Close Your Eyes and See in New Ways…

see Ariane Cap Eyes

Eyes closed….

When I wrote this article for notreble about playing without looking at the fretboard, about the micro and macro ways of feeling the instrument and how that can help us practice and play better, I did not at all expect to receive an email such as the below. Thank you, Eric, for sharing your story, and for inspiring all of us! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Hello Ariane:

I hope this finds you well.  Recently, I read your article/lesson on “No Treble” regarding closing one’s eyes and paying closer attention to the instrument, body, and mind.  Enjoyed it thoroughly.

I am a totally blind bassist, and have had to learn to play in the dark.  I lost my eyesight in 2004 due to a skydiving accident.  In 2012 I got up off my duff, and decided to finally play the bass.

Several of your points/guidance within your article are immensely important!  I had to teach/learn myself several of them; body position(ing), landmarks within/on the instrument, sensing (“seeing”) fret spacing as one travels toward the 12th fret or the 15th etc.  While I have yet to find a piece of technology which can “read” to me sheet music, I can still remember 4th-6th Grade flute notes!  IReal Pro is helpful…Ear Training!

I purchased small, almost imperceptible, markers called “Loc-Dots.”  They are small adhesive markers which I placed about an inch from the fingerboard on the neck.  I have marked frets 3-5-7-9-12-15.  Hey, even I have to peek on occaission!

One thing I would stress for those attempting to close their eyes and play/feel is that no matter what they are attempting to practice blindly (take the C Major scale beginning on A-3) is to do it extremely-almost painfully-SLOW.  Slow is smooth, and smooth is quick.  Speed will come the more accurate and comfortable one becomes.

What am I trying to say?

Spot on article.

Our trio released an  EP this past February, and I have gigged about every 8 weeks since July of 2016.  If I can do it, anyone can!

I like to tell everyone, “I may have lost my eyesight, but I have clarity in vision.”
Thank you for your advice and guidance, and especially this article!

Warmest regards,
Eric K.
Seminole, Florida

PS: Check out Eric’s band here.

The Wall Chart Saga or: Grab them while you can!

saga of the charts
Thanks to Barry for this picture of a happy wall in the UK.

Behind the Scenes of the Wall Chart

The response to the music theory wall chart has been off the charts, so to speak! I calculated that since the chart went up for pre-sale on April 1st 2017, we fulfilled hundreds of orders in house, shipping to

  • 42 different US States and
  • 17 countries worldwide, including Hungary, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, UK, Austria and the list goes on.

WOW! Thank you! There are a lot of happy walls all over the world now!

Pre-sales help made it possible to undertake such a monumental and team-intensive effort, so I am not at all exaggerating when I say without pre-sale orders none of this would have been possible. And we have received hundreds of emails, thank you notes and praise about the wall chart, saying that they appreciated the chart as an overview and synopsis of the book and as a practice tool.

The sad news might be…

that the Wall Chart may be limited to this current printing. Read the Story of the Wall Chart below to find out why or skip to the end.

The Saga of the Off-the-wall-awesome Wall Chart

I thought it would be fun (now that it’s over and turned out great!) to give you a bit of a behind-the-scenes insight into our wall chart pre-sale in the beginning of this year. It is amazing how much can go wrong and still all coming out right in the end.

