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The Stinnett Music Online School,
The Bass Workout & The New Hampshire Bass Fest


Stinnett Music Online
As a professor at Berklee College of Music where he has taught students in labs and private lessons since 1986, Jim Stinnett is recognized as one of the world's leading bass instructors. After issuing his first book, Stinnett formed an independent publishing company to document and distribute his teaching methods which today include a collection of texts covering topics such as jazz bass lines, sight reading, slap bass playing, and the music of Paul Chambers. In addition to his acclaimed instructional books, Stinnett also directs a series of intense weekend workshops called the Bass Workout that are held several times throughout the year. With its third edition scheduled to take place this June at the Manchester Community College, the New Hampshire Bass Fest is an annual 4-day event that brings bass enthusiasts of all performance levels together to participate in a variety of structured daily activities which focus on both traditional and contemporary techniques for electric and acoustic upright bassists. Lectures, lab-style playing classes, product demonstrations, and nightly concerts featuring a group of world-class performers, guest artists, and renowned educators are included in the festivities. Following the success of Jazz Bass, the online course that he authored for Berkleemusic, Stinnett opened the Stinnett Music Online School which takes his methodologies out of the conventional college classroom environment, expands upon the fundamental concepts established in Jazz Bass, and makes it possible for anyone to study with him and other distinguished Stinnett Music Online faculty from anywhere in the world. On January 12, 2009, the first course offered by Stinnett's school, Jazz Bass 2, went online.

In this interview, Jim Stinnett discusses the Stinnett Music Online School, the Bass Workout, the 2009 New Hampshire Bass Fest, and a few other projects he expects to release this year.




What led you to starting an online music school?

For many years, I said to myself and my wife, "Good teaching requires that I constantly repeat my instruction. I wish I could write it all down so I only had to say it once." Way back in 1978, I was teaching private students at a community college in Dallas, Texas, and I designed twelve 20-minute video power lessons. They were to be placed in the school library as reference material for all the instructors. Due to budget cuts at the school, I actually never produced those lessons. I have tried online lessons numerous times over the past twenty years without much success for the students or myself.

I began the Stinnett Academy a few years back and had great success with a limited curriculum. However, this environment still presented the same challenge. I had to do it over and over without any residual income, and it could only grow at the rate I was able to work. I am not getting any younger, and by spending all of my time teaching and re-teaching, this left no time for continued development.

A few years ago after realizing that online learning was growing, I began to look at the possibilities of the online classroom. I discovered the benefits of asynchronous learning and realized this was what I had been looking for. Very shortly after, Berkleemusic, the online extension school of Berklee, asked me to author their first jazz bass course. I had already begun preparations for my own online school and figured that working with an established institution for my first foray into online education would be a great learning experience for me. My first term at Berkleemusic was so successful that I decided to create the next logical step for the students who were in that course. This resulted in the creation of the Stinnett Music Online School and Jazz Bass 2.

How many classes do you plan to offer?

Just like when we began the Stinnett Academy, we will start with what is most in demand and what I normally teach on a daily basis. We will develop courses in which potential students show an interest. Only one course is presently offered, Jazz Bass 2. By the fall of 2009, we should have R&B Bass and Contemporary Techniques For Electric Bass up and running. We have a few other specific courses already in the works, but it takes an enormous amount of planning and effort to get from concept to classroom.

I am not exactly sure on the number of courses we'll eventually have. Looking down the road a couple of years, I can visualize six to eight bass-specific classes with another four to five related courses. A few areas of interest include music theory, critical thinking and listening, practice techniques, studio production techniques, and contemporary music history/survey.

Can you tell us how the courses at the Stinnett Music Online School work?

We divide the calendar year into four 12-week terms. Most classes will run for the full twelve weeks. We have plans to offer some 8-week courses in the future as well. For the following year, our academic calendar will be:
Winter Term 2009 - January 12 - April 5
Spring Term 2009 - April 6 - June 28
Summer Term 2009 - June 29 - September 20
Fall Term 2009 - September 28 - December 20
Winter Term 2010 - January 11 - April 4
Spring Term 2010 - April 5 - June 27

Students have access to the online classroom 24/7. The classroom uses multiple media to transfer knowledge and offer lab activities. The typical weekly lesson contains 2-10 instructional videos, 8-20 audio examples and play-alongs, numerous notated pages of music, and of course, text narration and instruction. Weekly chat sessions and discussions are a highly valuable aspect of all our courses. These interactive forums are how we communicate and how our school community is born. The ability to see and hear the work and questions of classmates creates a comfortable environment in which to learn. Unlike static posted lessons, our classrooms are quite active with student comments, questions, evaluations, and personalized contact between the instructor and the class. Each course contains twelve lessons. Each week includes a discussion, chat, and assigned work. This assignment is to be recorded and submitted for instructor review and evaluation. Grades are given for each weekly assignment. Students study and learn from their own computer and on their own schedule.

How does the jazz bass course that you teach through the Stinnett Music Online School differ from the jazz bass class that you instruct at Berkleemusic?

The course I authored and teach for Berkleemusic should be called Jazz Bass 1. The course offered at Stinnett Music Online is Jazz Bass 2. The Berkleemusic course focuses on walking lines and related topics. That course was designed for the bassist who is new to jazz. The course includes ear training, technique, and a small amount of transcription. Jazz Bass 2 begins where Jazz Bass ends. We begin with melody and move through soloing, advanced learning, and practicing techniques. Jazz Bass 2 also includes more transcription and soloing practice. A major focus of Jazz Bass 2 is repertoire. Modeling the great players is a recurring theme in many lessons. Jazz Bass 3 is going to be fun and much more challenging.

