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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Entries Tagged as 'teaching news'

Back teaching in London next week…

February 1st, 2008 · Comments Off on Back teaching in London next week…

Having extended my stay in NYC for a few days due to not wanting to fly while ill, I’ll now be back in London next Tuesday, and will start back teaching pretty soon after that…

So if you to book in any bass lessons, either at my place, or with me coming to you, please drop me a line and we’ll get it sorted out!

Teaching is one of the things I miss most when I’m away. Having regular time to teach, to apply my brain to the problem of working out what’s getting in the way of my students’ musical flow and coming up with creative ways around that, and ways to inspire them to find the music inside themselves provides a great rhythm to my week, and keeps my brain thinking about creating music even when the rest of my music life is taken up with trying to book gigs and sort out the logistics of making a living as a musician…

See you soon, lovely students!

Tags: teaching news

Bass Masterclass – 'Bass 2.0' – San Jose, California, Jan 12th

December 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on Bass Masterclass – 'Bass 2.0' – San Jose, California, Jan 12th


date
Sunday January 13th, 10.00am-6pm
venue
Bass 2.0 Masterclass, San Jose, California
details
Bass Masterclass – fourth year of my California bass masterclass weekend. Sunday is a more specialised ‘solo bass and beyond’ day, looking at what’s possible with the instrument outside of it’s traditional role.
weblinks

Tags: gig dates · Music News · teaching news

busy busy busy

December 12th, 2007 · Comments Off on busy busy busy

It’s all go here!

We’ll start with last weekend – two gigs, Saturday/Sunday.

Saturday’s was a gig with Lobelia in Brighton at the Sanctuary Cafe, opening for MAP – that’s and Peter Harris – both incredible acoustic guitarists, writers of sublime melodies and fantastic performers. Also on the bill before us was a marvellous singer/songwriter, Conrad Vingoe – as well as having one of the most rock ‘n’ roll names ever (not much chance of that domain name being taken), he writes great songs and has a gorgeous voice. All good. ‘Twas a small crowd, but the venue was intimate and sounded good, the people lovely and a fine time was had by all… I’ll put photos from it up on Flickr soon.

Sunday’s gig was back at Smollensky’s with Luca Sirianni, this time with Sophie Alloway on drums. The gig with Luca is becoming a fairly regular thing, and a whole lot of fun – the chance to play a lot of pop/latin/jazz tunes, do some interesting arrangements, get funky and get paid (a bit). Luca’s a fine guitarist, who does enough ‘dinner jazz’ gigs to know just the right kind of things to play, but also likes to stretch out, improvise and have some fun. It was the first time I’d played with Sophie, and she was a treat to play with – not having come the usual ‘3 years at music school’ route, she plays with the maturity of a player who’s been gigging twice as long as she has, because she learnt on gigs. One of my main gripes with so many drummers is the don’t listen well – they establish a beat and stick with it, instead of letting the grooves grow and expand. Sophie listened really well, and also – crucially – understood the space a drummer has to occupy in a trio. As usual, I hit my stride about half way through the second set, but that’s the price I pay for not playing with drummers often enough…

…Though that’s not the case right now – I’m in the middle of a really fun recording session with Patrick Wood and Roy Dodds – if you saw the last Recycle gig, you’ll know this is a pretty special trio… We spent most of yesterday setting up, but got about 20 minutes of amazing music recorded last night, and will spend much of today on it as well… except the time that I’m teaching – thanks to my going away for Christmas and January to the US, I’m having to fit in as much teaching as possible before I go, partly because lots of students want lessons before I go and partly because I need to earn as much as I can in order to be able to pay my rent, and renew my car tax in january…

in between all that, I’m booking things to do in the US (masterclasses and gigs in California), sorting out my tax return (spending a lot of time buried under piles of receipts) and somewhere this week, I need to fit in a few hours to record some tracks for an italian electronica project that I’ve been meaning to record some stuff for for over a year, and HAVE to have done before Christmas…

Add to that regular trips to the post office to send off CD orders for the new EP and people ordering other stuff as christmas presents, and you’ve got yourself one seriously overworked Stevie.

Roll on Ohio…

Tags: Music News · Random Catchup · teaching news

Studying music

October 16th, 2007 · Comments Off on Studying music

I spent a really enjoyable day today giving a couple of masterclasses at the ACM in Guildford. They invite me down there a couple of times a year to speak to the students, play a bit, and hopefully inspire them. The ACM is a fantastically well resourced college, and they spend a lot of time and effort finding cool clinicians to come in and talk to the students. What amazes me is how blasé the students are about having the access to information and experience in that way…

When I was studying we hardly ever had anyone come and visit the college – a couple of ex-students came back who’d done a few minor things, but it was before the college was really in a position to book proper visiting celebs to come and speak. But I lapped up whatever information I could get my hands on, going so far as to blag my way into a midi class from the second year of the course when I was still in the first year – it was during a free period of mine, so I asked the tutor if I could sit in. I used to practice a crazy amount of time (sporadically, not consistently, sadly), and spent just about all my time talking about music. I still wasted a lot of my time (though I realised fairly quickly that the time I spent going clubbing when I was a student did wonders for my sense of rhythm – nothing beats dancing for internalising rhythm!)

Anyway, back to the ACM – both the groups I had seemed like nice people, and there were some cool questions that came out of the sessions that sprung off into some good topics. As usual 2 hours wasn’t nearly long enough (given my dispensation towards tangentalism when I’m speaking in that kind of setting…) but I was still at least able to plant a few mental seeds.

