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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2007 » Archive through September 20, 2007 » POLL? What level of FORMAL musical education do you have? « Previous Next »

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Advanced Member
Username: 88persuader

Post Number: 323
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 10:01 pm:   Edit Post

I don't know how to start a poll here. :-( I started one on the TalkBass forum that I think is interesting so I thought it might be interesting to bring here. What level of formal musical education do you have? The poll answers were, self taught, less then a year of lessons, many years of lessons and college musical education/degree. The poll is NEW but so far the majority of people who have answered are self taught! What about YOU? :-)
For me ... I've taken minimal lessons on drums and piano, both when I was younger. On bass guitar, regular guitar and Chapman Stick I'm self taught. My reading skills are low but I have no problem following the REAL BOOK and often gig with very educated musicians. In regard to FORMAL musical education I fall into the less then a year catergory. Althought I've been a musician my entire life, started gigging at 13 YO and have been gigging ever since playing several different instruments. I'm now 50YO. The only instrument I mentioned I've yet to gig with is the Chapman Stick ... but i'll be taking that on a gig soon. ......... So ... What's YOUR story? :-)
Intermediate Member
Username: fmm

Post Number: 200
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 5:06 am:   Edit Post

3 years of cello lessons (2 years of Suzuki and a year of useful instruction), 1 lesson on string bass. That's it.
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 838
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 5:25 am:   Edit Post

I learned everything I know from my folks old Mantovani records. LOL

2 to 3 years of guitar lessons and about the same for bass lessons during middle and high school.

Advanced Member
Username: lowlife

Post Number: 291
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 5:29 am:   Edit Post

6 months of classical piano training when I was 6 years old. That's it.
Senior Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 1531
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 6:04 am:   Edit Post

33 years of on the job training. Absolutely no formal training at all.
My dad used to say that I attended the "Sam Houston Institue of Technology". Who's mascot is a Bll of cousre.

Advanced Member
Username: haddimudd

Post Number: 213
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 6:38 am:   Edit Post

I think I was 11 when I started playing the Clarinet in our small town "brass orchestra" for two years or so. Originally I wanted to learn the saxophone, but they had no saxophones in that orchestra.

Half hearted classical piano lessons for three years along the age of 15. I would have rather learned modern piano/jazz but my piano teacher was a bit overstrained with that assignement and finally my piano ambitions dried out when I...

...joined with two other friends to set up a band. One of my friends on drums (taking lessons) and the other on guitar (self taught). I tried to get somewhere with my little clarinet knowledge, also fiddling with other stuff like blues harp or shakers, but eventually it was clear that the one instrument missing was the bass.

So I started playing bass. At the beginning I played on the low strings of a borrowed strat copy (the higher strings were broken anyways), later on a borrowed Fender jazz copy. Finally it felt so good that I sold my clarinet and bought my own Squier Jazz bass. My guitar friend introduced me to the music of some bass greats from that time like Jaco Patorius, Percy Jones, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Mark King. They remained my major influences on bass to this day. I learned more from them than from any music teacher before. Still I guess that counts for "self-taught".

Today I wish I've had a real teacher for some of the real basic stuff. On the other hand I believe my style today is "my own style" rather than it probably would have become by playing what the teacher says.

I still like to gather any knowledge I can get from anywhere about everything and every instrument. A couple of years ago, eventually, I picked up the saxophone. Currently I try to work myself back into the piano learning process. I wish I had a good teacher at hand for that - and enough time of course.
Senior Member
Username: flaxattack

Post Number: 1645
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 8:23 am:   Edit Post

i started on upright bass when i was 10 via ps225 in bklyn ny. after moving i picked it up again at age 13 via public school again. at 16 i took bass lessons for 3 months and continued playing upright through high school
after graduation i took the grateful dead course in advanced joint smoking and passed the dark star test with a score of 420
my ear is always on the bass via duke ellington cds, miles davis and assorted rock impresarios
Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 1118
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 8:23 am:   Edit Post

Cello in grades 5 through 7, then upright bass for another 6 or 7 years or so. All of that was pretty much me just struggling to keep up with the rest of the orchestra (with tips from my older brother) until college when I took weekly lessons on upright. Also some Baritone and a little Saxophone in high school.

Starting at around 8th grade (I think) I started playing my brother's Hofner and trying my hardest to duplicate everything he did (and never ever succeeding!). No lessons on electric, but lots of listening to ELP, YES and Rush, then ultimately playing lots of that wonderful music with musicians of like age and mind.

