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The Bass Workouts
&
The New Hampshire Bass Festival


The Bass Workout
Entering its 10th year, a new series of Bass Workout sessions began in Austria on January 13th. Presented by Berklee College of Music professor Jim Stinnett in lab-style learning environments, Bass Workouts are highly structured performance and recording workshops designed for both electric and acoustic bassists which are scheduled regularly throughout the year. Starting on June 16th, bassists from around the United States and abroad will assemble in Manchester, New Hampshire for the 4th annual New Hampshire Bass Festival. Spanning four full days, the New Hampshire Bass Fest will provide bassists of all ages and playing levels with the opportunity to participate in classes led by a global faculty and featuring some of the world's most distinguished educators.

In this interview, Jim Stinnett, the director of the Bass Workouts and New Hampshire Bass Festival, discusses this year's events.




The Bass Workout What is a Bass Workout?

Bass Workout is the name we use for our 3-day intensive educational programs. I wanted a name that was recognizable, but I was tired of the generic names. Besides, bass workshop, bass clinic, bass camp, bass masterclass, etc., seemed to have an implication or identity that did not quite match with what we wanted to do. Back in 2000, I was teaching at the Berklee Bass Lines 3-day session and was frustrated with the scheduling pattern. I decided I could do a better job if I were in charge of the program. I complained about this to my wife and she told me to put up or shut up so in 2001 we presented the first Bass Workout. I had been teaching labs at Berklee College of Music for twenty years and had honed my materials and techniques for teaching groups of six to ten bass players. My favorite kind of teaching is in a lab setting. I like the way students can see and hear each other play the same material, some better and some worse. The sound of eight guys all playing unison is quite powerful. My good friend, John Spencer, a drum instructor at a Bass Workout, described this sound as like being in the middle of a big beating heart.

We presented one Bass Workout in 2001, then two Workouts in 2002, and five Workouts in 2003. It was obvious that students liked our format. At that time, we began to offer Bass Workout programs specifically designed to focus on a particular style of bass playing such as the Jazz Bass Workout, the Recording Workout, and the Slap-Tap Workout.

How many Bass Workout sessions are scheduled for 2010, and where will these workshops be held?

For 2010, we decided it was time to take the Bass Workout on the road. We have six Bass Workouts scheduled in 2010. In addition, we will also present the New Hampshire Bass Fest which we consider a big Bass Workout.

In January, we will present our first Bass Workout Austria. Our local organizer in Austria, Albin Palasser, is a highly talented adult student and a great promoter. He is also a very successful family doctor. This will be our first Bass Workout in Europe. Attendees will be coming from Greece, Italy, Germany, and Austria.

January will also feature Bass Workout NH. This is a very special Workout for us. We call it Level One. It is designed for anyone, no matter what level or style. This Workout will attract students with a wide range of abilities including adults who are not professional musicians but rather serious hobbyists, young players, and dedicated college students alike.

February will see our first West Coast Workout. Bass Workout California will be held in San Francisco. We are very excited to be doing a Workout in this area as we have many contacts and friends there. This will be a very exciting event featuring Michael Manring and Todd Johnson.

The March Recording Workout is an annual event which is quite unique. On Saturday, we spend twelve hours recording and mixing a CD in a first-class studio. All the students record at least two tunes. Our drums and guitar faculty are top-rate professionals, Everett Pendleton and Tom Arey.

In April, we have tentative plans to return to Brazil. Last fall, Grant Stinnett, Todd Johnson, and I went to Brazil to teach and perform. We spent 12 days teaching the Bass Workout curriculum. The numbers in our events grew to the thousands. We anticipate this same great response on our next trip.

June is our annual New Hampshire Bass Fest. The NHBF grew out of the success of our Bass Workouts. NHBF 2010 will be a 4-day event with approximately 14 faculty/artists and 50+ attendees.

In September, we will return to Austria for BWOA2.

