I took a somewhat unusual path to bass. I started as a guitarist at a very early age – 51/2! I spent a few years with a cello in elementary school. In high school, the jazz band director asked me to play double bass in the jazz band. I literally had to learn from scratch. Fortunately, all of the music came with basic written-out parts and that’s what I eventually played. In college, a jazz major wasn’t available but we had a very fine Jazz Ensemble 1. I auditioned for it, never considering that I had a chance to make it. But I did and stayed there for the next 4 years until graduation.
Not all the parts in the jazz band were written out. There were some with nothing but chord symbols and slash notation. I knew the basic chords – major, minor, diminished and augmented triads and the basic 4 note chords – major 7th, minor 7th, minor 7th flat 5, etc. That worked for a while and it let me keep my job in the ensemble. As I began transcribing tunes, I began realize that the resolutions from one chord to another were awkward at best. The more I transcribed, the more I became convinced that what was missing was basic chord tone use and inversions. Apparently at that time, such things weren’t taught – at least not in the curriculum that I was in.
Having the good luck to play with several small ensembles helped tremendously and I eventually learned through a good ear and the ability to create freely in the smaller groups. The main hindrance was having the time to learn more than than just material that was needed.
Slowly, I began to dig into chord tones, advanced counterpoint and harmony. But I was also on the road with a rock band during this time. I kept wondering why this material wasn’t easily available.
Fast forward to modern times and it is – although often overly detailed and somewhat hard to follow.
The bottom line then is simply this: If you want to really learn music and bass playing, you will fare much better with a good teacher. A good teacher can find the “holes” in your playing and get straightened out on those things much more rapidly. Even better, most bass teachers like me also use Skype for lessons when the student is far enough away to prohibit travel.
I have several spots available either in my home studio or Skype. Skype lessons are a bit cheaper, so check the pages here on this site and get in touch.