Why I do not teach...

double bass teaching

I have been asked this one simple question over and over. Every time I give the answer to this question, I feel like a terrible person. Its not that I'm selfish when I say it, its just that I don't want to waste anybody's time, both mine and the person asking the question.

So you may be thinking to yourself, what exactly is this question that Xavier is getting constantly from his adventures on the road? Well the answer is sort of implied in the title of this blog! ... So did you guess what the question was yet? Sure you did! But for those of you who are still left in the dark, I will tell you what the answer is.. OK, so the number one question I get till this day is (drum roll please): "Xavier, do you teach lessons?".

Yep, that's the question, and of course, I'm supposed say "yes" right? because its the right thing to do, right? Wrong, but before I give you two reasons that justify my response to this simple question, let me first tell you a couple of ways that I deal with this question.

So, If the question is coming from someone that I do not know well, then I will give an elaborate response as to why I am not ready to bestow knowledge to thou who seeks it from me (in other words, what I am saying is that I am not ready to teach). However, if you are someone who I know well, and I can get away with being a "jerk", then the answer is usually a one word wonder, which is my favorite response because it saves time for the both of us (less time talking and more time eating the hard-as-rock cookies and cheese [probably from wholefoods] during the reception). So what is this one word answer that I say to my close friends when they pop the teaching question? Well, I can tell you this, its not a bad word, and its not even a bad word in another language (Yes, I have learned many flavorful Chinese words in music school...). I'll give you a hint, its a four letter word that starts with an N and ends with an E. Yep, you guessed it, its "NOPE"! (tell me the first word that came to mind in the comment section...)

OK, now lets cut to the chase, so why does Xavier not teach? Well its pretty simple actually, and you may be surprised when I say this, but there are actually two petty reasons as to why I don't teach.

Reason #1: I am not sure where to even teach! 

So lets think of it this way, if someone comes up to me and asks me if I want to "teach" them, and I say "Yes, I accept your offer to teach you", then the question now is, where am I supposed teach you? Am I supposed to teach you on the street? Or at McDonalds (preferably the one in Times Square)? Do you see where I am getting at here? I just don't know where to do it! .. So there you have it folks, the first reason why I don't teach is because I am not even sure where to do it! This reason is really short and sweet, I know, but I promise that the second reason will be more dense and philosophical..

Reason #2: What do you expect me to do during the lesson!? 

I have seen many lessons in the form of what is called the "master class", where 99.99999% of the time the "master" is spending the majority of class correcting bow hold and finger placement (comment below if you go above and beyond what I just mentioned). Don't get me wrong, the art of playing the double bass "correctly" is important, but you can't expect me to do what all the other institutionalized "masters" are doing because I don't do things by the book; in other words, the book has failed me, therefore, I refuse to give in to the generally accepted principles of double bass performance. For example, I place my index finger along the stick rather than resting it over the stick because this helps me achieve maximum control over my bow pressure, so I can achieve what is called micro bow control. When bass players see me do this during concerts, they freak out and rush to my rescue just to tell me that my bow hold is ridiculous! Do you know how I feel every time I am told over and over about how I don't exhibit the "correct" bow hold that was taught in music school? Can you guess the number of times that this has happened to me (say your guess in the comment section)? I mean jeez, maybe I should just make run for it the next time I see someone who is about to make yet another comment about my bow hold...

So in conclusion, I can't teach lessons because I can't teach the "correct" way to play the bass, and I can't teach the "correct" way to play the bass because the "correct" way does not help me achieve what I am trying to do on the stage. Let me put it this way, I am not here to display an academic presentation to a somewhat sparse, half-asleep audience at an institution near you; I am here to put on a show for those of you who want to see some entertainment on Friday night!

Before you go...

Here is a video of me doing that bow hold thing that bass players just hate!  

*hint: there is also a violin and bass duet version of this piece I wrote, and you can find it here (https://xavierfoley.com/products/irish-fantasy-duo-violin-bass?variant=28386577907811)


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