By my senior year in high school, I was subbing on bass with the jazz and pep bands of a *competing* school (one that had an awesome music program), and was being introduced to jazz as something that wasn't just for old farts. Walt Anslinger at Terre Haute South High School was very good at opening closed little minds to new old things. Judy Grimes at the Indiana State University Laboratory School (another opportunity I weasled my way into) was good at goading us to do things that we knew were impossible, and then doing even more. She actually had a 3rd grade band that played college charts well, but I digress..

When I briefly attended college, I serendipitously played in a small combo that was run by Robert Chappell, a percussionist who had worked with Gary Burton and who embraced all things new and different. I would have to credit him with opening my mind to true informed-experimentation and gave me some of the tools to begin to appreciate the genius of works by groups from King Crimson to Chick Corea to Weather Report and others of the electric-jazz genre(s). What I did not get from him or that period was much of an appreciation for acoustic jazz, and that is something I continue to wrestle with.

I lived in Nashville for awhile, and pretty much didn't have anything to learn from the bass players to which I was exposed, but I did share an apartment (and some musical commitments) with guitarist J.T. Corenflos. We spent most evenings (when we weren't gigging) sitting at his kitchen table, just jamming into my boom-box for literally hours. He would try new ideas and changes, and I would try in particularly abysmal fashion to keep up. He was hard-core into Be-Bop, we just didn't realize that's what it was!

I lived in Los Angeles for about a year, and in between the light load of session work and heavier load of rent-paying courier work I would take my bass into Musician's Institute on Hollywood Boulevard and sit-in on classes. That lasted months until during one master class Tim Bogert asked about our recital dates or something similarly mundane and I told him I wasn't even enrolled... :-)

I think that could be considered the last hurrah for my formal schooling. Now I'm enrolled with Olie and take my classes mostly on the Indiana/Illinois/Ohio campus.. ;)

My younger brother, Pete, and his wife, Shannon, are music educators and pro-players in the Toledo/Detroit area. Visits to them for gigging and pleasure also carry an element of instruction. They know more than I could ever hope to fit in my fat head, but have a gift of sharing just the right amount at the right time to get some of it to sink in..


Edited to add: I have gigged on Chapman Stick, guitar and organ (no solos!)..

(Message edited by 811952 on August 24, 2007)
Senior Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 1538
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 8:30 am:   Edit Post

I also on occasion attend the “Chop Shop”. (Hear a cool chop and go home and figure it out).

Our Dallas gatherings are great places for this. Heh Heh

Advanced Member
Username: grateful

Post Number: 230
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 11:04 am:   Edit Post

Other than being shown the fingerings of a few open chords in my very early (playing) days and the grateful dead course Flax mentioned above, I'm completely self-taught, mostly from listening to Garcia (so basically none!).

Advanced Member
Username: jet_powers

Post Number: 343
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 12:07 pm:   Edit Post

Two years of piano at 6 years of age followed by 5 years of classical violin. Then I discovered rock 'n roll, got a guitar and then a bass three years later. All the lessons went out the window....

Username: seanhinkle

Post Number: 4
Registered: 8-2007
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 1:54 pm:   Edit Post

11 years of percussion lessons, orchastra, and percussion ensemble at the Flint Institute of music. The percussion ensemble there was one of the top in the nation and I was part of that for about 6 years. Then I picked up bass and never looked back. Also thought I was majoring in music in college so took 2 years of music classes at U of M, but then realized thats not what I really wanted to do. Shoot....
Username: laytonco

Post Number: 70
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 2:01 pm:   Edit Post

6 months of guitar lessons. 32 years of hard knocks.
Advanced Member
Username: alembic_doctor

Post Number: 327
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 2:13 pm:   Edit Post

6 years formal training on the trombone. (feel free to insert your own jokes here)

2 years formal training on String Bass.

My dad taught me how to translate what I learned on the upright to the electric. His electric. 1976 Alembic Series I Extra Long Scale. I literally had to push the body away from me just to reach the first fret on this thing.

Picked up guitar a year later. Started playing drums about 5 years ago. No formal training on either.

