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Music is a tough lover, as is the bass. To get as far as your work and talent will take you in music you need to organize your knowledge of music as well as getting the bass 'out of your way'. I'm a freak for both subjects, but not for the shallow joy of being the smartest or fastest guy in the room. Rather, the more I have under my hands and in my ears, the more opportunity I have to converse with my fellow musicians and audience members on a musical level -- which is what it's all about.


Music Theory

I teach mainly applied music theory from a jazz perspective. By this I mean that it's been my training and I pass on the practical application of harmony, form and improvisation. Following the path that I have been shown and can show you will open the doors to anywhere in the music business that you want to go.


'Music Theory' may sound a little daunting, but it's magical in the same way as reading, writing, understanding math or speaking a foreign language. 'Speaking a Foreign Language' is a great analogy as music is just another language. The words might not be as clear as a spoken tongue, but the message can be even more powerful. Also, and just as with a new language, studying the building blocks of a language (alphabet, spelling, grammar, etc.) both accelerates your learning of a language as well as enriches your understanding and ability to use that language. Consider the names of the notes as your alphabet and the major scale as the list of consonants and vowels and you're already on the path to opening the treasure chest that is music.



Technique is so unimportant that it must be of great importance. The old adage, "Money means nothing -- unless you don't have any", applies directly to technique. If you cannot play your instrument comfortably and accurately, then nothing you try to say will come out effectively. Good technique serves only to get the instrument out of the way and help assist a direct line from your ear and creativity to the sound that you throw into the room.


As the son of a multi-instrumentalist, I was taught music from the perspective of music itself without regard to the instrument. As a result, I was directed to play things that are not traditionally heard on the bass. Given the traditional study of bass technique it is understandable why this is: Bass technique has mainly been taught as a way to play the bass, but not as a means to play music. Because of my musical upbringing I had to develop an entirely different way to approach the bass with my left hand in order to be able to play the same sorts of things that the other instrumentalists play. The result is a couple of different techniques that I show students: The Exorcises and Chaotic Fingering. The Exorcises are a three-fingered approach to the lower registers (a la Simandl, but profoundly different) and a 4 fingered/half-step per finger approach to the middle and upper registers. Chaotic fingering comes from my arco studies and is almost more a philosophical approach to the left hand (and music as well) in order to allow you to get the phrasing and articulations that your ear desires. Both techniques in tandem prove to reduce the perceived size and difficulty of playing the bass, leaving the path to true musical interaction so much more a reality.



Another aspect of technique that I feel is important and I stress heavily is the body-to-bass relationship. A number of years ago I had a terrible time with tendonitis and, after much wandering I finally fixed it with Alexander Technique. I bring a ton of this learning to the table with students, not only as a way to physically play the bass but as a general approach to playing music.

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