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Beyond Bass Camp

Digging Deeper Inside the Bass, with Steve Lawson.


On the blog post announcing Beyond Bass Camp, Kevin posted a very pertinent question relating to syllabus/curriculum. So here’s an outline of the kind of approach I’ll be taking.

As with everything I teach, much of the content will remain fluid and be based on the needs and personalities of the musicians who attend… Having taught privately now for 20 years, and lead masterclasses of this type for about 6 years, I’ve found that the best format is to have an outline of the ‘approach’ and allow the detail of the content to form itself in response to those needs.

That said, each day long class will be split into 3 two hour sessions.

Contrary to normal methods, we’ll be asking ‘Why’ at the start – So much that goes on in music education fails to look at ‘why’ we do anything:

  • Why do we play?
  • Why should we ‘learn’ anything?
  • Why learn scales?
  • Why use particular techniques?
  • Why practice the way we do?
  • Why play in a particular way?

The answers to these questions will form the basis of the exploration and experimentation of the later sessions. We’ll also – as the weeks go on – be exploring how the terminology of music theory and performance either limits or enhances our understanding of how and why we play what we play. Additionally, we’ll be discussing the musical backgrounds and aspirations of the people on the course, to consider how those influence the kind of questions we ask going into the process of learning the instrument.

Session 2 each time will be about applying practical exercises and exploratory methodology to the answers to those questions from part 1:

  • Developing ways of expanding on the things we already do well.
  • Recognising the things we do automatically, rather than the things we consciously choose to do because that are ‘what’s best for the music’.
  • Pinpointing ways of building exercises that put musicality and expression at the heart of our practice time – finding ways to develop the right kind of skills to play the way we hear in our heads.
  • Combining dexterity with technical breadth and depth,
  • Linking technique with expressive potential and harmonic possibility.
  • Connecting the right kind of approach to the desired outcome – e.g. how practice aimed at performing pre-written music differs from practice designed around building a vocabulary for improvisation, or how stylistic preference/focus can change our practice choices.

The consequence of this will be us finding our own filters in defining what are the right things to practice and work on, learning from each other in that process of discovery…

Session 3 will be about 2 things – Student Questions and Playing/Application.

It’ll be a time to show things you’re working on, get group input, to ask questions that haven’t been dealt with, or about things that weren’t clear, and to try out some group playing in duos/trios/quartets/quintet. While the general atmosphere will be one in which questions, queries and comments can be raised at any point during the day, this section will provide us with plenty of space to make sure the things that are supposed to be clear, and the things that are supposed to be exploratory/open-ended are defined as such with an outline of how to explore them, moving forward.

If you’ve got any more questions about the kind of things that will be covered, please post them in the comments below:

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2 Responses to “Curriculum Details for Beyond Bass Camp”

  1. ula Says:


    I am thinking of sending my boyfriend on the June 9th class. He plays professionally but hasn’t had a lesson for a long time (or even ever). Do you think you could help him at all?


  2. Steve Says:

    hi Ula, this is a post from a few years ago – I haven’t announced dates for 2014 as yet (I ought to redesign the date stamp so it’s easier to tell!)

    But I’d be happy to teach your boyfriend. Keep an eye out for more updates 🙂


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