October has traditionally been our month for the Jazz Bass Workout. The past two years have featured Todd Johnson teaching his incredible grips style. October 2010 will feature our first Double Bass Workout. I am very excited to offer this program. I love the double bass and have a couple of special guest faculty lined up to join us. This Workout will not focus on only jazz. It will focus on mastering the bass, and I am sure we will also be grooving.

November is the tentative time scheduled for our first Bass Workout Northwest. Our BWONW is planned for the Seattle area. Outstanding bassist and former student, Brent Rusinow, will be coordinating this event. We also have tentative plans to travel to Brazil again in November to teach and perform at an annual jazz festival.

Who are the instructors featured at the Bass Workouts, and what kind of curriculum is taught?

I am so fortunate to have a number of close friends that are outstanding performers and teachers. This allows me to choose instructors whose music and teaching techniques I am familiar with. The foundation of our special style of teaching is based around two incredible guys, Everett Pendleton and Tom Arey. Everett plays rock and funk guitar, sings all the tunes anybody knows, and is supreme in his ability to work with student musicians. Back in 2001, we chose Everett as a person to build the Bass Workout around. Tom Arey, a former student of mine from Berklee, has a powerful groove and is a caring teacher. He is the kind of drummer I want to work with, and I wanted the students to experience what it feels like to play with rock solid time. Tommy was also our first choice when the BWO's began. My good friend Rob Gourlay has also been with us from the beginning. Rob is a musician of unparalleled talent. Everyone wants to play like Rob. He has virtuoso chops, perfect groove, and a very personal touch and sound. Rob is a master on both electric and double bass. He has a heart of gold and is a beautiful teacher.

We often bring in special guest faculty and feature their expertise. Todd Johnson has been a regular in the past two years. Todd is at the forefront of jazz on the electric bass today. He wears his love for music on his sleeve and is a very dedicated teacher and mentor.

Dave Buda has been a part of numerous Bass Workouts. Everyone loves Budar, as the New Englanders pronounce his name. His powerhouse style always kicks our music up to a new level.

Joe Hunt is a jazz treasure. Joe played jazz drums with the likes of Bill Evans, Stan Gets, and Barry Harris. Today, he regularly tours with Chuck Isreals. Joe has taught for us at the BWO many times.

We have been honored to have the great Michael Manring teach for us numerous times. Last year Michael spent three days teaching one of his favorite techniques, Carnatic rhythms. All of the students loved it! Michael is an excellent teacher who loves sharing his many years of study and devotion to the bass.

I have a few students who have become good teachers as well. Shane Allessio and Brent Rusinow have learned how to teach by watching the master teachers mentioned above. Shane and Brent have grown into very effective teachers who know what it's like to practice and improve, step-by-step.

Lastly, but not least, is Grant Stinnett. Grant has proven he is a natural teacher. While still in the process of developing his skills as a performer, Grant is very sensitive to the challenges of students. Grant is invaluable to the Bass Workout programs.

How did the Bass Workouts in Austria and California come together?

Since we do not have a management or promotional agency working for us, our programs start with personal relationships. Albin Palasser is a very dedicated individual who loves the bass. He has studied at the Stinnett Music Online School for over a year now with tremendous success. He asked if I would come to Austria to teach him. I always test the commitment of students and business partners by asking them to take steps. I told Albin that if he came to the United States, I would go to Austria. Albin attended NHBF 2009 and the TJ Workout so I responded by committing to bring the Bass Workout to Austria. BWOA is officially a 1-day event. Grant and I will teach for a full day and perform a night time concert. The unofficial version is that we will be in town for five days to hang out and play with the guys who are around. Just for ease of logistics, BWOA will not include additional faculty. That will happen on our next trip.

Bass Workout California was a no brainer. Todd Johnson and Michael Manring both live there and have many guys who want to study with them. We found a great location at BASS, Bay Area Sound Studios, in San Rafael. BWOCA is a 2-day session with four faculty. Again, just because of logistics, we will not include drums or guitar. Besides, Todd's playing is often mistaken for guitar anyway.

