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FAQ to Music Theory for the Bass Player – The Course

Frequently Asked Questions

How does it work?

Once you are registered you will have instant access to the first unit of the course. You will get weekly emails with access to new content (“units) for twenty weeks (20 units). If you are on vacation at some point during the twenty weeks or hit a busy stretch, don’t worry, you have lifetime access to the material once it is unlocked. Most participants take their time with the material and spread it out over longer than a week.

So I get materials week after week. Why can’t I get access to all the material at once?

One of the reasons why I am putting the course together this way is because a lot of students asked for step by step guidance. It can be tempting to jump around and dip in here and dip in there; with this particular course, I want to keep you focused on the next step and the task at hand. There will be basic and advanced versions of exercises and I promise it will be enough to keep you busy for the week. Once you have access, you can always go back to your favorite materials.

How much practice time do I need to reserve?

If you spend an hour every day with this material five times a week, you will see immense improvements. The guided practice sessions will be intensive and packed with engaging exercises and questions that make you think. Learning psychology tells us that we retain best what we apply. So this is all about applications, applications, applications. The material in this course can easily keep you busy for twice or three times that practice amount, too, but it is not necessary to do every single exercise in each unit perfectly before moving on. There are five areas of study (Technique, Theory, Bassline Lab, Combo Class, Hip Bits) in each unit and you can focus on two or three at first.

Is this only about music theory?

No, it goes way beyond music theory. Technique, fretboard knowledge, bass line creation, groove playing, rhythm, grooves, fills, and solos… are all part of the package.

Do I need to buy the book?

Yes, we will use it heavily in the course. It is best if you already have it when you start. Amazon is a great source. If you prefer bookstores, have them order it via the Gardners catalog. Contact us if you are unable to get the book where you are.

Do you offer an electronic version of the book?

Yes we now do! It is available on Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Scribd and others. Search your store! (Not available on Kindle)

Is this course only going through the book?

No. This course contains lots more information, exercises, and concepts than the book. It refers heavily to it, but it goes way beyond it. Lots of additional material, videos, and applications that can best be shown in videos. And, the core of it: the step by step approach, with each unit building upon the next, using the material in the book in more and more challenging contexts and applications.

Is it necessary I read music? Do you teach reading in this course?

No to both questions. I consider reading a vital skill for a bass player, one that is made much easier once you understand music theory. The exercises and practice suggestions are very different for a reading regimen rather than a music theory regimen.  That’s a different book and a different course (coming 2017 sometime).

Is this suitable for complete beginners?

Yes, if you are motivated and enthusiastic. If you are just starting out you best pace yourself and go at a slower pace. A good rule of thumb is to allocate at least two weeks for each unit. I have included a beginner crash course as well and instructions as to how to proceed through the course if you are a novice.

I am an advanced player and just want to plug some music theory holes. Will I get value out of this?

Yes! Intermediate to advanced players who are looking to improve their theory and technique will find a treasure trove of useful exercises here.

My hero never studied music theory. Why should I?

Oftentimes when you ask experienced or self-taught musicians how they do what they do, you will get answers like: “It just feels right. I just play what I hear. It comes to me. I just see the notes in my mind’s eye.”
I and my own teacher and partner Wolf Wein have been looking to understand for years what exactly that means and if and how it can be learned and taught. Several learning modalities (learning psychology, NLP, relaxation, breathing exercises and other) have given us great insight into that process, and we have incorporated what we have seen work with our students into this class. For you, this means you will be asked to visualize notes on the fretboard, slow down at times, breathe, feel into your hands and fingers in a focused way and rethink habits of thinking as well as movement. Practicing in our view does not mean to mindlessly repeat something as much as possible. We believe understanding what we are doing as we play helps as does working with focus and attention.
Our experience teaching and playing has shown: playing in a relaxed way is the first step to achieve “it feels right” (hence all this focus on good technique). The next step comes from understanding sounds and shapes (which can be effectively targeted with music theory training).