Anyway, given that I know at least a few full time music students read this blog, here are a few tips that you REALLY ought to take on board, and I write these as both a teacher and a former music college student who got lots out of it, but could’ve got more…

  • all music is worth learning – there’s a tendency amongst students to specialise way to early. i don’t really give a shit whether all you listen to is punk, you’re doing a full time music course, and the opportunity is there to become a great all-round musician, to learn the nuance of a whole range of styles… which brings me to point 2:
  • never underestimate the difficulty of lines without many notes – obviously that’s worded for bassits, but it’s the same for simple guitar or drum parts. Country, Reggae, Bossa Nova, Stadium Rock – all are about so much more than just getting the notes in the right order. Don’t expect to be convincing as a country bassist without having emmersed yourself in country music. Go and see as many different kinds of music played live as you can, and use the radio!
  • You will never have access to that many other people wanting to learn music again – don’t waste it – being surrounded by keen music students is a fantastic experience, so form as many bands as you can, rehearse, jam, improvise, write, learn covers. just play as much as you can, you won’t ever be in that situation again.
  • Use your teachers – they are there to help you learn as much about music as you can, so quiz them, remember there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. If you don’t know something, ask. NEVER EVER pretend to know something you don’t. You’re there to learn, there shouldn’t be any pressure at all to already know…
  • Buy music – call it Karma, call it sowing to reap, call it whatever you want, but if you want to make a living selling music at some point, it’s probably best that you promote the culture of still paying for music. If you haven’t got much money, use a subscription service like emusic or Napster. Remember, if you’re spending more on booze than you are on music, you’re actively wrecking your own music education.
  • while the qualification may be a waste of paper, the information needed to get it isn’t – we all know that there are very few situations where actually having a music degree is of any importance at all. Great musician trumps degree certificate every time. BUT the course modules you’re having to learn stuff for are indicative of how well you’ve absorbed the information presented to you, so do the work. It also gets you used to the discipline of deadlines and playing what someone else wants you to play the way they want you to play it…
  • Make friends with everyone – the industry is all about contacts, and there’s no reason why being a student should stop you from building those contacts now, and even starting to get work while you’re still a student. Students, teachers, visiting musicians, college staff, venue owners, bookers… everyone, just be nice, you’ll be amazed at how much more likely you are to get work by being nice than by being a surly bastard. Smile, all time time. :o)
  • Play. All the time – lunchtime, breaktime, over breakast, evenings, weekends, on your own, with mates, in bands, orchestras, whatever and wherever – there’s no substitute for just playing music, so do it. DON’T WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY YOU HAVE!! Studying music is one of the best things in the world to do – I’m still doing it, every day, I’m still trying to get better. Segovia, just before he died in his mid-90s, was asked if he had any unfullfilled ambitions. His answer? ‘i wish I knew more about the guitar’ – none of us have any right to think that we’ve done enough after that.

Enjoy it, work hard, play constantly, surround yourself with people who encourage you to play, not people who distract you, make friends, teach your peers, learn from them too, listen to every pro musician who steps through the door of the college, ask questions and do as many gigs as you can.

Now, off you go, quit reading this, and practice!

Tags: bass ideas · Musing on Music · teaching news · tips for musicians

Looong day!

September 16th, 2007 · Comments Off on Looong day!

Saturday morning I was up at 5.40am. Yup, I got a healthy four hours sleep before being wrenched from it by Billy Bragg’s ‘Greetings To The New Brunette’ (that’s my alarm sound on my phone – has been for ages, along with ‘Love Changes Everything By Climie Fisher as my ringtone… just in case it ever comes up in a really weird pub-quiz that you’re in… :o)

The reason for my early rise was that I had to be in Bath to teach 3 bass classes at Bath City Church. I’m still not certain how they got my name (will have to ask!), but I was emailed about this a few weeks ago, and booked up for the day. It’s always interesting going back into a big ‘modern’ church setting – I spent so many years in that environment when I was in Lincoln and before, but it feels culturally pretty alien now… There’s a whole other language that gets spoken in those circles, and it takes me a while to get my translating head back on and work out what people are trying to say. But it was a good day – the organisers had also booked Martin Neil, drummer/percussionist extraordinaire to teach, and having not met up for years, it was great for Martin and I to catch up a little… and for me to find that he lives about 6 miles from my mum’s house!

The 3 classes were fun too – they were progressive, in that i had the same group for all three, so one followed on from the next, and as usual, I started out by unpacking the learning process, what practice is for, and thanks to a couple of a really insightful questions, we talked a lot about the nature of goal orientated learning and external vs internal goals. All within the context of playing in a church music group.

The people who came along were a lovely bunch and hopefully took home some inspiration and ideas to get them playing.

Then the day’s weirdness started. Heading back to the car park to pick up my car at just before 4, I find a 15 minute queue just for the machines to pay! Huh? Ah, there’s been a rugby match that’s just finished. I get car, load up, and then sit in traffic for an hour trying to get out of Bath. Bear in mind, I’m supposed to be in Oxford by 5ish. By 5, I’m nearly at the M4 after leaving Bath… grrrr. Mad dash ensues, lovely Jez picks up Lo. and Catster, we all meet at lovely jez’ lovely house, drop off music gear, eat, and head back into Oxford to see Ross Noble – now I loves me some Ross Noble, and he was on top form, rambling and waffling and talking total bollocks to a highly appreciative audience.

Back to Jez’ to pick up music stuff, drive home, get in at 1am. Hence me blogging now instead of being at St Luvvies. Then it’s off to lunch with Rollergirl and Photomonkey.

Tags: Random Catchup · teaching news