First Phase of Saga: Conception

For about four months (December to March) we

  • Tinker with various concepts, thinking we will be done by the end of the week
  • Testing. All looks great! Let’s design it.
  • Ari creates first sketches.
  • Lots of editing, fixings, and hair pulling to make it fit (Charylu and Ari)
  • Carlo, our graphics wiz, gets it next, with the assignment to make it look great.
  • Something goes wrong with the files, so Graphic wiz (who is a non-musician) redesigns the entire thing. Seriously impressed!
  • Carlo applies his magic. Beginning to look totally great.
  • Testing (now 1 month in). Finding errors.
  • More editing. Now we can’t fit some things anymore.
  • Redesigning again. Ari needs chocolate.
  • Finding more details to do more better. Also more chocolate.
  • Redesigning again. Charylu and Carlo, our designers, rock. Lots of extra chocolate for them. (9 weeks in)
  • Ordering test prints. Nice!! Let’ sleep over it!
  • We like it but don’t love it yet. Also, weird errors returned.
  • Edit more and drink lots of coffee. Discovery of the day: You can take 85% Lindt chocolate and dissolve it in coffee.
  • Redesigning again. Lots and lots of chocolate for everyone!
  • More test prints! (at this point entering week 12)
  • We love this version!!!!
  • Let’s sleep it over!
  • We still love it and we haven’t even had coffee yet!
  • This is it.
  • Wait!!! Found another error!
  • Now, this is it!
  • What?? – that dot – it moved!! (luckily the printer received that phone call just in time!)
  • Finally…
  • We are happy with it!

Second Phase of Saga: Print, Produce, Ship

We put it out there for the world to see – the wall chart is officially available! We do extensive research on printers, shipping materials, shipping software, postage, postage labels and carriers and all the stuff they call “handling”. Various test tubes arrive. (Ari gets obsessed with shipping tubes). Taking everything into account we attach a deadline to ship within five weeks of pre-orders. This should be a pretty safe deadline, we think, and go to sleep happily that night. But then lots of stuff starts going wrong.

Here is a short list of things that didn’t quite go as planned:

  • saga of the wall chartThe printer sends the big order and they are the wrong paper! Who knew that 100# is actually thinner than 80#? Well, the 100# was “text” and the 80# was “cover”. They left that crucial detail out. So, these stacks and stacks of posters are a bit thin. Still okay but we really like the thicker test prints and we decide to redo the entire order with a new printer. Ouch! And now we better do a rush order. Double ouch!!
  • Ari gets sick with some cough fever thing.
  • Then the new printer sends beautiful 10 point card stock! Yey (on pulling out the first poster and feeling the thickness)!!! and then: Oh no!!! They are not cut correctly! Too long!
  • Coughing fits and frantic phone calls!
  • We find a local print shop who can cut them off correctly. “Just bring em by and we do it right away”. Well, that is a lot of posters for our little Toyota Matrix! Ari sick and Wolf a hero. Thank you, my local Sir Speedy, for dropping everything and fitting us in!
  • Phone message incoming: “I am the truck who has a huge shipment of tubes for you, but I cannot get to your house because of trees and branches and because I could never turn around on top of that hill. Please call me.” After a few days of massive phone tag, we finally meet at the bottom of the hill with me taking our Matrix and doing drives up the hill for several carloads. Something for the movies, you can’t make this stuff up! Titus the big truck man and coughing me are besties now, though. Nothing as bonding as loading and unloading boxes on the side of a cozy ‘hood- street from a gigantic truck into a small car. Lucky for me he wasn’t in a terrible rush and jokes were flying. A first for him, too. Thank you, Titus, for being super cool!
  • Boxes with tubes pile up on the porch and in the house. Scary looking!
  • Caps! Ari falls in love with those little white caps at the end of the tubes. Cap putting on caps.  Seems fitting…
  • Rolling!! Now we are – finally and very literally – on a roll! Posters are super crisp quality; we are rolling, rolling, rolling them up nicely.Music Theory Wall Chart
  • Shipping labels! Print, print, print.
  • We happily fill box after box when we suddenly share that it is peculiar that some of the tubes seem to close much harder than others. As if something was pushing against them. We double check – and sure enough – the caps are damaging the rolled up posters sitting so cozily in their tubes. How can this be? They had sent us a tube sample and it fit perfectly! They are advertised as “18-inch usable length”! That is what the posters are 18 wide!
  • Except, that only about half of the tubes actually are as long as advertised. 18-inch usable length means 19 inches total, but as we measure the tubes, many are shorter. And that means damaged posters! Panic: All these boxes filled with posters ready to go – how many may have been damaged? We open every single tube again – on both ends! – to make sure to not ship damaged posters. They had been labeled and had been all ready to go. We find about 40% of them need redoing. A pile of damaged posters is a sad view. A pile of labeled useless tubes… equally sad. You know it, there is only one remedy – chocolate!
  • Phone calls. Chocolate. No, “just me sending back the short ones” will not do, and yes, I do want to speak with a manager. Okay, he turns out to be a bass player. All is instantly better. And he gets it. And he makes good. At least as good as he can with a new rush shipment and fair credits. Some calculations of tube sizes influenced the pricing of the wall chart, though, so this is a problem, but he does undo the damage he can undo. And sends the new ones in a small truck by the next day!
  • Wolf tries to get the label off the bad tubes with steam. Most end up having to be reprinted! New long tubes. Capping. Rolling new posters.Labelling. A glitch in the matrix: De-Ja-vous all over again.
  • The whole house and porch are filled with tubes, boxes, posters. It is hard to navigate the premises; the cats – who usually have a ball with boxes – have fled the scene.
  • Several trips to the post office. Yey. High Five. Until the lady there tells me that they have to be labeled and shipped the same day. Well, we did try but because of the tube issue, a few have an older date. Please, please would you accept them? I must have looked desperate. She says yes, okay, this one time. Yey! Whew! Chocolate!