I'd love to make the time to formally trained on a Hammond B3 though
Intermediate Member
Username: hankster

Post Number: 133
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 2:16 pm:   Edit Post

Piano to grade 4, 7 years of classical guitar lessons, 4 years of upright bass lessons before university, two years of a bachelor of music degree, a year of arranging study at the Dick Grove school.
Senior Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 621
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 4:34 pm:   Edit Post

Attended "Aural University" all my life. Picked up mostly by ear. 4th grd. violin move to Bf clarinet for 4 years, then to sax for a short bit, then Ef contrabass clarinet for 4 years along with tuba and sousa, 5 guitar lesson from my older brother, bought a Gibson Ripper in 78 and just kept going. Sang in concert choir, mens emsemble, select ensemble, barbershop quartet and musical reviews in HS. Joined my first rock band in 78 as a lead singing bassist and released my first full cd in 2005 with Doomtree. Working on the second and shopping a new label as we type.
Senior Member
Username: dnburgess

Post Number: 522
Registered: 1-2003
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 6:21 pm:   Edit Post

1 year banjo mandolin
1 year guitar
Various stints with bass teachers
Username: darkstar01

Post Number: 74
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 11:35 pm:   Edit Post

My Dad bought me my first bass when i was 8 years old, but I don't think I was particularly interested until I was about 13, and there have been formal lessons ever since.
Oh, and I just start classes at The New School in about a week. for jazz upright.
that's it so far!
Advanced Member
Username: glocke

Post Number: 240
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2007 - 4:52 am:   Edit Post

bass lessons from 16-20, than some jazz improv and theory classes in college...almost 18 years later went back for more improv classes for the heck of it...currently shopping around for a new teacher in the philadelphia area...I just like learning....
Senior Member
Username: bracheen

Post Number: 1257
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2007 - 7:30 am:   Edit Post

I've sent an email about a former teacher of mine now living in Philadelphia. His name is Adam Mantovani and he's an outstanding musician.

Intermediate Member
Username: kimberly

Post Number: 104
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2007 - 1:09 pm:   Edit Post

Hi All. :-)

Interesting topic.

For myself, on the job training (OJT) for the first seventeen years, followed by a seventeen year break. Four formal lessons two/three years ago and OJT to current. :-)


Kimberly :-)
Senior Member
Username: richbass939

Post Number: 868
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2007 - 2:56 pm:   Edit Post

A lot of variety here in instruments, training, gigging.
I took a few months of guitar lessons at age 9 or 10. Played trumpet in grades 6 - 12 (great for reading and listening to other instruments). Played bass since age 18 (now 52), self-taught, by ear. Taught myself to read bass clef but still fight treble clef habit. Have gigged on upright and electric bass and trumpet; dabble with a few other instruments.
Username: 82daion

Post Number: 82
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Sunday, August 26, 2007 - 10:45 pm:   Edit Post

2 years of private lessons on tuba followed by a year of lessons on bass.

I'm also minoring in music at college.
Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 2190
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 - 9:25 am:   Edit Post

Four years and counting of formal music lessons and the remaining 26yrs. by ear (alright, there was about 1yr en toto of previous lessons).
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 942
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 - 9:42 am:   Edit Post

About 1/2 dozen guitar lessons when I first started out. The rest was by ear and self study from a variety of books. Mostly learnt by ear picking up most from listening to musicians on record that I appreciate. Did a 2 year part time Jazz course in 2001 - 2002, although the course did not provide any teaching on individual instruments.

Bass, completely self taught and still learning on both instruments.
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 943
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 - 9:48 am:   Edit Post

About 1/2 dozen guitar lessons when I first started out. The rest was by ear and self study from a variety of books. Mostly learnt by ear picking up most from listening to musicians on record that I appreciate. Did a 2 year part time Jazz course in 2001 - 2002, although the course did not provide any teaching on individual instruments.

Bass, completely self taught and still learning on both instruments.
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 516
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 - 11:46 am:   Edit Post

No formal training- and it shows. =)
Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 546
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 - 12:41 pm:   Edit Post

Started out playing clarinet in my grade school band, took a few private lessons on that. Switched to alto, then tenor and baritone sax (you should have seen me at the ripe old age of about 12 trying to play baritone sax - the damn thing was as big as I was!). Later went on to bassoon in high school, took some lessons on that and then packed it in (I hated sitting on a strap to keep it from moving). Started playing bass at age 15, took approximately two lessons; self taught ever since (and it of course shows!). I did take some music theory in high school, and two music courses as part of my bachelor's degree, but that's about it.

Senior Member
Username: olieoliver

Post Number: 1541
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 - 12:51 pm:   Edit Post

I have a Wedding to play in a couple of weeks and I'll have to wear a Tux, does that count as "formal" OTJ training.

(I'm here all week folks)
Advanced Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 243
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 - 2:27 am:   Edit Post

Taught myself to read the dots & theory..did the Royal School of Music theory exams to advanced level, have attempted to play as many styles as I can.
No family history of musical background although grandmother played piano but only by ear.
As with jazzyvee..never too old to learn, never too humble to ask.

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