“ A lot of my teaching is song-based. I like to take you as deep as possible into a track until you really master it, because I think it’s a super effective way of learning. 99% of what you ‘get’ from a song will spill over into every other song that you learn in the future, meaning you’ll get stronger and stronger with each new track. Plus, it means you get to choose your own tracks, and play the music you really want to play. Of course, if song-based learning just isn’t for you, and you’d rather just get down to studying, then we can do that, too.
John, 36 – Policeman
As a Grade 8 French Horn player, John already had a deep grasp of music. But the classical method he learned tends to neglect the art of improvisation, so I’ve been opening John’s eyes to the improvisational possibilities of contemporary music, learning riffs, grooves and chord progressions. We spend a lot of time looking at soul and Motown lines from the likes of The Commodores, Jamiroquai and The Temptations.
Conor, 17 – College Student
Under my supervision, Conor got a merit for his Grade 5 Rockschool exam, and we’re now working towards his Grade 6. When we’re developing playing skills, we break down songs into sections, and only move on when Conor has truly mastered each part. When we’re working on listening and reading, we use sample exercises, which I constantly redesign to improve on any weaknesses. This way, Conor has a steady stream of personalised ‘mock exams’ to work from.
Ben, 27 – Editor
Ben began as a drummer, so we channeled his natural rhythm and musicality into his bass playing. We spend a lot of time talking about how songs work and what’s going on inside them. We’ve looked at mostly everything – slap technique, walking bass, soloing – not to mention David Bowie!
Kate, 12 – School Student
Kate is quite young for a bassist, as the bass is a big, heavy instrument. I’ve taken a lot of care to teach proper techniques from the outset, so that Kate can’t injure herself while playing. We’ve learned songs by Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green and Jessie J.
Amy, 25 – Insurance Broker
Amy’s a complete beginner, but she’s interested in learning about all aspects of music, from tuning her bass to reading sheet music. I normally split Amy’s lessons into two or three sections, and change things up week-to-week, so that we can cover lots of different things. Lately we’ve been learning songs by Franz Ferdinand and Muse.
Zuri, 37 – Visual Artist
With such a busy schedule, Zuri can’t always practise during the week, so our lessons are usually his only chance to get some playing in. We’re still managing to work our way through some of Bob Marley‘s classic ska and reggae tunes though. I use the music that Zuri loves as a vehicle to teach him about several aspects of bass playing, from technique and rhythm, to harmony and tone.
Dominic, 16 – College Student
Currently studying for his Grade 5 Rockschool exam, Dominic is a keen player of heavy rock, progressive metal and funk. In our lessons we divide our time between sight reading, music theory, and of course learning tunes of Dominic’s choosing. Megadeth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Dream Theatre are firm favourites.
Rose, 27 – Copywriter
Rose is into old skool disco and funk. Before her first lesson, she gave me a list of roughly a million songs which I arranged into difficulty order, so we could start with the simplest and work our way up. These kinds of bass lines are notoriously difficult, so I had to design a sensible overall lessons plan which didn’t throw Rose (too far) into the deep end. Artists include Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Prince.