Yesterday, I held my first bass workshop, “The Art of Practicing Bass.” Initially, I was nervous about presenting in this unfamiliar format – “How will I handle all those bassists?” “How much of the workshop should be me talking and how much should be playing?” “Will this information be of any value to the workshop participants?” My fears disappeared as I began the workshop. The six participants were eager to ask and answer questions, try out new exercises, and discuss various aspects of bass playing. I think that I learned as much from them as they did from me. Here are the three things that I was struck by most at the workshop:
- Despite the various levels and types of experience among us, as well as our different goals, concepts, and influences, we all shared a common bond as bassists. We delighted in the challenge of mastering this technically-demanding instrument; we all wanted to support our fellow musicians in ensemble settings; we all wanted to be versatile/competent players; etc.
- Some bassists felt there were too few books and other resources available for bassists, while others thought there were far too many. In both cases, I felt that the bassists needed guidance on what to practice. While they sought suggestions for quality materials, they also needed to know how to choose material to meet their own needs. In other words, they needed to know why they needed to practice something, not just what to practice.
- I didn’t focus very much on the physical aspects of bass practice such as stance, posture, and stretching because I felt these were too subjective and individualistic (and frankly, a little “touchey-feeley” for some folks). To my surprise, there was actually a lot of interest in these topics among the workshop participants. This made me realize I need to get more training in kinesthetic forms of teaching and learning. I’ve been toying for a while with the idea of doing a yoga teacher training, but I now feel it would be more effective to cherry-pick the most useful teaching techniques from 2-8 hour-long workshops in yoga and other forms of movement.
All in all, this workshop inspired me to keep focusing on bass and practice, as well as to keep developing as a teacher. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and look forward to similar ones in the future!