I auditioned for Berklee (on bass) last Saturday so I might be able to help. As i'm sure you've read, the audition is split into three or four sections.
Prepared piece Sight Reading Blues Ear training Technical exercises.
Prepared piece? In the abstract, Berklee say they want to hear what you play best and what you want to play. But you also need to show them the extent of your knowledge, so playing a Megadeth song, for example, might show off your wicked shred skillz [sic] but then show them absolutely nothing of your improvisational and harmonic knowledge, you dig? For what it's worth I chose Spain by Chick Corea, but that's also a style I know and play alot. Going in there and playing All The Things You Are or any standard really, with no jazz knowledge at all would be much worse than playing your favourite metal song. Confused? Yeah.
Sight Reading. Not alot you can do with that if you can't already do it, I can read pretty decently so I did okay, you get 15 minutes to practice these before you go in. Mistake I made was not starting from the bottom (hardest ones) first, but ah well.
Blues, either you or auditoner picks key and tempo. Jazz blues changes, I had to walk through the changes for a chorus and solo over a few. I imagine you'll have to comp chords instead, as well as the solo.
Ear training, find a note on your instrument, then play back phrases. also sing them as well.
technical excersies, not hard. I was asked to play a 1 octave Mixolydian scale and spell out a Cmin7 chord and Amin7b5 chord. No problems.
Berklee DOES require all students regardless of major intent to audition. For the first Semester (maybe two, not sure) you take ALL classes anyway.
If you're getting tendonitis. You're doing something wrong, really wrong.
The idea that playing more would do more harm than good is totally bogus. And I don't know about you but I practice musicality and 'feel' (I really hate that word) more than I do technique. Technique is just a side-effect of practicing lots in my opinion.
Playing other instruments is great, certainly. But I feel like one always has to be your main focus, I play piano and guitar and sing but bass is my main guy.
The problem I found with playing out, is it's great for improving some aspects of your playing but not others. If you're playing out with stuff you already know, how's it gonna help when you need to work on more stuff?
I'm considering auditioning for Duquesne next year (I'm a junior right now). I've been playing for three years, and for the first year, all I did was play so I got out a lot of the beginner stuff in that time and I've been able to work on more advanced stuff. Well, maybe not advanced stuff, but getting the fundamentals down at an advanced level.
I don't really practice at all on my own, but I play in a few bands (two of them are church bands), and that's really good experience. I do study theory a lot, and I mean A LOT. I think this should help my chances of getting accepted.
Anyways, that's my story, or at least the introduction to it.
If you have any advice or suggestions, that would be great.
Why not? You're setting yourself a huge limitation for no reason. You're never going to progress past a certain point without time in the shed. Theory is great and all, but useless without any playing to back it up. I can tell you why a lydian domiant lick works other whatever progression but without being able to play, and more importantly, HEAR what that is the theory is useless.
For what it's worth i've been playing for around 4 and half years I guess. But I don't think that's really important. it's HOW much you've played in that time, you get guys who have been playing for 20 years and are still pretty crappy and guys who have been playing hardly any time at all and SMOKE.
On average I suppose I get a good 4 hours+ a day of practice in but it varies depending. And by practice I mean REAL practice, working on stuff you can't already do.
I learnt to read mostly from a book called 'Simplified Sight-reading for bass' by Josquin De Pres, I still use it today for lots of excersies and different tempo work. After that I just got my hand on anything I could find and read it. Or tried to read it at least.
Incidentally, I wasn't really asked any 'theory' questions, apart from the Mixolydian and arpeggio thing. But that stuff is basic stuff that takes no time at all to learn. Just get a book and start reading.
I haven't been on these forums much in the last... year? But I figured i'd post this for what it's worth.
Since I finished college, (i.e. Uk College). I scored a gig with a blues band. We toured Europe from September to December pretty much straight through, did lots of cool shows and met alot of cool people.
In October I was over in the states to check out alot of schools for music here. Turns out I liked Berklee the best and applied. I had my audition date given to me on December 15th, telling me it was January 30th. Not alot of time. The audition consists of a prepared piece, ear training, reading, and walking/soloing blues changes.
Biggest mistake I probably made in the audition was in the warm-up (they give you 15 minutes) not starting the reading excersies from the bottom up. I can read most things, but when lots of quick notes start appearing it gets a little fuzzy.
Anyway, ,the audition. Whole thing happens pretty fast, they audition alot of people and once they've got what they needed to hear they move on. My prepared piece was Spain by Chick Corea. Played the head, walked/played latin feel through the changes and then solo. No real problems there.
Had to read two examples, one I could do straight off but one was a little trickier, i'll live with that. Then ear training, call and response on the bass and then singing back. Again, didn't go terribly either.
