I know you are eager to get to the lessons. But, you will get a lot more out of the lessons and StudyBass if you read this page first.
I am not a programmer—I am a musician and teacher. In my years of teaching music I have developed hundreds of lessons, courses and paths for my students. I would love to teach you these same lessons over the internet, and I created StudyBass to do that.
I taught myself all of this web development stuff to create the best format and structure for my lessons and your learning. I have put a lot of thought, effort and time into it. I hope you will learn the lessons, do the work and add more music to the world. We need it!
First, replacing a real live teacher with any resource—a book, a video, a website—is impossible. Having someone watch and personally guide you is invaluable. It's not an option for everyone, and I'm trying to make StudyBass the next best thing.
The StudyBass advantage is I've taught close to three thousand students face-to-face over the past 27+ years. From that experience I know how and when to present material to students. I know what confuses students and how to say and explain things to avoid that confusion. I know how to pace and order the material. It's not the only way, but I've tested it, tweaked it and know it works. I've had a number of students sign up with me for private lessons after working with the StudyBass lessons on their own. I was very pleased with their progress.
Your progress is highly dependent on what you learn and when. No, the YouTube sidebar doesn't know what you should learn next. Be careful not to waste your precious practice time on the wrong things. The biggest threat to your musical development is too many detours and dead ends. The internet is full of them and they add up quickly.
Teaching is not simply presenting facts. Teaching is giving a student understanding. It's about creating meaningful connections and insights. While many are out there presenting you with musical facts, my goal on StudyBass is to help you understand and create music with the bass.
Why Do You Do This?
Many ask me why I do this and can't believe I make it available to everyone.
Why do I do this? I cannot explain to you the joy learning, playing and teaching music has brought me throughout my life. It would be criminal not to share it and not to want others to have a chance at that same experience.
Why do I make it accessible to all? Don't you "get what you pay for"?! Isn't it valuable? Absolutely it's valuable. It's so valuable that I want everyone to have access to it. A million musicians is worth far more than a million dollars.
How to Use StudyBass
Let's begin with the structure of the bass and music lessons:
StudyBass is organized into Curricula. Each Curriculum contains a number of Lesson Blocks which have several related Lessons in them.
Depending on what is required, each lesson has one or more features. Some lessons are just plain text, some have videos (I'm adding more and more), many have exercises, relevant song suggestions, and quizzes.
-- Lesson Block
---- Lesson [text]
---- Lesson [text, quiz]
---- Lesson [text, exercises]
---- Lesson [text, exercises, songs]
-- Lesson Block
---- Lesson [text, exercises, songs, quiz]
---- Lesson [text, exercises, songs]
---- Lesson [text, quiz]
Lessons build from one to the next. I slowly introduce topics. I always like to give you an overview first. Then we get more specific and detailed.
Even if you are experienced, I recommend going through each lesson in order rather than skipping around. Otherwise you may miss some important vocabulary or concepts.
You can navigate the lessons by following the Next Lesson links on the lesson pages.
As you complete each lesson, you can mark the lesson complete at the bottom of the page (My StudyBass Lesson History).
You can always find your last and next lesson and your lesson history by clicking the orange and white icon in the menu.
Notice lessons and blocks not completed are grey-colored squares and completed lessons and blocks are orange.
Extras for Supporters
For StudyBass supporters, there are a few additional features. I know everyone can't afford to offer support, so I never block access to anything critical for your learning. But, there are a lot of bills to pay, and this is non-stop work for me. I have so much left to add, and I can't do it without support. So, if you're able, please support the site.
Imagine if the entire site were paywalled. What is access to StudyBass worth it to you? I know I could paywall everything, but I don't want to as much as I can help it. I know I could cover everything with advertising and popups. I hate that stuff as much or more than you do. With your support, together we can help many thousands learn to play the bass and make music.
Monthly/Annual Subscribers Get:
The My Practice tool helps you create practice routines and organize your practicing. You can add exercises, songs and many other things into practice sessions. Then, click start and you're guided through your timed practice routine. It's the practice system I wish I had decades ago.
Supporters also have access to hundreds of play-along Jam Tracks for playing, experimenting, learning, improvising and applying lesson concepts.
Membership also includes all StudyPacks (see next).
Another way to support is a one-time purchase of the StudyPacks for any curriculum. You get extended exercise tracks (3-minutes vs 30 seconds) and alternate tracks (slowed versions and many with the bass removed) by purchasing the StudyPacks. As a Member all StudyPacks are included.
Now that you understand the layout of the lessons and website, let's talk about learning from the lessons.
Perfection vs Moving Forward
A difficult question to answer—especially without the aid of a live teacher—is how do I know when to move on? How perfect does something need to be? Can I even tell if I'm doing it right? Is something I consider perfect actually perfect?
