bass clef double bass

Can you Learn Double Bass Online? Advice and Resources

With the advent of Youtube, Zoom and other online teaching platforms students have a greater choice of options when it comes to learning the double bass. Can one actually progress their playing using these online resources and what are the advantages and disadvantages of online teaching in comparison with face to face traditional music lessons for bass?

We believe that online classes are ideal for many students, whilst others will need to seek out at least some face to face tuition. In this post we break down the considerations for a student with some excellent teaching resources for all bass players at the end.

This question is even more relevant at the time of writing because we are currently in the midst of a global pandemic, musicians and students alike are currently isolated in their homes. All teaching and live performance has simply stopped. The current situation has shown us the need to consider other methods of teaching and learning. We do not know in the future when a similar situation will arise. Indeed we are told currently that we will have to learn to live with this new-norm of social distancing for some time.

Individual Needs

It is important to begin with considering your musical musical goals and needs. For example, whether you have a clear desire to perform in a classical music genre, or whether in the past as a student you have needed the presence of a teacher to help you focus your practice and understanding. Some students for a variety of reasons find learning from a computer screen more challenging than others.

Jazz or classical music has its own challenges in terms of technicalities and techniques.  A face to face teacher can also help a student out of a ‘rut’ if they feel they are not progressing quick enough.   Beginners especially might benefit from a few face to face lessons, or at least guidance from a fellow musician if they can get it.

Being aware of your own learning styles and end goals will help answer this question early on.

Completely Self Taught

It is important to emphasize that a lot of musicians today (non-classical especially) did not have any formal lessons. They simply learnt by listening and mimicking other musicians. If you cannot afford or access face to face lessons, take heart all is not lost

The process of learning on your own is just likely to take a little longer. What is certain is that the process of trial and error albeit frustrating, is sometimes the best way to learn. Learning by your mistakes is a valid lesson.

There are plenty of opinions out there with regards to how to learn to play music and the benefits or challenges of receiving a classical music training.  The two most important rule are regardless of the approach taken is 1) to just play at least a little most days and 2) ensure that you enjoy what you are doing. 

Want to Teach in the Future ?

If you feel that in the future, you might like to teach the instrument formally, then some music theory is going to be expected by most students and therefore something you will first need to master yourself. Having a grounding in music theory is a necessity for any formal musical teaching. It is also useful for general musicianship, but again there are a lot of musicians in bands up and down the country who have have little or no formal background in musical theory.  

Music can work in much the same way that we acquire language, we mimic, repeat, keep repeating if it works. We do not necessarily understand the theory as to why it works we just like the way it sounds.

However, ff you are going to teach especially formal graded music you will need to have the formal background.

Online Options

There are as you might expect two types of online lessons.  Live lessons where you are face to face ‘live’ with a teacher and the structured generic teaching where you are taking a generic set of pre-recorded lessons. 

Some of these structured lessons are also a bit of a hybrid and students are invited to upload a video, thereafter the teacher feeds back on the student’s practice. If the online lesson is ’live’ or has some feedback component, then the student is going to be somewhat ahead of generic online recorded lessons.  

Fitting Lessons Around the Day to Day

Many students who find themselves with domestic challenges such as, commuting and family needs. They might not feel like lugging a double bass into the car, then driving to a teacher who might be miles away. Such barriers might be too much for some and end up hindering their commitment to learning, or make it impossible from the start. For these students following a pre-recorded lesson which they can pick up and drop in between daily demands is going to be helpful.  It is widely accepted that a little practice every day is much better than an hour once a week.   

Some students do not have a bass teacher in the vicinity or unable to afford regular face to face lessons and therefore online might be the best, and only option. 

Best of Both

Blending face to face with online resources is perhaps the best of both worlds. There is a fantastic opportunity to supplement face to face lessons with online learning it presents a fantastic opportunity to support progress between lessons and if needed reduce the overall cost of face to face tuition by having less in person lessons is budget or availability is an issue.

Resources For Your Bass Journey

YouTube ResourcesDiscover Double Bass
Chris Fitzgerald
Michael Klinghoffer (driveabledoublebass)
Ray Brown Presents: The Art Of Playing The Bass
This was originally from a VHS series, which included a lesson with Milt Hinton. The VHS is no longer available, although some secondhand copies might be around. I’ve not been able to find the Milt Hinton lesson on YouTube which is excellent.
The Art of Playing the Bass Part 1
Ray Brown Master Class
Milt Hinton
Directory of Teachers USAGollihur’s website has some helpful information including a list of teachers.
American Federation of Musicians has a ‘find my local’ page
InternationalInstitute of Bassists – a number of resources here, including teachers and luthiers
Artistworks online teaching platform with double bass teachers. In this instance the student follows prerecorded set lessons. They then are invited to record and upload their practice for feedback. US based site but due to the nature of internet, would be open to international students.
Local university or Music Colleges, Institutes.It is worth getting in touch with your local university music department. Ask if they run public events and if you can be put on their email distribution list (if they have one). It might be possible that they run public music events or talks generally. At the very least they are likely to have teachers who are happy to do extra teaching on the side, especially out of term time.
UK Directory of Teachers and MusiciansThe Musicians Union UK has a directory of teachers, you can currently join them for a nominal amount for six months under the current membership rates. Access is then given to various topics. Due to the prominence of the Musicians Union in the UK this is a comprehensive list of musicians and teachers
Music & Various TopicsUdemy Look out for Udemy’s online sales, they frequently have them so the price of courses can vary.
Future Learn has a variety of courses on music, music theory and other performance subjects. Generally these courses are free to audit (meaning you just attend online but will not get a certificate).
Coursera Another university backed teaching platform with a variety of music related topics from theory, performance, recording, history again free to audit.
Fender Not Double Bass, but bass guitar just in case any guitarists are reading this. At the time of writing Fender are doing three months of online lessons for free