Blues is kinda self-explanitory. Walking through changes + soloing over a few choruses. No problem.
Last thing was just simple scale/chord spellings. Asked me to play a Mixolydian scale over one octave and a Cmin7 and Amin7b5 arpeggio. Easy.
So overall I think the whole thing went alright, I find out March 31st whether i've got in/they give me money so fingers crossed for then.
If anyone has any questions i'd be more than happy to try and answer them.
When you get into the £1000+ price range everything's 'good' it just gets into personal preference.
For example, before I bought my Bongo I played nearly every EBMM bass I could find in NYC and discovered I didn't personally like the 5 string spacing on them. They were still fantastic instruments I just didn't care for them.
As for not spending that much on an instrument, it's your call. But to me now owning several high end basses I find it hard to want to play anything lower end, of course there's some great instruments out there but the quality speaks for itself in most cases.
I'd seriously consider (a possibly used) Sadowsky Metro, I tried them side by side with the NYC's in Roger's shop, there's is really no difference in terms of sound or playability.
A teacher helps drastically speed up the learning process because you get the benefit of learning from their mistakes without making them yourself. As well as, at least for me, massive inspiration.
I've studied with Steve Lawson and Todd Johnson, anyone who says they can't play needs to get their head examined.
However I agree, as do my teachers, with training your ear best as possible that should be your #1 priority at all times. Something i'm trying to do in my jazz group is throw out all charts and just listen to everything and react to it.
However, that's not to suggest you should neglect your other skills, technique, reading ability and theory knowledge. They should all be at pro-level. But your ear is number one, every time.
The theory that you won't benefit from a teacher is ignorant at best and downright arrogant at worse.
Send Steve Lawson (stevelawson.net) an email, he teaches down in London, I live in Northampton and head down their once every few months for a few hours. Doesn't cost too much and has done wonders for my playing over the last year.
Lastly, learn to read. It's an essential skill in the pro-music realm.
The harmonic minor is a scale from my understanding that was developed during the baroque period to make minor parts in songs sound more friendly to an audience. It therefore strays from the norms set in the 13th century with the 7 modes such as the distance between notes in a scale. Therefore the interval between consecutive notes can be a minor 3rd.
I find theory books can be quite confusing sometimes, in fact i had the same discussion we are having now with my teacher and i was taking the side you are currently taking and he shot me down in spectacular fashion. I'm never gonna argue music theory again with a guy who composed for Pavarotti and worked on tubular bells.
Not as such, quite the opposite in fact, the harmonic minor was avoided melodically because of that awkward jump. It was used as a harmonic basis, because cadentially the resolution sounds better going from G7 -> Cmin7 as opposed to Gmin7 -> Cmin7
Are you on crack? Seriously. Sure Schmidt's a nobody but Manring's done 10 sessions per solo song easily. Tal's as much of a solo artist as Manring is any day of the week. Plus I bet you don't know about Manring's heavy metal albums with Steve Morse.
James Genus has been around for years and years and has done several things that plainly and simply Tal hasn't. Like... I can't believe you actually typed that out. When she's done a decade of NY jazz sessions and was house bassist for a live TV show... when she doubles, give me a call. Watch the man's clinics on BPTV when he was a "nobody". He's paid his dues - and her fame came as she was paying her dues.
You're really, really, REALLY telling me her sex appeal and age have NOTHING to do with her success? GTFO! Esperanza Spalding's still worse though. I wonder who BP magazine is going to annoint this year?
I am. Everyone likes to see the hot new player on the scene, of course they do. Who else has played with such a huge amount of artists in such a short amount of time? The only other new player making anywhere near a storm is possibly Hadrien Feraud, who's music I don't particularly care for.
The point is she's an exciting new player, Esperanza's a killer player too. If you feel that your opinion of bassists beats that of Beck, Coluita etc., then suggest some exciting new players worth checking out instead of getting yourself all worked up.
No, our skulls are not so friggin numb and our minds so simple that we can ignore all the blatant and undeserved hype. I'm sick of all the hype and the hype is the only reason we know about her at all. Nobody knows that Schmidt guy but everybody knows her. Same with Manring. Hell, if she hits the bottle hard she'll end up looking like Manring in 20 years
And the hype machine is huge; don't let Bass Player magazine's "humble musician's rag" approach take you for a ride. Go to her wikipedia entry and look at the artists she's worked with. Someone has put quite literally every person to stand on stage with her. John Mayer sat in for one song - better add him to the wiki. But people wandering on the wiki look at the list and go ZOMG!! even though it's completely out of context.