Current Status – Grab Them While You Can

Sadly, the future of the wall chart is up in the air as of the moment of this writing.

If your wall is in the US: Right now the chart is available on, so, order it here while supplies last! If you have Amazon Prime, you get free shipping along with it. Because of the tube length issue (and resulting higher Amazon storage fees) we may not be able to continue sales of the wall chart on Amazon.

International wall-starers: we have partners in the Netherlands and in Austria where you can buy the charts directly. Or check here to order directly from us – your country’s shipping rates will be calculated at check out and they are unfortunately quite high for some countries. What some people do is buddy up with a fellow bass player who has a wall in their country and share the shipping cost. Up to five posters ship for the price of one.

For now we are also still fulfilling direct international orders via the paypal button on the bottom of this page. All those caps, tubes, labels and boxes are not a permanent solution though, especially for the cats, who really have made it very clear that boxes are supposed to be empty for their enjoyment and not full of tubes and definitely not stacked all over their favorite spots in the house!

Once we run out of posters we may not do a reprint – unless we find more sustainable solutions.

Reviews and thank you emails have been rolling in steadily and they are all off the charts wonderful! That is the very best reward for it all! We have also received quite a few wall chart photos from all over the world. Take a peek here at a small selection.

Thank you for coming along on this truly adventurous journey! To everyone who pre-ordered: sincere thanks as you helped make this possible!

Also, super thanks to the A-Team: Charylu, Carlo, Wolf, Heather CoMo and the web crew – you totally rock! Thanks to Lindt Chocolatiers – your stuff is stronger than coffee!


The workflow – I can’t figure out why, but somehow I feel like a honey bee…

Open box with caps
reveal tubes
Put caps on one end
Add nice thank you labels (We ran out of steam on that after a few dozen boxes)
Flip all tubes around
Lovingly roll poster and insert safely and carefully into tube
Add top caps. For the first few dozen boxes Ari hand signs


Check out this tutorial on a brilliant way to use the charts as a practice routine


after this post went live the chart sold out on AMAZON. We still have some stock via direct order   Please scroll to the bottom and hit the yellow button on the left.

Latest Update (12-28-17) – Amazon has them back in stock.

The Course as a Christmas Gift?

Looking for a Christmas Gift for the Bassist in Your Life?

Our Course shows up on a lot of Christmas lists this season. If you’d like to give the course as a gift, we can create a lovely stocking stuffer for you. It looks like this:

Just purchase the course and forward us the purchase confirmation. We create the custom code for you right away and email you the card. When your loved bassist registers, all s/he needs to do is to input the code instead of payment and the course starts. The coupon code is valid until January 31st, but we can extend that if needed. The code will work only once and is customized. Once registered, there is lifetime access to the course materials!

