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Bass

Instructor:   Jason Valleau

Bass

Instructor:   Jason Valleau

Course Description:

Level: 3 – 4  (see Playing Experience Level descriptions at the bottom of the page)

The bass. The root, the foundation. The first note (ohm) had to be a bass note otherwise the other parts of the universe wouldn’t know what to play. 

Let’s take this instrument out of the ensemble and take a deeper look. We’ll start with a quick review of the basics and see if we missed anything.  We’ll talk about gear.  We’ll talk about the roles and functions and styles for all kinds of musical genres, including Folk, Roots, Celtic, Country, Rock, Jazz, Latin, and more if we want to dig deeper.

We’ll talk about transcribing bass lines or and how to get new ideas for bass lines. We can cover soloing. Even if we’re only playing to our family or pets at home when we practice. Who says we can’t play lead bass?

We’ll talk about when and how to use a bow and playing in thumb position with the upright bass.

We’ll talk about the relationship between the bassist and the drummer, and how to add percussive pops and slaps in the absence of a drummer.  

Singing and playing the bass at the same time. Does it require two brains or are there some patterns and tricks to help? What about adding a harmony line?

How do we jump into a jam situation without knowing the tune? We’ll cover how to predict chord changes and how to make an extremely quick chord chart hearing a song just once. 

Let’s geek out. Bass players unite!

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.

Jason Valleau


Jason's ability to grasp a variety of musical genres quickly enabled him to play with some of Calgary's finest musicians on CD’s, tours, radio and teleramas.

In 2009 Jason started a band with his brother Sheldon called The Polyjesters, a group that has toured extensively around North America including contracts at Epcot Center at Disney World as well as extensive tours throughout Europe and Japan.

In 2006 Jason started a festival called the Mountain View Music Fest that eventually became a major event in Carstairs, Alberta.

In 2010 Jason opened a coffee shop with his wife Karina and brother Sheldon called The Café Radio that was featured on the Canadian Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here”.

Jason sat on the Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta board and was a member of the Premier’s Council on Culture. Jason worked as a manager with the programming team at the National Music Centre in Calgary booking artists for the King Eddy and performance hall, coordinating artists in residence programs as well as the teen programming and workshops held at the centre. Jason now works part time for JazzYYC and is back to playing music full time.

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.