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The Players School Of Music - One Week Intensive
September 15 - 19, 2008

The Players School Of Music
From the campus of the Players School of Music in Clearwater, Florida, Jeff Berlin has spent over a decade sharing his teaching philosophy and music principles with bassists, guitarists, keyboardists, and drummers of all playing levels who seek world-class music instruction through proven learning methods. While some of his stances against the utilization of tools such as metronomes, tuners, and tablature are often deemed controversial and will continue to be debated at length, you simply can't argue with the results of his methodologies. Past or present, few bassists have possessed Berlin's musical proficiency and even fewer have demonstrated his sophisticated level of improvisation. Regardless of how you might feel about his positions on music education, Berlin is one of the bass guitar's legendary figures as well as one of the world's greatest bass soloists.

The One Week Intensive is a bi-annual event that was started by Berlin and is held every March and September at the Players School. Although there are over a dozen bass events which take place each year throughout the United States, the Players School was one of the first institutions to offer a full, week-long program featuring an organized curriculum to instantly identify your weaknesses, show you what you need to do in order to become a better player, and provide you with the proper direction to change the way you think about and play your instrument for years to come.

When questioned about his approach to teaching at the Players School, Berlin states, "I will show you the proper way to practice, what to practice, as well as what you shouldn't waste your time practicing. Knowing what not to practice is important because it is a waste of your valuable time and won't get you closer to meeting your goals as a musician. The Players School will provide you with what you absolutely need to learn in order to take your playing to the next stage and beyond."

Unlike other music schools which adhere to strict admission policies and often exhaustive audition processes, Berlin asserts, "you can arrive at the Players School never having read a note. You can also come to the Players School never having played a note. There are no auditions required to attend the Players School or the One Week Intensive because it is our job as instructors to teach you how to play your instrument and read music. As soon as you arrive, we will assess your musical skillset to determine your strengths and weaknesses and then design a program to suit your musical needs."

"At the Players School, we are entirely focused on academics. Bassists who attend the Players School on a full-time basis or for the One Week Intensive might have a background in rock, pop, funk, blues, country, or jazz music, but despite the style of music they might prefer to play, an A minor 7th chord is still an A minor 7th chord so academically you have to understand the notes you have available to play over an Am7 chord change if you are going to play a bass line or solo in any of those styles," adds Berlin.

In addition to the One Week Intensive, the Players School of Music has sessions of varying durations to meet the particular requirements of each student including 4-week, 10-week, 40-week, and 80-week programs that run throughout the year.

In this interview, Jeff Berlin discusses the Players School, the One Week Intensive, and some of his music principles.

Can you tell us what led you to open the Players School of Music and how the One Week Intensive got started?

The school actually began due to an illness in the family. My wife, two sons, and I moved from California to Florida in the early 1990's. Shortly afterward, my oldest son, Jason, was diagnosed with cancer around his fifth birthday. I immediately retired from playing because I wanted to be with him while he received his treatments. To make a living to support my family, I opened the doors to the Players School of Music in Clearwater, Florida. It wasn't until several years later, after my son was cured, that I started to again play professionally and tour. I decided to keep the school open, and I make sure that every student who comes to us learns excellent musical information that could be used for a lifetime of playing.

What makes the One Week Intensive different from other bass events?

Our focus is on learning music academically. I've noticed that many instructors prefer to run performance classes rather than actually teach music. At the One Week Intensive, we teach the pure requirements of learning how to play an instrument and the music that goes with it to each individual at their own level of musical understanding.

How does the One Week Intensive session compare to what a person would experience during a full session at the Player's School?

The One Week Intensive is basically a snapshot of the principles that are taught at the Players School and what a person will experience if they were to study at the Players School on a full-time basis. Obviously, no one can learn everything they need to know about music or playing bass within the span of only a week, but we make those five days pretty intense so that the people who attend will go home with a lot to think about. This saves them a lot of time trying to figure out what and how to practice. We can instantly identify a person's weaknesses and show them what they need to do to fix those problems. Participants will leave the One Week Intensive with enough practical instructional material to keep them busy for months to follow. Students who have never read a note of music before Monday go home on Friday reading simple charts and written music. People who never soloed before coming to the school will leave understanding how solos are played and why good solos sound so great. All of this is done from an academic point of view which is the core belief that I have about teaching music.

