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How to Find a Qualified Jazz Bass Teacher

If you are a new student of the jazz bass, finding the right teacher is an important step in beginning your musical studies. Your teacher will serve as the guide in your journey through the rich musical heritage of jazz and introduce you to your role as a member of the rhythm section.

What skills should you look for in your instructor? According to John Clayton (Grammy-winning bassist/composer/conductor), the number one thing that a student should look for is "any qualities that give the student a high level of comfort and trust. If a student trusts his/her teacher, they'll be comfortable enough to accept the teacher as a friend, coach and mentor."

Technique and proficiency within the craft is equally important. "You should check the qualifications and recordings of the instructor. Does the teacher know something about the style you want to play? Listen to the quality of the technique in their recordings. If they have good technique, then you want to be studying with them," said Michael Manson, Executive Director of the Musical Arts Institute in Chicago, Illinois. As a bassist, Manson has shared the stage with George Duke, Kirk Whalum, Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Roberta Flack, Joe Sample and many others.

Be sure to ask a lot of questions before hiring your teacher. The best instructor will be someone who is teaching you their own primary instrument. While a six-string guitarist may know about the bass and can start your lessons, he may not have the full knowledge necessary to bring you to the highest skill level.

Jazz Bass lesson with Milt Hinton
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