From time to time I get asked, "What’s the best way to use StudyBass?"
Well, the site is nowhere near complete. In fact, I don’t even feel like it has started yet! But, let me explain how I expect the site to be used and not used at this point.
1. Find a Good Teacher
Firstly, I can’t emphasize enough that the best way to learn is by having a real live teacher guiding your way. Unfortunately, I can't answer questions on an individual basis for everyone visiting StudyBass. If you're in Houston, TX, you can look me up for private lessons or contact me through the feedback form.
StudyBass is a great supplement to private lessons especially for beginners. A good teacher is irreplaceable and will really accelerate your learning. You may have to go through a number of bass teachers before you find him or her. You’ll know when you find the right teacher.
If you can’t find or afford a teacher, I hope this site will eventually be a decent substitute and help with your bass-playing goals. Without a teacher you should be extra critical of yourself. It’s easy to think you know something when you don’t. Consider frequently recording yourself to hear how you really sound.
2. Online, Not Offline
I created StudyBass as a rich, interactive online educational resource for bass. It is meant to be used online, not offline. Most of the features don't work offline or in a printed format. I don't have any intention of changing that. There are plenty of boring bass books out there already. :)
Please note: The site won’t work offline if you try to download it. Ripping or automatically downloading the site may cause you to lose access to the site so don’t. Bandwidth costs money and you slow down the site for other users.
I have a lot of plans for the site and I don’t plan to take it down. Just bookmark the site and visit when you want to learn or review something. It won't disappear.
3. Required Technology
I try to design everything as user-friendly and widely compatible as I know how. You'll find the following used throughout the site:
Most of you will have the most recent version of Flash Player installed. If not, get it. There are some big security holes patched since version 9. Flash is used extensively on the site. If you can watch a YouTube video, you should be set.
If you're experiencing any trouble with the lesson exercises, tools or other interactive features, try upgrading to the latest version of Flash. Make sure you don't have too many windows open with other Flash applications or ads running. This can slow things down or sometimes create problems.
3b. PDF Files
If you're having trouble viewing or printing any PDF files on the site, make sure you have the most recent Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. If you're using another non-Adobe program to read PDFs, you may experience some problems.
4. Using the Bass Lessons
On the site you will find my bass lessons logically organized in lesson blocks. Each lesson may or may not have supporting pages with exercises, example songs and quizzes. It just depends on what makes sense for the lesson. If a lesson doesn't have some of these features, the tab will be greyed out—don't worry, you're not missing anything.
There are two ways to explore and navigate the bass lessons -- (1) using the study guide, and (2) browsing the lesson categories on the menu.
If you're just getting started with the lessons, you should follow the study guide curriculum. This will logically guide you through the lessons. The organization is critical. When you learn music, you don't learn everything about one topic (i.e. rhythm or harmony), and then move on to the next. Instead, you slowly learn a little of each topic. In the end it all adds up. I've personally guided hundreds of people through this curriculum, and I know it produces creative, useful, and knowledgable bassists.
Following the study guide, you shouldn’t ever get too lost. In the early stages of learning you should expect to get confused and get lost a little. Just when you think you have something, you'll discover you don't. That's a normal part of the learning process. Just stick to it. Eventually the mystery will start to unravel.
You should pick one or two lessons to work on at a time. Go at your own pace. Some may only take a day to master; many will take a week or more.
If you just need a review or want to find a specific lesson, you can browse for it by topic using the menu of lesson categories basics, technique, harmony, etc.
Don't skim like people are prone to do on the web. Read thoroughly. I write everything for a reason and you can miss some essential details!
Just reading through a lesson doesn’t mean you’ve learned it. You need to apply it a lot! To help you apply things, many of the bass lessons have exercises, quizzes and example songs to study and play. I hear from people who say they learned all of the lessons in a week. That's unlikely. It all takes time to absorb.
5. Using the Bass Exercises
There’s nothing like learning by example. When appropriate I post exercises and examples applying the concept(s) of the lesson.
A number of people have asked if it’s possible to slow down the exercises. Since I opted for actual recordings of myself playing the exercises and not midi, it’s not possible to slow them down on the site.
If an exercise seems too fast, I suggest you work through it slowly with the metronome first. In fact, most of the time it’s a good idea to practice things at many different tempos and in different keys and areas of the fretboard. A metronome will help you with that. I've included a metronome on the exercise page.
I'm aware of some of the exercise printing issues. Hopefully I'll get to fixing it soon.
6. Using the Bass and Music Theory Quizzes
Learning music requires a lot of memorization. Whenever memory is an important factor in mastering a lesson, I add a quiz to drill you on the important points. I made the quizzes randomized so you can’t cheat and memorize the answers too well. Good luck!
7. Example Songs
For many of the lessons there are songs recommended for practice, listening and study. You should practice full songs and see how things work in real musical situations. It's more fun and you'll be developing your song repertoire.
There are links to Amazon and iTunes for the songs if you want to hear previews and buy the songs. There are also links to books which have transcriptions of many of the songs. Due to copyright laws, I cannot play audio clips on the site or provide transcriptions.
For more about this feature, see the example songs FAQ.
8. Get New Lesson Updates
If you want to hear about new lessons as I post them, subscribe to the StudyBass RSS feed.
RSS, if you aren’t familiar with it, is a web technology that keeps track of websites in which you’re interested. When you subscribe to an RSS feed it’s like joining an email list without giving out your email address.
Once you’ve subscribed to my RSS feed, your RSS reader will automatically check for when I’ve posted a new lesson and give you a link to it.
9. American-English Conventions and Standards
I write the site using American-English. If you study music in another language or English variant, you may run across some differences in musical terminology or pronunciation.
I've highlighted many linguistic differences here: Musical Language Differences between American-English and Other Languages.
As I expand and develop StudyBass I’ll continue to update this page on how to use all of the latest features and lessons.
Good luck studying bass!