As you may have heard, we are currently migrating to a new platform. The price as well as look of the course will change at that point and there will be additional features. If you sign up now, you take advantage of the current tuition, lifetime access will not change, and you will have the choice to be grandfathered into the new platform or stay on the current one.  

To activate this coupon, just purchase the course for your loved one and forward us the confirmation with the headline CODE PLEASE. We also need their name.

Happy Holidays!

And, sorry, we don’t do sales. Read here, why.

Music THeory for the Bass Player The Course

Never Cancel Your Lesson For This Reason…

slippery slope cancel

Oh no, I have to Cancel my Lesson!

I get it, you had all the best intentions since the last lesson, but just didn’t get to as much practice as you had hoped.

• Maybe there was no way you could have done better (the kids started school, the dog was sick and there was an emergency at work).

• Or you know you could have done better (“Could have skipped that TV show or the latest news, but I got sucked in, I admit it!”)

• Maybe you just got sidetracked as you had your bass on, were a bit frazzled, started a bit here or there, ended up watching a bunch of YouTubes instead, and started wondering if you actually needed different strings.

• Or you just blew it off entirely, figuring you’d just move the lesson and do a better job next week. After all, the lesson is in two days and how much could you possibly get prepared in that short amount of time?

Do not cancel because of any of the above reasons!

I know you want to make me (or whoever your teacher is) proud by showing off your new skills and not “tank” in front of your teacher, but here is what I have learned:

The above progression is a slippery slope from valid reasons not to practice to, well, not so great ones where you end up being more or less in denial about your commitment. It is a very slippery slope. You have decided to commit yourself to lessons, so, no matter what happened in between lesson times:

Do not cancel. Show up!

Sometimes students cancel because they:

• want to show respect; they don’t want to create the impression of disrespecting the teacher because they didn’t practice or have not accomplished their practice goals. In my reaction, there is no danger that I feel disrespected should a student not have had time to practice. As a teacher, I am here to get you to your goals, and whatever hiccups you may face, talk to me about what is happening and I offer ideas. I am a certified coach. This is what coaches do. So, there: bass coach!

• want to not “make me say the same thing again”. I won’t. Rather, I will say it again in a slightly different way. And I will practice it together with you. You will leave the lesson having spent a productive hour on your bass.

• feel bad about themselves and are afraid of being scolded (I am not the type of teacher who does that. Some teachers are and some students like that. Look for what serves you in the choice of your teacher. I don’t believe in scolding or wagging my finger. I do believe in

  • reminding you of your goals,
  • of coming up with alternative plans if the current ones don’t work.

After each lesson with me, students get a detailed text document that I call lesson plan – it details how and what to practice. I often also include background tracks, PDFs, and other resources. I do prefer if you practice. But if you did not get to it for whatever reason (I don’t need to know, this is not elementary school!), just tell me and we will make this a super productive session where we practice together. I call these lessons “practice sessions”.

This type of practice, as a matter of fact, is pure gold, because:

• You get immediate feedback.

• We do tweaks to the lesson plan right then and there.

• I can see you practice and give tips and adapt strategies in real time.

• And maybe most important: the teacher being right there with you assures you stay focused and on target.

To spend a productive hour like that with an experienced teacher is worth years of misguided practice on your own.  Also: super motivating (rather than the slippery slope)!

The following does not apply to students who come find me because they are pros or have professional aspirations, because they are in college or preparing for college or professional auditions or studio work. If you are such a person, practice; develop discipline; ask for help if you struggle with this on your own. A missed couple of weeks here and there are just a wrinkle and we can exchange a regular practice session anytime for a regular lesson, but practicing, of course, will be more the norm for you if you are heading for the studio scene or the tour bus.