Who teaches at the One Week Intensive?

Matt Bokulic, Peter Mongaya, Joe Porter, Mike Givilisco, Jeremy Powell, and David Via make up the core of the keyboard, bass, guitar, sax, drum, ear training, harmony, and live playing ensemble teachers. These guys are among the best musicians in the Tampa Bay area, and each of them has a history of performances with world-renowned players as well. They know how to teach which is why they are here. We also bring in special guest clinicians who offer good musical information. I don't ask well known bassists to come over and do a class at the school just because they are well known unless they know how to teach the students something special and musically meaningful.

What are the primary topics that you focus on during the week?

We work on reading music, soloing, comping, playing with other players, developing your ear, learning how to play your instrument, and learning new music without making it a performance event. The One Week Intensive is a facts gathering event. Jazz music is, without question, the best academic music to study because it is impossible to play it well without knowing a few things first. Jazz, while not necessarily a career choice for all students, should be the music that is studied because it does have a history of being taught academically. We will find out what our students know or don't know and instantly give them homework and playing suggestions that are full of musical content at their level to deal with this new musical information. We have a lot of beginners who come here, and if they do the work that they are given, almost 100% will leave changed and fired up to keep their musical growth continuing. I try to make it perfectly clear to people entering the school that they should never stop playing the style of music that makes them happy. If you enjoy playing rock or funk or any other style, you should still play that music. Just don't do it over here! You don't have to pay me money so that you can play a style of music which you could be learning and playing at home and for free!

"The One Week Intensive was a very special experience for me. The morning lectures, private lessons, and classroom instruction were first class. Jeff makes sure everybody leaves the One Week Intensive with his time-tested recipe to becoming a better musician."
- Tim Sedgwick, Washington, One Week Intensive Participant

Is there a minimum age or playing level required of participants?

We accept anyone who is at least 18 years of age.

What equipment should attendees bring with them?

Guitarists and bass players should bring their instruments. Drummers should bring their sticks and brushes. Everything else will be provided for participants at the school.

Could you give us a schedule of a typical day during the One Week Intensive?

We generally run classes from 9 AM - 4 PM each day with an hour set aside for lunch. Participants will attend a variety of classes that teach ear training, harmony, music principles, chart reading, live playing ensembles, and a private lesson each day. It's a lot to do, but so far, even the non-readers can handle it. Plus, five days go by really quickly!

What is your goal as a music instructor?

My goal is that everyone who attends the school should leave a better player than when they came in. This means that the students need to regard their instruments in new musical ways. Unfortunately, we are in an era where music education as a whole has been dumbed down to a ridiculous level in the United States so I am constantly swimming upstream trying to make music the first principle in academia instead of groove, chops, gigs, licks, and every other subject that can be dealt with by yourself and for free.

What should a person look for in a teacher?

Find someone who is going to tell you what you need to work on and someone who will not ask you what you want to work on because you may not be qualified to answer that question. Make sure that music is the absolute central element of your lessons. Generally speaking, you should avoid music store instructors because most of those guys don't know how to teach. Try to find an instructor who teaches at a university because most of those teachers are trained, and you will have a much better shot at learning the good stuff by studying with them.

Can you tell us about the music principles you teach on your Bass Logic From The Players School Of Music DVD?

This instructional DVD was released by Mel Bay Publications in 2006. I had to do something to make up for my disastrous video that I made with professional wrestler Roddy Piper in it. That was done in the 1980's where humor took precedence over content. I always regretted releasing that video and finally got an opportunity to do something about it in this recent release. The new video is full of musical suggestions and information about how you can take your playing to the next level. The content in this video is how I go about teaching guys. It focuses on what I feel are real world musical issues that many musicians deal with on a daily basis.

Are there any new projects that you will be releasing soon?

I will be releasing a brand new trio recording called Standards Procedure in a couple months. It features Danny Gottlieb, Richard Drexler, and me playing a collection of jazz standards. Keith Jarrett is a hero of mine. I've transcribed some of his solos and spend a lot of time working on them. He has a long history of recording standards and after listening to some of his genius recordings, I thought that I might try recording a set of standards. I'm extremely pleased with how it turned out.

Contact Information

The Players School Of Music
923 McMullen Booth Road
Clearwater, FL 33759
Web Site:
Phone: 800.724.4242

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