Since you teach Jazz Bass through Berkleemusic, does a student need to successfully complete that course before registering for Jazz Bass 2 at your online school?

To register for Jazz Bass 2, a student has to either successfully complete Jazz Bass at Berkleemusic, or they must possess the equivalent skills and submit an MP3 of their playing which demonstrates their mastery of the required material. Before entering Jazz Bass 3, students will also need to finish Jazz Bass 2 or demonstrate the equivalent skills.

Do you teach all of the courses at the Stinnett Music Online School?

At the moment, I teach the one and only course offered. R&B Bass will be taught by the extraordinary bassist and educator, Danny Morris. Danny is famous for his R&B and Motown stuff. Contemporary Techniques For Electric Bass will be taught by Grant Stinnett. Grant has full command of many of the new styles from Victor Wooten to Michael Manring and Marcus Miller. Plus, Grant has a few of his own tricks that he is now using regularly with great reward. Todd Johnson will be teaching a course on his own style, Chord Melody For Bass Guitar. This course will be in great demand as nobody is playing like Todd. He is way ahead of the curve on jazz bass guitar. Michael Manring will be authoring a course for us called The Integrated Rhythmic Concept For Bass Guitar. We recently tested his new material at a Bass Workout, and we expect that course will also be a big seller.

Are students assigned homework on a regular basis?

All courses require homework assignments to be turned in weekly. The assignments are graded by the instructor in a timely manner. Once we have filled out our curriculum, we will offer certificate programs.

Does a student have to meet any minimum requirements or prerequisites to study at your online school?

Our long-term goal is to offer a broad range of courses for all levels of entering students. Right now, I am working on an introductory bass course for students who own a bass and have a desire to work and learn. No other skills are needed. A list of prerequisites for each individual class can be found on our web site. I believe there should be courses designed to help each student, regardless of level, to reach his or her musical goals. Obviously, this demands a certain amount of placement into the appropriate classes.

Will the cost of the classes all be set at the same price point?

Tuition for all twelve-week courses is the same. Currently, we are not equipped for a payment plan, but we are almost ready to begin offering a limited amount of financial aid in the form of scholarships. Stay tuned to the web site for further details.

What will be the curriculum taught at this year's Bass Workouts, and how many sessions are you running in 2009?

The Bass Workout programs have become known for their serious and focused approach. Since the creation of the New Hampshire Bass Fest in 2007, we have limited the number of Bass Workouts per year and consider the bass fest to be an extended summer Bass Workout.

2009 begins with a non-leveled and non-style specific Bass Workout which runs from January 30 through February 1. Open to all comers, we cover the basics of funk, latin, reading, right and left hand technique, jazz, ear-training, soloing, walking lines, listening, and practicing. This is always a fun time as players of all levels are grouped together. It is motivating to learn from each other.

From March 13-15, will be hold our very popular Recording Workout where we practice for a day and then spend all of the following day and evening in a professional studio. We mix that night and come out with a finished CD.

In October 2009, we will feature another TJ Workout. Todd Johnson will be our guest faculty, and we will "grip it and rip it" until the cows come home. In other words, Todd and some assistants will teach his incredible chord melody system for three full days. Our two previous TJ Workouts resulted in outstanding growth for the students.

Could you tell us about the 2009 New Hampshire Bass Fest?

The 2009 edition of the New Hampshire Bass Fest will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire on June 24-27. The easiest way to reserve your spot is to go online and register at: NHBassFest.com. This year's group of artists and educators is very impressive. A few of the notable artists include Todd Johnson, Michael Manring, Dave Buda, Marshall Wood, Rob Gourlay, and Danny Mo. Register early, and make your travel plans now as this is always a busy time of year in New Hampshire.

Besides opening the new online music school, hosting the Bass Workouts, directing the New Hampshire Bass Fest, and teaching at Berklee, what other projects are you hoping to complete this year?

In my spare time, I am working on quite a few other things. I will be recording a CD with Todd Johnson, Dino Govoni, and Joe Hunt. This recording, One Good Looking Guy, will feature Todd's incredible style on full display. I will play mostly double bass which I have not done in years. In February, Project M featuring Michael Manring, Rob Gourlay, Grant Stinnett, and myself is going on a New England tour to promote our self-titled CD/DVD that we released last year. There will be seven shows in four days with this fun group. I will be releasing two new books, Secret Chambers and 12 Keys To Success in March. In April, I'll be producing a new CD for outstanding bassist Brent Rusinow. I suspect I will play on a couple of tunes as well. In May, Fishing For Grips will be released. Fishing For Grips is a book and DVD package offering Todd Johnson's pedagogy for learning to play his beautiful chord melodies. One Good Looking Guy will also be released at the same time. In June, we will present Fishing For Grips at the ISB Convention and the New Hampshire Bass Fest. In September, we will release Grant Stinnett's first publication, Tapestry. This book and DVD will demonstrate Grant's extraordinary tapping techniques. I also plan to put the finishing touches on a book I began writing back in 1986, Fundamental Technique For Electric Bass.




Contact Information

The Stinnett Music Online School
145 North Rd.
Candia, New Hampshire 03034
Web Site: StinnettMusic.com
E-Mail: jim@stinnettmusic.com


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