You talk a lot about “coaching” us, Ari. Nobody can make me do anything, only I can! What do you mean by your “coaching support”?

While it is true that I cannot practice for you, there is a whole lot that I can, in fact, do to help you reach your declared goals. Research in psychology (they are interested in finding out what motivates people to perform at peak levels, for obvious reasons!) has shown that people are more likely to stick with their assignments if:

  • the content is interactive (on the new platform we have theory quizzes testing your knowledge)
  • they write down their goals (on the new platform we have coaching questions leading you to write out your trajectory and even dreams)
  • there is peer support (new: discussion forums!)
  • we use motivating language because it is possible to guide you to your goals (we also do videos!)
  • practicing instructions are concise and easy to follow
  • with lots of content, the balance of “fresh” and “routine” needs to be just right. We worked hard on consistency and comprehensive approach while keeping it interesting and exciting (including 130 jam tracks that are alwasy varied)
  • content is best retained if the student engages with it and uses it (groove&fill exercises, call&response, groove creation, diatonic cycle exercises…)
  • nothing beats personal interaction. That’s why we now meet once a month for “Ask Ari Live Featuring Wolf” where you can ask, show, participate
  • rewards! reminders! reviews! We sprinkle them throughout the units just right. Now new: Look forward to a reward email after you finished a unit!

I want to learn bass. Why do you include a picture of the piano keyboard in the first week of the course?

The piano keyboard visually lays out how notes relate to each other like no other instrument (okay, vibes, organs, etc., do too!). Many experienced musicians see the piano keys in their mind’s eye as they think about music theory concepts. The bass fretboard is also very visual (just not as neatly color coded!), and we will be using it to help us understand music theory as well. The piano is a great aide in that process.

Will I learn how to create my own basslines?

es! Bass lines, licks, grooves & fills. And solos, if you want. This is really at the core of this course. And mighty fun, too 🙂

You have so many free videos online – how do they differ from the videos in the course?

The various freely available videos online are one concept, from beginning to end. The videos in the course build upon each other. We work through several topics together – technique, music theory, groove creation, creativity, mental learning. You will receive 6 to 9 new videos each week of varying lengths. Some are videos that demonstrate what to practice. In other videos, I will be practicing together with you. Other videos explain a concept. It is not possible to be systematic and have a step-by-step approach in a single video. The course format, however, allows a logical sequence of teaching, covering all keys, covering technique systematically, building upon what is learned. In the course, I can build upon previously shared knowledge and make concepts progressively more challenging. I can use terms knowing exactly what you are familiar with and what you are not familiar with. Since I am with you every step of the way there is no way you will not improve if you follow the instructions.

In a nutshell, the free videos do not allow the in-depth and systematic format that the course does. In the course I practice with you, start at (pretty much) zero and take you through music theory, technique and groove creation step-by-step. I love this format because it is comprehensive, and unlike the free videos, I am not talking to someone whose level I do not know. In the course, I explain all terms, practice them with you etc, so I can build on that material.

How does this course differ from private lessons online or in person?

The private one-on-ones enable:

  • In-depth evaluation of your playing and targeted recommendations for your specific goals
  • Teaching topics not in the course or book (such as the Pattern System, reading, some playing techniques such as tapping or slapping, the songs you want to learn)
  • A targeted practice schedule put together for you

About 50% of my private students choose to take the course in addition to private lessons (usually biweekly or monthly lessons). This enables us to work in a very targeted way and saves lots of time in the lesson as I can just refer to specific sections in the course and make very targeted recommendations, as well as check-in, give feedback and present the Pattern System.

Can I start anytime?

Yes, you can start anytime. Once you sign up you get new material on a weekly basis for twenty weeks. Once unlocked, the material is accessible to you to come back to anytime.

Do you offer a money back guarantee?

Yes, we offer an unconditional 20-day money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied for any reason, you can email for a full refund.