Instructor:   Rhonda Shippy


Instructor:   Rhonda Shippy

Course Description: 

Level: 1 – 2  (see Playing Experience Level descriptions at the bottom of the page)

The bass is the heartbeat of music, holding everything together as part of the rhythm section. No matter what style of bass you play, the function of the bass is the same so we’ll be studying the role of the bass and how to support the music with tone, timing and taste.

For the upright players we will review essential left and right hand techniques and stance, as well as fingerboard positions and patterns. For those on fretted basses we’ll look at patterns and placement, note choice on the fretboard and some right hand techniques. We will be playing right away, using songs from various genres to practice the techniques we are learning.

Learning some basic music theory will provide a foundation for creating simple bass lines while working on good technique and tone, and developing a common musical language.

Thinking about chord progressions and how to move through a song building different textures will be a focus. We will also cover timing, intonation and practice techniques that will benefit players at every level, including metronome and right hand exercises.

Students will also go home with study tools, as a booklet or in a digital format, and learn about ways to support their learning such as computer programs and applications.

No matter what level you’re at, we will help you move along your path of learning.

When legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90, he replied, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

NOTE:  This class is open to amplified acoustic basses.  You will need to supply your own small portable bass amp. Please see our Amplifier Policy for further information.

Rhonda Shippy

Rhonda is a much in demand multi-instrumentalist whose journey as a musician started as a youngster playing alto saxophone, which eventually led to folk and Celtic music. For the past 20 or so years she has branched out into strings- mainly bluegrass and old time. Banjo and mandolin were the gateway drugs and she is currently obsessed with standup bass, returning to her jazz roots. Touring last year with eastern musician Craig Young,  Rhonda currently plays bass for the Fernie-based group Red Girl, strings with the Bow Folk Trio (a celtic string band) and loves to sit in with old time dance bands as well as jazz and blues jams. Teacher by day and musician by night, she has extensive experience teaching and playing a variety of styles of music- and enough music theory to be dangerous. Rhonda now makes her home in Fernie where she is teaching music in an elementary school, and trying not to fall off her mountain bike.

Playing Experience Levels

These guidelines aim to ensure that all camp participants have an enjoyable experience. They represent what your playing capability should be before you take the class (prerequisites).

Classes are generally designed to pace themselves to match the participants' abilities. Level 1 classes aim to proceed at the pace of the slower students in the class. Level 2 and 3 classes aim to move at the pace of the majority of students in the class. Level 4 classes are designed to push the capabilities of all students and will target the pace of the more capable students  Class descriptions that show a range (Levels 2-3) means the material presented is broadly applicable across that range.

LEVEL 1: You are new or relatively new to your instrument. You may be able to play basic chords or scales slowly. You want to learn the basics of the instrument. You have very little experience playing with others.

LEVEL 2: You are competent with basic chords and/or basic scales. You can keep rhythm and/or play basic melodies and/or sing and play at the same time if the song is familiar. You generally need the chords or melody to be written out in order to play along. You have some experience playing with others.

LEVEL 3: You are reasonably comfortable with most chords, basic major and minor scales, and can play at an appropriate tempo for songs. You are aware of time signatures, song keys, and know that there are chords called 6th, 7th, 11th, etc even if you can’t play them all. You are comfortable maintaining good rhythm and are willing to taking breaks while jamming with others, even if the breaks don't always turn out the way you planned. You may be hoping to take your playing up to the next level of performing with a group or band (beyond jamming) and you want to further improve your technique and speed.

LEVEL 4: You are skilled on your instrument and have a good understanding of musical concepts including scales, arrangements, harmonies and some improvisation. You play lead and back-up with a steady rhythm and can play skillfully with others. You know there is life further up the neck on your instrument and have some capability in that world. You have performing experience, can hold a tune, and can harmonize.