to the next musical mystery!
Although I took music classes in high school and college, my Bachelor's degree was in Psychology at the University of Houston. I was really into studying music as well as the music learning process. My original plan was to get a doctoral degree in Psychology and study how people learn music. I worked with some of my psychology professors but was quickly turned off by the politics of academia. I saw brilliant professors struggle to study serious mental health issues. Who was going to support my efforts to study music learning? So, I decided there was no better way to study how others learn music than to teach students one-on-one.
In 1994 I began teaching music and it quickly turned into my full-time job. So far, I've taught well over 2000 students in face-to-face private weekly music lessons. I could be doing a lot of other things, but I love teaching music, and I've been very lucky to make a living at it.
On top of teaching, there have been various gigs around Houston. There have been original rock projects and jazz groups. Events were played. Bands were formed and dissolved. It's what most musicians go through. Luckily, “making it big” has never been a motivation for me. I just enjoy music and sharing it with others. Something I discovered is most gigs don't change people's lives forever. Teaching does.
As the internet started to blossom, I built a few webpages to advertise lessons and gigs. It wasn't long before I saw a need for some good instructional bass material on the web. There were some good things out there, but nothing structured.
In 2003 I tried to envision what the most useful instructional bass website would look like. I launched tunemybass.com and studybass.com as resources for bass players, and I started building my ideal bass lesson website.
As the sites grew in popularity, I started taking their development more seriously. Despite having no background in computers, I taught myself a number of programming languages to create dynamic and interactive elements for the websites. I learned about graphics, usability, and database design. Everything you find on my websites is my original work—code, lessons, audio and video. I'm very proud of it, and I continue to develop more tech skills to make it better.
Slowly, StudyBass will be a transcription of my entire music and bass teaching curriculum. I estimate I'm only about 1 or 2% finished with my vision for the site. At this rate I need to live to 1000 years old!
To help finance the next steps for StudyBass, in August of 2012 I released my first app for iOS and Android called ClefTutor. It's an app made for all musicians based on the first StudyBass tool—the bass clef tutor. You can selfishly tell your friends to buy ClefTutor so StudyBass develops more rapidly.
In addition to teaching students and creating apps and developing websites, I'm slowly writing material for a solo album. All I will say is it won't be a “bass album” like you might expect.
Currently, I live in Houston, TX with my wife, Winnie, and our giant dog. I still teach private lessons. Feel free to look me up.
Thanks for reading,