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Sayings on My Wall #3- Bass First

BASS FIRST. These two seemingly benign words, when put together, hold the key to playing by ear. My students ask me over and over, “How did you hear that”? “How do you play by Ear”? My answer is always the same: “Bass First”!

The reason why most people can’t hear what’s going on in a song is simply because they listen to the wrong thing. Most people listen to the beautiful piano chords and runs, the blaring horns, the soaring strings and the dynamic guitar. But the instrument that sets the foundation for the chord structure, and everything else in the arrangement…is the BASS!

The bass player is the true leader of the arrangement. Any piano or guitar chord not rooted on his note will sound disjointed. And all other instruments must play their notes based on the chords of the piano and/ or guitar. The person that can learn to tune in to the often subtle “thump” of the bass will soon feel at home, no matter what the song.  Learn to reach inside that song, ignore every other instrument, and connect with the bass player. Soon the whole structure of music opens up before your eyes. We a make a living leading excited music lovers through this process. It often brings our students (and us sometimes, I admit) to tears.

Everyone has family members or friends who have taught themselves self to play an instrument by ear. They started with nothing but pure love for the instrument. But after a while, you started to hear a little music in the midst of the noise. Interesting. Every time you heard this person, it sounded a little better. What happened? Were they just born with it? Or did they stumble upon a “process”?

After a 25 year career of teaching people to play what they hear, I am totally convinced that anyone with a deep love for music can learn this awesome skill. A proven road map has been created in the “Ear Training” section of the website. And it all starts with, “Bass First”. Try it for yourself. You bring the deep love for music, and we’ll do the rest.

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