If you are a beginner, you don't and can't know the answers to these questions. That's OK. Every musician you can think of was once a beginner and made all sorts of mistakes. You will make the same mistakes and overcome them, too.
You will think you know something now only to discover years later the details you were missing. That is how progress and your musical evolution works.
When to Move On
Different teachers will have different opinions on when a student should move forward. In my experience working with students I find you have to take the student's level into consideration.
If I expected absolute perfection from a total beginner, that student would be stuck on the very first exercise for months. There are so many tiny nuances one could perfect. Doing that, though, would delay picking up other valuable skills in the meantime.
Learning a Language
Time and again musicians and teachers will tell you that you learn music just like a language. Music is a language.
Now think of how children learn to speak. A child is exposed to a lot of language all at once. The child must slowly make sense out of all of that random-seeming noise. Imagine demanding perfection from a child learning to speak. Imagine not exposing a toddler to another new word until he or she could perfectly pronounce "spaghetti". How long would that take? Wouldn't that be counter-productive? If the toddler can say "sgeti" it's good enough in the beginning. Move on. The child's speech will improve with time and by learning other similar words and phrases.
When Did I Learn That?
As you move forward in your music journey, many (not all) things get easier and work themselves out. You will come back to something you weren't good at only to discover you can suddenly do it without having practiced it. As you work on a wide variety of exercises and songs, you fill in gaps, you develop better coordination and rhythm, and your musical attention span broadens. One finger movement in one song will fix the same problem in another. The process repeats many times over as you continue doing the work.
So, as a total beginner, don't worry about absolute perfection. You won't achieve it because you can't perceive it yet anyhow. In the beginning, I suggest you aim to get things pretty good to very good and move on. If you are spinning your wheels in one place for too long it can actually delay your overall development. You need that variety of language thrown at you just like a child gets. Being lost and slowly making sense of it all is part of the process.
Music Never Lets You Off the Hook
I tell students that music never lets you off the hook. If it's an important skill to master, it will show up again and again until you do.
Don't be overly worried that you are missing something. You will miss things and they'll come back around. You will learn them when you are ready to learn them. The key is not to stop trying and working.
Now, once you are past total beginner, you need to get stricter about learning things to absolute perfection. You should go back and review what you've learned and see what is there to fix. Be better about learning complete songs. (I'm talking to you naughty students who only learn the main riff!)
At this stage, you will still not know what absolute perfection is. You will still miss details and nuances. That's fine. Try to get it to where you think perfection is at this point.
As you develop into an intermediate player and beyond, you will perceive more and more. You will understand what you're missing. And, you will still have to ask yourself, "Should I move on?"
How Much Should I Practice Each StudyBass Lesson?
Some lessons are brief and you just need a basic understanding. Read them. Check your understanding of the idea.
Other lessons have more features such as exercises, song suggestions and quizzes. Here is some general guidance:
Lessons with exercises (and song suggestions) should be practiced daily for 1 to 2 weeks. Don't hurry through them, but don't feel like they must be absolutely perfect to move on. After a week or two, continue reviewing the exercises for several more weeks as you introduce new lessons and practice material. When you feel like you can't do something any better, you can retire it from your practice.
You should work on all of the lessons's exercises. Note, however, the last exercise is sometimes an extra challenge for students who already have some experience. If you are a beginner, feel free to come back to these challenges on a second pass through the lessons.
It is very important to learn actual songs and not just play exercises. In lessons with song suggestions, pick two or more songs, learn them and try to identify the lesson concepts found in the music.
If you don't like the song suggestions, I urge you to get over it and play them anyway. I do everything for a reason and your learning is my biggest concern.
For more about the suggested songs feature, see the example songs FAQ.
On average, if you are picking a song at an appropriate skill level, it should take you 1 to 2 weeks to learn it. Naturally it varies from student to student and the particular song. If you find it takes you a lot longer to learn a song, I suggest you pick easier songs for now so you can keep moving forward. As you understand more, those hard songs will be easier to learn later.
You can find sheet music to many of the songs I mention in a handful of music books linked on the lesson song page. (You can also find a list of songbooks here.)You can also search for music online or in apps. And, while seemingly impossible at first, you can learn songs by ear. This is how all of the great players did it. There weren't any books or videos. There were only recordings and learning them by ear. I promise it is one of the best things you can do for your musical development. Don't be scared. Try it by ear first, and then check yourself with sheet music.
Finally, some of the lessons have an interactive quiz. Test your knowledge. You should be able to get a perfect score.
The Key to Learning
Learning music and the bass is no small task. If it were easy, everyone would play. The main key is to practice the right things daily. Even if you only have 5 minutes on a given day, use it. It makes an impact. Work on something every day. The beginning will be rough. Don't get discouraged. Developing new, positive habits can be hard. Stay the course. I promise you can do this!
Good luck with your musical pursuits. Let me know how you are progressing.
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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.