I'm bitter because I'm used to this overbearing and deceptive hype in mainstream bands and rap acts, but not in my clean little corner of music. And it's a shame... I wonder how much of this hype she really wanted.
If I was considered the next big thing or something like that I'd do everything in my power to play off the hype and seem as terrible as I could just to show everybody how irrelevant the concept is.
Irrelevent, Jeff Schmidt and Manring are solo bassists, Tal Wilkenfeld isn't.
James Genus is getting loads of press recently playing with Hancock and a slew of other people. But yet people aren't screaming OMG ITS JUST CAUSE HE'S YOUNG/BLACK/CALLED JAMES, it's because he's good. Same with Tal.
As I said earlier i'm off to NYC, been here a few days now and decided to buy a musicman bongo 4 H/S
Pictures can be found in this album here http://twitpic.com/photos/samhallam, along with my amazing visit to the sadowsky shop, they are really some phenomenal instruments, Roger Sadowsky himself came and introduced himself to me and we talked for a bit about the instruments. My favourite one was probably the new Will Lee model, stunning.
EDIT: The musicman bongo is in addition to the MIA P that's coming when I get back.
I hate that book (jazz theory). I spent $50 on it, read the first chapter and threw it on the shelf. It's all about here's some vague thing about theory, here's how it's been used in the past, listen and transcribe, use it like that always. Nowhere (not that I gave it a huge chance, once I saw the thousands of songs in the what to listen to and transcribe section it sent me over the edge) did it say anything about here's some theory, here's an idea of where it goes well in song structure, go try and use it. I suppose I can't blame it though, it fit pretty well with the jazz ideology of playing.
Very sorry, that has nothing to do with anything, but felt the need to rant about it. You're right though, if you want to be a "jazz musician" then that book is one of the greatest sources out there.
I think it's an incredibly useful resource, admittedly it's more geared towards the piano player but any musician can gleam some incredible stuff from it.
I want to learn to play jazz, but I just don't know where to start. I can play some jazzy chords on guitar, but after I get down a couple jazzy chords, I'm completely lost. I guess that counts as shedding. I'm also kinda stuck with walking bass. I can play it, but I really can't create walking bass lines that sound good and aren't completely generic.
If anyone has any suggestions, they are much appreciated!
I would, of course, start with the basics and work your way through there, my two reccomended resources are Mark Levine's Jazz Theory book and Todd Johnsons Walking Bass Line DVD's/Book's.
Levine's book is a little daunting at first but with some patience and perseverance it's a hugely useful tome.
But above all, what's important is to LISTEN to jazz. Go out and buy (or listen on Spotify) as much jazz as you can, find out what's considered essentiall listening and absorb it fully, without that, you won't be able to develop the vocabularly needed.
^^ the whole solo section is improvised, except for the couple licks leading back into the head.
Yea I really need to work on my licks, thats the first solo section I've actually been given, and if you have any more advice, or a few good names to look out for in the ways of licks, let me know.
and thanks a bunch
Also new piece up I'd greatly appreciate some feedback.
ALSO! Casketcreep, yes that is a Jag, With Seymour Duncans Quarter Pounder for Jazz bass. Set on Bridge pickup with tone at about 70% maybe a little under.
Watchingmefall: Yea, there are some little solo's in there, I found they lent themselves to much to his solo in the piece and unless I played the solo basically like he did they would have sounded a little out of it.
Like I said the best way to enhance your vocabulary is to study recordings. I don't know the changes to Continuum off the top of my head but if it's a relatively common set of changes then it shouldn't be too hard to find recordings of people playing over them.
I think it's important to transcribe solo's of players you like, it makes no sense to transcribe stuff you don't like just because you 'should'. Having said that, some players who I really enjoy transcribing from are: Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Miles, Metheny, Mclaughin, Hancock, etc.
All interesting topics! Let's expand on it, how are you acheiving overcoming your problems?
I've set about writing above the chords what type of chord it's functioning as (ii-V etc.) the ninth bar has got me, is a Ab7 with the next chord a BbMaj7, I can only think of it as a borrowed chord from the relative minor, but i'm not sure, any help would be appreciated!
I'm currently gigging with my new as yet unnamed jazz group. Which is tremendous fun. We did a few tunes as part of a night the teaching school I work at put on for the students and got offered a paid gig, so that's nice.
Anarkee, i'm heading to NYC for the first week in June, got lots of stuff planned, including a trip to Sadowsky guitars!
Indeed, and the important thing is that Mclaughin, Jaco, Metheny et al. all KNEW the rules and could play with the best of them (Of course Shorter and Zawinul were part of Miles' quintet before Weather Report anyway) before they started exploring uncharted territory.