At the New Hampshire Workouts, we normally have drums and guitar faculty so there is a strong element of ensemble playing. At the BWOA and BWOCA, our ensemble playing will be bass ensemble.

Do you plan to expand the Bass Workouts to other regions of the United States or to more international destinations in the future?

Yes, but because we are a small self-financed business, we must do this very slowly to ensure success. Ideas are being kicked around now, but no dates are set. My goal is to do a Bass Workout at least once a month. We have also found that it takes a few times of doing a Bass Workout in a specific area to get the word out to the local guys. It is amazing how many folks have no idea we are presenting these incredible learning environments.

When does the 2010 New Hampshire Bass Festival take place, and who are the clinicians that will be teaching at this year's event?

NHBF 2010 will take place in Manchester, New Hampshire from June 16-19. This year, we have some new artists and some returning favorites. We are so excited to be joined by four of Brazil's top bassists including Celso Pixigna, Sergio Groove, Ebinho Cardoso, and Ney Neto. Celso and Ney were featured at last year's fest, and everyone flipped out! Check out these guys on YouTube, and you won't believe your ears.

Also teaching and performing this year will be Michael Manring, Bruce Gertz, Rob Gourlay, Todd Johnson, Marshall Wood, Grant Stinnett, Everett Pendleton, Dave DiCenso, Joe Hunt, and Tom Arey. You will not find a better lineup of guys to work with. They are all dedicated to helping the students move to a new level of playing and awareness.

Is there a minimum age or playing level required of participants who want to attend a Bass Workout or the NH Bass Fest?

The NHBF is open to all comers. Our attendees represent an extremely wide range of ages and levels of ability. Our faculty is chosen for their expertise in working with all students. We attract many adults who play music as a hobby. We also attract young professionals who want to hone their skills and become more marketable. Many young players attend who are determined to become great bassists and want to get it from the horse's mouth.

We do occasionally have Bass Workouts that require a prerequisite of learned material, but this is always listed on our web site.

Do people need to signup in advance to attend any of the Bass Workouts or the NH Bass Fest, and if so, where can they go to register?

While we have normally been able to accept anyone who wants to attend, no matter how close to the date of the event, I strongly suggest that people signup early. This really helps us plan our program. There are many things that must be planned ahead of time. We also have had to limit the attendance to a few of our Bass Workouts due to space constraints. Plus, I want to keep it small. While the NH Bass Fest is intended to be bigger, the Bass Workouts need to be small to maximize the learning and personal attention. Registration for all Bass Workouts is located at: BassWorkout.com and registration for NH Bass Fest can be found at: NHBassFest.com.

Are there any scholarships available?

Yes, this is the first year that we have scholarship opportunities available for the NHBF. From generous donations, we now have a scholarship fund to be used for tuition to the NHBF. We do not as yet have scholarships for the Bass Workouts. You can find out all about the scholarships on the NHBF web site. The entire scholarship process can be completed online.

What courses have been added to Stinnett Music Online since opening last year, and are there any new courses scheduled to be added in 2010?

We have made great strides in our course offerings since our opening. We currently offer "Jazz Bass 2," "Jazz Bass 3," "Double Bass Lessons 1," "Contemporary Techniques," and "The Music Of Paul Chambers."

New courses now available for 2010 are "Double Bass Lessons 2," "English For International Students," and "Lord Of The Rings."

My wife, Jamie Stinnett, has authored our two new English courses. Jamie, a Master's graduate from Harvard University, has taught literature and language classes at all levels for many years. Her addition to our faculty expands our possible educational offerings tremendously.

Later this year we will add "Garage Band For Players," "Latin Rhythms For Bass," and "Classic Rock Bass."

The Bass Workout



Contact Information

Jim Stinnett
145 North Rd.
Candia, NH 03034
Web Sites: BassWorkout.com
NHBassFest.com
E-Mail: jhstinnett@comcast.net


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