Very quick update on my ‘Stand By Me’ Progress.

I have about 2 minutes to write this one, so you’ll have to forgive me for any abruptness and/or typos. This morning I tried the play along on the Stand By Me bass line again, and I got through it fine, mostly. But I’ve got a few other observations.

  1. Calling back to my last post on the subject, you are TEACHING someone to play a specific bass line. Give them the step by step before you expect them to play along. Not only does he not mention there is a repetition of only part of the riff he taught interspersed with the full riff, but he also doesn’t bother to mention that that partial note starts on the third note of the riff rather than the first. Since these notes are all pretty much right on top of each other, as a beginner I had to watch his hand VERY carefully to figure this out.
  2. You are TEACHING a riff. I know bassists throw in their flavor, and I know for someone who knows the simple riff it is pretty boring, but YOU ARE TEACHING someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. That means you should probably, as a matter of courtesy, not throw in random bends and improvs. And, if you do, you should explain that either you’re going to do it, or afterward explain that you did.  Now, sure, an industrious student could watch very carefully, pause a lot, and figure this all out if they want to play it ‘just like’ the person they learned it from (I personally don’t because I don’t think his particular choice was beneficial to the song, but that’s personal preference). But, when you improv like that, without mentioning it to a beginner you’re teaching, who is, in theory, playing the song all the way through for the first time, you can very easily throw them off if your hands are going somewhere totally different than theirs. So Don’t.  This is common teaching sense.

So, yeah, I can play through ‘Stand By Me’ now. I have a few choice words for the youtuber who taught it, mostly involving sitting him down and lecturing him on how to teach (which is why I am specifically not mentioning the specific lesson I have been working from, as a matter of being a decent human being).

The lesson in all of this, for my fellow beginners is this: when you are learning a song and are about to embark on a play through. Don’t play it the first time. Sit and watch and listen carefully. You know what the instructor said was going to happen, but what he said and what he actually does may not be the same thing. So, watch before you play. This will give you prior warning to any places where he might change the formula, any little details that might throw you off. If you know they’re there in advance, the play through will be easier to manage. If I had known this is what was meant by ‘teaching’, I would have watched the playthrough, paused a lot, probably three or four times before ever picking up my bass, to save myself the several different points in the lesson where the instructor ‘surprises’ me with stuff he never bothered to mention.

Now, bassists improv. Granted. But, when you are teaching, you are teaching. If you are going to throw in your own personal flavor in the middle of a lesson, it’s just common sense that you mention that before going in.

Until Next Time, want to lecture certain people on how teaching works, but, I got through my very first song on bass  from beginning to end with minimal snafus in spite of it. yay.

6 thoughts on “Very quick update on my ‘Stand By Me’ Progress.

  1. Congrats on learning the song! Sometimes, when I learn a new song, I listen to the original first, try to figure out as much as I can, then go to youtube if I can’t get something. That way, I get the orignal composition, but get to figure out some of the more challenging passages without taking too much time on it.

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    1. I’m not far enough along to really figure stuff out on my own yet. I really need to focus and memorize the notes, work more with my bass for dummies book, but it all requires a level of focus that seems to jab at my boredom button after a remarkably short period of time. I’ve been relying on YouTube and Rocksmith a lot because of it. Maybe not the best way to do things, but the only one that’s been consistently accessible for my attention span. I’m hoping eventually I’ll osmose enough to start working things out on my own, but for the moment, I have no concept of what to hit on the bass to replicate what my ears hear, so am just hoping learning some songs will indirectly help. If I find it almost impossible to focus on my bass books, and my eyes glaze over once the theory and terminology comes up, soI don’t really see any other way to learn, other than to keep giving my hands and ears new data until I can get past that.

      The next step on stand by me will be to try to play directly with the original recording, which will take some careful listening, given that the lesson I was working with starts the bass later than the original recording. But, it’s solid enough that I can pick another song to start learning as long as I keep practicing.

      My lack of ability to focus on one thing at a time is really a handicap to the whole process, especially with bass. It’s the hardest of the bunch to go ‘Fuck it. I’ll just wing it’ and end up with something that works. 🙂

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      1. What I used to do was figure out what the root note was and play that. As I got more confident, I would start adding the other notes in the bassline. So, Stand By Me is like a 50’s progression G – Em – C – D. Get the feel of the song, find the one, and play the one and three of each root note. That should help you find the groove. Then expand on it as you feel more comfortable with it.

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      2. Yeah, my brain understands 1-3-5 in concept, but doesn’t seem ready to apply any of it. For now it just feels like homework. I’m aware that it’s necessary, that it will get easier, but for the moment, the concept of doing bass math just sounds really not fun at all, so that’s the barrier. Playing is fun, figuring out what to play on my own feels like school, so my motivation is rioting against it. I get that’s how bass works, I really do, but knowing it and being able to force myself to ‘work’ rather than ‘play’ is impossible until I’m good and ready. There’s a huge gap between knowing what needs to be done and doing it. I think if my time with the instruments was less limited (I work an hour from home and hate my job. When all is said and done, on good days I have an hour and 3 instruments to cram into that hour. Most days, I only get in one or two of them.), I might find it less difficult to conceptualize sucking up my practice time analyzing music rather than playing it. You’re definitely not wrong, but for now, I just can’t make myself use my ‘fun time’ that way. I started learning to give myself a new hobby to be happy about, so while I know it’s not all fun and games, when it feels too much like studying, it just kills my motivation, so I’m doing it all the Shelby way, and just focusing on whatever interests me at the time, and hoping some time later I’ll feel inspired to tackle it in a more technical way. So far, I just haven’t been able to muster the motivation.

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      3. I totally understand where you’re coming from. For me, there was a moment of clarity that just happened one day and everything became easier. I can’t explain it other than saying that bass became natural at one point. I apologize if I overstep with any playing advice, and I have to think back and remember that I was the same way. I’m sure that it will all come together soon and i look forward to hearing you play.


      4. Yeah. I appreciate the advice, really, but for now it’s just info for the filing cabinet. At the moment I think I just need to keep playing new things and wait for the dots to connect on their own, but I hear all the tips, and they’ll be in the attic when I’m ready for them.

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