That said:

I have a few students who are just too busy in their lives to sit down with the bass or they have other obstacles to practicing. So we create a plan to practice together. And they meet with me once a week and just practice with me. And they improve! I introduce something new each lesson, go over last lesson’s “new thing”, practice lots of technique, theory, timing and creative drills during the lesson, and you bet ya, they are making satisfying progress. Not Jaco by tomorrow, but who says that this is the only way of playing that counts, anyway? Finding your own voice, becoming more confident on the fretboard, wherever your starting point – satisfying? I say yes!

The only valid reason in my book to cancel is a genuine scheduling conflict. Because otherwise, you set foot on that slippery slope of preparing just for a lesson, cramming the day before etc. Don’t practice for the teacher. Practice for yourself. Make practicing a part of your life and daily routine.

And by the way,  this entire article is not a sales pitch. Proof:

• I have four fairly full online teaching days and more than plenty on my plate.

• As for rescheduling with me, if you have a genuine unexpected conflict, click the link in your confirmation email and move the lesson. You don’t even need to ask me or send emails back and forth or tell me a reason. Just pick a time slot and change as needed using the link in my automated scheduler. My policy allows moving the lesson up to 12 hours in advance. Easy, no hassle!

If you are interested in how lessons with me work, you can check availability, pricing and all else here. 

Also check out the course, which – whether with or without monthly lessons at the same time – are the biggest bang for your monetary buck and provide a huge amount of value.

 Music THeory for the Bass Player The Course

How to get the most out of your Video Learning Experience – Tips and Plug Ins!

Hey, Ari, can you play that again a bit slower?

Totally! Found some new tools… check it out!

Ever watched a video and would have loved to have it go by much slower? Such as when you wanted to figure out what a musician is doing and needed it slower? In the course, watching the Finger Kung Fu videos and can’t keep up with the tempo? Slow it down!

Or, maybe there is talking and you’d like to hear it faster? I watch some TED talks at 1.5 or even 2x speed – I find I get used to the faster speed easily and can retain the content pretty much at the same level. Transcribing a tune and the chords are super easy to transcribe on the fly? Just need a check on the form? Speed it up!


If you are watching a video on youtube, use youtube’s gear icon (lower right on your screen) to slow down/speed up (range between quarter speed – 0.25x – and double time – 2x):

Vimeo/Course Videos

If you are in our 20-unit course and are using the “old” platform (at the time of this writing we are in the process of migrating the course to a new platform which plays all sorts of bells and whistles), the course videos are hosted on Vimeo. The above YouTube trick won’t work. Instead, use Chrome as a browser and install this nifty plugin.

When you pull up the above web page, just click Add to Chrome on the top right – voila – this plugin added a “speed and repeat” panel on the upper right side of your videos:

From there you can easily dial in a slower or faster playback speed!

Forget about the Repeat function, by the way. It only makes the video go on autoplay. Wishing for a loop function, where you can loop only a certain portion of the video? We are working on it for Course 2.0!

Want an Easy Panel for Both Youtube and Vimeo?

Try this plugin – HTML5 Video Speed Control:

Follow the above link, hit the blue Add to Chrome button and you are in! Maybe restart your browser and behold – both Youtube, as well as Vimeo videos, will now have a little pane on the top left that lets you dial in the speed!




A Word of Warning

Technology is an amazing tool when it comes to learning. Let’s make sure, however, to use it to our benefit and not allow it to become a pitfall.

One possible danger is to get a bit lazy and always slow things down to transcribe it. Do your best at the original tempo first! Also, make sure to not get used to playing a piece at the wrong tempo. I know my mind adapts very quickly, also to speech. If you listen to a speaker sped up for a few minutes and then slow the tempo back down to normal, the speaker sounds like a drunk zombie for a few minutes until my ears adapt back to the slower speed.

Use wisely and rock on – quarter, full, or double speed ahead!!

Music THeory for the Bass Player The Course