Gems from a Rodney Whitaker Bass Clinic

One Monday last September (thanks to the Mesa Center for the Arts and The Nash) I was able to attend a free clinic given by one of the best bass players on the planet: Rodney Whitaker. Now, I’m not a bass player – although at times I feel like a bass player stuck in a horn players body – but that didn’t stop me from attending. The clinic was one of the best I’ve seen – Rodney played for us, demonstrated concepts, shared experiences and then played with bass players in the room. It was almost 3 hours long and went by took quickly. While I took a number of things from the clinic, these 4 things really stuck with me.

You can’t vibe someone into playing better. This gem has stuck with me and I absolutely agree. I want to play with guys who are easy going on the band stand, who are flexible, and who are from the “good guy club” as my friends and I refer. If you’re an jerk on stage, I don’t care how good a player you are, I don’t want to play with you.

If you hate someone (or have a bad experience) write a tune about them. He told us a great story about a drummer that he had a bad experience with and he decided to write a tune about it. Much later he got a chance to share the piece with the guy and it was an incredible moment. I love this gem because it turns something potentially destructive into someone constructive. Needless to say, I may have a tune or two in progress now. 😉

Constantly explore – players, techniques, ideas, sounds, etc… This is just good advice. We can’t lose our curiosity. It’s certainly what keeps me going.

Practice 2 hands separately. While this is very much a bass player specific gem, I think it could be applied to anything. Sometimes when there’s many difference moving pieces, taking a step back and isolating each one can help the whole thing move better.

Here’s a picture from that day:



One thought on “Gems from a Rodney Whitaker Bass Clinic

  1. Cool.. this is the band we had play for our wedding reectpion floating around Poole Harbour on a boat. They’re the coolest! ) Great photo too. I recognised them immediately don’t know many double-bassists that sing!

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