“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” - Plato

A study in 2015 showed that music does soothe the soul. Babies were shown to relax for up to 9 minutes after listening to music while the sound of an adult’s voice only worked for 4. Music is great for our mental health.

Don’t hesitate to start your bass guitar classes. To help you, here’s what to expect in your typical bass guitar classes at home.

Your First Bass Guitar Lessons: Focus on your Goals

When you start your first bass guitar lessons with a new tutor, you need to plan out what you’re going to do. However, not all tutors will plan their lessons in the same way.

It’s important to agree on where you’ll have your tutorials, how often you’ll have them, etc.

Will they take place at your home or the tutor’s home?

The first lesson is also an opportunity for the student to express what they expect to get out of their tutorials.

Do they want to become a professional bass guitarist or just learn a few tunes? Are they planning on joining a band?

Your goals will affect how your lessons are. Similarly, the student’s level will also affect what the lessons are like.

Working on your fingering, plucking, or slapping, learning about music theory, scales, and arpeggios, etc., most of your lessons will be planned out during the first lesson so that your tutor knows which direction to go in.

Find out more about learning to play the bass.

Starting the Lesson: Tune Your Bass Guitar

Don’t rush things during your bass guitar lessons even though you might want to start your lessons immediately and start learning how to play a song. However, the bass guitar, much like other stringed instruments (piano, guitar, violin, etc.) needs to be tuned.

How do you tune a bass guitar?
There's no point in continuing with your lesson if your bass isn't in tune! (Source: Tabeajaichhalt)

Each string needs to be tuned to the right note so that everything is in tune when you play the right notes. A bass guitar is usually tuned to E-A-D-G.

Don’t forget that bass guitars can detune on their own because of:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Movement
  • New strings
  • General use

The strings of a bass guitar, much like a guitar, are strung over the neck and as the neck is made of wood, it can twist, expand, or shrink. Similarly, the strings will loosen over time and through use so to ensure your bass guitar sounds right, you should regularly tune it. Tuning your bass guitar only takes a few seconds and your bass tutor can teach you how to do this with an electronic tuner or by ear.

Would you like to develop your ear?

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Learning Music Theory in Private Bass Guitar Tutorials

Music theory isn’t always the most interesting part of learning to play a musical instrument and a lot of musicians would love to be able to skip this part and get back to playing. The good news is that bassists can start playing music without the need for music theory thanks to tablature. Tablatures are a system of notation that shows you which frets and strings to play rather than which note.

Can bassists learn music theory?
Bassists can benefit a lot from learning music theory and how to read sheet music. (Source: stevepb)

It’s up to the student whether they want to learn music theory or not. Not every bassist has studied music theory. If you do decide to study music theory with your private bass guitar tutor, you should learn about notes, measures, rhythm, tempo, etc., which can take up to half of every lesson!

If you want to become a professional bassist, however, you’ll probably need to study some music theory. Music theory is the universal language of music and helps you to understand every piece of music and better understand what other bassists are doing.

Find out how much bass guitar tutorials cost.

Bass Guitar Tutorials: Warming Up Your Hands and Fingers

Playing the bass guitar requires a lot of dexterity. When a beginner starts learning to play the bass guitar, they’ll quickly realise that their hands aren’t necessarily in a natural or comfortable position and you need to bend your wrists and be able to spread your fingers.

How do you warm up for playing bass?
Your playing will be a lot better if you warm up first. (Source: KinhaBass)

Bass guitar lessons should start with you warming up your hands and fingers so that you don’t feel sore afterwards. Like with sports, the tutor will get you to loosen up your wrists and spread out your fingers. After a few stretches, it’ll be time to move onto a few warm-up exercises on your bass guitar.

Generally, these warm-up exercises will be following an increasingly quick rhythm. While some of these exercises may seem impossible during your first lesson, you’ll get the hang of them. Your muscle memory will kick in after a few attempts and after a few lessons, you’ll be able to do them without thinking.

Depending on your level, these warm-ups and exercises can take between 5 and 10 minutes.

Bass Guitar Classes: Scales and Arpeggios

Once you’ve warmed up, you can move onto practising. To play the bass guitar, you’ll need to be able to play a few notes or chords. Generally, chords on bass are usually played as an arpeggio. An arpeggio is all the notes of a given chord played in sequence rather than playing them all in one go like acoustic and electric guitars often do. This means that you’ll have to learn the chords first.

You can make chords by placing fingers on different strings and frets. That’s why you need to have warmed-up your hands and fingers and practised playing the chords. A tutor can show you where to place your hands and you’ll have to attempt to reproduce the chord or a sequence of chords.

Students can practise chords by playing each string slowly before getting faster.

Private Bass Guitar Tutorials: Learning to Play a Song

Generally, a bass tutor will teach you chords by teaching you a song that you like. Be it rock, jazz, blues, pop, or whatever, the tutor will attempt to engage the student by teaching them songs from a genre of music that they have a fondness for.

The student will learn the song in parts, usually over several sessions, until they’ve mastered it and can play it from memory. This is usually a student’s favourite part of their bass guitar tutorials as it allows them to put together everything they’ve learnt and start committing new songs to memory.

What Can You Do Between Your Bass Guitar Tutorials?

You don’t have to stop playing the bass guitar just because the lesson’s finished. In many cases, the tutor will give their student some practice exercises to do so that they don’t forget everything they learnt in class.

How can you practise playing the bass guitar?
You should always practise between your tutorials. (Source: mikefoster)

These exercises will often have you working on your dexterity. Your fingering won’t just improve magically overnight without working on it. This is why you should practise between your bass guitar classes. Most of these exercises aren’t very long and you can do them in a matter of minutes. To work on your fingering, you only really need to practise for 10 minutes a day.

More importantly, these exercises can help you to develop callouses on your fingers so that they don’t hurt as much when you play the bass guitar. Students can also practise songs they like during their free time. The more you practise, the better you’ll get at playing bass and the more quickly you’ll progress during your bass guitar lessons.

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The Lessons Depend on the Student and the Tutor

There are different ways to learn how to play the bass guitar. As we explained previously, the student and the tutor will need to agree on what the student wants out of their tutorials and how the tutor is going to help them achieve this.

Nothing’s set in stone, though. A bass tutorial doesn’t need to follow the structure outlined in this article and if your tutor finds a structure that works better for you, go for it! A lot of private bass guitar tutorials are done differently.

The structure and learning objectives of the tutorials can change if the student already knows music theory, for example. The only thing that can’t change is the passion every tutor and student needs to bring to every hour of their lessons!

If you're interested in learning to play the bass guitar, just search for tutors on Superprof, you're bound to find a great tutor who's ready to start teaching you how to play!

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.